Newsletter 1, October 2016

Download in PDF: Newsletter 1_October 2016

By Chrystel Vert-Pré

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The past month has still been busy with setting-up the website and learning a lot more technical “things”. I am still struggling with all the appropriate computer terms (so it is all “things”), but getting better in term of doing it. I have had a lot of help in getting there. And I am grateful to all of you who gave me feedback, support and encouragements. Without you, I would still be with the concept only in my head.

Going back a couple of months, I had great help from someone who was volunteering for another NGO. She really boosted me in finding out about setting-up the website properly (I was looking at it, but was letting the technical aspect hindering me…). And so I did manage to set-it up. A lengthy process. It took me 2 weeks to work out the whole design. And then, about 12h to actually create the pages. For each site. As I was polishing everything, getting the nitty gritty in place, I had feedback and recommendations to buy a domain. In itself, it is easy… but, the transfer was not… “only” 3 days to read a thousand instructions and work out how to do it. Oh, can I mention that most of the instructions were not applicable to me, and that the actual transfer takes about 10 min…? but I did learn a lot about HTML, Php databases, programming… In any case, once everything was transferred, I still needed to re-do the whole lay-out.
Time to do it all is also hindered by the speed of internet connections some days, where you click on a page and wait for it to open… all in all, it was a lengthy and frustrating process. But at least, I had internet 🙂
The banner has been done, courtesy of Mathilde, back in France and busy with her own projects. And even though she gave me instructions on how she did it, I have still not been able to do another one… but I like hers so much that I might not have the right motivation to succeed in changing it… 🙂

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While writing the newsletter…..

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While writing the newsletter…..

A couple of weeks ago, I moved the office to come back to another project. This time it was hard to adjust and it took me a few days to get into it.
The main issue when I moved was to adjust to the heat. My last office had temperatures of 12-15°C/30-32°C (i.e. 12-15°C at night and 30-32°C during the day). As we are in the Southern hemisphere, we are heading to summer, so I do know that temperatures will be going up. But, moving 200 Km, the first evening was very hot. I blamed it on the fact that the day had been really hot on the road and that I could still feel it. But the next morning, the temperature was already 30°C at 6am, just at sunrise. And it climbed to nearly 50°C during the day. When it started to cool down, the reading was still 44°C, but felt sooo much cooler. In any case, I was not feeling comfortable with the sudden change and was worried about Maya’s engine as it was hot even without having switched it on… so I stayed put. I could not even work as all my devices were getting hot really quickly.

Kariba Dam Wall, which created Lake Kariba

Kariba Dam Wall, which created Lake Kariba

The temperatures are not really going down and everyone is suffering, even the locals who you would think are used to them. One learning, which also shows the value of field work, is that October is the hottest month of the year in this region. And so, I will try not to come back in October in future.
I now work at different hours – before 10 am (when it reaches 40°C) and after 4 pm (back down to 45°C and cooling down). Nights are quite nice and chilly – around 30°C… But also follow local advice and take rehydration salts to avoid too much salts imbalance.

 

Meeting with fishermen is posing me some challenges as well as the area is vast and slow driving. Meetings can only be in the afternoon. So I do spend the hottest hours in the car, with little air to cool down as the speed is too low to make much difference. And I am worried about the strain it does have on the engine (especially because I had some strange things happening… but I can drive, so just hope for the best…)

Kapenta Fishing Rig in Kariba

Kapenta Fishing Rig in Kariba

One positive point about those temperatures: no need for any other energy to make a cup of tea… the water is warm enough from the tap… literally!

On my last visit here, I had the unfortunate misfortune to have my computer and camera stolen, with all my data and a lot of photos. Since then, I had not continue to investigate further for the project and now, I am doing some repeat ground work. Things have changed as well in the area, due to the draught, over-fishing and country’s economy. So more details need to be investigated. An encouraging thing is that people have been talking and many show an interest. And some, not fisherman, have asked how they can help. Still much to do to draft the project, but it is work in progress.

Building the frame for the fishing net

Building the frame for the fishing net

 Kapenta drying area

Kapenta drying area

I am still here for 2-3 weeks, hoping for cooler weather and rain, before heading back to South Africa.

Have a safe month ahead
Chrystel, (Maya), Odile, Hélène and Jean-Louis