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

Saturday, 28 September 2013

The Pawaga Team Goes to Ikuka

One of those happy-sad times this morning! We went early to the bus stand to pick up Ezekiel, Mendriad (from Magozi) and Mama Anna (from Itunundu) who came into Iringa on the Pawaga bus. We all had a lovely time together having chai at Neema Crafts before sending them all on their way to Ikuka. They left on a dala-dala (local bus) and then finished their journey on the back of some motorbikes. They are going to join Jesca in Ikuka to help with the training week of the new stoves group which starts on Monday!

So we felt really sad missing out as we would love to go along with them! They are all so excited and keen and I'm sure will have a lot of fun together! But at the same, we are so happy that they can do this. Happy that Jesca is doing so well and able to take on this project... and she is overcoming obstacles already! Happy that we have such a good team of people that can do the job... and without us! Now starting the third project, it is wonderful to have Ezekiel and Mendriad, who started off in our first Magozi group, and also now Anna who just started with us in the Kimande-Itunundu group. So please keep these guys in your prayers next week as they start training a new group. They will be teaching how to make the stoves, how to run the business, teaching on healthy and efficient cooking and teamwork as well as leading Bible studies in the community. On Friday, they will facilitate a meeting for the new group to elect their own chairperson, treasurer and secretary.

Tim was in Ikuka yesterday. He went to help and encourage Jesca as she makes final preparations for the start of the project. He went laden with things like a mattress and haycookers, pots and mats... and some of the newly fired Kimande/Itunundu stoves for Jesca to demonstrate with. We will all go to Ikuka for the day on Wednesday to see how they are all getting on! But for the rest of the week, it's back to the Tudors and a fair bit of school catch-up for the girls and I! And trying to stay on top of the tooth fairy who is working overtime at the moment... as you will see by the photo on the girls' blog! And tomorrow we are celebrating 12 happy years of marriage! Ezekiel told us we should have a Christmas Cake?!

Chai at Neema with the Pawaga stoves team

Now see if you can spot the problem with this stove... we discovered it when we were loading the kiln in Kimande!
What is wrong with this picture?

Friday, 27 September 2013

Jikos, Spice Cake, Fish, Spaghetti and Ugali Cake

What's cookin' this week in Kimande? Jikos, spice cake, fish, spaghetti and even ugali cake to name a few! But the big news is that the first stoves are fired! The first firing is such an encouraging event for all of us involved and it has been a good week! We arrived with a Jiko Spice Cake (which went down a treat!) and began celebrating and commending the great work of the group over the past few months since we began together in July.

Celebrate with cake!
We then began preparing to fire. The stoves were carried out and loaded very slowly and carefully into the kiln as many of us tried to count... easier said than done! Firewood was brought out to fuel the kiln. Great bundles of grasses were brought to roof the kiln and mud was made to slap on the grass to seal the kiln. It was a busy morning! 

Ready to load up the kiln
Simoni, our cheerful leader!

Rachel carries grass to the kiln ... yes, it makes for a bad hair day!

Making mud - just what we all really want to do! It felt delicious!
And yes, a pedicure would now go down a treat!
In the afternoon we went to visit Rachel, the young girl that Tim, Kate and the girls had gone to visit a few weeks ago. She was suffering from evil spirits which had caused a very disturbed mind. Tim, along with some others, had prayed for her and she is completely better! It was so lovely to see her these weeks later, looking so well and so completely peaceful. No more crying or wandering around the village in the middle of the night. As she said, "I now feel myself." Her father is teaching her to read and she followed along as we read Psalm 23 together sitting on the mat outside her house.

Rachel (middle) with her mother and siblings (left) and Simoni (right)
Later in the afternoon it was time to light the kiln! With the extremely hot temperatures in the village now, no one wants to light a fire like that in the day, thus the stoves were fired into the night. We went back to check on the fire after the Bible Study that evening, and there was lots of music and dancing as wood was fed into the kiln and women served rice and fish to eat.

All set!

