Friday, October 31, 2008

Goats, Gardens and Goofiness

Thank you to all of you who wrote comments and emails supporting me last week in my tussle with corrupt policemen. The aftermath played out rather to our liking. We went to the police station the next day (I was accompanied by our team leader Tim who likes to go meet and greet and schmooze people). We talked with the man in charge of the traffic division (after several sets of greetings). As soon as we told him even roughly what happened, he went and grabbed my paperwork they had taken, threw out the ticket and told us to have a nice afternoon! Woohoo! A little taste of redemption! It was clear to him that his officer was in the wrong and we went on our merry way! I must say, in this culture, having an older man with grey hair speaking on your behalf goes a long way, since they are very "elder/respect" oriented. Thanks Tim! I know we will get stopped again and again, but just pray for the patience to get through it as part of life and take the opportunity to be compassionate gentle people, even to the policemen!

The Goat project

One of the small projects we have started here has to do with "lending goats". This is something that the tamasheq culture is very comfortable with and even does among their own people, so it is a good way to go!
We bought two goats (a mother and female baby) goat for our day guard Sidimou. He lives in a hut in an empty lot about 1/2 kilometre from our house. He lives with another family, eldery women, children etc all in the same fenced lot and there are 5 or 6 goats, only one of which was his. So, the tamasheq use goat milk for cooking and drinking and it gives them a good source of nutrients. So he takes care of the goats as they grow, and each time the mother (and eventually the new baby) has a baby goat, we split the kids. Meaning the first new goat is his, the second is mine, the third is his, fourth mine etc, etc. This allows him to grow a herd of goats (which is their form of bank) without having to borrow money and go into debt to start. It also allows us to have new baby goats every year to start new projects with and give to other people in need. This is a great way to help out some of the people we work with in a way that isnt overwhelming and is culturally appropriate. Thank you for giving to our Work Special Fund and making projects like this possible!

Sidimou's House

Bennett saw the baby goat and instantly loved it. He has no qualms about going over and picking the baby goat up and carrying him around to look at everything. He kept saying how soft she was and he wanted to carry her, and the goat didnt seem to mind!

Sidimou showing Bennett where their milk comes from. It must be better than the gross powdered milk we have to buy here, but I wasn't stepping up to taste any personally!

Garden update
I am happy to report back that my experimental gardening program has met with great success! In less than a month here is a list of the successes and failures thus far.

Sweet potatoes - growing like crazy!
Pumpkins - growing like crazy!
basil - still going strong and a huge bush now
red peppers - good start, plants about 5 inches high and growing.
yellow peppers - good start, plants about 5 inches high and growing.
chives - the canadian seeds didnt work, but the transplanted african roots are growing!
Tomatoes - the plants are quite big, and although i think we planted too early a few months ago, i can see little fruit buds and small green tomatoes starting!

Failure :(
dill seeds - not a leaf or sprout in sight
green peppers - hiding in the dirt still

Too soon to tell:
Lettuce - we just planted a whole lot (like 50!) small lettuce-saplings. (is that what they are called?) we will see how many take and how it turns out.
Spinach - it looks like the canadian seeds will fail, but transplanted stalks from africa are taking good root and growing.
Mint. this plant, even with local cuttings and roots, is proving hard to grow and we only have a few little buds so far.

My basil bush mixed in amongth the flowers and plants in the front yard. Another bush is growing nearby too.

The train

Both of my kids love to build trains. Most mornings if they are here while we do language study they bring their snacks and drinks into the playroom and start new with a track through the room, complete with villages, zoo animals and gas stations.

New Friends

Bennett has slowly begun to make new friends. Outside our house, under our tree, we are often surrounded by many children. Arielle still prefers to watch from a distance, but I know her time to get involved will come too. A few of the kids have started to call out for Bennett and join him where he is playing. Yesterday, Bennett headed out the gate and went three houses down where there was a big pile of white sand in front of a house being built. Now the funny thing was that he went out in his t-shirt, Bob the Builder rainboots, and a pair of bright flowery underpants that he borrowed from his sister! Quite the sight!

Check out those underpants!

First his friend Boobay (the neighbor boy) found him there, and then slowly 3 others showed up at the dirt pile where they jumped ,hooted , hollered, threw dirt and had a blast, with Bennett right in the middle. They would help him up the hill, toss him his boot when it fell off, etc. I was proud to see them interact even though he was younger than them.

Now for pictures, I always have my little camera in the bag outside with me, but i never pull it out until they ask me too. They know what it is, and often now they come grab me to take their picture and they love looking at the screen at them after. It's not really appropriate to whip out the camera, so I always wait until they ask and this has met with great success and they love it. A good strategy to wait for their invitation!

Here are some of the pictures of the boys, all flying high! Can you pick out Bennett in all the pics?

Well, thats all for now! We have only 11 more days until a special guest arrives and we can't wait! But I'll tell you all about that in a later post!


Carrien said...

Try the goat's milk. It's bit of an acquired taste, but quite good. Better than powdered that's for sure.

I like your stories. :)

Becky Aguirre said...

Love the flowery underwear!!!! So cute...glad he's getting out and making some friends...watching our children thrive is so encouraging.

The garden looks great!!!! Sort of makes me wish we were in the tropics so we could plant one now!

Anonymous said...

:) Fabulous pixs again Chantelle. Don't you love it when kids don't get all hung up on what they're wearing. Go Bennett! I'm remembering the smells when I was in Kenya. Tough one that! Love to all. heather - excited to hear whose comin to town.