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

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Twelve Dogs Later

As you might have read on Amisadai and Louisa's blog, we suddenly find ourselves with eight adorable little puppies! This was never supposed to happen.
I never thought I would ever have a dog, yet now I find myself with not 1 but 12 dogs!!! And of course the four rabbits (three of whom may now be expecting more bunnies) and two pigs (one of whom we expect will soon be carrying piglets).

I have no idea what we are going to do with all these dogs! The girls want to keep one each, they are adamant that we should keep at least one! But 5 dogs?!

The dogs have created a stir of excitement in the Monger household. Other excitement this week has been the return of running water! For over a week we waited, but it really is no good waiting for the council or the water company! So in the end, our guard found the pipe problem up the road from us, we bought the materials and then our guard along with another fundi (workman) went and dug up the road and fixed the problem. 60 000 shillings later .... but at least we and our neighbours have water again! Imagine the trouble we would have been in fixing mains water in the UK or Canada! But it really was exciting! I threw the girls straight under a shower and left them in a bucket to soak. And then I had a shower - bliss! We flushed the toilets, washed bedding and clothes (there was a lot after a gamepark trip, having ten people in the house and a trip to Magozi!) and filled all our buckets! Awesome!

I have resumed my role as teacher. Now I am a Year 3 and Year 1 teacher and have to start all over again with course prep! But we are enjoying learning about the Romans at the moment and doing more on nutrition in science which will come in useful when we go to Magozi! I am looking forward to being back in Magozi next week; Tim went on his own this week and I struggled staying here. Despite all that is so hard about living in the village, it seems so right to be there.

Jikos waiting to be fired

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Bishops, wild aminals and no showers

As I write, all I can think about is a shower. And water. I am longing to have some hot water gushing from a tap or shower and I know I will never again take water for granted! We came back from Magozi to find a water problem here where we live in Iringa; we have had a few dribs and drabs of water since the beginning of the week. I managed a dribble of cold shower on Wednesday, and that has been it! But we have a rainwater tank (which will be filled again in December when the rains come) and manage fine with buckets. In Magozi the situation is much worse as the water from the new water project is not working and the overworked old system is now also struggling to provide water. So apart from dribs and drabs at the pumps, people are left to fetch the incredibly dirty water from the Little Ruaha River, which is a very long walk away. Pray this problem gets fixed soon.

The kiln is now completed! Tim was able to take Titus, an EI fundi (builder) who built the kiln for us in town, with him to Magozi to oversee the work there. It is ready to fire the first 40+ stoves when they are fully dried in about four weeks.

The new kiln being admired outside the church in Magozi
Today was a big day in Magozi with a visit from Bishop Donald, the retired Bishop of Ruaha, previously also the Archbishop of Tanzania. I went over to the primary school beforehand to "help" the ladies prepare a large celebratory feast for the honoured guests. We carried some onions, tomatoes and cabbage, and also two goats legs - by the furry hooves! I felt safer with the cabbage while they cut the meat off the goat's leg!

Notice the furry hoof!
I didn't stay very long as other ladies were preparing chai with sweet potatoes and maadazi which was served in our house on the Bishop's arrival. We could then proceed with the reason for the visit - the Confirmation Service in the church. About 30 people were confirmed and it was celebrated as is usual here with wonderful singing! Three choirs today! After the three hour service, followed by lots of photos (with a brief delay while the man with the camera had to change his kodak film), the Bishop came for a brief tour of the stoves project, and seemed suitably impressed! From here, we went to the special lunch for those who were confirmed along with invited guests. The goat was delicious, although Louisa wasn't too sure after seeing it in its previous state! It was a good time.

Bishop Donald (second from right, bottom)

In the middle of coming and going, farewells to the Wingfields, starting homeschooling, building kilns and celebrating confirmations, we had a wonderful few days with Huruma and Joyce and three of their children who came to visit us from Dar. We had a lovely time, taking them to Ruaha National Park - a first for them. We did really well, seeing lots of amazing animals, including buffalo which we missed last time, and a black mamba on the road with us. The Nkone family have been so generously supportive of us here in Tanzania, and it was wonderful to share our home with them this time. And for the children as well - they had a great time playing together!

