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

Saturday, 5 October 2013

The Secret Vote

The secret vote. All eyes shut, heads down and quiet hands raised. Silence for the count. It is all very serious. Stove Group Election Meeting. This what was happening in Ikuka when we went on Thursday. The group was nominating and electing people for the positions of Chair and Vice-chair, Secretary and Vice-secretary and Treasurer and Vice-treasurer. Then the numbers are read out; 2 votes for him (big claps and vocal trills for the loser) and 20 votes for her (bigger claps and louder trills for the winner)! Now feeling a bit bad for the loser!

The secret vote
But the end result was group-appointed leaders that all were happy with. It is great to see how quickly this group (of 25 people, mostly women) is learning how to make stoves and to see them now take ownership of the project. We had a great time with them all, happy to be reunited with Jesca and the "Pawaga Threesome" and excited to meet the new group. We also actually felt useless and superfluous there, which is great really! Jesca is doing a fantastic job managing the project, with help from Ezekiel, Mendriad and Anna. It hasn't been an easy week for them, certainly not without its hurdles and problems.

Sadly, death marked the week. There was a funeral in the village on the first training day. Then another funeral the second day. Mortality rates are high here and so funerals are sadly a rather frequent occurance. In Kimande a few weeks ago, when we arrived there were actually three funerals all on the same day in the village. They involve a lot of people, a lot of time together in mourning and then also preparing and eating a lot of rice and beans and spinach. But this week in Ikuka, the two funerals were tragically followed by a man's suicide hanging. Difficult times.

Jesca leading the stoves group 
The other big hurdle in Ikuka is water. We seem to have written a lot about water problems, but please don't just switch off because you've heard it all before! Although it is the same problem, this is another village, full of different people who need water as much as everyone else. Their problem is even worse than for those in Kimande. The closest water for them is 10km away. This is why EI recently did a water project for the school at Ikuka (but this water is solely for the school). A new water system is being worked on, so water is on the way for the village, but for now, it is a problem. A few guys go the distance on bikes and power-tillas and bring back water which they sell for 1000Tsh. in the village. So obviously this makes life for all incredibly difficult, but it is also a challenge for the stoves project which needs water to soak and prepare the clay. So with everything going on, Jesca had a challenge to hold together the training week. But somehow she did and as she said herself, it was with God's help and grace!

Crossing the riverbed. People dig deep to try and source a small amount of water.
The river
The Pawaga threesome is with the Ikuka group until Wednesday, and then they return to their homes and the Ikuka group will carry on with Jesca's help and supervision. Meanwhile Tim is back in Kimande for a couple of days this week, encouraging them in the selling of the stoves just fired.

Back in town, we were back visiting our friends at Cheetah Development, an organization focussed on development through economic and business ventures. You can find out more about them on their website! One of their projects is a solar dryer project whereby villagers can dry excess crops (like tomatoes amongst many other things) to sell (through markets arranged through Cheetah). Lucy now buys sundried tomatoes and onions from them and bakes delicious sun-dried tomato and herb breadsticks and also specialty breads to sell in town. This week Cheetah had a team of 15-20 from the International Journalist Program visiting, writing about issues related to food security and nutrition. They were interviewing various people involved in the Cheetah project, from the farmers who sell the dried produce to people like Lucy who buy the produce to make another marketable product.

We haven't said much about Lucy on the blog recently, but she is continuing to do really well with her little side-business. We are trying to convince her to master the art of riding a bicycle to help with deliveries. But she is still very reticent, although considering the possibility! The breadsticks and cinnamon buns are still the best sellers, but she also makes breads, the best ever ginger biscuits and a variety of cookies. And with her profits, she has paid off debts and put money towards expensive tuition to get her eldest daughter through school, training as an accountant. No easy feat for a widow here. We think she is just the most lovely and amazing lady!

Today's order: Cinnamon buns, breadsticks and bread

Lucy is interviewed about her breadsticks!


  1. I am with Lucy on the bike riding thing... I can't ride a bike to save my life! I blame awful balance. But at least I don't have to deliver goods to customers. Sorry Lucy, looks like you'll have to learn... Linda

  2. Could be very tricky!!! I can't imagine learning now ... and on a "big" bike with no stabilisers!


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