Wednesday, August 27, 2014

New Ram Pump

We tested a new type of pump today at Chifuchambewa. The ram pump takes in a high volume of water from a small dam, and puts out a small volume at a higher elevation.
The output is continuous and uniform, which makes irrigation with the pump easy to plan.  The farmer will get exactly the same amount of water every day. The output is low right now because of the height to which it pumps (almost 40'). Yet, it will still provide over 1,000 gallons daily.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Malikha Community Garden

Africa Windmill Project provided irrigation training two weeks ago.  Farmers at Malika village began transplanting onion, tomato and mustard greens into the field.  As they work and learn together in the community demonstration garden, they then take the skills and knowledge back to their own gardens. Where they grow the crops that fight hunger in their families and village.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Picking up at Mpombe

Lead farmers at Mpombe have started learning to use water pumps instead of buckets for irrigation. The progress has been quick as farmers managed to plant beans and begin irrigating before we had much chance to advise them. In this case, they got it pretty much spot on. That's what makes lead farmers so valuable to their club and our project.
 In the past the beans in this garden would have been all one farmer could manage to grow. With the pump, this farmer has planted and managed this crop in his spare time.

Another important use for water

"Madzi ndi moyo" - water is life. A Chichewa proverb that indicates the importance of water to all aspects of life. Other than for drinking, bathing and irrigating, the next most important use for water might be for building. Mortar and plaster are mixed with water, and in rural villages, bricks are made with just clay and water.
At Chifuchambewa, water pumped by the windmill is being used in the brick making process while farmers prepare land for irrigation. The bricks will be used to build a community center at the local church. Under guidance from World Relief, the community have decided to build the community center to host meetings and a nursery school.

By using water from the windmill, the women who ferry water to the brick making site cut their walking distance by two thirds. This is a huge time saver and has allowed the bricks to be molded in just two weeks instead of over the course of two months or more.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Hard 9

