Lasting Change

Two teachers discussing what to do with all these trees!

Two teachers discussing what to do with all these trees!

Wednesday marked 8 months in SA, and means I only (ONLY!??!?!) have one and a half years left here. Some days that seems scary, because I have so much I want to do. Other days, it gets me through the hard days. Yes, they exist. Occasionally more often than I would like. Regardless, I am glad to be here and doing what I am doing.

After months of hitting roadblocks and fighting to make miniscule changes, I’ve finally started to get my gardening project moving. I had almost given up working to improve the school’s garden, but PC is offering a PermaGarden training, and my asking my principal for a counterpart started the ball rolling.

The Grade R has a small garden within the fences (yeah, we keep the little ones penned up), and Mma Makobo told me that Mma Ntwayabokone would be a good counterpart for the training. She is the Grade R teacher, and really likes to garden. She’s been the only force working at the school to improve the garden and plant flower beds around.

Mma Makobo also arranged for me to attend a one day Permaculture training with Mma Ntwayabokone (see last post). So, after that success, I planted a beautiful little herb garden at the school….again, see my last post.

This week began with a delivery of 24 trees to our school. Now, considering out school grounds now have about 4 trees, this is a HUGE deal. I’ve spent all week trying to coordinate the planting of the trees. There are still 5 left to plant, hopefully tomorrow. Everything takes longer here…

Anyways, I’ve also been teaching Mma Ntwayabokone and some other teachers about sheet mulching and how to repurpose cardboard into mulch, and use the plentiful grasses as mulch. I’ve been able to prove that mulch keeps the soil moist, and have told them it will help keep away weeds and prevent the wind from blowing dirt away. I’ve also tried to teach them about using trees as a windbreak, but that hasn’t taken on so much. But it’s been really exciting to teach them some better practices, and then see Mma Ntwayabokone put them to practice while I was off doing other things. So cool! I love being a part of lasting change!

I am working to convince the people that matter at school that we need to clean up the garden and enter the EduPlant school garden competition this year. We don’t really have a chance to win, but entering is an important step in stating that the garden is important and is a priority. I’ve gotta get Mma Makobo on my side though.

So, after months of frustration about my projects at school, things are going really well! I’m excited to see what the garden looks like in another month or so. Hopefully more green and less weedy!

Some PCVs are content to type documents and fill in as a sub or whatnot during their two years of service. This is helpful to the community, but not sustainable. I am not content being an unsustainable method of development. I may frustrate my counterparts and run up against one brick wall after another, but I’ve already been a part of small changes that will be evident in my school years from now, and I hope to continue changing things, rather than being a convenient staff addition to the school for 2 years. Lasting change is more important to me than the quantity of things I do. I have 1.5 years left… let’s see what I can do!


The Grade R mini-garden.

The Grade R mini-garden.

The big garden....or the place with weeds surround a few functioning beds.

The big garden….or the place with weeds surround a few functioning beds.


About Jen Lamos

Christ follower. Writer. Permaculturist. RPCV. Photographer. Gardener. Keeper of Chickens. Daughter of God.

One thought on “Lasting Change

  1. I like this idea, with the trees and permaculture – both because I really like the notion of leaving behind self-sustaining projects, and because I’ve been doing stuff like this here in Milwaukee. Thanks for sharing. I’ll have to look up more on that tree project.

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