With the Nkone Family

Our Lion

Black Mamba

So much has happened in a week, it is hard to believe it really has only been a week! But there it is, and at the end of it I'm still dirty!

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Knickers down the loo! Louisa too?

I am now the only one in the family who has not lost something down the pit toilet! A few months ago Tim lost his prescription sunglasses, two weeks ago Amisadai lost a shoe and this week Louisa lost her knickers! How you lose your knickers down the toilet, I do not know! I'm just glad the hole isn't any bigger, or we would have lost Louisa for sure! She  later managed to lose her step and ended up with one leg down the hole, wedged on her bottom in a slight state of shock! We did later find her running about with no knickers on, and when I asked why, she said she was worried she might lose them down the hole too!

In Magozi we have continued to have lots of fun with all the kids! Football, dodgeball, I tried Streets and Alleys, but it was far too chaotic! Lots of cats cradle and string tricks... they love all of it! We also had Isabella (an American girl visiting EI for a few weeks) staying with us for two nights, and the kids (especially ours!) loved having her to play with too! Tim ended up one evening teaching a young student maths in Swahili by candlelight! Other evenings have been spent playing "Golf" (a card game) by candlelight with Stout and Ezekiel (the stove group secretary) - lots of fun! We are learning to adjust to the lack of privacy... and I can laugh at the number of times women have tried to compare my breasts to theirs; but as they flip theirs out in the open, I keep a firm hand on my T-shirt!

Cats Cradle

Isabella with all the children

Fun with the kids

This last week we were able to visit the nearby secondary school (and Stout also visited the local primary school) to share about what we are doing in the village. The secondary school is very new, and it is fantastic that now children in Magozi have the opportunity to get a higher education. But it is difficult as the children must pass exams, fees are high, and particularly with the Masai people, many are kept at home to tend animals. Many girls struggle to keep up with their studies because of additional duties at home. The headmaster who has been there just two months brought with him some books - the first books for the school to have for the students to read. They have been distributed to the classes and eagerly received! We took Ezekiel with us and together were able to talk about the stoves we are making and their benefit for them and the community. To their great amusement, Amisadai and Louisa sang their jingle (we will have to get that up on the blog sometime!) and got them all joining in! They had lots of excellent questions, and are keen for more! So I am hoping to be back soon to do some cooking demonstrations and nutrition and efficient cooking lessons.

Primary students collecting water for cooking lunch

Friday, 12 August 2011

Community and Cooking

Community is a wonderful thing. Open doors, helping one another, really knowing one another, sharing "life"... It is something we have experienced in Magozi in a way unlike we have anywhere else. Life is hard, very hard, but the sense of community is strengthened by it. This is not a community that grumbles and complains, moaning together about all that is hard (believe me, they have reason more than most to complain) but a community that cheers one another with a smile and greeting and even a song, and supports one another. So many times, I want to grumble and moan... there's no water, my back aches, we have "nothing" to eat, it's too hot... When these thoughts again went through my head last week, I realised I had not once heard anyone complain or grumble. Not Tumaini ("Hope") who is 8 months pregnant, sick and had to travel to a clinic on the back of a bicycle. Not the 6 year old boy who was hit by a tractor and had to wait until the following day for a lift to get to the hospital to set his broken leg. Not our neighbours who have at least 7 children and need to somehow find enough money to send them school. Not a single girl who has to walk 2 hours to get firewood, or continually be fetching water (we have not had water from the new water system for these two weeks). It's a good place to be!

Digging foundations for the kiln
We are really pleased with all that is happening with our work in Magozi. We arrived for the first real day of stove-making after the previous week of training, and it has been fantastic to see over these past two weeks how quickly the standard of making has improved! We now have about thirty stoves; the group is doing so well! It has been good to see the group really start to take ownership and responsibility for the project. So our role has been very different, as we start to step back; we have been there for quality control and advice. Tim has been meeting with the group chairman and secretary and keeping things on track. They are preparing to build the kiln next week - the foundations have now been dug for that.

