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

Sunday, 31 July 2011

Elephant for Tea

Yes, for the first time, I cooked elephant for tea! I made the jiko into a kind of slow cooker and made a casserole! But I think it was an old elephant as even after almost 2 hours, it was still pretty tough! Imagine all the meat you would get from an elephant! Louisa was most disappointed when she saw the raw meat, and asked where the trunk was! The elephant came from outside the Ruaha National Park; there are a limited number allowed to be killed each month, and people buy an amount of meat to then sell in villages. Another lady in Magozi was drying her elephant in the sun. Elephant jerky anyone?

Fresh elephant steak

Slow cooking the elephant

We have had a great week, really encouraged by how well the first week of training with the group has gone, despite all our inadequacies! I will blog later on about what the week involved and get some photos up! But I just wanted to say hi and enjoy some communicating in English again! We are here just for today and head back first thing in the morning in time for the group training.

The girls are doing well, despite struggling with sickness. Amisadai in particular has had quite a few bouts of vomiting and diarrhoea. They were fabulous looking after themselves during this past very busy week, and helping with some fun actions and singing in my health teaching too! Amisadai managed to drop her croc shoe down the pit on Sunday. And we had a bit of a time going fishing for it! Tim hooked it and Andy (who came with Angela to visit for the day) heroically reached down into the pit and grabbed it, little realizing how covered in maggots it would be! Disgusting!!

Going fishing!

On Saturday we attended a wedding! It was great to experience this wonderful celebration in the village! Late the evening before I was asked to make a wedding cake for the morning! I was very unsure about this, with limited ingredients, no cake tins and no oven! But agreed to try and sent an SOS text asking for recipe ideas! I was all set for this new jiko challenge when mama came over the next morning and said not to worry, someone else was already making one! I was actually a bit disappointed not to try, but it was probably a good thing for the bride and groom! But once at the wedding I was asked to be an official photographer with my camera!

Louisa placing a garland on the groom as part of the wedding ceremony

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Selling Louisa and Naming a Son

We are shortly back off to Magozi again, well stocked with more vegetables, a banana loaf, some homemade granola with our rationed oats and a big pot of chili. We are all de-wormed, almost packed and still busy translating. We are looking forward to what this week might bring! And this week we are taking 2 beds (the girls have been sharing one bed) and I am very excited about getting our own mattress off the dubious floor.

Just a quick note for those of you wondering what happened to Louisa, and before any more bids come in... I did have an offer made to me, a lady asking to buy her. But we decided to keep her. Louisa (well, both girls actually) are very popular in the village; we are surrounded by cries for "Loo-whiiz" and "Meee-sadai" as the children want to play. But not just the children; the adults love the girls' hair and skin and the girls are now used to being stroked! A Masai man took off his Masai necklace and ceremoniously tied it around Louisa's neck when he came by to see the stove. But one lady in particular is very taken with Louisa, and finally asked to buy her!

Sorry, not for sale!
But with our ownership of Louisa up for grabs, we have managed to name a son. A baby was born last week and when I was visiting and asked what his name was, the mother said he had no name. As the conversation went on, I thought she was asking me to name him, but wasn't totally sure I was getting the right end of the stick with the Swahili and didn't want to put my foot in it. But Amisadai (who is completely taken with this baby and is often holding him) took Tim to meet him and it was as I had thought. Mama wanted us to name him. What an honour! So Tim named him Victor, that in Christ, he may be just that.
Baby Victor, 1 week old
Now after three blog entries in three days, it's goodbye for a little while. Until next time ....

Friday, 22 July 2011

What's Actually Cookin' in Magozi

I thought seeing that our work in Magozi is all about stoves and cooking, I should let you know what's been cooking in Magozi!

