5-8 Daily Schedules: Not just a Participatory Activities for Community Action tool!

The Daily Schedules is an activity to get a community to examine where its time and resources are going. Through activities like this, problems and resources can be identified. Or, when I did it, you can start a fight between the women and men in the community.

It works something like this. The women make a “daily schedule” for both themselves and the men. The men do the same. The daily schedule should include any day-to-day tasks like cooking as well as what the bulk of the day is spent working on. If these things vary by season, day of the week or anything else, there may be more than one calendar.

Here is an example:

Gaea’s life on a workshop day
5:50 Crawl out of bed and try not to step on any dead rats or lizards (the cats leave us presents)
6:15 Go run
7:00 Get home
7:10 Write Morning Pages (three pages of writing whatever comes out of my head)
8:00 Shower
8:15 Cook and eat breakfast (For varying definitions of cook. Peanut butter doesn’t require a lot of heating.)
8:30 Walk to Lalbeteis to find my co-facilitator
8:45 Walk to the village for the workshop
9:15 Say hi to the chief and start to gather people
9:30 Twiddle my thumbs, write letters to friends, read a book, chat, play with the children, eat grapefruit and naus, translate the rules of football, and otherwise kill time
10:30 Start workshop
11:30 Break for lunch
12:00 Eat laplap and boiled bananas (on good days there is coconut milk and bush cabbage!)
12:45 Spell (aka Siesta time)
1:30 Remind people we are doing a workshop
2:00 Re-start workshop
4:00 Finish workshop
4:30 Chat
5:00 Watch the men grind and drink kava (I drink once in a while, particularly on the first day of a workshop since it is kastom to start an endeavor with kava.)
8:00 Walk home
9:00 Get home (It is dark and still slippery)
9:15 Dinner (hopefully it was given to us, otherwise I have to cook. Or eat more peanut butter.)
9:45 Write
10:00 Shower (again)
10:15 Go to bed.

Gaea’s life on a Non-Workshop Day

7:00 Get up
7:15 Go run
8:00 Get home
8:15 Write
9:00 Cook and eat breakfast
9:30 Do a crossword puzzle
9:45 Clear the table of junk
10:30 Do laundry (I will someday own a washing machine and every day I will tell it that it is a wonderful machine made of genius and rainbows and unicorns. Laundry sucks.)
12:00 Do a logic puzzle
12:30 Cook lunch
1:15 Eat Lunch
2:00 Nap
2:30 Clean the house some more
3:30 Prep for workshops/enter survey results/other work related things
4:00 Go find coconuts and coconut leaves
5:00 Start to cook dinner
6:15 Eat dinner (It takes a long time to cook on a fire)
6:45 Try to ignore the dishes, fail and go do them
7:00 Do another crossword or logic puzzle
7:30 Try to start writing, get interrupted by my host papa
8:30 Start writing
9:00 Jason comes back from the nakamal and interrupts my writing
9:30 Give up on writing
9:45 Shower
10:00 Go to bed

Jason’s life on a work day
5:50 Crawl out of bed
6:15 Train and Meditate
7:00 Write morning pages
7:30 Help prepare breakfast
7:45 Start a fire
8:15 Eat
8:30 Do the dishes and leave for Melsisi
9:20 Arrive in Melsisi, shower quickkly
9:30 Generator goes on and I start my first class
11:30 Generator goes off and my class is finished
11:45 Wander down to my host family’s house in search of food
12:30 Finish storying and go back to my house to nap
2:00 Get up, shower again
2:15 Go to the post and/or store. Buy bread from school
2:30 Generator goes on again, start my second class
4:30 Generator goes off, class finished
4:45 Start computer theory class with teachers
5:30 Finish class, start walking home
6:15 Sun sets
6:30 Arrive home
6:45 Eat
7:00 Do a crossword or logic puzzle
7:45 Shower
8:00 Write in my journal
8:30 Get in bed and read
9:30 Sleep

