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

Monday, 22 April 2013

This Little Piggy ...

The deed was done at the Wingfields. Our little piglet from last year, now all grown up and belonging to our guards, had sadly come to her time. And I was called to put my butchery observational learning into practice rather sooner than I expected. After scalding and scraping the pig hair off, she was hung in a tree and gutted. With the bung gut tied off neatly, I pushed that out without disaster! After sawing in half, (now about 2 hours after slaughtering) we were ready to start the butchering. There was definite improvement! Recognisable cuts of meat, which could all be neatly labelled (loin joint, spare rib, leg, belly, hand...) and weighed for sale. And I clocked in so much faster! I had my trusty photos (taken at the Kingsclere Butchers) and my own rather patchy written instructions, and I went through them all carefully with Edgar, who is the new trainee butcher. So now he will be able to butcher a pig, British-style, to sell. So if anyone is passing, please stop in at Kingsclere Family Butchers, and thank them from me. Their kindness and help to me is reaping benefits here. Meanwhile I need to get busy getting my smokehouse built. No bacon this time.

Today the girls and I have just returned from a day out with Andy. We went with him to see all the work that has been going on at Furahia Secondary School. They are almost finished the water project there, building 6 large water tanks. The school had a big problem with the lack of a water supply. Now the school of over 600 students will have water to drink and cook with as well as handwashing/latrine stations. The difference that clean and available water makes is very hard to appreciate unless you don't have it. These schools appreciate it!
The girls check out the water point by Tank #5

Andy working things out with Titus, the foreman
I particularly wanted to go to Furahia to meet a lady I have heard a lot about, from Andy and also Tim who recently met her. She is Mary and she runs a shop in the village, selling various things, including chai and chapatis. She is lovely Christian Masai lady, extremely generous, making sure Andy is fed for free when he visits as her thanks for what he is doing in the village. She offered the same hospitality to me and the girls today. She also showed me how to correctly fold and wear the traditional Masai dress, having supplied me with the material through Andy a few weeks ago. When I tried to do it at home earlier, we all agreed I looked like I was doing a poor imitation of a Roman in a toga! When done properly, it's a beautiful outfit!

We also stopped off in the village of Ikengeza which is where we are hoping to run another stoves project. They had some samples of clay for us to pick up. It was great to meet the pastor and his wife of the church there, again receiving such warm hospitality! And while there we learned how to hit the sunflower heads to knock out all the seeds. The family was gathering their harvest of sunflower seeds, drying them in the sun and then sacking them up to take to a machine in town which would squeeze them into sunflower oil. Itchy work.

We had a little trouble on the way which caused a temporary delay

Louisa waits for the guys to sort it all out!
There seems so much more to write about with Lucy's Cinnamon Buns (the great Canadian UBC recipe!) now available for sale in Iringa, seedlings appearing in the Keyhole Garden and Bag garden (see the girls' blog for more about this!), bone explorations for our skeleton unit, and a final fling with the Rainforest to get the girls' website published (find the Rainforest Explorers at www.rainforestexplorers.webs.com) but this post is getting long. I will just finish with the good news that we have a good water supply again! Since we arrived here in January, there has been a problem with our water tank and we have had very low water pressure which would often cut altogether (very bad news for showers) when water was running elsewhere. Now, thanks to Andy's hard work, we have water really coming out of taps! And the shower really works! Well it did! Only one problem ... all this water pressure was a bit of shock and Tim just got rather wet testing the shower. The pressure popped the shower head and water went all over the bathroom! But all fixed now! Washing up will be so much easier now! And flushing the toilet - wow!

Thursday, 18 April 2013

At the Dentist: Fire while Filling!

Tooth saga is almost over! Tim has returned from his third trip to the dentist in Dar es Salaam, clear of infection! We are all glad that these 3-day round trips to the dentist are over! (He does still have to go for some final X-rays and get the proper filling done, but he can do this when we all go to Dar next month to pick up his parents). His finale at the dentist was rather dramatic. Lying back in his chair with the dentist hovering over, the quiet was suddenly disturbed as a man ran in, shouting. Everyone ran out, leaving Tim still lying in the dentist chair wondering what was going on! FIRE! The mosque over the road was on fire and it was all hands on deck. The dentist was gone, dentist fire extinguishers were taken ... The fire brigade arrived after a while and normality resumed in the dentist surgery. All in a day's work; if it's not power-out's mid-drill, it's a fire in the mosque...

We are very thankful that Louisa didn't have to go back this time to visit the neurologist. She hasn't had a recurrence of the strange eye problem since Easter, so we trust that is the end of that.

Other adventures and activities of the past week have included trips out to three villages, a birthday party, a dog-induced rabbit disappearance, a fun rainforest-at-home day and a pig slaughter and butchering but I think that some of these adventures will be for another post!

