Finding the plot

A couple of weeks ago one of the elders of Nyakabanga church on Kome invited us to look at a plot of land his father owned. Word has got around that the wazungu are building a hospital so I think he thought the plot would be good for that. (We’re not building a hospital by the way!). I (Simon) visited the plot today (Monday) to see what potential it had. Something in me enjoys the challenge of walking into the unknown with a guide who speaks no English. I met Josephat ( the elder ) at the pastor’s house and we walked off, with him carrying my shoulder bag, as is the custom. We walked quickly through the fields, mostly cassava and sweet potato and some maize. After a 20min fast hike through fields we arrived at a clearing where an old man sat in the shade of a tree. This was Josephat’s father (Babu, meaning ‘grandfather’) and I could see his mother hoeing cassava in the distance. We talked for a while about how I was mad to only have 2 children at my age and that we must hurry to have more, at least 10, to ensure we ‘fill the earth’ as God has instructed us!

Babu and family live in mud brick, grass roofed houses and cook over an open fire outdoors. They collect water from a well, which only works half the year, and also a muddy spring.

We talked about how EI is different from the Korean and Chinese NGOs who the rural people have seen splashing the cash on large infrastructure projects ( Kome received a basic electricity grid 3 years ago, but only a small proportion of the island can afford the connection). They were intrigued that EI were not interested in making money from the rich agricultural land or fishing opportunities on Kome, and even more interested to hear about our agricultural projects that could potentially give Babu an income. It was early days to make any decisions about what sort of thing Babu could pursue, but I was able to encourage them that since they were already skilled farmers some farming project, or at least education on improved farming practices would be most appropriate. We sat in the shade of a tree while mama brought freshly uprooted cassava to eat raw. I was then loaded up with aubergines and more cassava to take home with me. These sorts of experiences are really crucial in our understanding of the church community, the extended families, underutilized land and skills, and it also helps structure our thinking in how we can engage the church in ways other than the health project.

In other news, which Victoria will report on, the health project had its first proper meetings this week. The women in the church met together to discuss openly issues around breastfeeding and infant nutrition. These open air meetings are a challenge in both hot sun and rain since the church has no covered building to meet in. We are raising money to put a roof on their building, which will not only help our project meetings but also allow the church to gather in all seasons, literally come rain or shine! If you feel you’d like to contribute please click here

2 thoughts on “Finding the plot

  1. Dear Simon and Victoria, Tabitha and Reuben

    How great to hear from you again – we were beginning to wonder where you were!! We aren’t on Facebook, so we miss out on any news on there, though Jackie is quite good at telling us things. Very interesting news about the possibilities of educating the farmers in better practices and perhaps also some advice about improving their water supplies? Let’s hope it will encourage them to realise it would be as valuable as building a hospital there. Perhaps that will be your next task.

    We look forward to hearing Victoria’s news on the health project and we hope that Gertrude has been welcomed and accepted on Kome.

    Then we had the pleasure of seeing you all on screen last Sunday, though for us “oldies” it wasn’t always easy to hear everything. We do gather from Tabitha that it is HOT, though I can’t say that we could understand Reuben’s comments! I guess it wasn’t in Swahili.

    How are you getting on with that? I expect your confidence has improved and it sounds as though you got on OK with Josephat and Babu. Did you persuade them that you were not planning to have lots more children? It was good that you could put them straight about why EI is involved in Tanzania and that it is not for money reasons.

    We pray that the church will soon have a roof and are glad to be able to help with that.

    We had the most wonderful celebration service for the life of Nigel Vogeli last Friday. It began with about 20 minutes of jazz, played by John Turner and the trumpeter from his group, with very able support from Paul Daggett, Pete Bellamy and Kieran Taylor. Pete Chilvers would have loved to join in, but as he was doing the service, he couldn’t! Nigel had planned the service and it was so great to be a part of it. How we shall miss Nigel and we shall all be praying for Sheila and the family and seeking to help them.

    With our love and prayers for you all

    Keith and Beryl


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