Planting the seeds…. (Day 9)
Our last day in Kondoa began with samosas (an Indian triangular shaped fried turnover – with either meat or potatoes inside), boiled eggs, Tanzanian doughnuts, hot tea, fruit juice and potatoes.  There was a bit of a scramble to get everyone organized – Lilian and her daughters were returning to Dodoma to get ready to go back to school next week and their son, Amani was going to go with us to Itolwa on the way to Dodoma.
We loaded up the LR with all of our luggage, the driver, Bishop Given, Amani, me, Christopher, and John and began the very long, very bumpy drive to Itolwa.  Itolwa is “the back of beyond”.  This is deep, deep into the dry and arid region of Kondoa. 
These are very poor people.  There is a mixture of Muslim and Masai people living here.  The majority of the people are herders – goats, donkeys, or cattle or some combination of the animals.  The Anglican Church represents the main Christian group.  Bishop Given started his work as an evangelist in the area, so that is how he came to know of the deep desperation here.  Fifteen years ago he began by riding his bicycle out to Itolwa and it would take him all day.  He said the road was there, but it was not as wide.  It took us about 3 hours in the LR.
As we drove along the landscape changed from dry and dusty to just dusty.  Everything was dusty. We could see donkeys pulling carts as we drove along, there was very little vegetation and I don’t remember seeing any garden plots at all.  Bishop Given explained that the reason we saw so many mosques in each village was that rival families had their own mosques as a sort of power play.  However because of the poor education in the region most of the imams and the people there only memorized the Koran in Arabic, so they really did not know what they were reciting.  The identification as a Muslim was based more on tradition than conviction. 
We drove down into these dry river  - bed gullies onto concrete “bridges” that would be flooded whenever there was a heavy rain.  I am sure there were periods of time when these roads were impassable.  Along these dry river  - beds there were huge holes that had been dug for wells.  This area is very sandy, so the sides of the beds were not very stable and yet I could see the heads of small children looking over the tops of the “wells” as they filled up containers with water.  Or people would stand on the edges of these holes and drop a bucket attached to a rope and pull the water up by hand – one bucket at a time.  It is very time consuming, difficult and dangerous. 
We stopped to visit the church that had been established at Itolwa.  They have almost 300 members.  The very patient parishioners who had been waiting for us to show up greeted us warmly.  Everyone came over to shake hands and welcome us – “Karibu”.  I’m quite sure there were some Masai grandmas there – they were very short, lots of wrinkles and huge holes in their ear lobes. 
Once again we went into the brick walled church for an enthusiastic performance by the choir with the portable generator operated keyboard.  It was beautiful – I wish I could be so confident it my singing voice that I could just belt it out!  There was a report of the state of the parish – an increase in membership, a need for pre - schoolteachers, and a new church being planted in another village.  These are all good things! We were given Masai robes as gifts.  I have been touched time and time again by the generosity and hospitality of these very poor in material goods, but rich in spirit people.
Another lunch in another pastor’s house – but this time the hospitality touched me even more because there was no evidence of a garden in the area.  All of the bananas, the tomato stew, and the oranges had to have been bought from some other community and transported there so that they could serve us a meal.  I am sure they were also being hospitable to their Bishop, but the fact remains that it was no simple matter to get the ingredients for our lunch.  So even though some of the meat looked questionable, I served myself some rice and had some tomato stew and hot tea. 
Once again I was amazed at how many people can squeeze into a Land Rover – I think I counted somewhere around 12 people total – plus all of our luggage that was in the back!  At any rate, we drove over to the well that this community uses.
I will try to describe the scene that awaited us there, but I am afraid that words will fail to capture the true impact of what we observed that day. 
Try to imagine a landscape that is sandy, with dunes, a massive ravine created by flash flooding, and huge holes that pockmark the area.  There is very little vegetation and what does exist is very scrubby looking.  Very little shade is available.  The holes are not fenced off in any way.  This appears to be a major destination for finding water.  There are herds of cattle and goats and donkeys intermingled with women and children who are there with containers to collect water. 
As we walked past a hole I looked down and there at the bottom of a dry well was a cow that had fallen in and couldn’t get out.  It must have happened sometime in the morning because it was lying on its side and I could tell it was still alive, but just barely because it did not make a sound, but just looked at me.  I continued walking trying not to imagine what would have happened if a child or woman had fallen in and been injured – where would she get help?  No one appeared to care about the cow – not that anything could have been done anyway – there was no way to get it out and it probably had broken something, so it would stay there until it died. 
There was a bore well that had been dug and capped off with a concrete top; it was operated by a hand pump. The man who owned it charged money for the water.  It was cleaner water than in the hand - dug wells – they had animal manure in them.  The other wells were dug by individuals to try to access the water
We watched as one man stood on the edge of a well with a rope and a bucket as he brought the water up.  Christopher estimated that it was about 8 meters deep.  He was barefoot; there was no railing to hold onto, nothing to prevent him from falling into the hole.  At another site we watched a man walk down an incline to another hole, take a rope and put a bucket into the hole and pull up the water for an estimated 12 meters. Bishop Given said that it every year at least one woman would die from falling into one of these wells. 
It was truly one of the most soul searing experiences that I have had – the desolation, the isolation, the other worldliness of the landscape were just almost overwhelming.  At least in the other villages we had visited they were doing some farming to feed themselves, there seemed to be the possibility of hope.  Here it was so tempting to think that nothing could be done.  However, the people in the area are not without hope – they have been searching and they have found that in the Anglican Church – that is why new churches are being planted.  I decided to take solace in that for now.
We returned to Itolwa to drop off the parishioners who had accompanied us and found out that they had a snack waiting for us.  While we were sitting there with our hot tea, bananas and oranges Bishop Given was explaining to me that the men wanted to know why he referred to me as “Pam”.  In Tanzania I should be referred to as “Mama Justine” or John should be referred to as “Baba Julian” – adults are identified by the name of their eldest child.  I laughed and said that there have been many times when I have been known as “Justine’s mom” and that was okay with me!
We said our goodbyes and continued on our way back to Dodoma.  It was close to 7 o’clockby the time we pulled up to the Gaula’s house.  We had time to settle into our rooms in the guesthouse that is attached to their house before Bishop Given and Lilian joined us for dinner. We didn’t know it but we were in for a treat – Lilian had prepared Bishop Given’s favorite dish.  A green banana stew that I must confess was my favorite dish of the whole trip.  It was made with onions, carrots, garlic, potatoes, green bananas and coconut milk – a truly unique Tanzanian dish.  I would have been happy just eating that for dinner.
We discussed what we had seen that day in Itolwa.  Africa Windmill Project would like to commit to exploring a realistic solution to the problem of access to a safe water source.  This will be a project that is different from what they typically do, but the need is so overwhelming that it is not acceptable to just do nothing.  So solutions will be explored.
Unfortunately it was rather late by the time we finished eating, so I only had enough time to talk for a while with Bishop Given and Lilian.  Lilian and I looked at the latest purse designs by the ladies sewing class.  I bought samples to bring back with me and will be taking orders – so be prepared!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Day 8 planting the seeds continues