As foreigners, we like to eat an early breakfast, a sandwich lunch around 1pm and cooked dinner around 6pm! In the village they eat two cooked meals at maybe 3pm and 9pm. And may have a "chai" snack in the morning, maybe some bread or uji.
Mama Egla (from the house next to us) cooking uji

Cooking uji for breakfast

Lots of rice, heaps of rice! Rice is the primary crop grown here and once harvested and dried, huge sacks are stored in the small homes to feed the family for the year. Some may be sold in order to buy maize flour for family consumption in order to make a profit. I have been cooking it in the haybox to demonstrate a way to save firewood. This means boiling water on the jiko (stove) and adding the rice to boil for just 2 minutes with a lid on. Then the rice pot is taken off the jiko and put straight into a basket of hay and covered with a pillow of hay in a khanga (traditional cloth). Left insulated like this, the rice is cooked in less than hour using no more firewood than for the initial boiling.

Beans! Beans are a great source of protein, but unfortunately not eaten so much here simply because of the amount of wood required to cook the beans for so long. But again, I used the haybox and it worked wonderfully! The beans are cooked on the jiko for 20 minutes in boiling water (after soaking for 6 hours or overnight) and then put straight in the haybox. I left mine for 3 hours, but you can leave them there for up to 6 hours. Then I added the cooked, drained beans to some tomatoes and onions to cook for another 20 minutes along with some ground peanut paste. It saved heaps of firewood!

I had wary onlookers watching the food go in the haybox - and then some very surprised faces when the rice or beans appeared nicely cooked as they came out!

Usually loads of children appeared whenever I got cooking on the jiko. They were fascinated by pasta which I had brought from the Italian Sisters mission in town. They broke the uncooked strips with their fingers and then tried some when it was cooked - many spat it straight out!
Exploring pasta
The kids were also interested in pancakes (they know the word now!) A similar idea to their chapatis but very different!
Curious about pancakes

My flour bucket also meant I could make bread which was a lovely luxury! The dough was very roughly thrown together with no measuring implements! But it seemed to work - rising happily in the warm weather. I cooked it in the round "sufuria" that everything is cooked in here. Using the residual heat of the jiko without firewood and putting the charcoal stumps on a lid on the top, it was an efficient use of the end of a fire. This attracted a lot of adult interest as people do love bread here. I gave a bread making lesson, and hope some of the ladies will start making it and maybe selling it as a small income-generating project. Flour, I have been told, can be bought sometimes in Magozi, and maybe more often if demand were there?

Last week we had the opportunity to buy some pork. The family next to us slaughtered their pig; it was hung on a tree whe n I got to it. A guy with a knife hacked a chunk off the pig's bottom and handed it to me for 1500 shillings and I took it home to cook. With some onions, the last of my peppers from town and an oxo cube all the way from England, it was pretty tasty!

Buying pork

Cooking pork
Cooking cabbage with Iringa carrot

I also took a cabbage with me from town, and this cabbage amazed me as to how many meals we scrounged from it! And the other staple of our diet was tomatoes which we could buy locally and cook with onions to make our rice or ugali more interesting.

So as you can see we are doing okay without Tesco, fridges and microwaves! It is fun experimenting with jikos and hayboxes and a good challenge to keep up with appetites! 

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Snippets from Magozi

Here I have another chance to catch up the blog and again I don't know where to start! Eating goat with the fur still on, killing scorpions on our floor, selling Louisa, crunching cockroaches under my pillow, buying pork right off the pig's bottom, chasing chickens from the house and cows from our laundry bucket, naming our first son... Life continues to be rather an adventure all round, but all the time we discover the real value of life, what is really important, and the significance of a hope for the future in a fallen world.

A cow wanders over to our front door and starts chewing our teatowel
We are getting used to the routine of village life. For me, it revolves on the ground around cooking and cleaning; I have never spent so much time bent over! Keeping everyone fed and clean is one of the hardest things I've ever done! We have all managed to eat; often I am wondering at the start of the day how we will get two cooked meals out of the meagre supplies we have, but we always do, even if it takes most of the day! So very little is available. Probably haven't done so well at keeping clean - the girls are a different colour now we are back in town! And as for my feet...!

