Thursday, August 27, 2009

More Coming

We're working on getting photos selected and uploaded to the site. We also have some video footage we hope to post here. In the meantime...

Tying the bag at training in Makurdi:

Monday, August 24, 2009

Home by Maria Restrepo

We are finally back to the USA, what a trip home! Because of the rainy season, there was quit a bit of lighting and thunder before the plane could land in Kano to take us to Amsterdam, about an hour later they had landed and we had to wait a bit more for the rest of the storm to pass. This made us rush a bit in Amsterdam to get to our gate immediately. After the metal detector went off, and I was overly searched for some weapon (my watch) I forgot to take off, I was able to board the plane. Never mind that I had not slept most of the flight. I was pretty excited about getting home.
From Amsterdam to Detroit we had strong head winds which caused our flight to be not just 7 hours, but roughly 8 hours long. This flight was a bit rougher and my stomach was not handling any of the food/flying quite as nicely as it had the entire trip. Our last flight from Detroit to Indy was delayed just slightly, but we made it home safely!! It was so great to see friends and family again and share the many stories of Nigeria. I can't deny by the time I got home, food that I have graved, (steak, baked potato, milk, ice cream...) the entire time in Nigeria no longer felt like a good idea with my stomach being a bit upset. My stomach is having an adjusting time and I look forward to eating some good food soon.

I have truly in the past taken for granted all the little things (clean water, power, full pressure showers, food..etc) that we have at our disposal at all times. I absolutely walked away with an incredible experience, and so much knowledge of the culture, language and customs of Nigeria. Our fellow team member Onu, shared so much about his life and culture, it was invaluable. Having the opportunity to work with the Extension Agents there was a good challenge (to make me think more about how to approach examples and get the message across) We had the opportunity to speak with many about how their jobs work and what a typical day is like. Having the opportunity to teach them this technology will hopefully take off and be used solely. I hope that there will never be stories of anyone dying from eating cowpeas that were stored with chemicals again. It was a great experience and can't thank the team enough for the great trip. IITA truly was wonderful and a pleasure to work with.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Hello from Kwara State

Wow! I can't believe we have been here for 11 days now. I am on a team with Maria Restrepo (from Purdue) and Onu Anyebe (from IITA - the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture - here in Nigeria.) We've completed 4 out of our 5 "Train the Trainier" sessions so far, and we have one more to go.

We traveled over 7 hours yesterday to go from Abuja to Ilorin (in Kwara State). The view along the route was great. As close to "jungle" as I've seen. Very hilly. It reminds me of the hills in Brown County, with the vegetation from Florida. Anyway, we arrived safely and got checked in to our hotel about 5 pm. Unfortunately, the power was off when we arrived. This hotel runs their generator from 5 pm to 9 am in case the power is off. And my room had an AC unit and at least cold running water, so I'm a happy camper.

Today we had the Kwara State training session, with 20 extension agents present. We finished in good time, at about 4 pm. So we have time to visit this cyber cafe before dark. Then tomorrow, we will take about a 4 hour trip to Lokoja in Kogi State for our last training session.

Along our trip yesterday we had to dodge a few goats and thousands of potholes. Twice we saw vehicles pass 3 abreast - and it was a 2 lane road. Needless to say it was an interesting trip. This state is a mix of Christian and Muslum so we see both mosques and churches. Since yesterday was Sunday, we saw a lot of families walking to and from churches.

I've been talking to my family pretty regularly via our cell phone. We bought a local phone (only $25) and we can add minutes as we go. We estimated it costs about 35 cents per minute to call home, so it is definitely worth it.

The people here have been polite and very friendly. I will miss that part the most.


Lokoja Next by Maria

We are off to Lokoja tomorrow for our final training on thursday. What a trip so far!! We actually have already driven through there, but we were on our way to Ilorin for our training today.
The trainings have gone very well and are a lot of fun especially with the role play scenarios!! Many are laughing so hard, they are practically off their seats!! The people in each state have been very appreciative and friendly to us. It has definitely eased some of the worries that I did have when I arrived.

The scenery has changed with each location from a flat, green landscape to hills and small mountains to forest. It is so beautiful. My pictures can't hardly capture all that we have seen. The weather has been raining, but have also had several nice days. Nothing very hot and the insects are not near as bad as they are at home this time of year. Which has been nice. We have seen more goats than mosquitos.

I have to tell you all the roads are very interesting here, between the passing multiple cars on a narrow road to dodging potholes. I know that I would never be a good driver and I think any driver in Nigeria would make an excellent Nascar driver. Onu our team member and driver has done such as wonderful job and have full faith that he will get us to each location safely. I have held my breathe a time or two as we have had a car heading right at us from time to time.

I really look forward to the last training Kossai and Moui Moui have been my favorite food here so far. I can't wait to share stories and pictures when I get back.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

North to Katsina - by Adrienne

Greetings from Kano!
My team has completed the trainings here in Kano, and today we are headed north to Katsina to start our workshops there. We had 93 extension agents partcipate in the trainings here in Kano. I agree with Jim completely, that the role play exercises are the most fun. While I don't understand the hausa language, I can tell you they have the most fun playing the "difficult" chief. I have some video and pictures I hope to upload to the blog once we are home.
I am also very much enjoying my trip to Nigeria. I have a great team for the workshops and we have fun working together. Everyone has been very welcoming and they are all excited about the PICS technology, as insecticide treated cowpea have caused many deaths, blindness, deafness, etc here in Nigeria.
Yesterday I had the opportunity to sit in on part of the business meeting with Lela, the manufacturer of the PICS bags here in Nigeria. It was a very interesting meeting and there appears to be the potential of a large market for the bags here in Nigeria as well as the other western african countries.
I'm excited about the trip to Katsina. This will be my first trip outside of Kano, and I am looking forward to seeing another part of the country.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Not Hot

We're in the thick of rainy season, meaning it's been raining a lot. Most of my days have been cloudy or overcast, with windows of sunshine, or perhaps a 20 minute or so sunblast--which is hot--throughout the day. Another way of looking at it, I've been quite comfy in cotton Carharts and a shirt.