Planting the seeds… (Day 8)
Today began with a yummy breakfast of a peanut chocolate chip Clif bar and water at 8 a.m. – I wanted to make sure that I did not forget to take my anti-malarial pill and I need to take it with “food”.  They do not serve breakfast at “The Simple Lodge”.  I worked on my notes while I waited for Bishop Given and Rev. Iri to come to pick us up to begin our day.  They finally got there at 9:30.  The delay occurred because the Kenyans had to be transported to the bus station and that took at least three different vehicles and drivers had to be located and things just take longer in Africa!
Our first stop was the Diocesan Headquarters where we were served breakfast in the room that is supposed to be the Bishop’s office but has been turned over to the Women’s Empowerment office.  We got to meet some of the staff and have a lovely breakfast of boiled eggs, bread, chapattis, potatoes and tea.  We also toured the Cathedral – disabuse yourself of any grand edifice.  This is a small building that was basically a chapel before 1990 when the Kondoa Diocese was created out of a much larger diocese.  It served around 19 civil servants.  It had not been expanded until 2 years ago when Bishop Given arrived and added maybe a quarter more space.  Originally he thought that would be one of his priorities, but after he realized the living conditions of his members the size of the cathedral just wasn’t that important anymore.
We stopped by the Bishop’s house to pick up Lilian and begin our 2-½ hour drive to Kikore.  Reverend Iri drove us in the other Land Rover on the road that was still under construction.  I found out today that this is the famed Cairo to Cape Town Highway.  It is being built by the UN and was first proposed in the late 19thcentury.  It is over 6200 miles long.  We did pass through a section of it that was actively being worked on.  I was happy to see that Tanzanians were being used as operators of the heavy equipment in addition to the unskilled portion of the work.  The Chinese appeared to be the supervisors of the project.  There were some sections that had been smoothed over even if they weren’t paved so they were pleasant to ride on.  Others were very bumpy and bouncy.  This time I sat in the middle section of the LR and definitely felt every jolt!  We had a full vehicle again with Lilian and the General Secretary of the Diocese sitting in the back of the LR.
When we arrived in Kikore the pastor and his wife greeted us.  They are in the process of building a new church – they just need a new metal roof and to clear out the floor.   The floors in all of the rural churches we visited are just hard packed dirt – just like in the pastor’s and farmer’s homes that we have visited.  The current church will become the youth group and pre school program building.
Once again we were invited into the pastor’s house for lunch.  As with every other meal that we have had, we washed our hands before entering the house.  We had a meal of boiled pumpkin (a pleasant change of pace – Lilian explained to me that she has had to encourage them to serve pumpkin to the visitors, they think that we won’t like it), chapatti, boiled eggs and rice with hot tea. 
After lunch we all went over to the church where the congregation had been waiting for us.  We watched another performance by a youth group again accompanied by a portable generator powered keyboard and dancing and singing.  The added treat this time for me were the three little boys in the front who were trying to imitate the older kids by dancing and singing except they had to keep turning around and looking in order to know what to do next. 
After the performance we were all introduced and a few words were spoken and we were invited to the front again.  John and Christopher were presented with a length of cloth that was draped across their bodies to signify their recognition as “wise men” of the community.  I was then presented with my own cloth as a symbol of my recognition as a “wise woman” for the women of the community.  What a wonderful memento of the visit!
We finally made our way over to the area that they were proposing as the location for the demonstration garden.  This region is very green, with beautiful mature trees, amazing views and most importantly of all a river that flows down from the mountain.  We were told that approximately 20 years ago the national government came in and built a series of small canals running parallel to the river.  The canals were actually in surprisingly good condition and were being used.  There were at least two weirs that were operational also – basically a movable plate that could be used to divert the water from one canal to another.  We walked along and inspected the fields that were closed to the canals and the river.  The farmers were not taking full advantage of the availability of the water so that the crops were not as well managed as they could be.  However, they were growing maize, sunflowers, kidney beans, and cowpeas in the field.  Additionally there were avocado, fig, and mango and banana trees growing in the large field that had been cleared in anticipation of our visit.  The youth group had actually started their own little garden plot up in that section. 
Before we headed back we had a quick snack of tea, rice and the ubiquitous tomato stew, bananas, cucumbers and oranges.  As much as I wanted a cucumber or orange I controlled myself because it is too risky to eat something that has not been cooked thoroughly! 
I was a relief to get back to Bishop Given’s house for dinner.  John and Christopher discussed with Bishop Given the possibility of developing Kikore as the demonstration garden for the Diocese.  It was felt that the water supply could be better utilized; the community was strong and would be supportive.  It is critical to find the right person to head up the new extension in Tanzania.  It must be someone who can spend the time with Christopher in Malawi to be trained, someone who can be adaptable, creative, and comfortable in another culture, can learn Swahili and be a good manager of people.  Not a small order!
Finally after many phone calls during the day and night it was confirmed that we have seats on the flight from Dodoma to Dar on Thursday morning!

Friday, August 8, 2014

Dar es Salaam to Dodoma to Kondoa Tanzania!

