September 16, 2018

17 Sep

Journal 21
September 16, 2018
Greetings from Zimbabwe,

Tafadzwa has conducted three days of training.  I believe she has picked out the ones that she wants to work on a regular basis.  She plans to hire seven women and three alternates that can be called in when a need arises.  We quickly learned that we needed one woman washing Moringa and cleaning the sinks between each batch.  I helped out in the beginning and we quickly realized that was a full time job.  So on Friday we had seven women come for training.  It worked very well and the women as a whole worked well together.  It takes nearly two hours to strip enough Moringa to fill a dryer.   If we could get a full day of power, she could figure out how long it takes to dry a load.

I am writing this in hopes of being able to send from Harare before I board my flight home on Tuesday evening.  I am leaving at a critical time.  I had hoped to be where we are now a month ago.  This would have given more time to help Tafadzwa with the training. Unfortunately we have had power cuts the last three days, just after starting a drying process.  I am not sure how this will affect the tests on the Moringa. I am hoping we can get a good run tomorrow.

The amount of Moringa we put in the dryer impacts the drying time.  We had hoped to be able to dry at least enough to equal two-pounds of dried leaf.  However, when we have loaded that much leaf in the dryer, I don’t feel we get even enough drying.  So Tafadzwa is going to reduce the amount of fresh leaf she puts in the dryer at one time. There are still many issues to work through.  Right now, Tafadzwa is just trying to determine how many loads we can do in one day. She is already aware that in the growing season, she will have to have women starting work at day break and others coming in later to take over.   I have suggested that the women might not tire so easily if they had stools to sit on.  I, for one, do not like sitting on a stool to work.  So it may mean shorter work days and more shifts of women.  I wish I had more time to help her figure this out.

Tafadzwa has been so easy to train.  She has taken to this with no issues.  Her year in Japan has really prepared her for this work.  Our major hurdle now is the need of a back-up power supply.  A generator is probably the answer but a large one will consume a lot of diesel fuel which is very costly.  I wish electricity were more reliable. We are still trying to determine how much Moringa can be dried at one time and how long it takes to reach a crispy dry stage. Tafadzwa is just going to have to keep experimenting with the women.

Up to this point the Moringa was not growing rapidly but the last few days it has gotten really hot.  You can almost see the Moringa growing, especially where it has been fertilized with worm juice.

The vermicompost building is complete and the worms are multiplying so fast. They are going to need to market the excess worms.  Albert is interested in getting farmers in the community using worm juice for their crops rather than commercial fertilizer.  HCOC is the demonstration area.  Perhaps it will soon catch on.  This is a step toward Organic Certification.

There is much more happening here but I will bring this letter to a close and finish packing. Tomorrow is a very full day.  I still am not certain if Albert and I will go to Harare tomorrow night.  If so, I will stay with Elizabeth.  Otherwise we will leave early Tuesday morning and do a number of things before I get on the plane.  I know I will be exhausted before I board the plane.

See some of you soon.

In His Service,
Roberta

 

 

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September 9, 2018

10 Sep

Journal 20
September 9, 2018

Greetings from Zimbabwe,

The winds are lessening and the temperatures are rising.  Summer is definitely approaching.  Winter and Spring were brief.  My time is drawing to a close and I will be grateful to miss the hot, hot weather.  Summers here can be brutal.  There is no air conditioning.

Nothing has happened on the clinic since the compacting was completed.  Prices on nearly everything has sky rocketed. Cement has gone up 50%.  This really blows a budget.  I had really hoped to see walls rising before I leave but that is not going to happen.

I am happy to report that the Moringa Building is complete.  However, there are a few minor details to still work out.  I had the builder put insulation in the ceiling of the building before the ceiling was installed.  I must say that has made a huge difference in the temperature of the rooms.  Even with the dryer running it doesn’t get really hot. This may change as summer approaches. I have also had two ceiling fans installed at the last minute.  The ozone machine that runs at night needs to have the air circulated.  I believe the fans will help get the temperatures in the room down.

A group of about 18 women came on Friday morning for orientation.  They were here from about 8:00 in the morning to about noon.  At the end of the session a few dropped out.  The rest of the women will come in groups of six starting tomorrow. Tafadzwa and I will be walking them through the procedures of what they need to do when they arrive at work. Sanitation will be stressed.  We will train them on how to strip leaves. I will be monitoring the time to determine how long it takes to fill the dryer.  Fortunately, the dryer has two sections each with separate controls.  It won’t be necessary to wait to start drying until the entire dryer is full.

