A little bird told me that some people out there think we don't do anything but sit around playing cards and eating any bug that crawls by. Well, I'm here to set the record straight. We work hard. We just don't talk about it, because it's top secret. And maybe a bit boring. So to spice things up, I might throw in a few random pictures.
Basically, as the project now stands, MAPLE works with microentrepreneurs, providing basic skills training to complement the financial resources that have been assembled within the community. We shifted away from trying to work with the larger microfinance banks, because they were bureaucratic and, frankly, didn't always seem to have the borrowers' best interests at heart. This isn't really the place to get into the whole debate over the need for financial sustainability in order to reach to the most people and all that noise. Leave it that we shifted to working with SACCOs- local, grassroots-type financial groups that take collect savings from individual members within the community and then lend that capital back out within the group. Often they are composed of women, and even dedicate more than just lip service to combating poverty, so ideologically, they are more pleasant to work with than banker big men with fat bellies and fancy cars.
We have found some existing training resources and are in the process of identifying a facilitator/teacher. We held a big meeting this last weekend to introduce ourselves formally to the members of the pilot SACCO that we found that is located here in town, and have been running all over The Village looking for some good rural SACCOs to work with that aren't corrupt, shady, etc.
So, that's what has really been keeping us busy. We're looking for another SACCO to work with and trying to get our teacher lined up so that we can actually, finally, really start working with people. It's fun to look back and see how much we've got done, and it's also a bit disheartening that after all this time, we're still trying to start actually working. Other than the never ending process of Needs Assessments.
What else? I'm really thinking about what my parents would probably like to see here. Our friends Eddie and JB, famous for their goat-roasting abilities, have been teaching us how to slaughter chickens. And wouldn't you know it, there are some tasty bits hidden away inside a chicken. For example, the gizzard is choice. You just have to beat it a bit to soften it up.
A few days later, we whipped up fried chicken necks. Quite possibly the most southern-sounding dish ever. And it wasn't too bad. Also, that delicious drink in the background is none other than the famous Sex on the Trash Fire, the tastiest damn drink that's ever been dreamed up by a bunch of bored white people in Africa. Mango juice, local gin, fruit drank and a bit of tonic, if you can find it.
Yeah, so that's about it. Now we can return to talk of vacations and intestinal parasites. Sorry for the interruption.