Ryan and I have embarked on some pretty fantastic projects in the past two months. (It turns out it takes 2 years to navigate development in Swaziland to have great ideas turn into great outcomes, or really any outcome.) I have great relationships with the women at the camp, however, because they spend most of their time in their home cleaning, cooking and taking care of children, I never was able to successfully get a project started with them – I just couldn’t get them out of their houses. (They are very dedicated homemakers.) While talking to my friend Yvonne who is from Burundi about what the women might be interested in, we decided to ask Peace Corps for some money and have a week-long food preservation workshop. (Aren’t you glad that for once I wasn’t asking you for money? :D ) The idea behind the workshop was that these women could gain some new skills and maybe even create an income from those skills at some point. While we had them captivated, we also threw in a nutrition lesson, an HIV lesson, and a condom demonstration lesson, which is always fun.
We were able to hire a trainer from Rural Development Areas in Siteki to teach the class, which allowed me to sit back and learn myself. The outcome was delicious - Guava juice, marmalade, apple and banana jam, guava fruit rolls, atcha (canned peppers with chilies), dried apples, dried bananas, dried spinach, onions and carrots! Cakes, swazi buns, and more cakes, and peanut butter!
While we did learn how to create a lot of delicious things, the women in attendance took it a step further and are now currently working with Umphakatsi (the Chief) to raise funds to buy their very own industrial sized peanut butter grinder to start their own business! On their own! Without me! I am not involved at all! I am very proud of them and happy that they have found something they are passionate about. I wish them the best of luck. Maybe someday Mpaka will have its very own peanut butter brand, like Bulembu does with honey!
Here are a couple of my favorite pictures from the event:
|This little boy joined us for the entire week! He was brave enough to be one of the two males who attended.|
|Me with RDA's Make Simalene (left) and Yvonne (right).|