Tafadzwa tried out her new uniform last week when we were experimenting drying Moringa.  As of right now, it appears that we will be able to dry a full load in about three hours. This will enable us to dry several loads a day.  I have suggested that when the weather gets really hot that they begin operation at day break.   This may mean that some women who live close begin operations early and leave when other women arrive at a later time (this is yet to be determined).  I am concerned that Tafadzwa may not be able to manage such a long day.  My goal had been to be at this point by the first week of August.  But…..

School is back in session since the August break.  As you can tell, the mornings are still cool but by 8:00 it is getting hot.  These children may leave home as early as 6:00 to 6:30 in order to walk to school. Some living at a distance may have to leave even earlier.

I know some of our children go to school very early also.  However, most don’t walk miles to get to school.  Many ride school buses or are dropped off by parents.  These children all walk.

This is a picture of some kindergarteners.  The teacher is trying to organize a game of drop the handkerchief or a version of that game.  The children seem to be more interested in playing in the dirt than listening to directions.  This is very typical preschooler style.

I watched for a while.  The teacher finally succeeded with most of the children.  However, it took much patience on her part.  Part of the trouble was having too many children to work with at one time.  The teachers have no input.  It is just the way it is.

This is the batch of chickens that were fed on Moringa.  They have all gone to market now.  It is amazing that people can tell in the meat case which meat they want.  It is always the chickens that have been fed on Moringa.  The meat is pinker and the flavor is different.  Two pluses is that the chickens eat less food in reaching market weight.  They also do not require antibiotics.  Both things reduces the cost of production.

This is my last full week here.  I have much to accomplish.  So I may or may not get another Journal off to all the readers.  I will arrive home late on the 19thof September. Perhaps I will send a final report after I arrive home.

Please, this week, pray for HCOC and all of the staff as they attempt to move forward.  Much has been accomplished in the last five months but there is much yet to be done. I wish I could stay longer but I also know that my body is telling me it is time to go home.

I send to all of you, who have supported this organization and allowed me to accomplish many things, my greatest appreciation.  May God Bless you!  Roberta

August 28, 2018

3 Sep

Journal 19
August 28, 2018

Greetings from Zimbabwe,

Yesterday,  I spent much of the day with Tafadzwa at the Moringa Building.  She is going to be a perfect fit.  Much of her training in Japan will be very useful. She had an eye opening experience when there.   I have every confidence that she can train the local women. She also speaks the local language which is a huge plus.  She knows exactly what I am concerned about.  Having her on board is going to be a big relief for me.

My days are numbered now.  The Moringa Building is progressing, just not as quickly as I would like.  I had originally planned for several weeks to train the women.  As things stand now that is not going to happen.  I have decided to recommend that Tafadzwa be hired as manager of the Processing of the Moringa.  She is very well qualified.  Originally, I had been concerned that the community might rebel at hiring another member of the same family.  However, the Executive Committee gave their blessing.  They had helped sponsor Tafadzwa’s trip to Japan last year for a year of study.  So the committee feels the organization should benefit from her training.  In addition, Tafadzwa has her degree in Social Work.

Last Friday, I rode along with Albert to visit the bridge that I mentioned early in my stay.  The bridge has now reached the other side of the river.  Friday, the river didn’t look nearly as threatening as it had earlier in the year.  The concrete walkway reaches about halfway across the river.  They were preparing to pour more cement during our visit.  Of course it was the women who were shoveling and wheeling the stones for mixing the cement.

Clothing and laundry soap was being handed out to the local women volunteers as a thank you for their help.  This bridge is to be complete by the end of September.  This has been a big undertaking for Albert’s Rotary Club.


The processing building is nearing completion.  A final coat of paint is going on in the bathroom.  The tiling is complete.

Painting on the outside of the building is complete.  Screening has been installed in the upper part of the veranda. This will prevent birds from building nests up in the top and making a mess on the cement below.

Windows are being washed as I write this.  Major cleaning will take place on Monday.  Tuesday, when in Harare the last of the uniforms, etc. will be purchased.

The Moringa Building is basically complete.  Most of the workmen moved out today.  Much of the debris has been picked up and disposed of and so the dryer was unpacked and setup today.  The plastic is still on it to keep the dust off while the cleaning takes place.  Tomorrow the electrician is to come and wire the dryer into the outlet.  He will wire it through the surge protector.  I am really anxious to get the room cleaned now so that we can do a test run.  Tafadzwa, who will be the manger, and I will be busy all week.  Initially we will have to get used to the ozone machine and try to determine how long it needs to run to purify the water.

Stewart visited these children last week.  They live in the furthest reaches of the area HCOC serves.  He said he doubted that the truck could reach them. He said it was a challenge for the motor bike.

These children are classified as vulnerable children because both parents are living.  The father is in jail for 20 years on sexual abuse charges.  The mother is overwhelmed with caring for the children and has no money. She does odd jobs for the bit of money she can earn.  Stewart said there was no sign of food in the home.  The two older children attend Guzha.  The smaller of the three is six years old but does not attend school because the mother does not have the school fees.  HCOC assists these cases on a limited basis since they are not classified as orphans. This family needs all of our prayers.

