Saturday, September 12, 2009

Hello, we have vegetables!


For those of you that are still interested in the results of the work we are doing I will try to write a little bit here. I visited the Sand Dams communities in Tete Province a week ago and once again a lot of exciting things are happening there. We were in the process of moving our new engineer, John Viducich, to Tete and showing him the communities where he will be working. Where last year there were maybe 5-6 vegetable fields, now there are 95 families with 95 vegetable plots along the banks of the river. We are now 5-6 months into the dry season and the water is still a meter below the surface in many places. This is hugely important for the irrigation of these plants. The results were amazing and I saw new techniques being applied. People were learning how to use manure, mulches, how to stake and thin tomato plants (using several different methods), to grow bananas, sugar cane, papayas, lemons and tangerines. The animals also have more water to drink and the manure deposited along the banks of the river can be used for the vegetables in the future.

Hand dug well in the river bed

This is the first dam in Dzunga. Two other dams are now constructed and 3 more trenches are dug and construction should be commencing in a week or two. These will await the coming rains and the results will become much clearer over the next couple of years as the dams begin to fill the aquifer and ground water becomes a more permanent reality. The people of the communities are in the process of opening fields around the dams and putting fences up to protect the fields from the animals in expectation of the water to come that will be used for irrigation of vegetables and fruit trees.

John Viducich with waiste high tomato plants

Tomato plants

CCM has opened up several fields to multiply sweet potato and manioc, two drought resistant, staple food crops, that are non-existent in the communities but are familiar foods for people in that they will be easy to introduce and will produce food for the difficult hungry season each year in hopes to stop the chronic hunger that occurs several months of each year.

Over all, I can say that our partner the Christian Council of Mozambique with funds from MCC and CFGB has now built 18 dams with 8 more in construction for this year. At this point 4 are retaining water but the rest will be ready to collect rains this year and we hope to have at least quadrupled this number by next year if not more. The dams are creating a lot of interest in the country and the Government has started to take notice. At first they were very skeptical and told us they did not want dams that hold sand, but that hold water because these communities need water for their livestock which is the biggest agriculture activity in the district. A year later and the Government is quite excited about the results and increasingly they are asking to visit the sites, including people from the National Government in Maputo and the Governor of the Province. Our hope is that this technology will spread and others will take on this work so that together we can bring food to those who are suffering.

Vegetable fields above dams

We are truly thankful that God is moving in this way and are excited to be a part of what he is doing for the people of these communities.

Climate Change or Global Warming

In South Africa they were having thunderstorms which everyone told us never happen in the cold months. This is another proof to me that we are having climate change. Many people think that because things have been unusually cold that it proves that global warming does not exist. I believe the people who first named the phenomenon ‘global warming’ made a huge mistake. It should have been called climate change from the beginning. I recently heard a conversation that someone was having about the unusually cool weather that has occurred in the states over the last few months.

“This proves that global warming does not exist.”

What global warming will do is actually cause more extremes in weather patterns. This means extremes between hot and cold, rain and drought and so on. Thus South Africa is having November thunderstorms in June, Mozambique has had 40-50% higher incidence of flooding and droughts in the last decade and Colorado has been having, on average, less snow in the mountains. They are actually starting to call it ‘climate change’ which is a lot more accurate of a description and creates less of an excuse for people to resist the change that is needed in their lives because of a cold summer.

Yet, there will always be those people who refuse to believe in the face of overwhelming evidence. I can understand this to a degree, though, because there are all sorts of theories and advice, and not all should be believed (case in point: an ideal baby should feed every 3 hours, all will grow at a certain predetermined weight and a string should be tied to their waist to ward off evil). After all I would probably be the one looking at Noah’s ark and saying, what is that crazy man with the long white beard doing with that gopher barky-barky.

I am all for testing the spirits, and the professionals, but the changes that we should be making for ‘climate change’ are the same changes we should be making that builds for peace and loves our neighbors who may be more effected by the change then we are. Jesus called us to put others higher than ourselves. If people are dying in floods in Mozambique, and there might be a chance that it could be exasperated by my overuse of my car, even just a chance, wouldn’t I want to change my life for the sake of that person’s life to make sure that I wasn’t causing harm? I mean, wouldn’t we in North America do that for our own children. If we knew there was a slight risk to their lives, even if not proven, we would change for their sake.

I know, this is preachy and I am guilty just the same. I still have to ask the questions.

Carrying Bonecas (Dolls)

It was a beautiful day for a walk. The weather has been quite cold thus far. In fact, the weather has been quite weird this year. But today was a very nice evening and the perfect temperature. I am looking at the most beautiful sunset over the mango trees out the window. Granted it is the dust and smoke in the air that cause the sunset to be so brilliant. But I will enjoy it anyway since I like to look on the bright side of everything if I can, even the burning of the beautiful Mozambican forests.

It was the first day that we could get our child out of the house between feedings and general difficult moods. She was great today and smiled as we walked. We passed the houses enjoying looking at the bougainvillea, bottle brush trees and the occasional new paint job. We look for the little changes in a country like Mozambique. Like I said, I like to look on the bright side and these are positive changes.

We passed people, some who smiled, some who stared and some who laughed. I guess we are getting used to being the center of attention and everything we do it is little weird. In South Africa, women carry their babies on their lower back, feet tucked in and back straight (sort of like we do in a backpack carrier, only with a sheet or capulana). As we carried our little babe in a sling everyone told us that her back needed to be straight. My reply was, well in Mozambique everyone carries their baby this way on their back and they are fine. Yesterday, it was chilly (nice for us North Americans) and we did not bring a hat. Inevitably lots of people felt free to yell, “Frio” (Cold) as we passed. Mozambicans generally dress their babies from head to toe, even in the hot season. It is not unusual for a person to see a baby in a snowsuit, stocking hat, wrapped in a blanket and sweating like he/she were in a sauna. With all the free advice we have been getting lately from everyone it keep our minds sharp just thinking for a response that will entertain them, or sidetrack them from doing whatever they want with our baby.

Today, it was not the back that was the problem, or the cold but the fact that her feet were tucked into the sling. (Mozambicans have them with their feet out but the rest of their bodies are buried in the capulana.) One woman even offered to take her feet out.

Jenny responded gracefully,”Well it didn’t hurt her when she was in the womb, right.”

That got everyone laughing and they left her alone.

One woman in the next group of women we encountered said to the others “Boneca” which means doll in Portuguese. Now why Jenny would be carrying around a doll for fun at her age is beyond me. I think carrying the baby for nine months would have put a stop to that idea. They also suggested that Nadia put her legs outside the capulana. Jenny and I insisted that she would be OK and that her legs would not fall off.

One lady said, “Because of the cold, eh.”

Mustering a fake smile, with enthusiasm we said, “Yes!”