Education. Enrollment at the school has grown from 170 last year to 267 this year. A new 7th grade classroom was added.
The thirst for learning is contagious. Parents are now clamoring for adult literacy classes so that they can learn to read and help their kids in school.
Electricity. It doesn’t look like much, but a pole can be a beautiful thing. Our partners at the Unitarian-Universalist Service Committee (UUSC) in Boston approved a grant to bring electricity to the six EcoVillages this year. The power is now on! There is a pole next to the community center building in each village which provides light at night. Residents must buy a meter to bring power to their own homes, which some have already done. Residents are already imagining how their lives might change.
Water. Wells in two of the villages were broken last year. UUSC paid to have them fixed. Now there is nearby water for everyone. Clean clothes feel good.
Food. Everywhere you look there is food: congo beans, cassava, plantains, papaya, bananas, peppers, cabbage, squash. You even hear chickens peck and goats bleat and an occasional pig grunt. The days of empty pots and lean harvests are behind them – at least for now.
Collaboration. Parents understand that they must coordinate their efforts to grow food for school lunches. Thanks in part to a grant from PATH (Atlanta’s Presbyterian Answer to Hunger) new school gardens have been planted, expanding their contribution dramatically. Hot, organic meals are served to the students every day of the week. Cassava came in this month, cabbage next week and squash in November. As a result, the school budget for food has been slashed so that precious funds can be allocated elsewhere.
When asked about his life in the village, one man replied matter-of-factly, “Sometimes it’s good, sometimes not.” In other words, for many life has returned to familiar routines. The struggle for basics -- survival and safety and a place to belong – is being replaced by the struggle to get ahead. You know -- normalcy.