The kiln in action

The next morning with the Stoves Group, we taught a short session on business management... the basics of keeping an inventory and keeping good accounts. Kate, Amisadai, Louisa, Tim and I did a funny little sketch (skit) on what could go wrong, which hopefully made for a memorable lesson in a humorous way! We presented the Group Treasurer with a shiny blue cashbox and so the business begins! Let the sales commence!
Many women were asking for more cooking lessons, so we did some impromptu cake-making in the afternoon... all we had were five bananas, so it had to be banana cake, but we also made bread rolls and attempted a version of "cornbread" which basically took on the name "ugali cake" and tasted only as good as it sounds! Actually, although none of us wazungu liked the ugali cake, the Tanzanians all loved it!
Dinner that night was a treat! We had taken spaghetti and frankfurters from town with us, and had the cheese sauce mix Kate brought out from England. The women found the pasta all rather amusing and intriguing, but I don't think they considered it a "proper" meal. We put a bowl of spaghetti out for the kids and they loved pulling out noodles to eat!

Eating spaghetti

Yesterday morning the kiln had finally cooled down enough to take out the stoves. So after an early Bible Study on the feeding of the multitudes (which seemed apt in many ways), the unloading began. There were some cracks (one stove completely cracked in pieces) but overall we were all really happy with the results. Especially given that these were the first stoves made by the group and included various tests (testing clay with rice husks, clay with crushed bricks etc.), to get 68 stoves out of the kiln was fantastic! So after sharing a little bread and cake between us (unfortunately no fish that morning), everyone in the group was able to take a stove home for their own use while the rest are all ready to sell! God is good!
Unloading the kiln

It is often hard to include much of what we "feel" as we write about what we "do." Living in the village is not easy and to be honest, really not very enjoyable in lots of ways! But at the same time we just love it! We know we cannot "do" any of this on our own. So just to "be" part of this group, part of this community, especially sharing in these moments of encouragement and excitement is such a wonderful thing! It takes so little to see our friends in Kimande and Itunundu happy, thankful and excited! To be loved and accepted and helped by them as we fumble along is fantastic! 

 Mama Christina


Thursday, 19 September 2013

What's Cookin' at School in Magozi

A lot of sun, a lot of bricks, a lot of hard work and two large fuel-efficient institutional stoves built! We had some long, hot days this week while living in Kimande, but working at the secondary school in Magozi.

We were at William Lukuvi Secondary School with our expert EI builder, James, along with new employee, Dan and of course Ezekiel and Mendriad! The school, which has 252 pupils (many of whom are boarders) currently cooks three times a day on huge three stone fires. They cook uji (runny porridge) for breakfast, ugali and beans for lunch and again for dinner. You can imagine the amount of firewood they get through. Every student makes two hot and tiring 2-hour trips to get firewood every week. So the problems are huge for the environment there in Magozi, with wide deforestation. Secondly, the students could far better use their time and energy for studies. And as for the amount of smoke in the food shelter - there are serious health issues there!

The three-stone fire and pots for ugali and beans
So we went to build two large fuel-efficient stoves. One for cooking the ugali and the other for the beans. These stoves reduce the amount of firewood by 75-80% and produce very little smoke. So the wood that the students have been collecting for one week will now last 4-5 weeks!  The school had built the foundation and then provided the bricks and lots of student labour! Aldermaston CE Primary School and Brownies donated towards the cost and James and team did the rest. It was a fantastic joint effort, although an exhausting three days! We were so thrilled to finish the job! It was great working alongside the school, which is very happy with the finished result! They will be able to use the stoves after three weeks, but first they would like to build a new "kitchen" shelter over the stoves.

Second stove in progress

Tim explains the new stoves to a group of students
Work comes to an end!

Kate, the girls and I stayed back in Kimande on Tuesday. The water is still a real problem there. The water levels of the river are very low (and there are still three or so months left before the rains). The old system tap had not been working for five days and the new system is often slowing to a trickle with people tapping into it themselves. We found a tap working and collected water, but we are using sparingly! We took drinking water with us from town, but underestimated amounts with the extremely hot sun and the fact that we were all constantly in it. We ended up buying bottled water at a little shop - but that is a luxury others cannot afford.

We were able to be with the stoves group first thing in the morning, and then enjoyed a visit from Ben Ray, a friend in town (Neema Crafts), along with his parents and another guest to see what's happening in Kimande! We had a small English class in the afternoon - getting down to details like eyelashes and tummy buttons and ending up with translations for "sisters of the breast" as opposed to cousins, like Kate and me! In the evening Tim, Dan and I went to Itunundu for the second group Bible study, continuing on with the book of Titus.

