We live in Mwanza, Tanzania, serving with Emmanuel International helping local churches in physical and spiritual ministry.

Friday, 20 April 2018

Family Fun in the Wild

We are so thankful for an amazing few weeks in Kenya over Easter holidays! We really made the most of the time visiting friends and family and enjoying a week conference with Salt and Light Church leaders from around the world! More will follow but here are some photos from the great time we had with my Auntie Marian and Uncle Ian, visiting my cousin, Becky and her family currently living in Nanyuki. It was so great to see our kids have so much fun together ... there was much talk of snakes, along with sundowners in treehouses, energetic football and some serious Malke playing! They treated us to an amazing weekend in a beautiful old farmhouse in Lolldaiga Gamepark. It was such a fantastic time to catch up with family and also enjoy the amazing beauty of landscape and wild animals in that area around Mt Kenya!
Early morning game drive with popular Uncle Ian


Incredible breakfasts on the veranda!
Malke on the lawn
Drinks in the Treehouse

Our Walking Safari
Spot the Giraffe!


Fun Family Times!



Thursday, 5 April 2018

Breastfeeding Stockings on Kome Island

The health training on Kome Island is now in full swing! Simon and Victoria are doing a great job setting up this project, working alongside the Nyakabanga Church on the island. Simon is putting artistic skill to great use drawing pictures of people and faeces for sanitation posters and Victoria has been busy sewing stockings into breasts for her visual and tactile aids! They have set up a house on the island and with their two young children, Tabitha and Reuben, go there regularly. They are working with Gertrude, our health trainer. She is doing a fantastic job settling there and getting to know people. She spends three weeks on the island and then has a week back in Mwanza. She has recently started teaching a group of women who are now meeting regularly every week.
Gertrude teaching on nutrition
It was great for Niall and Sue Barry to visit the island and see the work progressing that Team Hope is supporting. They joined in one of the mamas meetings for a discussion on nutrition. It seemed more appropriate with the disproportionate number of men present that day than continuing with the regular teaching on breastfeeding!
Niall and Sue visiting Kome Island
Gathering in the Ewing's Kome house

Mamas Meeting at the Nyakabanga Church
With the help of some homemade breasts made out of old tights, the women have been enjoying their weekly meetings and learning about the importance of exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months. It is not uncommon for a mother to feed her infant non-milk foods at even a couple of weeks old. Not believing that milk is enough, maize porridge and bananas are given very early on. This group of women will continue meeting and Gertrude will also start working with another group of women in a neighbouring community.

Meanwhile Simon is preparing to start household training on sanitation. The plan is to work with around six families, three in the church and three outside, who will then become trainers for their community. This will training will focus on improving handwashing, water treatment and safe storage of drinking water. So it is exciting to see this work growing and progressing and relationships building!

You can follow the Ewing's adventures on their blog here!


Victoria and Simon's mum sewing stockings into breasts

Louisa back the Mamas' Meeting

When it is good to have your own car and avoid public transport!

Friday, 23 March 2018

Push-Me-Pull-You

Our latest work in agriculture reminds me of the Pushmi-Pulyu in Dr Dolittle. But we are not talking about animals or livestock integration. No, in a couple of the villages we are working with, we have introduced Climate Smart Push-Pull Technology, a method used for controlling pests and improving soil fertility. We are introducing this to farmers like Mama Veronika who with nine children to feed from her small plot of land, has faced the discouraging disaster of pests devouring her crops.
Mama Veronika (right) with her twins and baby and neighbour (left)

The tiny maize pest: Stem-borer

The Striga plant is a parasitic plant which attacks maize
Mama Lea holding the parasitic striga plant

So what is Climate-Smart Push-Pull Technology?


It is an improved method of the conventional Push-Pull that fights the challenges common after a drought when the soil is poor and plagued by striga and stemborer. Desmodium is planted in between rows of maize. Its roots stop the striga weed from growing and attaching to maize while improving soil fertility and its leaves also cover the ground and prevent soil erosion. The smell of the desmodium "pushes" the stemborer moths away from the maize. Brachiaria grass is planted around the maize (or sorghum) plot and attracts ("pulls") the stemborer moths to it to lay eggs, but few larvae can survive on Brachiaria grass so the maize is saved! Both plants are also excellent fodder for animals and will improve health and increase milk production.

Starting with the seeds
A few weeks ago, Tim went with Peter, Elisha and John to an Agricultural Research Centre just outside Mwanza to learn more about the technology from Dr Rwiza, the research scientist there. They had a good tour of their demonstration plots and came back full of enthusiasm and with the gift of some rather expensive seeds!
Brachiaria Grass growing round the outside of the maize

Desmodium growing in between the maize

Peter, Dr Rwiza, Tim, John, Elisha and Simon

Putting it into Practice

The guys then went to the villages of Igumumoyo and Nyamililo with the research scientist to work with our farmers to plant out a Push-Pull Demonstration plot in each village.

At Isaac's house in Nyamililo - 'the classroom'

Planting begins

Supporting us in this Agricultural Project, is Team Hope in Ireland. This week we are delighted to have Niall and Sue Barry from Ireland visiting us and it was wonderful to be take them to Igumumoyo to see the work in this village getting off the ground! We trained 27 farmers in Conservation Agriculture in September. Even after the late rains and plague of pests which followed the drought, while many farmers in this village have struggled to harvest, our farmers are pleased with their harvest after the first rains. And with the work we are doing to beat the pests, they are encouraged and optimistic for greater harvests to come! Almost all of them have planted again now to make the most of the second rains. So wonderful to see the transformation of hope at work! Huge thanks to Team Hope for their help making it possible!

We began our day with a time of introductions and sharing at the church

With some of our the farmers participating in the project on the church demonstration plot
Walking out to the fields
We visited the shamba of Mama Veronika who talked to us about her involvement in the project. She is 38 years old and has nine children, the oldest is 23 and the youngest a baby and in the middle somewhere there are sweet 6 year old twins! As she said, providing food is a struggle. It was great to hear her testimony that, "...through the project, even though there were challenges [pests], we got a better harvest. We ask you to please continue this project. There is plenty of food in our home now. And in the home there is joy!"
Mama Veronika talks about the project 
After visiting another woman's shamba, we went to see how the Push-Pull Plot was looking. It had only been five days, but already the maize and desmodium were poking green through the sandy soil! It was very encouraging to see the good germination and exciting to see something new started!

At the Push-Pull Plot