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

Saturday, 25 August 2018

Mamas in Community

So much has happened since I last posted news of the wonderful mamas! For those of you on Facebook, you will have seen much of what has been happening, particularly if you are following our new Facebook Page! Go now to like https://www.facebook.com/upendowamama.tz/ if you haven't already! We have just come to the end of the funding we received from LUSH - which has helped us tremendously in setting up our workshop - and writing up a report for them, it has been incredibly encouraging looking back over the past months! Now in our own equipped workshop, it just seems so much happened … not just in the group but also within our wider community!

Outside our workshop
The Mwanza women have been making and selling more than ever, but what I have loved most about these past few months is seeing them going out teaching and training others. This has not only helped other people in various communities but has also boosted their own self confidence enormously as they are valued for who they are and the wonderful things they have to offer.

Malya Mamas

Mama Rose came with me to Malya for two days a few months ago. She taught the women's group there how to make the African tie-dye fabrics. It was a wonderful time and the women made some lovely designs! It is always just so exciting and amazing when the tied up fabric is cut loose and opened up and we see the beauty of what has been made! Rose also enjoyed tagging along with me and the beekeepers afterwards as we went to check the hives late into the night! She rather enjoyed our bumping about in the Landcruiser to the hard-to-get-to places in the dark and then getting all geared up, but was fairly quick to leave when bees got a little agitated at the hive! But it was all quite an adventure… even the puncture on the way home! After we left, the Malya women sold the fabric in their village and have since been making more to sell in nearby villages!
Rose (L) helping Mama Elizabeti

The best moment!

Proudly wearing the fruit of their labour!

CD Foundation

Rose and Zuena came with me in June to Christ's Daughters Shelter for vulnerable girls where they taught the girls the same skill. It was fun to have Sinead (Tim's cousin's daughter) with us for that! The girls were all so shy with her at first but almost at the end of our time were full of questions for Sinead and wanting lots of photos! The girls produced some great fabrics and are continuing to make more and sew the fabric into beautiful products to sell!
Rose and Zuena teaching the girls

Zuena helps the girls tie the fabric

Another "wow" moment!

Spot Sinead!
Ukerewe Island

Most recently, Rose and Zuena had the opportunity to go to Ukerewe Island for the Standing Voice Summer Skills Training. They were asked to teach a 3 day course on tie-dye and printing for the people gathered from that community - many with albinism. They were so well received by all there and it was wonderful to see them get the respect and admiration they so deserve! You can read more in the latest Standing Voice newsletter here!

UPENDO WA MAMA by Standing Voice on Exposure

As well as all this teaching, all the women have been so busy making new beeswax products and doing more baking. They have been successfully selling more and more! The BeesWraps are very popular and they are working hard to keep up with demand in Mwanza! We have quite a number of new people from farther afield interested in the products and we are figuring out how we might move ahead into new markets! Each woman now has a monthly timesheet and they are all now drawing monthly profits based on the hours they have worked! It is encouraging to see them start to think about new ideas of what they can achieve … saving for a stall they can set up near their home to sell produce for example.

The Kitenge BeesWraps

Charity Craft Fair

We had a great time in May at the Mwanza Charity Craft Fair. It is a two-day event and we were thrilled to have a stall there for the first time. The mamas were so delighted with the success of their sales. It was a fantastic opportunity for the group to be out there in the Mwanza community!
Mwanza Charity Fair
The stall
Zuena selling at the Fair

Waggle Dance Honey Day

This week we launched the Waggle Dance Honey - the first honey harvest of the two beekeeper groups (Malya and Kayenze). Along with all the honey, we set out a table of the Mama's products … but as this post is getting long, I will save this excitement for another blog post!

Our living room converted temporarily into a shop!
In the midst of all the activity, it hasn't all been easy. One mama has struggled immensely recently with her husband leaving her alone with her children and then subsequently becoming ill and unable to do the cooking work she had been doing to raise some income. Another mama is continually overcoming her struggle with diabetes. Another has suffered mentally after being treated terribly in her home by the other wives of her husband and being thrown out of her home. We have faced trials within the group, working through issues of trust and relationships. Yet in it all, we continue to build community. We come together, we work together, pray together and together try to find ways forward, drawing up those struggling and encouraging one another that when we are unable, God is able. And truly we can testify He is. And in Him we find real community.