Jason’s life on a non-work day
7:00 Get up
7:15 Train and meditate
8:00 Shower
8:15 Write morning pages
9:00 Deal with my demanding belly
9:30 Do a crossword puzzle
10:30 Clean the house
12:00 Do a logic puzzle
12:30 Help prepare lunch
1:30 Help eat lunch
2:00 Do the dishes
2:30 Go look for someone to go to the garden with
3:00 Fail to find anyone (they’re already gone most likely)
3:15 Go cut firewood
4:30 Drag firewood back to the kitchen
4:45 Collect coconuts
5:00 Help prepare food
5:30 Wander up to the nakamal and story
6:30 Start grinding kava
7:00 Start drinking kava
7:15 Try to figure out what the heck people are talking about with the limited grasp I have on language
7:30 Shell two
7:45 Ask someone what the heck people are talking about
8:00 Shell three
8:15 Get told about someone giving birth to a snake
8:30 Shell four
8:45 Remain in the dark about what people are saying
9:00 Shell five, give up understanding and go home
9:15 Eat
9:45 Journal
10:00 Shower and bed

When I did this as part of the PHAST workshop (that will be explained in a different post), the women did a very detailed schedule for them and the men. The men didn’t come out looking too good. After a lot of cheeking each other back and forth, they did seem like they were going to start a fight about it. I had to intervene at that point.

The idea here is that by identifying where the most time and energy go, you can identify what the best problems to tackle are or what will prevent change in behaviors. By examining the amount of time individuals spend on an activity, it is often possible to find activities that could be simplified to improve quality of life. For instance, in a community where the women spend an hour or more carrying water from a river, it is less likely that anyone will wash their hands. The water needs to be used for other things.

I put it in the blog as an entertaining look at part of the work I am doing as well as what my life looks like. The schedules are accurate in an idealized kind of way.


We are in Vila again!

I am here for a workshop on HIV/AIDS and Jason is in for a short spell and to gather resources for his school. We will be posting blogs that I’ve written over the last few months as well as a ton of photos. The photos take a long time to upload so the first handful of blogs will be photo-less until we can get the uploads going. I’ll post when the photos go in so you can check back if you are interested. (The cats are adorable, I’d recommend looking at those pictures.)

We are around the internet for the next while so email us if you want to skype, or just email us to tell us what is new in your life. If you haven’t received a snail mail letter from us, send me an email with your address and I’ll write you from the island.

You may now return to your irregularly scheduled updates.

1-8 I really am working

I really am working, I swear

I have been doing some work. I realized that may not be clear since all of my posts are about other things. The truth is, work isn’t that interesting but everything else is.

I am starting out by doing a health survey. The survey that the Community Health Volunteers two years ago wrote is 84 questions long. I have taken out a few and I think mine is around 75 questions, I’ve also changed some wording to make it suit my needs better.

I don’t think I will meet with success if all I do is look around and say “this community needs a toilet” and write a grant to get one. Though they would have a toilet, that is a one-time deal. There is not sustainability to that, once I leave the toilet breaks and then they don’t’ have a toilet. The community learns nothing about accomplishing their own goals, they just learn to let white people come a fix things. That’s not my style. I’m too much of a hippy for that.

Instead, I am asking tons and tons of questions about everything to try to get a sense of what the community wants from me and what I can help them accomplish. The survey topics are family makeup, nutrition, water and sanitation, substance use, family planning and reproductive health, oral health, non-communicable diseases, communicable diseases, general health care, economic situation and opinion questions. It asks questions about what kind of things people know as well as self-reporting on everything from substance use to having a cold. It takes about an hour to do a household. If they have a lot of opinions it can take two and a half. (Two and a half hours was Jason’s papa.)

Some of my more interesting results are that you catch STDs by having sex outside and strong work makes you sick. There is a mediocre knowledge of nutrition, the people who know it, know it and the ones that don’t eat rice and taro for every meal. Family planning is almost non-existent. Everyone brushes their teeth at least a couple times a week. Everyone wears sandals, but no one knows how to block worms. (Wearing sandals is the number one way of blocking worms. If you don’t step in poop, the worms can’t get to you.) Everyone knows that keeping animals and stagnant water away from the house and sleeping under a bednet are the best ways of avoiding malaria and dengue fever. TB is passed by coughing and working too hard. High blood pressure and diabetes can only be treated with Western medicine. The water in the area is consistently clean and drinkable and everyone uses a bush toilet. And my favorite, sex under a mango tree means you won’t get pregnant.

