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

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!


  1. We're proud of you! We pray you get your health back quickly before heading straight back.

  2. We thank God for your love and willingness to share life with people in Magozi. I know life there is a struggle. I am sorry to hear about the water shortages and hope that improvements will come. I may be able to help by contacting people who may be able to help. May God send more people like you.


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