Trying to put more into the hands of the students and local staff, we had a meeting–most of the Wodaabe came, but only a couple of Tuareg. The Wodaabe who came were asking for a per diem, which we had given the first two trainings. It always went against the grain for me because we are paying them to get training; wouldn’t our college students love that! But it is a standard practice developed by NGO’s for a long time. It is a way of enticing them when many do not see any value to learning new skills. So we explained to them that the training period is over and now they have to prove to us that they are competent enough to be paid for quality work. I know this will be a slow process and the early panels will likely still be ugly–but the foundation needs some working panels so we will accept the ugly ones as long as they work and hope they figure out ways to make them prettier.
The really bright side is “Arnold” (His real name is Moussa, but no one calls him that.) He is the most consistent Tuareg who has been at all three trainings and is very bright. I never gave him a lot of credit before because he looks like a punk. Always has earbuds in his ears and could be straight out of east LA–except his pants fit too well
But does he ever solve problems. First was the pump at the garden which we had sent another one of the students out to find out what was wrong. The guy came back and said he could not figure it out. So Arnold gave it a try and the pump is working better than it ever has.
Then I gave him some little solar lights whose switch was not working–he repaired that. Then he came and said that the method of cutting the cells was not precise enough with one of the diamond cutting discs (which are made for a dremel motor tool–but he did not know that) which we were using by hand. So he wired one up to a cell phone plug in thing–I can’t figure out how he did it, but it spins and cuts very precisely. I was impressed.
Then we asked if he could figure out how to charge our fixed phone at the office. We have a land line (that isn’t actually a land line but a portable phone that needs to be plugged in only to charge the battery.) The secretary who we let go decided not to give us back the charging cable–she had taken it to her house and was mad at us for letting her go for embezzling so she kept it. We went to the telephone company and asked for a new one. They did not know what to do since each phone has its own plug in charger. So we tried for 5 months to get a cable for the phone from the phone company—all the while paying $10 a month for the service without being able to call. They said we could buy a whole new phone, but not a cable, or maybe a cable but it had to come from Niamey–any way nothing happened. The day we asked Arnold he went to a local boutique and found the necessary charger. So now he is off to the center to make sure the electric system there is working properly before the doctors arrive.
I know this is probably pretty boring. Soon I will actually have some photos and some progress. I just have to report frustrations so you know how difficult it is to take the tiniest steps forward.
We will go out to the garden to have a picnic and see our onion and moringa harvest tomorrow. I can hardly wait.