Tuesday, January 29, 2008


It’s early morning (2:30am), there is a sheep calling outside my window, two crickets in a who-can-chirp-loudest competition, and the creature with whom I share my room rattling bags to wake the devil. I decided that as the creature likes the nibble on bananas, hops across the room (it’s just hopped under my bed), and makes mewling sounds, it’s probably not an insect. I’ve just carefully tucked my bednet firmly around my mattress so feel somewhat safe from unwanted mewling guests. As I’m fully awake now, I might as well get caught up on posts. Last week I was greatly puzzled by the denuded, yellow hilltops peeking through the villages and palms I spied along the way to Makeni. I couldn’t quite decide what they were…tailings of mines? remnants of gravel extraction? I plan to take a closer look next time but believe that they probably areas of deforestation resulting from too much firewood and lumber gathering. From what I can tell, our Kafoima is one the few remaining bits of old growth forests around and as it’s considered a sacred place, should remain safe. Nevertheless, as the chief is quite concerned about deforestation, we took a patrol on Sunday to find tree seeds to germinate, nurse, and plant to replace trees that have come down around here. This patrol was to the most remote village across the line at the border of another chiefdom where there are trees of the variety the chief wants to plant. This trip also allowed the chief to intervene in and help resolve disputes in two communities and allowed me to step into a part of the chiefdom that I’ve not yet visited. As always, I was overwhelmingly appreciative of the welcome I received and the surroundings (both village and hills) in which I found myself. As I’ve also mentioned before, I believe that the chief’s diligence and skill in conflict resolution plays a big role in the general peacefulness in the chiefdom.
During and since this trip, I have been traveling with video camera, which continues to delight children and adults alike with images of themselves and surroundings. The children of Maso today wrote class letters to children in Quebec and I’ll be transcribing and emailing these shortly. Tonight (next day), we’re downloading and will make a short video about the Maso school for a Canadian twinning school.
The photo posted today is of the community school in the village we visited on Sunday. As seems to happen often, the NGO that provided roofing fell short in its supplies and one-third of the building collapsed when the rains came. Inadequate as it is, the children do have access to some schooling for the first time. Five years ago there were no community schools and only six primary schools in the chiefdom. During the time of this chief, seventeen communities that had no access to schooling now have a school. The challenge now is to provide the schools with buildings, training for teachers and some materials. I think the library/resource centre will go a long way in providing these.
By the way, please remember to occasionally check the photos as I add to the collection on a regular basis. And an update…the creature has been identified by its dropping as a mouse. Apparently our house used to be used for storing rice and mice became quite a problem. I did a major mouse-hole filling and general cleaning today, which I hope will solve the problem.