Thursday, 16 August 2018


Things are a little calmer this evening than last! Tim is in Dodoma this week and as is often the case when he is away, we expect the unexpected! 

Last night it was unexpected flames leaping into the night sky as the bushy "fence" around our property caught fire. Someone had wanted to burn their rubbish and lit a fire on the roadside, and it somehow got very out of control. The girls and I were inside for the night and heard a strange and very loud crackling noise and wondered what it was. Amisadai saw it first and shouted the alert … all I remember is that she said it was like fireworks or a volcano in the garden! As well as the flames, there were bits of tree and ash flying in the air. Our nightguard was already running with buckets of water. I joined him while the girls ran inside for more buckets. With all of us filling and running and throwing water... and filling and running and throwing, and others helping on the other side, we managed to get it under control. But it was a lot more filling and throwing water before we had it all out. We are in the middle of the dry season here now and everything is just that - very dry. We are just so very thankful that it did not get any worse. We came in at the end of it, very hot and dirty (and attacked by biting ants!) but extremely thankful. I found a T-shirt of Tim's for Thaddeus, our nightguard, who was rather worse for wear and he returned to guard the open area of our property for the night. So very thankful to have Thaddeus!

I was going to finish a blog tonight on the Mamas and all the wonderful news they have to share, but I will do that another day … instead here are a few photos, throwback to the wonderful time we had with Sinead back in June! She turned eighteen while she was with us and we celebrated with a visit to the Serengeti! What an amazing country this is! The diversity of God's creation is truly awesome! And what an amazing privilege it is to have all this on our doorstep! Once again, very thankful!

Some sunset jumping on Lake Victoria

Serengeti Celebrations!

Tuesday, 7 August 2018

A Day to Celebrate Farmers

Today is Nane Nane (eight-eight), a national holiday in Tanzania to celebrate the important contribution of farmers to the Tanzanian economy. 80% of people in Tanzania are subsistence farmers, so it is a significant day! And so today, we want to recognise and honour the farmers we are working with in the conservation agriculture (CA) project. We are so privileged to know the farmers in our Agricultural Groups. So many of them are resilient and generous people who live on so little and are grateful for so much. These farmers depend on what they grow to live. Their children depend on it. And there you see the risk they must take when they try something new with us!
Mama Adella in the Lutale village CA Group
But with the CA techniques that they are learning (minimal tillage, cover crops and mulching, crop rotation and timing of planting), many farmers are now seeing the positive difference it makes to their land and their harvest. What started very slowly with a few farmers in Kayenze four years ago, has now grown and spread through the different TAG churches we are working with. We are now working with six groups in six villages with five more groups starting this month. Well over a hundred farmers have been directly trained, with more farmers through the groups themselves.

We are thrilled that with Pastor Amon, the Kayenze Church (which has increased more than fourfold) is now taking on completely the CA Project for that area. We will celebrate the handover of the project next month with a feast and then they will be teaching the new groups starting in that area this year! As the other different churches develop demonstration plots, people in their local area come with questions to find out more. More groups are formed for training and individual families see the benefits of good soil, more food and extra money. Certainly these farmers are making a difference!

Now meet a few of the farmers who are making a difference in Tanzania!

Joseph Hatari in Igumumoyo

Joseph (centre) with our trainers, Elisha (left) and Peter (right)
Joseph is leading a small church in the village of Igumumoyo (Swahili for "hard-hearted") and both he and his lovely wife have such a heart to serve the people here and see the village take on new meaning!
Igumumoyo Church

The Demonstration Plot at the Church
We enjoy time spent with this lovely family! Last time we visited, after lunch we enjoyed exchanging games drawn in the dirt! Materially, the people of this village have very little, but they are certainly rich in many ways!

We had such fun teaching them how to play hopscotch after lunch!
And then they taught us a game similar to our English game of "Jacks"
Joseph's wife, Mama Daniel is an entrepreneurial farmer alongside her husband! She works so hard tending a shamba of tomatoes. Weeding, protecting, watering in harsh conditions. Twice a week she has been walking to a larger village to sell her tomatoes for the day.
Harvesting tomatoes with baby Daniel, their miracle baby.
Joseph has done well working the Demonstration Plot in Igumumoyo! He encourages the 27 farmers part of the CA group in the village. With the CA group here, we have also this year given training on the Push-Pull Technology to help drought-affected crops (see a previous blog post on this!)

