Saturday, October 18, 2014

Zucchini, Lizards, and Farmers: oh my!

Along with some updates on the work I have been doing the last few weeks, I thought I would share some unexpected events that have come up while I have been here. Some of the small things that explain the big things. 

Unexpected Occurrences

The Zucchini 

This story probably doesn't actually explain anything bigger than it is but it was scarring and needs to be shared. One weekend I decided to make "zucchini pancakes" for myself for lunch with a zucchini I bought in the market. These we essentially going to be latkes but with zucchini instead of potatoes. I of course thought I was brilliant for coming up with this idea. 

So I start shredding the zucchini. I notice something small and yellow in with the zucchini. Figuring maybe someone didn't wash the shredder so well last time they used it, I flicked this yellow speck away and continued to shred. After a few seconds of shredding I think, 'wow, someone really needs to learn how to wash dishes who cleaned this last?' because more yellow pieces show up in my zucchini. 

I look closer at these yellow infiltrators and see that one is moving. 

One is moving on its own. 

Turns out the shredder wasn't dirty. 

Some little worms/maggots found a home in my zucchini and I was left scarred for life. The only thing I think this story explains is that I do need Jean-Baptiste (the cook who makes food for us during the week) and am not ready to attempt zucchini pancakes again anytime soon.

The Shower 

So in our house we pretty consistently have water. Not only that we have HOT water, and good water pressure. We are really lucky and pretty spoiled (if that wasn't already determined by the fact that we have a cook during the week). Secretly, I was looking forward to bucket showers again. But I'm not going to complain. 

One weekend I went on a hike up the mountain behind my house with my new best friend Emily. The view is gorgeous.  Every few feet you have to stop and turn around because the view changes and just gets prettier! Its not because I'm out of breath because its so steep I swear. Okay, it's both. For a good while its steeper than stairs going up. But the climb is so worth it for these views. 

Anyways, so we went round trip about 20km that day! After I was ready to take a shower to cool off and wash all of the dust and dirt and sweat away. I turned the faucet more towards the cold side than usual, got in, and waited. I turned it colder. Still not cold enough. I turned it all the way to the cold side. Still didn't feel like I was getting the cold I needed to cool off. 

While I showered, I realized (for the hundredth time) how ridiculous my life is that my shower "isn't cold enough". This experience explains something bigger, which is my feeling that I'm really spoiled in the living situation that I am in right now. We have a huge yard. People who take care of us. A flower and vegetable garden. A gardener to tend to those gardens. Someone who cleans up our messes and clothes. We don't have to do anything for ourselves really. We have consistent and strong internet and electricity. We never get power cuts. 

I know that I should not feel guilty for these things (or at least people tell me this) but the fact is that I do. I feel like it is kind of ridiculous actually how nice the life I am living is. That's all the thoughts I have on this right now. 

The Baby Farmer 

While in the field "up-country" working with farmers I met this little girl working hard to make a hole. 

She is small but mighty. Children act like grown-ups a lot without realizing how funny it is. At least to me. Do you realize how adorable and silly you are? When children act or talk like adults it’s funny because they really are just small adults sometimes. I am always amazing by the amount of responsibility they can handle. From walking to school to taking care of siblings to hoeing to finding lunch in mango trees or cassava roots.

Children are amazing. They can take care of themselves almost like adults at times, but at the same time when we see pictures from Humans of New York’s photo series “Little Humans” we see the juxtaposition of how grown they are and how silly it is to think they are grown. I don’t know how to explain it, but it is that feeling that these pictures create. 

These 'Microfasion' statement are from Humans of New York.

The Wedding 

One weekend this month I went to a wedding! It was for the brother of one of the people I work with. It was a great experience. The day of the wedding begins with the Civil Ceremony at the Police Station. There is then a religious ceremony at church and then a reception where some of the traditional things are done. (Giving gifts, drinks, traditional dances, and a lot of speeches.) 

The surprise was that I found myself as not just a guest but the wedding photographer? Not qualified for this job but whats new. I'm glad I could have captured this day for them though. Here are a few pictures. My friend Guy and I will edit them and then make them into a book. 

So with the swords here, each pair of soldiers with swords across from each other blocks them from going past unless/until she is smiling. It is really cute. 

The Work

Last week I went on a field visit to two diocese in Burundi where the Provincial Development Office has implemented “kitchen gardens” in some of the rural and high need areas.

These kitchen gardens consist of two different styles of raised circular beds with compost areas generally in the center. Some of the challenges that these gardens face is a lack of turning the soil, a lack of equal water dispersal and drainage, poor spacing of plants, and a lack of diversity in vegetables.

These gardens, however, are doing well to serve the families who use them! I was able to hear stories from mothers who said that now they are able to feed their families and their children are no longer malnourished because of this new food source. They don’t have to go to the market to buy vegetables because they have their own, and that is a big deal for them. It is also empowering for these women because they are able now to provide for their families on their own. This project is a really important one and I look forward to going into the field with more with them.

My job was mostly photos (of course) and translation. There is a student from Cornell who was sent by Episcopal Relief and Development to help move the kitchen garden project to the next phase of diet diversification and cooking in ways that enhance the nutritional value of foods. She is also working to help fix some of the challenges that the gardens are facing. She does not speak French so I was there to help translate for her!

Next week I am traveling into the field again. This time instead to train more trainers for the literacy and savings and loan program and to do a baseline survey on masculinities in order to gain a perspective on the ideas that are out there about manhood and SGBV. 


  1. Wonderful update, Carolyn!! Thank you!

  2. I love reading your stories!

  3. Thanks for writing Carolyn. Your pictures are beautifully composed, and show so mch affection for your subjects. With much love, EB

    1. You are right on regarding Carolyn's photography, EB. Thanks for putting it into words.

  4. Carolyn, thank you for sharing your experiences with us. I was struck by your comments concerning the conditions under which you are living. Please do not feel guilty for the things you have, but continue to use them with gratitude and respect, never taking them for granted. Be glad that you are fed and housed well; this means you will have even more energy to pour into your work on behalf of your hosts in Burundi. May your ministry enrich them and you. Shalom, Linda

    1. Carolyn, it's Linda McCorkle. (Sorry)

  5. “Not qualified for this job, but what’s new.” That sentence brought tears to my eyes. I guess it’s because I am so proud of you for just diving into life headfirst. For preparing as best you can and then just going for it. With all you've got. Compassion, intelligence, creativity, determination, etc….

    Loved this update and all its diversity. The Zucchini: ewwww! The Shower: What Linda McCorkle said. The Baby Farmer: Small but mighty indeed! The Wedding: What an honor bestowed upon you. And you certainly honored your role. The children at the fountain…perfect! The Work: So interesting. Excited to hear there is much important work for you to be a part of.
    Always keeping you close,
    P.S. Your description of climbing the mountain? Haha! That was so me going up Table Mountain, but worse, I'm sure. :-)

  6. I was re-reading this last post (need a new one, please!) and my comment and it made me think of this quote: God doesn't call the equipped, (s)he equips the called. As I like to say, Fortunately God has a better imagination than we do. Adventures await.
    Love lots,