Thursday, May 10, 2012

All the school directors in my phone are labeled "Director"

April 4th

Up down. As always. C'est comme ca, en Afrique. (It's like this, in Africa – a common saying here) I went to help with PAM distribution this morning, ended up leaving early but instead of visiting Ecole C, I called the director and asked him to meet me at the CSPS to talk about the well. When he showed up I knew something was off, but started talking about the well project, only to realize that he was the director of Ecole D, the next number in my phone. Oops! He thought this meant we were coming to sensibilize today, so I explained that instead of profiting from the marche being today, we actually were trying to avoid marche days because so many ASCs also sell in the marche and I didn't want to take them away from their work there. I should probably call tomorrow and apologize for the confusion, although I'm more amused than embarrassed by my mistake.

I got some water, went to the marche, and called the right director to set up a meeting for this afternoon. I went over and we talked for over an hour, outlining everything that needed to happen, all the different ways for this project to get done. We can a) do the grant quickly and start digging in June despite the rain, b) do the work for the proposal and I'll shop it around to other NGOs to see if they want to pick up the ball, or c) we can do all the work for the proposal and hope that the next volunteer won't be too angry about being dropped into an unasked-for project, albeit where all she has to do is ask for the money. I'll talk to Major tomorrow, but I'd also like to call Dr. Claude and maybe Paul to get an opinion on what the best route would be. My biggest fear is that I'm going to fill out the grant, get the money, and then the well will be put off for the planting/harvesting season and won't get done, forcing us (probably me) to pony up the money to pay back the grant when we have nothing to show for ourselves except a bunch of supplies that were purchased but not used. Or, that we can find people in village to front the money (Major suggested the APE and CoGES could probably find enough to get us started and be reimbursed by the grant), we dig the well, and then the grant doesn't come through, again making me feel it necessary to pay for the project out of my own money, which I would like to avoid.

Still, it felt good to at least start the ball rolling. Awareness of how things work here in reality means that I would rather not apply for the grant and take on the headache that this project is absolutely destined to become on such a short time-frame in a country where setting up a meeting can take weeks. Speaking of, we did schedule a meeting for next Thursday with the APE and the people who just dug a private well next to the school grounds in order to get everyone on the same page and to draw up the detailed budget. Since we're digging in rock it the APE will need to donate their 25% of the project directly through supplies and materials and leave the grant to cover the labor, which it seems will need to be paid, not voluntary, since the well needs to be about 22 meters deep. In that case it almost makes sense to try and get it to be some kind of pump, or to install a pulley system of some sort, because despite everyone assurances I still have my doubts that kids can haul a bucket of water up over 65 feet. I need to talk to Pacal (a driver for PC) about the turning-wells-into-pumps NGO he works with.

I'm not totally optimistic that we'll pull this off, but now that we've started we might as well give it a shot, even if all we accomplish is showing the community that they have the motivation to do this little by little on their own.

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