First the villages. We all went to Kimande and Magozi together and despite, rather predictably, things not going according to plan, we had a good time with people there. We went first to what will be our house when we move there. We had arranged for a labourer to be there at 8am to talk about costs of things like a floor, walls, doors and windows. He wasn't there when we arrived at 10am, so after some chai and mandazis with the pastor and his wife, we went with the pastor to meet the Village Executive Officer. The girls opted to stay with Mama and some school kids who had come for a break. It was a long walk through the village to the office and we realized just how much bigger this village is than Magozi! We discovered it has a population of about 2500. On the way, we passed the village police officer (something Magozi doesn't have) and even a village jail! We were warmly welcomed by the police officer who asked us to offer English lessons. He isn't the first to ask and with a nearby school full of secondary students struggling to learn in unfamiliar English, we think this will be a good idea! We were also warmly welcomed by the Village Officer who is pleased about the stoves project coming to Kimande. When we finally got back to the house, our man still hadn't arrived (although he had been "almost there" all morning!) but we had an appointment with the head teacher of the secondary school in Magozi, so we had to leave with instructions for him to talk to the Pastor about work on the house.

We drove back to Magozi, where Mendriad and Ezekiel insisted we ate with them before going to the school. But then at the school, we discovered that the Head was in Iringa all day, so we couldn't meet with him after all! But we were able to check out the food preparation area and get the measurements we needed as we plan to build a large fuel-efficient institutional stove for the school, with money raised from the Aldermaston Primary School and Aldermaston Brownies. The school is really excited about it, and we are hoping work can begin soon.
Serving lunch at the school

Tim visited other villages with Andrew and Andy last week to talk about doing stoves projects alongside water projects we are doing. He met with village leaders and some potters in both Ikuka and Ikengeza, and when they have given us some clay to test, we'll see what happens!

On Saturday, my butchery services were requested. I didn't expect to put my UK butchery observational learning to the test quite so soon ... but early Saturday morning found myself once again with my hand pushing bung gut down the backside of a pig! But this story will have to wait for the next post!

Meanwhile, check out the girls' blog to see what they've been up to with rainforests, rubber and keyhole gardens!

Monday, 8 April 2013

Rainforest Adventures in the Galapagos of Africa

Exploring the Udzungwa Mountains with the Dixon family was as much fun as we expected it would be! We had a really wonderful time with Pat and Ben and Matt, Amy, Elia and Finley. We were treated by Pat and Keith to the most amazing stay at Hondo Hondo, a tented camp in the Tanzanian rainforest. The location was just spectacular and the food was such a treat (bacon and sausages, steak and pizza!)

Walking the trail through the camp on the first day, we struggled to find the path, ending up in deep grasses over the kids heads, not too sure what we might be walking on. Listening to monkeys and birds calling, watching out for snakes and scorpions, we finally found the path and spotted the Strangler Fig tree. We looked unsuccessfully for the chameleons and then headed for the elephant trails supposedly marked by the smooth elephant rubbing posts and dung.
The following day we entered the National Park, and climbed up to the top of Sanje Falls, a spectacular 180m plunge overlooking the Kilombero plains.  We had Amini, our trusted guide to help and lead the way. The three older children did so well, relishing the adventure of such a huge climb, clamouring over rocks to cross over water and climbing rickety ladders and steps up steep slopes.

Several guys had gone ahead of us with a gas stove and huge pots of food to prepare lunch for us at the top. What a treat to get that instead of a warm, squashed sandwich! We sat on top of the waterfall, the top of a sheer drop with water powerfully gushing over its edge; the top of the world! And then we trekked to the bottom of the falls where some of us jumped in for a swim in the deafening pool. Amazing! It actually started to pour with rain while we were in the water, so it was then a job trying to get our wet bodies into sticky clothes in the rain. The mix of sweat , waterspray and rain in the humid temperatures was interesting as we carried on down the trail!
We saw all the different monkeys indigenous to the Udzungwa swinging in the trees: Sanje Mangeby, Red Colubus, Black and While Colubus.  We saw all kinds of amazing plants and trees with their roots, leaves or bark used for all kinds of medicinal purposes, and even one used for stuffing pillows and another for making lipstick (yes, we tried that one!)

Back at camp, the rainstorms were incredible! Heavy rainforest rains turned the paths into rivers! Who needs swimming pools?!

On Friday morning we had to say our goodbyes. But the adventure continued for us as we went on  to explore the rubber trees before we took the road home.  It was so fascinating to see the rubber process. The girls had a go at slicing a ridge in the bark of a rubber tree and watching the sap run out into a pot. We saw where it is dipped in acid and then dried and smoked and packed to export. Amisadai is writing up the process, so watch the girls’ blog to learn more and see the photos!

 We arrived home with lots of wet clothes; it's funny how hard it is to dry clothes in humidity of the rainforest! We also came back with some bits of rubber and rubber tree seeds (now planted in the garden), a teak leaf to make lipstick and a few peculiar rashes which soon disappeared. But best of all, some English Easter Eggs, treats brought out with Pat and Ben … and they survived the rainforest pretty well and are being devoured with delight!