This morning Sumo and I finally had some concentrated time together so I could give him his new laptop and go through a brief tutorial on Windows 10. After installing the print drivers and transferring his old documents, he went to work creating a new registration form. While he took this technology test drive, I reviewed finances with Amuchain and got caught up on students who are late making their school fee payments. With a list of about 50 students with outstanding balances, the tough part is deciding how to deal with each family in this difficult economic environment without reinforcing a culture of dependence on outside support.
With a contribution from the ladies at Grace Lutheran Church (Middletown, CT) and other individual donors, we were able to buy a treadle sewing machine, thread, scissors, and other sewing sundries in Monrovia. This is our first small step towards developing a vocational training class in tailoring. One of our caretakers, Annie, has some prior training so she will refresh her experience by making school uniform repairs. A friend of Sumo’s, Alphonso, is a professional tailor. I was thankful he volunteered to assemble the machine and the treadle base/table.
I had success making contacts with a variety of potential partners I had hoped to tap for support. A man from the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) whom I met last January is going to send information about a restructured small business training program we may qualify for. My friend, Nathan, up in Ganta who supplies our chicken feed is meeting with me on Wednesday to discuss a possible partnership where we grow corn on our school property that they can convert to feed, potentially saving us money on keeping our birds’ bellies full so they can focus on laying eggs. His wife, Anna, is a teacher trainer and I want to find more resources for our GLTC teachers to continue improving.
I’ve also been surprised by a very responsive woman from a serendipitous encounter with Kathy and Marsha. While they was checking in at the Brussels office in Monrovia, Kathy noticed the woman had a pair of eyeglasses on the desk. She asked if they were purchased locally and the woman replied they were from Ghana. Kathy explained she was trying to find someone who could do an eye glass clinic in Deanville since the adults from the literacy class were requesting reading glasses. Much to Kathy’s surprise, the woman, Ama Harris, said she was part of the Rotary Club in Monrovia and could help make some connections to the Lion’s Club that does outreach clinics. Ama exchanged numbers with me, Kathy, and Marsha. I was amazed to get a WhatsApp message from her the next day. Over the last few days I’ve been communicating with several people, including an ophthalmologist, Dr. Dolo. We have tentatively scheduled a clinic for April. We must pay their transportation costs from Monrovia, a small daily fee for three people for two days, and provide housing in our guesthouse. In return they will perform eye exams for our school and adult literacy students plus members of the entire Deanville community — and provide free reading glasses. I expect to hear back tomorrow about a firm date. In just four days from a 10-minute encounter, a whole community’s sight may be improved. One of the big lessons that has repeated over the last six years is: never hesitate to ask, then persistently follow up till you get results.
This afternoon I spent time one-on-one with Bendu, one of our poultry workers. I wanted her to be able to speak freely without intimidation from having her “boss”, Tumamee, present. I was glad I did because she had a number of complaints to air. But, she also had a number of excellent suggestions and advice that he has not sufficiently considered. She has experience in areas like chicken vaccinations by injection that Tumamee does not, yet there appears to be a little “my way or the highway” type of leadership style that can be detrimental to both the chickens and to sales. I sense a bit of testosterone vs. estrogen at play (pretty common here from what I’ve seen). I plan to speak more with her tomorrow then meet on Thursday with Mamie, our other worker, to get her insights. All of this will culminate in a poultry staff meeting next Monday. I also have advice to share from my friend, Dale Perkins (former farm manager with Heifer International) with whom I spoke before this trip. Should be interesting. Hopefully there is openness to change, however small they may be.
Pray for Amuchain who has been having fainting spells that started about four months ago and have recurred over the last several days. I helped revive her today after she passed out on the school porch. We drove her to a clinic in our truck.