I start the day with a naïve optimism. If I can connect these CLAs with the cooperative and get them collaborating, this could be a small success to build confidence and start my summer in a positive and promising light.
This isn't exactly the focus of my summer, but the opportunity is too good to step over, and it's so clear what should be done. Simple enough in theory, just facilitate a few meetings, get them introduced to one another, and set the metaphorical wheels in motion while not becoming an axel of support, right?
Austen, Lemick and I are sitting under a small thatched roof gazebo at the back of Mr. Zewa's yard discussing the group of four CLAs; this is the meeting that was supposed to happen days ago. The other two agents still are nowhere to be seen, but my curiosity about the group prevails over my patients.
I ask them how the roles in the group were selected. Lemick explains while Austen's head nods
"As soon as we said lets talk about who will be chair, Enoke said, 'Ahh, Emerson should be chair.' But I said Austen should be chair. Then, Emerson was like, 'I would make a good chairperson…'"
Austen jumped in, "To avoid conflict, I just said that Emerson could be chair."
They explained how the quickness of Enoke's vote for Emerson made it seem like he was expecting, and waiting. Like it was pre-arranged between Emerson and Enoke that was how it would play out.
I start to ask Lemick about the group finances, "How much money does the group have now?"
He says he's not sure, probably zero. I look at Austen and he nods.
"How much did the group used to have?"
Lemick tries to explain they started with ZK 70,000. 70,000? I thought Austen said it was 50,000. I check back in my book. Yup, 50,000. I ask is it 50 or 70? Austen changes his mind to 70,000.
"70,000 of Austen's personal money?" I ask.
"Did Austen get paid back?"
"I think so."
"Can I see the records?"
Austen comes back with his record book and shows me the ZK 70,000 he spent back in January on the drugs for spraying cattle for ticks, called DIP. Why would he tell me ZK 50,000?
"Do you have records for how many cattle you sprayed and how much money you made?"
It takes me multiple iterations of similar questions to learn that the agents have been rotating record keeping responsibilities. Austen has his records from the month of April, but the other months are supposed to be with the other CLAs.
"Lemick, do you keep records?"
"Yes, I keep records."
"Can I see them?"
"AHHhhh…" He pause. "You will have to give me some days to find them, I think they are lost."
I drop it, and the conversation moves. Remember the group of elders Enoke was talking about who apparently were jealous of the CLAs and didn’t want them to be successful? Apparently those elders are really just the cooperative.
Click. No wonder they haven't been working with them or sought out the opportunity. Rumors - they destroy more than high school ego's.
"Why does Enoke think the coop doesn't want you to develop?"
"Ahh, it is probably Emerson's influence. They do not have a good relationship the coop and Emerson."
They couldn't tell me why.
So there is a chairman for a group of community livestock assistants who has beef with a livestock cooperative. The entangled web of personal biases, miss opportunities, and mindsets that make up the circumstances which I stumbled into are starting to unravel; and the importance of personal relationships has never been more strongly demonstrated.
Tomorrow is the meeting at the cooperative. This should be interesting.