Planting the seeds…. (Day 7)
Another 4 a.m. wake-up to head to the airport.  This time it was to leave Dar es Salaam and head to Dodoma in central Tanzania.
It was still dark at 5 a.m. when the driver pulled up to pick us up for the half hour drive to the airport.  As expected there was very little traffic at that time of the morning. There were mostly buses with commuters heading into the city to their jobs.  Anytime we approached an intersection with a red light the driver would slow down and little bit and if there was no one coming proceed on his way – it made all those red light runners in Orlando look positively law abiding!
We were dropped off at Terminal Two at the airport and found out when we got to security that we needed to be at Terminal One.  So it was a quick scramble to find a taxi to take us to the correct terminal.  It turned out to be a short drive, but I was thankful to not have to walk along the roadway with our backpacks and duffel bags.  Terminal One is the original airport in Dar so it was pretty small and easy to find our way around.  We did the usual security check at the front door and over to the Flightlink ticket counter.  Since we were early we had to wait until the ticket counter was open for us to check in.  The waiting room did have a small souvenir shop and some additional domestic airlines that covered more remote areas of the country.  We saw a group of mostly young women dressed as what I called “Unicef Babes” – tight little baby blue t-shirts and tight black pants.  They appeared to be part of a group of older more seasoned workers – I’m guessing they were interns of some sort.  Anyway, when it was time we checked in and were issued a boarding pass that looked much more substantial than those thin computer generated passes we get these days for boarding.  We met another passenger who was going to Dodoma.  As it turned out he was a priest in the Diocese of Kondoa – Reverend Iri.  He was returning from his 3 - week trip to visit family in New Zealand.  The only other person on our flight was a businessman from Belfast, Ireland. 
I’m happy to report that the flight was very pleasant.  I don’t know the name or type of plane (Sorry Ken), but it only seated 12 people.  So we had plenty of room.  We were able to see a lot of the terrain as we headed north.  The southern part of the country is very lush and green.  It eventually transitioned into a more arid, mountainous looking region with very large boulders.  I do know that Kondoa has some prehistoric rock paintings that we will probably get to visit in October when we have more time. 
We walked through the smallest airport that I have ever been to when we landed in Dodoma.  Needless to say we did not have to wait long to get our baggage.  It was a good thing that Reverend Iri was on the flight with us because there was no one to meet us at the airport.  He called Bishop Given’s driver to let him know we were there and left in a taxi to get his car.  It was such a pleasant day that I didn’t mind the 10 - minute wait for Bishop Given.  He said that he usually sees the plane landing from his house so he knows when to leave, but that morning he missed seeing the plane so he didn’t realize we had landed!  We all climbed into the very beat up official “Anglican Diocese of Kondoa” white Land Rover and were driven over to the Gaula’s house in Dodoma.  They originally bought the house because it is within easy walking distance of St. John’s University, back when they thought that they would be returning to Dodoma from New Zealand after Bishop Given completed his doctorate.  As it turned out, it was still a good idea because that is where the children live during the school year with Bishop Given’s mother because they have to attend school there – there are no secondary schools in Kondoa. 
Just as a side note – we originally were going to go to Arusha to visit the Echo East Africa Impact office and then return to Dar from there.  After waiting for months to get a response Christopher called them on the Thursday before we left to confirm if anyone was going to be there.   The phone call did not reassure us that we would be able to meet with anyone.  Then when we found out that it was a 4 ½ to 5 - hour drive on mostly unpaved roads, it was decided to cancel that portion of the trip.  We needed to reschedule our return from Dodoma.  Bishop Given ended up spending a considerable amount of time on the phone with various people trying to confirm that we would be able to have seats on the Thursday morning flight out of Dodoma.  At this point we do not know if we have seats on that flight or not – it will be a work in progress.  I think part of the difficulty is that we are dealing with the end of Ramadan and the beginning of the Eid celebration, which lasts two days.  Just as in the US, banks are closed and a lot of businesses close for the holiday.  There is only one flight per day from Dodoma to Dar and if we miss that flight then we miss our connection back to Malawi.  So what would have been a two  - hour flight then becomes a marathon 30  - hour trip to Ethiopia, and who knows where else to get back to Malawi.  The two - hour flight is only available once a week. 
We were welcomed to Bishop Given’s house by four Kenyans who were part of a larger group who had been in Kondoa for almost a week helping to evangelize to the rural communities.  If I haven’t mentioned it before, the region here is 95% Muslim.  Tanzania is a secular democracy and the issue of freedom of religion is very taken very seriously.  The Christian churches in Kondoa have begun to make inroads (no pun intended) and are seeing very positive results.  The priest who brought the Kenyan group to Kondoa is a friend of Bishop Given from their days at Seminary in Nairobi.  He said that Bishop Given was the baby of the group so they all watched out for him when he was there back in 1988!
We had a Tanzanian breakfast of a type of rice flour fried fat pancake, a large doughnut minus the hole and hot tea.  (I still can’t believe the carbs I’ve had since I got to Africa – I shudder to think about how my clothes will fit when I get home.  Here I am wearing loose fitting long skirts with t  - shirts, so there is a lot of camouflaging going on). 
And then the Grand Tour ...  the Kenyans wanted to see more of Dodoma, Bishop Given had to wait to sign some official paperwork, and the spare tire needed to be repaired.  We began by walking over to the campus of St. John’s University.  The Anglican Church founded it in 2007.  Bishop Given served as a chaplain there for a year and his middle child Ilumbo was born in Dodoma and she was baptized at the chapel on campus.  There are about 5,000 students enrolled, with around 70% male and 30% female.  This is where Bishop Given was going to head up the theology department that is until the diocese in Kondoa elected him bishop!  It is a pleasant campus, but as with a lot of buildings here it is already showing wear and tear.  I think mostly because of poor quality materials that are used and lack of the funds for maintenance.  I noticed the same conditions in India. 
Pascal, the driver met us outside the gates and we drove to downtown Dodoma.  Even though Dodoma is the capital of Tanzania it is still very much a small town.  The national government is in the process of putting more of the buildings of the various ministries in Dodoma.  So there are these very large new modern buildings that have either been built or are being built and the official residence of the Prime Minister is there, yet it is still a pretty sleepy little town.  It was created the capital after independence from England in the early 1960s.  Tanzania was created by combining the countries of Tanganikya and Zanzibar.  The first president, Julius Nyerere wanted to place the capital in the center of the country so that it would theoretically be easier to get to for its citizens.  The cabinet ministers were also chosen from all over the country and it was to be a secular country. Despite his best efforts he could not get enough people to move from Dar es Salaam where they had established businesses and residences to move inland to Dodoma.  It is still a concern 50 years later! 
We drove into the surrounding outskirts of the city to look at the campus of the University of Dodoma that was currently under development.  A Chinese construction company has the contract to construct all of the buildings on campus.  It is a sprawling modern campus located in the foothills of Dodoma.  There are enormous boulders scattered throughout the landscape.  According to Bishop Given there are approximately 45,000 students enrolled.  They come from various parts of Tanzania and then leave as soon as they graduate.  The region in general has a very difficult time recruiting any professionals to stay in the area once they’ve gotten their degrees. 
