This has been an exciting week for the project. Monday saw the distribution of all the seeds along with the second training, to go over planting each type of seed. Then we around and visited each woman’s home, checking on her progress and offering help where we were needed. As per usual, the women blew us away with their commitment and enthusiasm this week.
Monday morning we arrived in Villa Catalina with all of our seeds, after days of seed-finding and separating into 22 discrete packages. The plantain seeds were the most ridiculous to get a hold of. An hour out of our route to Villa, we loaded the Amigos’ ambulance with these bulbous stalks of green leafy mini-trees.
When we arrived at the house for the training, Donald from PLAN was no where to be found. His phone was off. The office at PLAN couldn’t reach him either. So we sat. We were apologizing profusely, for taking the women’s time, for Donald’s irresponsibility. But in response the women told us, at least we are together and not at home, alone and bored. This has come up multiple times throughout the project, that simply coming together is a novelty for many of these women. So for about 2 hours we sat, chatting and spending time together. Gloria came up with some ridiculous games of ‘over-under.’
Finally we got a hold of Donald, and we reluctantly rescheduled to 3 pm. We sent the women off, crossing our fingers that they would return, knowing how intrusive all of this was. After lunch at Doña Catalina’s, we headed back to the house for the 3 pm training. By 3:05, all 22 women were accounted for. The training was short and sweet. Donald went through each type of seed, from cucumber and squash to plantains and yucca to peppers and tomatoes. The women carefully watched, taking notes and asking questions.
Excitedly we passed out all of the seeds and sent the women on their way to plant before the sun went down.
The following day, geared up with baseball caps and shovels, Gloria and Megan set out to check on each of the women in their homes. (I unfortunately came down with the Nica belly and was in bed…) Gloria apparently stomped up to each house, shovel in hand, “Which side of this shovel am I gonna have to use on you?” Of course, Doña Catalina was not far behind.
What they saw at each women's home surprised and uplifted them. Every woman had been working on her garden. They've such a wealth of knowledge in this area that they took Donald's brief instruction and ran with it. Every woman's garden is beautiful and impeccably clean. They look pretty bare right now, with tiny seeds under palms protected from the sun, with small stalks protuding lonely from the ground. But hopefully, their excitement and pride are plenty evident in their faces.