I talked or texted with the Purdue team today. Everyone is in good spirits, a combination perhaps of getting into a groove here, enjoying the people we are working with, and, if I may, also knowing we're inside a week now before we return to our loved ones in Indiana.

Role-playing is my favorite part of the trainings, especially when we have them "act out" how they will approach the village chief to ask for permission to do a training/demonstration in the village. Nigerians love to laugh, and they really get going with this part of the training. My team leader, Damisa, always has at least one woman play the role of village chief. That is a hoot, and a very interesting thing to see, as women are not village chiefs in Nigeria. However, they surely know how chiefs act. When the extension agent comes into the village during role playing, the female chief actresses are quite tough! They ask difficult questions about the project and the bagging technology. The male agents laugh and roll along with it, but also they seem a bit nervous about how they will perform/how well their answers may be/what others may think.

Food: moi moi is one of my favorite dishes. It's cowpea that is ground into flour, more or less, and then water is added to thicken it into an airy dough of sorts, from what I understand. Add in some peppers, onions, spices, maybe a hard-boiled egg, or even some meat. Then you boil/steam it in a cup mold or plastic bag. In Jalingo the other day, I had the best moi moi ever! My Nigerian colleague agreed, saying it was delicious.

This is my 3rd time working in Nigeria, and I have to say it's been my most enjoyable. I have to chalk that up to our counterpart here in Nigeria--IITA, the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture. What a great group of people!

It's Saturday evening, 5:46 p.m. I have a solid/fast inet connection. Doing fine...


Thursday, August 13, 2009

News from Kano - by Adrienne

Sanuku!! (Hausa for 'hello everyone')
I have finally found a fast enough internet connection to blog!! The internet here tends to be slow, or nonexistant!
I am the spoiled member of the Purdue team...I am spending a majority of my time in Kano. We have completed two workshops so far (about 1.5 days each). When we got here I wondered why we would need two days...well...the first day of the workshop is planned to start at 9am. The earliest we've started so far is 11:30 am. Dr. Musa (my team member) then has to give a long speech about the value of time and how we all need to be responsible and arrive on time, which he then reinforces again in hausa...just to make sure it is clear. We have started on time the second day (I don't think they want to hear the timeliness speech again!). The response to the PICS project has been very positive. The extension agents have a lot of questions and are excited about the new technology. Everyone here has been very gracious and friendly to me as I adjust to the cultural differences. One thing that I struggle with is the portion sizes!! Yesterday for lunch they brought me SIX potatoes and some chicken in a red spicy sauce. Seriously...six potatoes is too many! When I told them it was too much, they asked me if I was on a diet.... but the food, for the most part, has been very good.
I've learned a few words in Hausa (the local language) and the workshop participants get a big kick out of it when I try to speak in Hausa.
We've had a total of about 63 participants (7 women total) over the two workshops. We have one left here in Kano, and then I will travel north to Katsina on Sunday.
My other teammate, Suno, welcomed his first daughter last Saturday. This Saturday will be her naming celebration, as is the Muslim tradition.
Hopefully, I'll be able to check in again before I travel north!!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Ba Damu

Our driver says we've covered 1000 miles since Sunday. Tomorrow, we're off for Jalingo, another 7 hours in the truck.

Today's training in Jos brought out 60 participants!

BAH-dah-MWA. Let it all roll together as one word. It's Hausa for "no problem."

So far, so good, y'all!


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Going Well

Greetings from Jos! It's pouring outside, as we are in the height of the rainy season here on the plateau.

Trainings are going well. In a nutshell, we use the Training Manual, which you can access on the PICS website, to train Extension Agents, as they are called here, who will then go out into their zones in the various states to educate villagers.

Jeremy is in the east, Bill and Maria are down south. Adrienne is up in Kano, and I am content in Jos after conducting trainings in Makurdi and Lafia. I'm not certain the number of kilometers we've covered, but on Sunday I was in the truck for 12 hours, and today for more than 5.

After Jos I go out towards Cameroon, stopping in Jalingo and Yola to carry out 2 more trainings.

My belly is filled with pounded yam and fish served in egusi stew--made from pounded melon seeds. I ate 6 hours ago, and yep...still full!

Nigerian sight: moonrise glistening off the Benue River as we crossed the bridge into Makurdi town. A pale yellow/white shining on a water ribbon of silver.



Tuesday, August 4, 2009

We Go!

Tomorrow afternoon, 5:15 to be exact, we fly out. It's never easy getting on the plane and leaving loved ones behind, they having their worries and concerns, and we having ours as we settle in our seats.

The other side of that is: excitement!

Two weeks in Africa's most populous country. The home of more than 240 ethnicities. Teamwork between cultures. Nigerian and Purdue Extension improving livelihoods. University research being applied on the ground. Learning new words and phrases. Tasting local food and drink. Mind expansion.

For me, being with Adrienne, Maria, Bill and Jeremy, and our Nigeria counterparts, with their wealth of experience, is an opportunity to learn and experience international extension in practice.

How can the extension educator from Indiana assist the extension educator in Nigeria? What might the team in Nigeria teach the Purdue team? How will what we do in Nigeria have importance in Indiana? What will Purdue Extension accomplish in Nigeria?

These questions can't be answered without going.

Tomorrow, we go!