Two weeks left until I start my trip home.  It has been a long stay.  Much has been accomplished but there is still so much to be done.  I will be leaving with mixed emotions.  My heart is heavy with the concern for children who need so much help and yet there are such limited resources.  I am counting on the Moringa to generate significant income for this mission.  Success of this project depends on the development of products that contain Moringa for retail sale.  That should create significant income.

In His Service, Roberta

 

August 23, 2018

25 Aug

Journal 18
August 23, 2018

Greetings from Zimbabwe,

The weather has made a drastic change.  We now have summer for sure.  The nights are still cool but the days are warm and sometimes really hot.  This is August and so we have wind and sometimes big dust-devils.  I don’t have to worry about being so cold all of the time, that is for sure.

Albert was finally able to locate a power driven compactor for the clinic site.  Unfortunately, it was necessary to travel to Harare to obtain it.  That may not sound like a problem but it is a minimum of two and a half hours of driving one way to get to Harare.  Dealing with the traffic in Harare is an issue.  Another issue is the cost of fuel.  It requires a minimum of $60.00 US for the diesel for the trip.

There are two workers taking turns running the machine.  They should finish the entire building site today.  The machine seems to be doing a good job.  Yesterday they had wet the dirt down so that it would settle.  Tomorrow the ground should be ready for the builder to mix and pour the cement.  I am anxious to see the building begin to rise above the ground level.

We have about 30 full-time employees as well as many people who work days at different times.  This woman and two of her children are hauling the manure from a poultry run to the compost building.  The manure is combined with green chipped material as well as other waste for the worm compost.  It is amazing how quickly the worms can break down the material.  The juice from the compost is funneled into a catch-basin. It is necessary to dilute it one to four before putting it on the garden or the Moringa.

While I was in South Africa, my friends took me shopping for yarn.  The knitting women had begged me to look for yarn. They said that it cost too much here.  I found that I could save about 60% by buying for an NGO.

I ended up buying two cheap bags to pack the yarn in to be able to bring it on the airline.  I bought 30 l kg. cones of yarn plus bags of small balls of yarn and the small cones you see in the picture.  The two bags weighed the maximum that one can check on a ticket.  Thank goodness I had taken only a carry-on when I went down.

These four children are of the same family.  Their father is deceased.  Stewart has said that he believes that the mother is either severely depressed or mentally disturbed.  He feels she is unable to care for the children.  They are really in the same category of a child-headed household.  Situations like this really tug at your heart-strings.  There are so many needs and so little resources.

We are in desperate need of a Social Worker and there just aren’t the resources to hire another fulltime employee.  Is there anyone out there who could commit $350.00 to $400.00 a month/or a portion thereof to hire a degreed full-time Social Worker.  Part of the job would be dealing with situations like this and other vulnerable children.  Our Mission has grown and it is no longer possible for Beauty to handle everything.

Aaron is an orphan.  He is 17 years old and lives alone.  He has no family.  An uncle lives nearby and has him herding his cattle but does not pay him.   He misses school the weeks that it is his turn to herd the cattle.  The uncle recently passed away.  Aaron says the cattle are still under his care but he is uncertain whether they will be his or if his uncle’s immediate relatives will come and take them as is the custom in this culture.

This picture was taken when Aaron came to HCOC to collect some  supplies.  The things available were very limited.  Stewart is the one who made me aware of this orphan’s situation.  He told me that Aaron had no cooking equipment or plates. So when I was in Harare yesterday, I purchased one cooking pot, a spoon and a couple of plates.   It isn’t much but things here are extremely expensive.

As I close this week’s journal, please pray with me for these children and others like them that depend on HCOC for their well-being.  I can’t begin to express to you how hopeless things must be for the many children who have to exist like this.  We do what we can but our funds are very limited.   The children in Ward 1 are better off than most children in rural Zimbabwe.  There are few, if any organization like ours in rural areas.

Not only are most children better off but the community at large benefits. The workers here would have no job if they were not employed by HCOC.  Many others benefit by having occasional employment.

In His Service,
Roberta

August 15, 2018

19 Aug

Journal 17
August 15, 2018

Greetings in Zimbabwe,

While I was in SA, the cold left and we now have summer.  So far the weather has been mostly pleasant, except for the wind. This is August and the wind blows much of the time.  Sometimes, it is extremely strong.  I am grateful that the plumbers have put the solar water heater at the processing building on a stand next to the building.  The stand is anchored in cement.  That should provide stability and prevent damage to the building during high wind times.