We were all in Magozi again on Wednesday, which was by the far the hottest, longest day! We packed up the house in Kimande and were off to Magozi for 8am. But it was a long job. We were getting pretty worried about finishing before running out of water or before we had to leave in order to get home by dark. We had hoped to leave around 3pm, but it was 5:30pm when we finally headed out. We were very relieved to be home as the last light faded at 7pm. Poor Kate was feeling the effects of the hot sun or maybe the fish we were given for lunch ... or both. So she and two very tired little girls were soon in bed!

The finished stoves with our team and some of the students

Sunday, 15 September 2013

A New Village

So what's happening in the new village of Ikuka? As you know, the stove project in Kimande is in full swing. But now it is time to start the next project in another village which is about 75km away... in the opposite direction from Kimande. It is also in an area in which women and girls struggle to collect firewood which is one reason we are taking the project there. It is also a village where Andy has already completed a water project, providing the school there with clean water through rainwater harvesting.

One of Andy's tanks at the Ikuka Primary School

The long line for water down in the village ... no tanks here!

Amisadai pumping water - very hard work!
We were in Ikuka with Jesca a few weeks ago, visiting the church and giving a brief introduction to the stoves project.

Ikuka Church Building
(the old hubcap hanging by the door is banged with a rock when the meeting is ready to start)
Inside the small church building sitting on mud "benches"
Friday was the official village meeting to which people of Ikuka were invited to find out more about the stoves and the project, and a sign-up list has been started for those who would like to join the group. Ezekiel and Mendriad came to stay with us in town and helped at the meeting alongside Tim and the girls, Kate, Jesca and Andrew. At first there was a group of about fifteen people, which would have been disappointing. But the meeting turned out to be the biggest we've ever had with 270 people showing up! So now to get a good group of just 25-30 people!

Setting up the demonstration stove


Ezekiel talks about the project
Louisa at the stove demonstration

So now the challenge of running two projects simultaneously begins! It has been a really crazy few months and yes, this is all a little daunting! But exciting too. We are so pleased with how well things are working out with Jesca. She is going to take responsibility for the Ikuka project while we remain focussed on the Kimande group. It has been a busy time with her as she has been learning how to make stoves, how to run the project, we have been working on getting her set up with a place to live in Ikuka, we have ordered all the new moulds and Mendriad has been busy making new tools for the new group to use. Having Ezekiel and Mendriad alongside us in this has been so fantastic! They are going to join Jesca, along with Anna, one of the star stove makers from the Kimande group, for the training week in Ikuka at the end of this month.

We are in town today as Tim preaches at the Pentecostal Church and then early tomorrow morning (far too early for my liking!!) we are all off to Magozi for the making of the fuel-efficient institutional stove for the school there. We are really excited about this for several reasons. One is that we are looking forward to having time with friends in Magozi again. Another is that this stove is the result of some fantastic fund-raising by Amisadai and Louisa's school in the UK (Aldermaston Church of England Primary) and the Aldermaston Brownies, which makes it really personal! The work should take about three days, so we will stay in Kimande although Tim will be in Magozi every day. On Tuesday, Kate, the girls and I will stay in Kimande and join the stoves group there and do some more English lessons. We will also be taking Dan with us, a great young guy, now working with Andy on the EI water projects, so it will be a good opportunity to get to know him better as well!

It is a lovely, warm Sunday afternoon here. Kate made us some delicious banana chocolate chip muffins ... thanks to out friend, Sarah just back from the States! We are almost all packed up to go again tomorrow... the biggest job is keeping up with all the bedding and getting enough water treated to take with us to drink! We're down to four bottles!

And now the girls are enjoying a bit of fun with their sewing projects (thank you, Auntie Marian!) and lego. And that's all from us until Thursday!

Collecting the metalwork for the institutional stove, ready to take the Magozi School

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

A Kiln in Kimande

We're back! It's been a while since the last blog post and once again, it is hard to know where to begin! Tim picked up my cousin, Kate in Dar es Salaam at the end of August and she had just a few days in town before we whisked her off to life in Kimande! It had been a busy and bit of a stressful time before that, with Louisa getting rather sick, making things a little unpredictable! But thankfully, she recovered and after just one day delay, we headed off to the village last Monday.
We took Hosea with us (Mongers, Kate and Jesca) this time. He is a friend from the stoves group in Magozi, who had been trained there to build a kiln. He came with us to build the kiln and he trained up Edward in the Kimande group. The two guys did a fantastic job and we are excited to try it out in a couple of weeks when the first eighty stoves are dried and ready!