The girls have settled in to a routine of playing outside, resting inside in the heat of the day and helping with washing clothes and dishes. We have a constant stream of children coming to play with the skipping ropes, I've done some dodgeball games and had them all gather for Bible stories and on several afternoons, Tim has taken all of them for giant football games - we had about 45-50 kids! Good fun for all, these kids are so excited to see books and balls!

Football Fun

It really is possible for a baby to sleep on a girl's back while she plays football!
The stoves project is progressing slowly but steadily and we are really encouraged and excited about it. We met with the village leaders to discuss it, and then there was an open village meeting to inform everyone about it. We arrived at 9:30 for the 9:00 meeting and it finally started at 11:30! Tim did a great job explaining (in Swahili) the project, and the girls did a great job singing (in Swahili) our catchy jingle about the stoves which was very enthusiastically received! Leaders and villagers are very excited about the stoves. Firewood is scarce, health and diet is poor and a small clay pot will make a difference! Many people came the following day to register to join the stoves group and we now have a full group. It met for the first time yesterday and at their own initiative, designated a chairperson, treasurer and secretary - brilliant! We start training on Monday and have a full week planned of Bible studies, stoves construction and related teaching topics. Although we are only just about to really "start" long after we thought, the time we have had so far has been so good in terms of getting to know people and gaining some understanding of village life. And already the people have seen something of benefit in what we hope to bring. But the biggest thing we can offer is hope, the hope which brings Life.

Our "demo kitchen"
Sun drier for dishes, black bucket for heating water, fuel-efficient stove and haybox cooker
I will try to add more to the blog on life in Magozi over the few days that we are here with internet... and hopefully we can catch up with news from home too!

Saturday, 9 July 2011

Magozian Mongers

We have returned from Magozi (briefly) and have a little time now to update you on our adventures, but I really don't know where to start! It's been very hard, but very good. We arrived in Magozi later than planned on Monday, due to a puncture on the way. But we found a man who fixes bicycles... he pumped the tire back up by hand!
A flat tire!
That first day was hard, we arrived at our new house and began setting it up. It was very hot and the reality of the water situation hit us quickly, as we had a lot of cleaning to do, scrubbing bat poo, dirt and cobwebs off the furniture and just had half a bottle of non-drinking water, which was about enough to damp a cloth! Tim drove out with buckets and brought back a load for us. For the people in the village this is a long walk with just one bucket at a time. Over and over during this week we have been struck by the stark harshness of life for the people in the village. And what we experience for just a number of weeks, is their life. It has felt like survival this first week, just trying to get water, treating the water for drinking, cooking meals on the jiko (stove) with one pot and very few ingredients, battling the unbelievable dust everywhere (lying on our mattress at night, we either must close our eyes or better yet, go under the sheet to avoid all the dust blowing through the house!), the early darkness, the heat... Everything is so incredibly labour-intensive, even just to eat; here there are no quick snacks, no ready-prepared meals and there is no way to keep anything fresh.

Washing clothes
But in the midst of all the adjustments, it has been good. We have enjoyed getting to know people in the village. They have been so kind and welcoming; several people have brought gifts of harvested rice and a neighbour brought some cooked chicken to us. The girls have done so well, making lots of friends, playing with them outside, helping with washing the dishes, sweeping the dust out, and other little jobs.

The people do find us a bit amusing and we have a constant audience. Even going to the outhouse, there were little heads peering underneath when we first arrived! We must wash in there as well, which is slightly difficult in many ways. The first time I ventured in to wash, I had just doused the girls in there and they ran out and back to the house in their towels - the crowd outside were eagerly waiting for someone to emerge. I was then trying to wash myself; it was now pretty dark in there, the wind was picking up and dirt and brick dust were getting rubbed in with gritty soap. My bucket ran out of water, and the crowd got interested as I shouted to ask Tim to bring more and they all leaned closer as he tried to hand me another bucket through the door. Finally I emerge and make a run for it, clad in my towel. Phew! And not feeling a whole lot cleaner for all the effort.