Chai break for the stoves group
I have been doing a lot of cooking on the jiko to promote using it! In the stoves group, I  have cooked rice, another day we had chai and bread, and this past week, I cooked up sweet potato and "spinach" cakes for everyone; all about using locally available food to cook with some more variety and nutrition. I have continued to teach about using the haybox cooker. I was really encouraged when a lady in the group invited us round for a meal and cooked us rice in a haybox she had very creatively made with what she had! She was really excited with it and pleased about the firewood and time over the fire she had saved! I have also had a number of ladies round to the house for lessons in making bread and cornbread. I loved feeling like a TV chef for one bread making lesson. I had not long made the dough for a loaf for us, when a lady came round asking to learn how to make bread. So together, we made the dough and set it to rise... and then I was able to whisk out my loaf, now risen ("the one I prepared earlier")... and show her how to cook it on the jiko! She was able to take the baked loaf home and I later cooked the dough we made together!

Another snack break for the group
Sweet potato and spinach cakes

Fresh cornbread

Baked Potatoes - what a treat!
Now we are back in Iringa, after yet another interesting journey, as our brakes gradually ceased to function as we travelled. We were very thankful to make it back home just when we did as it was getting rather dodgy! It was a hole in a pipe which drained all our brake fluid; thankfully now fixed. We are now preparing for a farewell party for Andrew and Miriam to send them on their way back the UK for six months.

Monday, 1 August 2011

Off to a Great Start

After months of preparation, this last week really felt like everything came together and we finally took off! It has been great to be living in this village of Magozi, having a good group of people together to learn about fuel-efficient stoves and how this project can help their community. It was wonderful to see so many people excited about it, eager to see the project develop. As one lady said as she came to our house with a gift of spinach leaves, "Before this, I had no work; you have brought blessing and opportunity."

The Ebenezer Group
We started over an hour late on Monday with only 8 people of the thirty we were expecting, so a little apprehensive about how this thing was going to fly! But people soon trickled in and things picked up quickly. By the end of the week we had a good group of 25 regulars, which is ideal. Each day began in the church building for a time of teaching and discussion. Tim is doing well with his Swahili, and understands a lot more than I do! But I managed to teach my sessions in Swahili (although Q&A is another matter!). I taught a very popular session on haybox cooking, which has spread like wildfire around the village, and several mamas have already asked me to teach it in the village for everyone, although members from the group are already doing just that! The girls helped with some fun actions for teaching the food groups and the importance of a balanced nutritious diet. And I finished with teaching Healthy Cooking (nutritious food, cleanliness, and decreasing smoke) and Efficient Cooking (managing the fire efficiently, heating water with black buckets, using lids etc), in hope that as this group makes and markets the stoves, they will be able to teach others about how to use them in a way that will benefit local health as well as further reducing the use of firewood.

Teaching Healthy and Efficient Cooking
Tim did the bulk of the teaching. Over the week he covered the story of the whole Bible, and we had pictures up around the building depicting it. He taught on the stoves itself, its benefits and construction. He led discussions on managing the business, teamwork and how to succeed in the project. The rest of the time we were outside and the group was divided into teams of three, making stoves. They learnt quickly and have produced ten quality stoves already. We have had to work on problems such as cracking clay (we lost one to major cracks!) but over all it has been successful. They have pulled together as a team, working on getting pits dug and clay collected. They have decided on a group name for the stoves, "The Ebenezer Project" (which means "God has helped us") and are thinking through issues of business independently of us which is great.

Stoves training in progress

Going to get the clay!
The water situation was not good this week; the supply is not enough and our water point has not had water for 3-4 days. We were able to drive to fill buckets from another place, but it is very difficult for people there. I had quite a number of people, especially children on their way to school, coming to ask for some water to drink. It seems horrible, but we have to say no. It is so hard, but we cannot supply everyone from our own limited supply. It was also difficult for the stoves group, as we need to get water each day for clay work.

So it has been a good, although pretty busy and intense week! We are so glad to be doing this, it is humbling to see how uncomplaining people are in difficult circumstances. We have seen people helping one another, supporting one another and celebrating a marriage together in such a simple but joyful way. And we have seen Jesus in people. As I was washing the dishes outside one afternoon, a lady came and sat down on the dirt beside me, and just started scrubbing my blackened pots with the grit and dirt. Just like Jesus, coming down to us, getting dirty to take away our dirt. For no deserved reason!