The Kimande/Itunundu Kiln
Kate did really well with all that goes on in the village. Picking up Swahili and local customs, looking the part in her khanga, cooking on the jiko, making stoves, making baobab smoothies and eating ugali and spinach (which admittedly, she disliked!). Everyone loved her and she was given gifts of rice, papayas and spinach and a straw mat and generally made very welcome! It was always a little confusing explaining who she is as the Swahili words for relations get a bit complicated. She is my "little one" but she is also a lot taller than me!

Kate cooks lunch!

A gift of sugarcane!
It was a busy but encouraging week. As well as the usual stoves group work (which is going really well), and the kiln work, we had 17 trees to give out to plant. Thanks to many kind people in Tadley Community Church, we were able to offer Bibles to people who wanted one! This is probably the only book most would own and they were all delighted! And it makes our Bible studies a lot easier now too!

Simoni, the Stoves Group Chairman with his new Bible
Presenting the Bibles

New Bibles!
The afternoons were full with adult English classes and then also kids coming everyday to learn and practice English! We started a Bible reading group to help women practise their reading. Now they have something to read, it is a great opportunity to work on their reading skills and give them confidence in reading on their own and out loud in a group as well. Our first meeting together led to interesting discussions on struggles women are having with their husbands, raising things that we would love to see God change as we talk and read together. They were all very keen to come back, so we had another Bible reading meeting later in the week, which was really stretching far beyond the limits of my Swahili! I have encouraged them to meet this week while we are here in town, so the plan was for them to meet at Mama Christina's home (the woman with the amazing garden) and read and discuss together.

Bible Reading and Discussion with Mamas
One afternoon we did a mamas "Cooking and English" combined lesson which was good fun. I made bread and orange cake, explaining it all in English. Kate was writing all the English words on the flipchart along with the Swahili, so she learnt loads as well! That also was popular and so it's banana cake next time! Tim led a Bible Study one evening with a great group of people in Itunundu; we are starting to work through the book of Titus with them.

Kate scribes for the Cooking in English lesson!
One morning, Tim, Kate and the girls went with the pastor to meet with others in Itunundu to pray with a girl called Rachel. This young, 15 year old girl has suffered from years of living with evil spirits, never able to live a normal life, and she has never been to school.

But she is not the only one to miss out on an education. We also found out that Mama Esther (the pastor's wife) suffered with epilepsy for her whole childhood and was never able to go to school. She feels incredible shame about this now (no longer with epilepsy) and would love to be able to read the Bible she now has and also join in the Bible reading and studies with other women, which at the moment she is too ashamed to go to. So we are talking about how the church can start a Reading and Writing class for these and others who have never had the opportunity to learn. This is such a huge thing for these girls and women who feel so ashamed and inferior now, but will learn and have a whole new world opened up to them! And it will be their own husbands and church who solve this problem ... which makes it all the better!

So we shared lots of good times with people, shared over meals, over learning, over playing cards! Unfortunately, Jesca got sick during our week there. I took her to the hospital on Friday to get tested for malaria, which proved positive. That was an adventure in itself. It's all a procedure here, going from one room to the next, popping off to the little shop to buy an exercise book for records, then back later to buy syringes, then to pay, then into another room for blood tests (and I shut the door, which we shouldn't have done because the door doesn't open from the inside and a guy with a bashed head and bloodied shirt had to let us all out ... As I've said before, I don't really like hospitals and we were there going through all these procedures with this guy with his head bashed with a sharp object in a fight across the road. He was bleeding as you would imagine and I was trying so hard all the time to keep him out of my line of sight! But he was always right there with us. Then there was a police officer at the scene. And a short while later there was another injured guy going through the same procedures with handcuffs on. The head got stitched up and Jesca was injected with medicine and then it was a relief to get back to the house. But in all the goings-on, I had completely forgotten that a retired Canon and his wife were coming for lunch, but Kate had done an amazing job on the jiko and after a very short time, ugali and spinach was served! Jesca is doing well now, but she did have to home on the bus a day early to get some rest and recovery at home.

So now we are back in town and have started school again. The girls have done very well putting up with a rather tired and impatient teacher who has been a bit distracted by other things! I feel I have rather missed out on the whole "Back to School" buzz, both as a teacher getting a lovely classroom prepared and lessons planned and as a mother in getting all those shiny new school shoes and funky lunchboxes! But we landed with a bump in the Tudor period and are working hard, with Kate helping, to getting double the maths done in a short period of time before we go back to the village next Monday!

Amisadai and Louisa inspect the kiln