Mama Veronika

One of the farmers in the Igumumoyo CA group is Mama Veronika, a farmer and mother to nine children, who has struggled to provide enough food for her family. She is already experiencing the benefits of increased harvests … and the one she mentioned to us, was the benefit of joy in the home!

Mama Veronika (top right) with a neighbour and five of her children

Peter Myuhudi in Chabakima

Peter lives with his wife, and two children in Chabakima, one of our most recent villages to work in. Our first year has been a real struggle with the demonstration farm neglected and ineffective. We doubted whether Peter would ever be able to carry the project. He just wasn't committed to making it work. However now it is a different story! We are delighted that as we have built relationship, Peter has caught the heart and vision of what we are doing and is now adopting the project with his small church. This year he is keen and excited to transform the church plot. He is planting jackbeans and maize, pigeon peas and other nitrogen-fixing crops! He is encouraging other farmers in his village and we have a new group of farmers coming together this week in Chabakima for the CA training seminar and then preparations will be underway for planting in October.

Tim with Peter, planning the Demonstration Plot at the Church

Jackbeans and harvested maize

Tito in Nyamililo

Tito is a wonderful father figure leading the church in the village of Nyamililo. This man was struggling to produce enough food when we first met him two years ago. He has been hugely supportive of the CA project, faithfully working on a very good church demonstration plot and training and encouraging others. This year, with his church hosting the training seminar for new farmers, he will teach half of the material, helped by our trainers. Elisha manages the work in this village and is excited this year to start an Agri-business arm to the project. In September, they will start a cooperative with 9-10 members to grow profits.
Tim, Tito and Elisha inspecting the Church Demonstration Plot
The Demonstration Plot at the Church
Tito and his wife have also personally benefited from the CA farming. He has been able to harvest much more than ever more. He has diversified and harvested peanuts, maize and soy beans. With the extra yields, he has been able to sell for profit and worked on building a brick house for his family! We love his family too! His daughter, Phoebe long struggled to have a child with many miscarriages. Amisadai in particular was drawn to pray for her last year and a few months ago, she gave birth to a healthy son, whom they named Elisha! 
Tito's original mud hut with the newly built, 
ever-improving brick house with tin roof on the left!
Phoebe with baby Elisha
Tito intercropping his maize with peanuts


Another farmer in the Nyamililo farmers group has been an exceptional asset to the community! When we first started the project in this village there was much doubt and resistance to planting jackbeans (an inedible legume that is hugely beneficial to the soil as nitrogen-fixing). Farmers questioned putting "poison" into the soil. But Shadrach gave it a go. And now we see the huge transformation … he is planting whole fields of jackbeans! He is harvesting and selling them to the other farmers who now also see the benefit they have on the soil for their other crops! Another farmer making a difference in Tanzania! 

Peter Beatus with us! 

We also want to recognize the amazing work Peter is doing training these farmers. Peter has been working with us for four years and is now managing the CA Project. He works well with the local pastors and now also with the help of Elisha (CA and Entrepreneurship) and John (CA and Beekeeping). Peter has been a huge asset to the CA project! And as well as all the work he does for us, he has also started beekeeping in his home village, passing on his knowledge from the beekeeping project to others who are managing the hives for him. He has also this year just opened his own café, which is serving good food in a clean and inviting environment near one of the villages we are working! We all enjoyed tea, chapatis and maandazi there before going on to the church service in Chabakima last Sunday!
Peter teaching CA at the Church and Transformation Seminar last week

Peter with John (L) and Elisha (R) teaching practical CA at the Seminar
So on this eighth day of the eighth month, celebrate with us the difference these farmers are making for their communities in Tanzania!

So if you faithfully obey the commands I am giving you today—to love the Lord your God and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul then I will send rain on your land in its season, both autumn and spring rains, so that you may gather in your grain, new wine and olive oil. I will provide grass in the fields for your cattle, and you will eat and be satisfied. Deut. 11:13-15