While we were there we stopped at a new branch office of Bishop Given’s bank.  He wanted us to meet the young woman who is the branch manager there.  She helped him open his first bank account ten years ago before he came to Virginia to study at Virginia Theological Seminary. 
As we were driving around we would transition from a paved road and then suddenly we would be on a severely rutted unpaved portion – there didn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason for why the paved portion stopped or started!  It was a very different situation from Lilongwe, Malawi.  It is an absolute necessity to have a Land Rover under those conditions. 
The next stop was the headquarters office of the Diocese of Dodoma of the Anglican Church of Tanzania.  We waited there while Bishop Given signed some official documents.  They were very unassuming offices in a side street off of another street, sandwiched in between some shops.  However unassuming the offices were we found out that the diocese there has over 1 million active members!  It is the largest in the Anglican Communion.
Back to the house for a late lunch around 2:30– with rice, chopped greens, a sort of tomato stew with onions and carrots and junks of meat with boiled chicken and chapattis, and always with hot tea. We also had lots of bottled water available for every stage of the trip.
It was close to 3:30 by the time we were ready to head to Kondoa.  We now had 9 people and all of our bags crammed into the Land Rover – not the most confortable accommodations for the 3-½ hour drive on mostly bumpy, rutted, dusty roads.  I was given the seat of honor and got to ride upfront so I got to see every pothole, every rut, gully, goat, donkey, child, dog, motorbike and truck heading our way! 
This part of Tanzania looks very much like Arizona or New Mexico.  It is mountainous, dusty (Did I say dusty – I don’t remember having seen this much dust in my life – I will be bringing some scarves with me in October to wear over my hair to keep it from becoming a dust magnet!)  There were some trees near Dodoma, but as we got farther and farther away we saw them less and less.  We did see some baobab trees along the roadside and some cactus, but mostly dust.
The first hour of the trip we were on a paved road, so other than avoiding potholes, other vehicles, pedestrians, and goats we moved along fairly quickly.  Then we moved onto the unpaved portion of the remainder of the trip – did I mention dust?
The road from Dodoma to Kondoa is actually under construction by the Chinese, I’m not sure what the distance is, but Bishop Given said they had started it when he got back a little over two years ago and let’s just say it is a work in progress.  Once the road is completed it will take approximately 1-½ hours to drive, in the mean time it can take upwards of 3 hours, so there is still much work to be done. 
We began to drive past villages with more basic construction.  The same hand made bricks that I have come to expect in East Africa, but with a rectangular shaped house and a metal roof if they have some extra money, otherwise it is a straw roof. Again the dirt yards are swept clean, but the surrounding area is usually strewn with discarded bottles and plastic bags caught on the bushes.  The goats were checking through the trash for anything edible and lots of young children everywhere. We saw very few vehicles, mostly people walking, riding bikes, donkey carts and a few motorbikes.  I saw many more donkeys in this region than in Malawi and I don’t remember seeing any in Uganda.  I also saw more herds of cattle and goats the closer we got to Kondoa.  This is an area where the Masai have begun to settle as they get squeezed out of Kenya into more of Tanzania.
I’m learning that when you travel with Bishop Given it is never a simple journey.  There are stops along the way that must be made – churches that must be visited.  One stop had been planned in advance and the other was a special request once they learned about the other stop.  The first stop was in the village of Kidoka – a welcoming committee was waiting for us when we pulled up.  We were greeted by the women’s choir complete with drums.  In addition to them there were the pastor and his wife and lots of children.  The children here mostly wait shyly staring at you and smiling after you wave or smile at them and say “Jambo” (hello).
We went into the long, rectangular shaped brick church where we sat at the front with the Bishop, the pastor and other leaders.  The thing that I noticed immediately though was the portable generator that was used to run the keyboard and speakers for the choir!  After prayers and opening remarks the women’s choir began to sing and play the drums – it was a beautiful, joyful sound. I was able to make a video of the first song they sang – unlike any songs in our hymnal back at St. Richard’s that’s for sure!  We were introduced, said a few words, another song was sung, a blessing was said and we were back on the bumpy road.
The second stop was the village of Chemba where the vocational school is going to be built. A church is located here in addition to some buildings that had been built by World Vision in the 1990s (I think…) a donor in the UK has pledged the funding to complete the campus for the vocational school once the bricks have been made.  Right now they have 2,000 bricks and need 20,000!  The plan is to have classrooms, staff housing and dormitories for the students.  It is located close to a permanent road maintenance facility that the Chinese have built and are currently using.  The advantage to that is that it has electricity and water and Bishop Given is planning to try to tap into those resources for the school as well.  It is located on a rise that overlooks the valley.  The pastor and his wife and other members of the congregation had prepared a small meal for us.  We once again washed our hands as someone poured water into the basin.  We then had the first of many meals on this leg of the trip.  We became very familiar with the menu – rice, tomato stew with onions, carrots and meat, another meat dish, potatoes and chapattis with hot tea. (I am seriously wondering what that scale is going to look like when I get home!)
It was just starting to get dark as we continued the final leg of our journey to Kondoa.  (Don’t tell Ken)  The good news about traveling at night is that there is not much traffic, the bad news is that it is harder to see the ruts and potholes, the people, goats, dogs, cattle, bicycles and various and sundry other things along the side of the road.  It was close to 7:30by the time we pulled onto the grounds of the Bishop’s official residence in Kondoa.
That was the final night of the mission for the group from Kenya so they were coming over for an evening meal to share their experiences.  We had a very enjoyable time talking with them and listening to their stories of evangelizing with the villagers in the rural communities.  They were warmly welcomed by the Muslim population, 8 people decided to convert, recommendations were made to continue with the outreach, to provide preschool teachers, and they promised to return again next summer to evangelize.  They will also provide funding to pay for someone to head up the preschool outreach in the diocese.  I was very touched and moved by their commitment – you could tell that these were people who were rich in spirit if not in pocketbook.  They were truly willing to put their money where their mouths were. The next morning they were getting on a bus to start the long 12 - hour trip back to the outskirts of Nairobi, Kenya. 
We finally checked into “The Simple Lodge” in Kondoa around 10 pm that evening.  I will say that it lived up to its name.  I had a bed with a mosquito net that only had a few holes that I used my cellophane tape to close and I had a bathroom with a western style toilet.  It was reasonably clean – I had two bottles of water. I put the rubber doorstop under the door.  There was a television in the room, but I never turned it on.  Internet was advertised, but I don’t remember getting a signal in the room.  I think I got a brief opening once when we were in the lobby area in the morning waiting for a ride.  And I got a good night’s sleep!