I’ve done 16 of these to date, all of them in Vansemakul. Next week, I’m going ‘on top’ to work on some of the other villages which should be fun. I’m interested to see what other kinds of answers I get.

One of the projects that I’m considering at the moment is the Participatory Hygiene and Sanitation Transformation (PHAST) which is a WHO supported program to get communities to work towards improving their hygiene and sanitation abilities. I glanced through the handbook while I was at Alex and Lucas’ site for Christmas and listened to them talk about their experiences with it. I’m actually excited to dig in and get started on it. It is a mostly picture-based method of showing a community where they are and letting them decide where they want to be. Then they make a plan to get there. That plan could be writing a grant or it could be holding fundraisers, that’s up to the community in question, not the person running the workshop. Way more hippy, but also way more my style.

I’ll have more interesting work to report in a few months when I tally my survey results and start on the 6-month plan.

Up, Up and Away!

We have arrived on LA. Tomorrow we have “orientation” for 8 hours. It sounds like it will be “welcome to the PC, don’t mess up.” At 9:30 tomorrow night, we catch a plane to Aukland, New Zealand. We have a short layover in Aukland and then we are on to Port Vila Vanuatu.

The schedule we have for the next few months goes something like this. Sunday through Friday we will be at the training center 20 minutes outside Port Vila. We will be doing the “how to survive” portion of training. I think it is funny that this information is given to us when we are totally sleep deprived and jet-lagged. Anyway, that is the health, safety/security and language and cultural basics. On Friday afternoon, we will go in small groups to a community-based training site on the north coast of Efate, the island with Port Vila. Our literature specifically states that couples will train together, which is one relief. We will be in these villages/communities/huts-on-the-beach for 6 weeks. This time will include language lessons, but the expectation is that the best way to learn a language is through immersion. I agree, but that doesn’t make it less scary.

Sometime after those 6 weeks are up, we will be given our assignments and sent off to do them. Presumably, we’ll be sworn in as volunteers first. We won’t really know what our assignments are, where we are going or what kind of conditions to expect until we get there.

On less factual notes, these last few days have been chaos. We returned from the east coast late on Monday and spent the night at my dad’s. We dropped him off at the airport sometime before any sane person is awake and then continued on to my mother’s where we took a nap. Tuesday we spent the entire day shopping. We tripped the fraud detector on my card. I actually had to call the bank while in line at Target to allow them to run my card. We had dinner with Jason’s parents on Tuesday night and then went back to my mom’s to start packing. We spent Wednesday packing and sorting. Several friends stopped by which was wonderful for my mental state but not for my productivity. This morning, we finished stuffing things in bags and ran the very last minutes errands that needed doing. We and our bags made it to the airport underweight, underslept and with time to spare.

These last few days, and the east coast trip, have been so hectic I haven’t gotten a chance to really think about the fact that we, that I, am leaving the country. For real leaving the country. This is not a one month or four month trip. This is for real, I’m moving out of the US and expect to be living somewhere else long enough to have to pay taxes there. (If Vanuatu has an applicable taxation system.) Turns out, its a big deal and scary and exciting and sad and whole lot of other things.

Leaving friends is always hard because I never know if the older me will still be friends with the older them. Apparently I haven’t yet learned from experience that the really important ones just keep coming back and I shouldn’t bother to worry. Leaving family is hard in a different way. I’m close to both my parents, I’m used to talking to them several times a week. I won’t be able to call to ask advice, to complain about Jason not sweeping the floor or to beg for help with my broken car. The change is scary, because change always is.

Today it has sunk in a bit more that I’m leaving and I am worried and scared. But there is the little un-silenceable voice in the back of my head that keeps yelling “adventure.” With a voice like that, how bad can it be?