August 9, 2018

12 Aug

Journal 16
August 9, 2018

Greetings from Zimbabwe,

I returned to Zimbabwe on Tuesday evening.  I didn’t get back out to HCOC until late afternoon on Wednesday.  There are always many things to do when a vehicle goes to Harare.  Unfortunately, not much happened while I was gone.  I had suspected that would be the case.

This morning, Thursday, a group from Leeds and USADF were scheduled to come for their evaluation.  The individual from the USADF office in the U.S. was in the country.  She is the caucasian woman on the left.  Her job is to evaluate the work that is being done with USADF funds.  The gentleman in the left hand corner is from Leeds here in Harare.  He is over the people that come here periodically from Harare to look over the project and to look at the accounting of funds.  He is very familiar with the project.  He has worked with this project from the beginning.

Before the team left they toured the poultry project.  Since the first funding, the focus has been the poultry because it is a major source of income. USADF encouraged Albert to run the project at full capacity.  I had been concerned that some of the space for chickens was being wasted.  However, at the moment Albert is having difficulty getting day old chicks.  For some reason day old chicks are in short supply.  Albert explained that day old chicks are in high demand at this time of year. I feel that he should look for another supplier.  It is a shame to have facility sitting idle.

Albert took the visitors to visit one child headed household.  This boy lives alone.  He takes turns with other boys herding cattle for his uncle.  This causes him to miss school when it is his turn. We were told that he is not paid for herding the cattle.

His house is in a state of very poor repair.  The only clothes he has are what he is wearing.  They looked like if they were laundered they would fall apart.

This is an example of a child that should be in an Orphan Care Home

Albert is introducing Edwardo to the staff.  Eduardo is from Brazil and has been in Zimbabwe since January.  He will be returning to Brazil in October. Various families have hosted him during his stay but he indicates that he has not done much.  He has visited Victoria Falls.

Eduardo was brought here on Thursday by a Rotarian from Harare.  I have found him very interesting to talk to. He will be staying here for a bit over one week.  I had an opportunity to spend some time with him talking about HCOC on Friday.  He is so excited about Moringa and plans to go home and do some research.  Both he and his brother are lactose intolerant.  He is convinced that Moringa is the answer for them.

The foundation for the clinic is complete and it has been back-filled.  It needs to be settled and compacted.  Then water, sewer and power must be laid before the flooring is poured.  I have no idea when this work will be done.

There are plumbers on site.  They are working at the Moringa Processing building at the moment.  I suggested to Albert that he get a quote from them for the work that needs to be done.  I don’t know if Albert has talked to them.

Time schedules here are so different from the Western World.  It is a big adjustment.

I am getting very nervous that I am not going to be able to begin training on the schedule I had planned.  I had hoped to be able to begin training when I returned from SA.  That obviously is not going to happen.  It looks like it will be at least two weeks at the best before I can even begin with the training.  That will leave me only two weeks for training and one week to observe the workers in action.  It is not what I had hoped for.  Beauty is already talking to me about extending my stay until October.  I have told her that I can’t do that.  I think one change is all you can make on a ticket. Besides, I need to come home.  I will have been here five months.   Much has been accomplished but there is much still to be done.

Please pray for HCOC as they continue efforts to become self-supporting. They are working in that direction but it will take time.  They have to learn to work as a team.  I feel in the past few months there has been some progress made, but there is a ways to go yet.  To be honest it is a new concept to them.  In the past it has been each person just trying to survive.  That was accomplished by whatever means necessary.

I am also requesting your prayers for the orphans, especially the children who are living alone.  HCOC does the best it can but much one on one attention is needed.  This is often missing.  I must say that Stewart has done a lot to help these children.  They look up to him.  His influence has made a significant difference in school attendance and has reduced the dropout rate.

In His Service,  Roberta

 

August 3, 2018

3 Aug

Journal 15
August 3, 2018

Greetings from South Africa,

Yes, I am still in SA.  Albert called me yesterday afternoon and told me not to come back.  I have rebooked for next Tuesday, the 7th.   I hope there will not be any further delay. I am anxious to get things completed before I am scheduled to return to the U.S.

I am sorry to say that the election appears to me to be suspicious and I can understand why the people are so upset.  I am sorry that some people have been shot.  As is often the case, those shot or injured were not necessarily involved in the backlash.

I have had the opportunity to visit one of the game reserves near-by.  It was great getting to see some of the animals and to spend time with friends.  Now I am in Pretoria with other friends.  It seems like we spend a lot of time eating.  I must say, it is all very good but my will power  is not serving me well.

This is all for now. I will send word when I have returned to Harare.

Please pray for Peace and Stability for Zimbabwe.  Pray that there will be no more unrest.  Pray that the country can now begin to rebuild and move forward.

In His Service,

Roberta