Irrigation Training at Malika

Our newest club at Malika have started irrigating with a rope pump in their demonstration garden.

This year fourteen farmers will be trained here. Their focus is on food security during the dry season when growing enough food is difficult.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

The day of the Bajajs

Planting the seeds… the day of the Bajajs (Day 6)
We started the day with a pleasant 15  - minute walk to the Mbezi Chapel of Bible Baptist Church.  Imagine my surprise when I walked up and noticed that the roofline is very similar to my church back in Winter Park, Florida!  Of course, the materials are different – we have asbestos tile instead of straw, but the extremely pitched roof was very similar.  Inside the similarities continued – the ceiling was open to the roof with exposed rafters.  The similarity ended there - in the front left hand corner there were instruments set up – drums, guitars and a keyboard.  A screen was hung from the wall at the front of the church on that side also.  The seating consisted of white plastic chairs placed in rows.  There was an elevated stage area for the singers and pastor. 
The service began with singing – the lyrics to the songs were displayed on the screen at the front of the church.  Of course everything was in Swahili, but Trish sat next to me and translated.  It was surprisingly easy to sing along with the lyrics displayed on the screen – it looked like most Swahili words ended in a vowel and there don’t appear to be any silent letters, so I was able to follow along.   Our choir director would be very pleased with the volume of singing and the enthusiasm of the congregants!  The theme of the service was the story of the Prodigal Son.  The youth group presented a play with a modern day version of the story.  The primary aged children took turns reciting Bible verses they had memorized.  There was a lot of singing.  So I got to practice Swahili pronunciations even if I didn’t know what I was singing.
After church we walked over to Pamela’s Garden Pub for lunch.  We all had delicious kebabs – a choice of either beef or chicken with either rice or potatoes.  I had both meats and they were equally delicious.  It looked to be a favorite expat hangout. 
I then had my second ride in a Bajaj (don’t tell Ken) with Trish and her daughter.  We went back to the Wycliffe compound; I changed into my flip-flops and we headed over to meet up with the guys at a local hotel on the beach. 
The hotel has a water park, a go cart track and the requisite band playing in a gazebo on the beach.  There was a nominal entrance fee to get into the grounds of the hotel.  We walked through the open hotel lobby to the beach on the Indian Ocean.  Unfortunately the beach has trash that has washed up on the shoreline, but if you stay away from the tidal area the sand is white and fine like you see in the Gulf of Mexico and the water is a beautiful shade of turquoise.  It was very windy and the fishermen that were coming into shore were moving very quickly with full sails. It looked as if they were going to crash land onto the shoreline, but of course they were able to maneuver the boats so that they didn’t crash! We also watched some people try to Para board  - not very successfully I’m afraid.   It was just so relaxing to sit there and watch the water and listen to the waves coming and going.   I can now say that I have seen the Indian Ocean from Goa, India and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania!
We took another Bajaj (don’t tell Ken!) back to the house and had left over pizzas and tostadas made with chapattis.  We discussed the challenges of living in another culture, the differences between Mozambique and Tanzania and how to find Doritos in Dar that taste like they do back in the United States!
A third Bajaj (don’t tell Ken!) took us back to the compound where we were staying.  I decided that I better take advantage of access to a shower with hot water while I had the chance since I didn’t know what the accommodations would be like in Kondoa.  The pressure was not the best, but the water was hot – so I was happy!  We had another early start in the morning – off to the airport at 5 am.  It was the only flight to Dodoma for that day so we could not afford to miss it.  

