It’s effin’ cold. Who would have thought I would need the hood of my mummy bag during the night, and a sweater and pants in the morning. Even the weather isn’t depicted properly in Western media. I can see my breath, this is ridiculous.
But, the air is still and the blue smoke from a brazier rises in a perfect column in front of me. The coals are warming my toes, and the youngest two kids are sitting beside me on the log outside my hut. They, apparently, are no longer scared of me. The youngest is stomping his foot on mine playfully. I especially enjoy the calmness of the mornings, nothing can disturb the peace...
Oh. My. God.
I had no idea roosters could be out of key, or could have voice cracks. An alarm clock which plays the sound of finger nails on a chalk board would be welcomed at this point. It’s beady eyes look at me asking the rhetorical provoking question, “how was your sleep last night?” Then he struts off; his twitchy head leading the way without waiting for my response. A few steps later he calls back, “Good luck getting used to village life!”
What a cock.
Austen and I are sitting in the shade at the back of the yard. I am flipping through his record and receipt book he keeps as a CLA. I am impressed with how organized and consistent it is. He is proud of it and makes sure I flip through every page to the see the full extent of his efforts, then he pulls out his phone.
“This is the record I send to PROFIT.”
He reads an SMS, following each word with his finger to make sure I don’t miss a single syllable the way everyone seems to do when they are showing me something. It is broken English with numbers and the types of animals treated in no particular order. If I received this text at the other end and was supposed to put it into a data base there is no way I could be 100 percent sure I copied it correctly. He tells me AZCC doesn’t require any records to be forwarded to them, and the Ministry requires only a monthly record which Austen has written on one side of an 8-1/2 x 11 copied straight out of his own record book. I jot down in mine, “No formal records or follow up – Problem?”
I make a few suggestions like including the phone number of the farmer who you helped, perhaps using a table instead of paragraphs. I ask him what he thinks, but he quick to agree completely.
I ask him about the other agents, “Do they keep records?”
“Aihhh, they don’t, they can be lazy.”
Austen explains to me how they are actually supposed to be working together, as a group of four CLAs. Three weeks before I arrived they had met and divided roles. Astern would be treasurer, Emerson would be chair, Lemick secretary, and the fourth the committee member. I ask to meet the fourth member, and we go after lunch.
On the walk to Enoke’s Austen tells me how the group had convinced him to use ZK 50,000 as a startup cost for their group so they could buy some drugs. I let go of my phone and take my hands out of my pocket – I had just refilled it with ZK 50,000 or apparently enough to start your business as a CLA. It is an uncomfortable feeling.
When they bought the drugs, to spray cattle, they were able to make ZK 60,000. But apparently, instead of re-investing that money in the group they split up the money four ways, that’s ZK 15,000.
“They said they needed to buy soap-ee, and talk time, and what, so we divided the money.” He explained in disappointment. He wanted to see it re-invested in the group, and also wants to be repaid. We arrive at Enoke’s, and start talking about records.
“Do you keep records?”
“Can I see them?”
“…Yes.” He stares at me. I stare back. Austen smiles. Enoke gets up slowly and walks to his hut.
He comes back 10 min later with a dirt stained notebook that has clearly been through one to many rainy seasons. He hands me the book. At the top of the page is one record. I ask if there are other records. He says yes. I flip through the book quickly and all I see are a few notes he has taken at one of the PROFIT workshops.
“Are they not in here?”
I don’t press, and hand the book back to him. I get the feeling he thinks I am there to evaluate him and report to PROFIT on his performance. I explain to him, again, it is the opposite. I am here to evaluate PROFIT’s performance in agent support and try to develop tools which will help him with his job.
He loosens up a bit and explains to me how he was selected late and only received the vet training, and missed the business aspect. That is an interesting corner to cut.
After several attempts at trying to get the wording right asking what support he would like from PROFIT without them actually giving him something physical, like a bike, I finally get an answer. He would like more training and for them to offer advanced courses. He would like to be inspected, monitored, and given suggestions on how to improve.
He mentions that it is difficult to be successful when there are elders in the community that don’t want to see him and the CLAs succeed. I try to ask more into this but don’t fully understand. All I can gather is there is a group of older business men in the community who do not want to see the CLAs be successful because of jealousy. Interesting. I wonder how much of this is personal bias and rumors.
I watch as Austen shows Enoke how to take basic records while stressing the importance, then we depart.
“Spainca, have you seen?! No records. Have you seen?” An interesting group dynamic is beginning to uncover itself.
On the walk home I start to feel sick.