Cooking dinner (rice in the basket)
But having an audience is a good thing when cooking outside as people can see a fuel-efficient stove doesn't have to be used in a small house, and see firsthand it uses less wood and produces less smoke. And the audience was good when cooking rice in a haybox cooker without using so much firewood. Small things, but making a difference!

Set up for demonstrations at Saba-Saba
The stoves project itself is getting delayed as there is still no clay to work with. They should be getting some in the pits on Monday and then it will need two weeks before we can use it. Also, people are still harvesting the rice, so are very busy on their shambas (farming land outside the village itself) which would make it difficult for many to attend training days. But as we saw particularly at Saba-Saba (the big "agricultural fair") on Thursday, people are very keen in the project, very interested in the jikos and seem to see the benefits already. Even in the short time we have been living there, we have seen firsthand the health problems from cooking on an open fire inside a closed area; there are people with eye problems and coughs and chesty problems. But even for me, after cooking outside on the jiko, my eyes are sore and stinging from all the smoke, and my throat is sore. And we all feel the effects of the local diet, no fruit, limited vegetables and lots of rice or ugali. Even if you have fresh fruits or vegetables, it is so hard to keep them - from spoilage or rats! We would really like to try and introduce some small kitchen gardens to provide a little more nutrition for the diet.

Getting the bumper on the roof, to make it home!
We drove back yesterday afternoon (and to finish the week similar to how we began, our front bumper fell off on the way!) Stout was not well and needed to see a doctor, we needed wood for shutters for our windows, and we were excited about having a shower and getting some fresh food! Tummies are a bit dodgy, Louisa threw up in the night, so we are hoping a little rest here will do us all some good before heading back first thing tomorrow morning! 

Well, this has been a longer blog than usual, and I still don't feel that I have adequately described what we have experienced this week. There are so many real faces and stories behind this diary-like account, but they will have to wait for another time. For now you have just a little picture of life in Magozi.

Fun with the neighbourhood kids!

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Canada Day and a Slight Delay

Yesterday, July 1st, the girls celebrated their first Canada Day as Canadian citizens! We decorated with streamers and flags and invited a houseful of friends in red and white over to celebrate with us. We had two Canadians, Laura and her visiting friend, Katlyn, who was actually our only pure Canadian! We finished up with a bonfire with s'mores in the evening!

The Five Canadians

Katlyn's amazing cake!

The other news is that we are still here! There has been a delay on the work being done on our house in Magozi. We are just waiting for a concrete floor to be laid and the outbuilding to be finished. We will be going for the church service there tomorrow, but not to stay. But we do hope that things will be ready for us to move in on Monday (or maybe Tuesday...). So we are making the most of another hot shower and a chance to blog! I also had another practice at baking bread on the jiko - it was a little burnt where it rose to the top of the cooking pot and touched the lid with the hot coals on the top, but otherwise pretty good!

Bread cooking on the jiko
And I had a practice with the haybox cooker. This was a lesson in fire skills and extreme patience! I battled this time to get the fire going and to keep it going, but eventually managed to boil some water! Then I put the rice in the boiling water and put the whole pot in a basket of packed hay which is covered with a cushion of hay wrapped in a khanga (traditional cloth). The rice can sit insulated like this, cooking away and keeping warm, for up to six hours, a great initiative for local villagers. It saves a lot of firewood, and the rice can also be cooking on someone's head as they go out to their crops for a days' work, or journey to a hospital with food for a sick relative.

Rice ready to eat after cooking in the basket.
 So we are pretty much ready to go, all packed up, and this time we can say we have everything including the kitchen sink!