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Lilongwe to Dar Es Salaam

Planting the seeds….  (Day 5)
Early morning wakeup – ugh!  We have a 5:30 am wakeup so we can leave for the airport at 6:30 am.   On the way to the airport we will pick up someone who can then drive the SUV back to the house after dropping us off at the airport. 
At that time of the morning the airport is very quiet and I was thinking that was a good sign – we would make it through security quickly and get to the gate with plenty of time.  But I hadn’t taken into account that so far at the airports I’ve seen in Africa the security clearance is done at the front door.  On one level that makes sense – you potentially prevent anyone from bringing something into the building at all.  On the other hand it means that there is a line going outside while you wait to clear security.  Plus I forgot about African Standard Time (kind of like Indian Standard Time… it will happen when it happens).  We stood in line for about 15 minutes before we actually started moving, then it proceeded very slowly.  The security consists of a very short table with bins, a small conveyor belt and the metal detector.  They did not check for fluids, I left my cellphone in my purse and my kindle in my backpack, but I did set off the metal detector with my shoes! 
Once we cleared security we had to go through passport control.  Another slow process even though there were not many people in line.  Just as I was getting ready to go up to the counter a group of about 8 people were moved to the head of the line, as their flight was getting ready to leave for Johannesburg, South Africa.  Once I cleared passport control (They do have the camera and the fingerprint machines) we made our way to the waiting area.  We had to board a bus to take us out on the tarmac to board the Malawian Airlines flight.  Luckily for me the flight was not full so I did not have anyone sitting in the seat next to me.  I actually had some time to continue reading my kindle before we were served a continental breakfast.  It was good to have something to eat, but I am really nervous about getting on that scale when I get back – so many carbs!
We had a very pleasant 2 - hour flight to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.  I was expecting the international airport there to be something like what we experienced in India, I guess because Dar is a very large city for Africa – about 2.5 million people.  It turned out to be a small, well organized international arrivals area.  We got through passport control will our new, very official looking Tanzanian visas and by the time we were finished our bags were ready to be picked up.  Since we had nothing to declare for Customs we walked through that area and right out into the outdoor area of the terminal.  The roof - enclosed area outside created another shopping area with offices and stores on the outside perimeter, and there was a money exchange bureau; upstairs there was a restaurant – the Flamingo – and the usual taxi stand.  The weather was more humid, but pleasant and a little cool.  While we waited for John’s friend DJ we went ahead and exchanged our money into Tanzanian shillings.
DJ and his wife and two kids have lived in Tanzania for a little over 2 years.  Prior to that they lived in Mozambique for several years.  They have learned Swahili and live within the community.  He rode the bus to meet us at the airport, so we took a taxi back to his house in the outer suburbs of Dar.  The traffic was pretty reminiscent of India – lots of vehicles, but minus the honking and the 3 wheeled vehicles known as Bajaj  (The auto rickshaw).  They are actually made in India (The company name is Bajaj) and they are the world’s largest exporters of these vehicles. 
DJ and his family live in a small neighborhood within a community that is near the Indian Ocean.  They have chosen to live there rather than in a walled compound – they felt that they would get to know the culture and language more easily if they did that.  The organization that sponsors them provides extensive language training that enables them to be able to more quickly acclimate once they get the basics of the language.  We were warmly welcomed into their small little house that was build based on a design of a house that the landlady had seen when she visited her daughter in Canada!  We had burritos made with chapattis (Indian thin, crepe like bread) for lunch and pizza made with local ingredients for dinner.  It was a little bit of America in Africa by way of Mexico and Italy!
We also met some other Americans who are living in various parts of rural Tanzania who were interested in what Africa Windmill is doing in Malawi.  One family was heading back to the US for a 6 - month stay and the other family had come in for some supplies.  They were able to get some ideas for farm management, bee keeping and the irrigation system from John and Christopher.  It was good to hear the positive comments they had to make about the Tanzanians that they had encountered.  The general consensus was that they were a hospitable people.
We were staying at the Wycliffe Bible Translation compound not too far away, so we took a Bajaj to get over there!  That is something that I have wanted to do for a long time – go for a ride in a Bajaj, but in India it always looked too risky, so I never did.  Here DJ knew the driver, it was a new vehicle and it was for a relatively short distance even if it was in the dark over very bumpy, unpaved roads.  (Yes, Ken I did!)  So we loaded up our backpacks and duffel bags and all four of us squeezed in there with the driver and headed over to the compound.  The ride was as much fun as I thought it was going to be!
It was already dark by the time we got to the compound so we couldn’t see much, but it consisted of several buildings in addition to the guesthouses.  There was a communal kitchen in one of the other buildings where we could prepare our breakfast in the morning.  We had a suite I guess you would call it with a common sitting room and two bedrooms.  The bathroom was off of the room with the bunk beds.  Plus we had air-conditioning in the room –what more could you want?
I had finally made it to Tanzania!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Planting the seeds… (Day 4) (Heading in another direction)

