Saturday, October 01, 2011

Sand Dams

I meant to write weeks ago about my trip to Tete and Manica to see the sand dams and agriculture but life got in the way. I had a wonderful time riding around on a motorcycle with Jon, except for our accident at the end which left us only a little bloodied but with the joy of pushing a broken motorcycle 8 kilometers to the main highway where help could be found to fix it.
Thombo Sand Dam
This trip was exciting for many reasons. Probably the most remarkable was Thombo where a sand dam had been built about a year and a half ago. It has since collected rain from almost two rainy seasons. The change is incredible with lots of vegetable production. Water did not exist in this community after early June in this community  in the past. Last year the water ended up staying until late August. This year it looks like it will stay around all year until the next rains even with intensive irrigation. Incredible results. The community was clearly happy and some farmers gave us some of their production in thanks.

Thombo Vegetables

I then visited Phiri Meque and Capinga, both are following the same pattern as Thombo with lots of production. Capinga was interesting for me because they started using Moringa trees for live fences to keep the cattle out of the gardens instead of cutting down all of the trees, an idea I had encouraged for several years. It was good to see it was happening. I also saw the first attempts at conservation agriculture, also something I had encouraged in the program. They are also experimenting with rock check dams, little rocky piles across gulleys and waterways to slow erosion and increase infiltration of water into the soil in the fields.                                                                                                                                                                                                           Phiri Meque Fields 

We walked across the river to Mandie and I saw Thichira. Again, this community is in the second year of rains but it seems that the water will be around all year round. What is so remarkable here is that I could see the line of green of the vegetables, fruit and trees with leaves in the valley in contrast to the leafless trees and dormant, dry grass in the surrounding landscape. This extens up the valley as far as the eye can see, meaning water is conserved up about a km under the surface of the sand and soil.

These are the things that encourage me. It has been 5 years here in Mozambique but the fruit is beginning to show.

 Thichira Kale

 Thichira Valley Above Dam - note the dry hillsides in contrast with the green trees and plant in the valley

Ghost in the Darkness

Last night I was awoken in the middle of the night suddenly by light. It was about 12 o'clock and I realized that the light was on and Jenny was looking at me.

She said,"What did you do that for?"

Strange, I thought. Why would she be asking me that question. Did she not see that I had just woken up. I asked her why she turned the light on.

"I thought you did," was her reply.

Again, strangeness. My first thought was, "Then who did?".

I believe her thoughts were the same because we both looked toward the door. Suddenly we realized we were not alone. There was a third person in the room. We almost yelled with fright at the strange ghostly outline of.......

.....our daughter.

To give you some background. We had just passed a milestone. We took out the crib and she has begun to sleep on a mattress until we can get her a proper bed. So she can now get out of bed and she apparently walked over to our room and turned on the light. But she did not say anything and after we regained our senses we noticed her lower lip protruding, clearly with fright about ready to cry.

"It must have scared you," Jenny said to Nadia.

"Scared", she mumbled.

Jenny held her a bit and took her back to her room. Apparently the mosquito net fell down. Poor thing! That must have been awful. I would have been scared, or frustrated, either one would create a protruding lower lip.

We put her back to bed, thankful it was not a ghost!
Those in the Street

There is a man that lives on our corner. He is not mentally right. I am not sure what is wrong but he is not right. He is always around and people know he exists but most of the time he is left alone to do whatever it is he does. It seems like he goes around and picks up the trash in the area and puts it into the trash bin. I have noticed that in Maputo the homeless or those mentally handicapped seem to each have their territory in the city. I have been told by people that he picks up trash for the businesses. I am not sure if he gets paid food or what for doing this but somehow he has clothes and somehow he gets food. I hear him wondering around at night sometimes hitting the trash can.

This has been a huge weight on me because I understand Jesus message of justice for the poor and needy but I fail to see what role we can have in such a man’s life and honestly, in my flesh, I am scared to do anything or commit to anything. There are so many questions I think about. What if I talk to him, will he understand? Will it make any difference? Does he need food? I know in my heart I am not willing to give him a room to stay in and am afraid to do these things. Why? I suppose it is the uncertainty. Maybe he could hurt me. He could be on drugs. Does that mean I am not willing to follow Jesus to the utmost? I suppose it will always be a struggle and has been every time I meet someone as such. I am not sure if it is the same scenario as the Good Samaritan. The man on the side of the road could have been a normal guy that was robbed and not mentally handicapped and somehow I find it easier to think of helping someone like that then someone who is not right mentally and society has no place for him. Maybe it is because I do not know what to do. What is my role in that? One thing is for certain, it is hard to do it alone.

This morning it was raining and I was on my way to work. There were fewer people in the streets but I passed him. He normally sits next to a shop on the corner in the mornings cutting up cardboard boxes to put in the trash. As I walked up the street I heard a noise of shouting and beating. I turned around and a young man was yelling and beating him with a stick. He was groveling on the ground and his pants started to fall down. How degrading. I suddenly felt the surge of adrenaline and got really angry. Why are they beating a helpless man I thought? No matter what the cause it does not justify this. I suddenly found myself walking toward him and thought in my head that I am crazy for mixing in this business but I was too angry at the injustice of it to care, I needed to say something. I asked the guy, “What is the problem, why are you beating this man? He was very angry walking back and forth said something about him leaving trash on the sidewalk in front of the store. This was probably a just reason to be angry but not for beating someone. The only thing I could think to say was, “Do not beat him like this. Do not beat him.”

I suppose I should have picked the guy up and taken the trash and put it in the trash can but I didn’t. Maybe I did not think about it. Maybe it was because I had vented my anger and position against the injustice and was not willing to do more. Was it enough to salvage his dignity? Was it enough to call attention to the fact that this is a man and not an animal? I will never know and always be left wondering if I should have done more.