Planting the seeds… (Day 4)
(Heading in another direction)
We headed east early this morning towards Lake Malawi and the village of Chifuchambewa.  The first portion of the trip was on a very nice paved two - lane highway, it actually had shoulders and a guard rail that consisted of just the cement posts – the metal rods connecting them had been stolen, but it was better than nothing.  The remaining portion of the trip was on an unpaved, rutted, more like one and a half lane road that of course required a slower speed.  It took us a little over an hour to cover almost 30 miles.  This part of Malawi is very hilly and reminded me a lot of southern California – sort of brown looking, but with more trees than we had seen in the areas west of Lilongwe that we went to on the previous days.  This region of Malawi is known for growing tomatoes and cabbages and as we drove along we saw markets with rows and rows of red tomatoes nicely displayed.  The cabbages were very large and sometimes there would be a pile of them stacked along the roadside. 
We also saw terraced gardens planted with cabbages and tomatoes – it reminded me of driving in the more hilly and mountainous regions in Italy where every inch of fertile soil was used for farming.  While there were a lot of garden plots, not all of them were being used.  It is very strenuous work maintaining a garden on a hillside!
Imagine that you are also farming with tools that probably have not changed much in hundreds of years.  The hoe that is used is made from the fork in the branch of a tree, so that it has a bit of a curve to it, I guess it makes it easier to hold onto – substantial enough to withstand the demand put on it by hoeing and yet not too large so as to not be able to use.  The other end has a metal hoe – these days usually made in China.   
As we got closer to the village we began to see the occasional baobab tree – you know the kind with what looks like multiple big, fat trunks that have merged at the bottom and then taper off with skinny branches sprouting out at the top. They have a manufactured one in Disney’s Animal Kingdom that is the “Tree of Life” with intricate animal carvings in the trunk.
The village of Chifuchambewa has a unique situation for Africa Windmill Project – they have several natural springs that just bubble up out of the ground.  The challenge is to use that water effectively and efficiently.  Another organization had previously come and built a cement bore well structure over an area where the water was already naturally coming up.  The water runs continuously out of a faucet. While we were there women were taking advantage of the ability to collect it in large, blue tubs.  (While this is a huge advantage – remember that tub of water must then be transported back home, usually on her head!) The water then continues to flow down into a cement containment collection point where there are 3 different pipes that can direct the water into two fishponds and one garden.   One fishpond was not in use, so the water was flowing into the other fishpond and the garden.  There were at least ten other fishponds within the village – the national fish and wildlife agency had encouraged the community to start fish farming as a way to diversify the economy. There are three that the other organization started and nine that the villagers constructed themselves. It takes almost 15 months for the life cycle of the fish before they are large enough to sell - then after all of the investment of time and money spent on feeding the fish they may only make around $75 – and that gets shared among all of the men who help with the ponds.  The difficulty is that the villagers do not have transportation that can get the fish to market.  So they must sell it to someone else who can transport and therefore they do not make the profit that they could have otherwise.
On the other hand, we had seen farmers in other Africa Windmill Project locations that had learned how to grow onions that only take 3 months to grow and to harvest – and make almost as much money.  Sometimes the villagers need to be given an alternative that is more efficient and cost effective – but they may not have been given all of the information necessary to do that.
We walked over to where there is a windmill in operation that Africa Windmill Project installed.  It is similar to the one that we saw earlier in the week in that it has a cement container pond that allows the water to accumulate as the windmill pumps the water out of the spring.  The group was given a time frame of 2 weeks to identify 2 lead farmers and get started on a demonstration garden before Africa Windmill Project would return.
The setting was just so peaceful – there was a fairly constant pleasant breeze, it was quiet – you could hear the birds in the trees.  Abundant water available, interested farmers…all of the ingredients appear to be into place to get another Africa Windmill Project underway.
Tomorrow we leave for Tanzania!  We will be spending the weekend in Dar es Salaam under the care of friends of John, so we will be well taken care of.  The only way that made sense to get to central Tanzania is to fly through Dar es Salaam; otherwise you end up on a multi hour odyssey.  Then you get into the complications of scheduling and timing and so we end up with an extra day in Dar es Salaam!  On Monday we will fly to Dodoma in central Tanzania to meet up with Bishop Given.  It will also become too complicated to bring a laptop with me, so I may not be able to get a blog off until we get back to Malawi on Thursday.