June 9, 2018

15 Jun

Journal 8

Greetings from Zimbabwe,

As I mentioned in my last email, I had visited Nyamashato Primary School on Thurs. May 31. I was very impressed with their garden.  The green house is constructed of white shade cloth to protect the tomatoes from potential frost.  It also reduces insect infestation.  There are 25 rows of tomatoes tied up to wire trellises.  The plants are loaded with tomatoes.  The plants are watered and fertilized through drip irrigation. These tomatoes will be sold to community members when most people cannot grow tomatoes. This will generate badly needed income.

This young boy is age 13 but is the size of a seven year old child.  He lost his mother when he was very young. He lives with a stepmother and it has not been a healthy relationship.  The father lives in Harare and rarely comes to visit the family. The child and the stepmother are both emotionally depressed.  The child has been constantly ill in the past.  However, with Stewart getting involved and with Beauty’s expertise they have made a huge difference.  The boy is now attending school on a regular basis.  Beauty has been helpful in his improved health. How children are able to survive with so many strikes against them is beyond my understanding.

This boy had lost both parents by the age of nine years.  He had been living with a relative but was mistreated. He left and wandered aimlessly. He ended up sleeping in an abandoned vehicle at Madamombe Town Center. At one point he risked crossing the Inyagui River to find work on farms in that area so that he could have food to eat. When Stewart found him, he was wild. The boy, through counseling, has since returned to school.  His behavior has improved.  Stewart is keeping a close eye on him.  Recently he asked Stewart for a Bible.  Note the big smile when Stewart gave him his own Bible.

The truck loaded with materials for the Moringa Building arrived late evening on Monday.  The materials were unloaded at the work site and construction began on Tuesday morning. The workmen are all living on site.

The plumbers are digging the trench for the piping from the building to the septic tank at the moment.  The bottom of the septic tank is being poured today.

After the plumbers are finished digging, then they will need to trench to a different tank for recyclable water.  It seems a bit backwards but they are doing things to stay out of the way of the electricians and the carpenters at the moment.

The carpenter is putting in the ceiling structure to support the insulation and electrical work for the lights.  The grinding room and the packaging room are already complete.  He was making good progress on the processing room when I paid a visit early this afternoon.

The electrician has the fuse box set and is putting tubing in for running the electrical wire through.  He will have to drill through the cement wall to put the tubing through to the processing room.  I am sure the carpenter will be through with the ceiling structure as soon as the electricians are ready to begin their work in the processing room.  Work is moving swiftly now that supplies are on site.

The digging of the foundation for the new clinic has progressed very slowly. Finally, on Tuesday, Albert recommended they bring in more help for the digging.  The work is progressing much faster in the last couple of days.  I feel that by the end of the day on Friday, the digging will be complete.  I hope the inspector will come on Monday to give his approval to move forward with putting in the foundation.  I am looking forward to seeing the walls go up while I am still here.

As I close this week, I am asking for prayers for all of the construction that is taking place here.

I am especially asking for your prayers for the orphans that have no parents and who have been so mistreated.  Life is tough here even under the best of conditions.  Pray especially for Beauty and Stewart.  They are often the only support system the child has ever known. Without people like them these children would live like animals or probably not even survive.  I thank all of the readers for you prayerful support.

In His Service, Roberta

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June 1, 2018

7 Jun

Journal 7
June 1, 2018

This morning, after the time of worship for the workers, I went for a walk around part of the grounds.  I checked out the garden.  I have had both lettuce and carrots from the garden to eat.  They have both been especially good.

I happened to notice some women working in an area near the water tanks. So I went to investigate.  There were four women, who are orphan care givers, shelling the maize that has been drying.  They did it by rubbing the ears back and forth on a broken brick or piece of rock.  It is time consuming but it works.  A shelling machine would be very helpful.

I have to share this beautiful sunset that I witnessed last evening.  I know that we have spectacular sunsets in Colorado.  But I wanted you to know that there are lovely sunsets elsewhere as well.

This morning it is sunny but very chilly.  The wind is blowing very hard and I am noticing the cold.  It seems early to me for it to be this cold. Normally the really cold weather is in July.  I have been standing in the sun to get warm.  I say that I am becoming African because that is what they do.

Albert and Beauty left on Sunday to fly to SA.  ELMA, one of the grant providers, is conducting a seminar for some of their grant recipients in 10 countries within Africa.  The focus of the seminar is nutrition.   HCOC was chosen to be one of the participants.  Albert is to make a presentation today, Tuesday, on the overall program here at HCOC.  He will emphasize how the community is involved in the program.  Beauty will demonstrate the porridge that is made for the orphans here and will explain how Moringa is incorporated.  She will point out the nutritional benefits of incorporating Moringa.   Local farmers are raising the different grains used in making the porridge.  HCOC pays for the grains and so the local farmers are deriving an income and HCOC has a local supply of grains at less cost than traveling to the city to buy porridge mix.

Beauty will fly home tomorrow and Godfrey will fly to Johannesburg and join Albert.  Thursday and Friday they will attend workshops on financial management.  I believe they will both return home on Saturday morning.

Completion of the Moringa Building should begin in earnest on Monday.   I sat with Godfrey yesterday going over the list of things needed. Supplies have been ordered and payment has been transferred from HCOC bank account to the suppliers’ banks. Today Chris is in Harare making arrangements for the transport of the supplies here to HCOC.  He is also checking to make certain that suppliers have received payment into their accounts.   The plan is that supplies will be picked up by one truck on Monday and delivered here.  It will be time consuming to go from one location to another picking up the various supplies.  However, that is the way it has to be done.  They no longer use checks to make purchases as in the past.  The plan is that everything will come on one truck and therefore have only one transport charge.  Hopefully the plan works.  I knew in April that having the building complete by the end of May would never happen.

Work is continuing on the compost bins at the Moringa site.  This worker is preparing for the roof that will protect the worm bins from the hard rains that will come during the rainy season.  The liquid, from the worm compost, will drain into a cement trench and will be funneled to a cement pit.  The workers can then dip from the pit and dilute 1 to 30 with water.  This fertilizer will then be put on the Moringa field and gardens.  Much of the compost is made up of  chicken manure from the poultry project, garden waste and trimmings of all kinds.  The compost thermometer that I brought several years ago is really getting used.

Work at the site of the new clinic is progressing well.  It is not happening as quickly as I would like but that is always the case.  The ground is hard and the workers are doing their best.  Progress is slow.  They have to take breaks.  It hurts my shoulders and back to see them using the pick ax.

The workers have just about completed the ring wall but still have to do the foundation for the internal walls.  I suspect that it may take another week after the end of this week. I would like to think that it would happen sooner but I doubt that it will.  When the foundation is dug, then the inspectors have to come and inspect before work can move forward.  Getting inspectors here takes a lot of time and effort.

This morning I spent several hours at Nyamashato Primary School.  It was my first visit to the school this year. I noticed the garden and went to inspect.  One of the teachers was in the garden with her class.  She was showing them what mulch was and how it was used.  I believe her class was a second grade class.  The students were very well behaved.

Since I was already in the garden, I visited other parts of the garden as well.  This was the best use of the garden I have ever observed.  The fencing of the garden was one of the first projects we did in the early years of our travels here.

While I was visiting Nyamashato Primary this morning, a Headmaster, from a school at a distance, came in a van with his Deputy and SDC members to visit this school that they had heard about.

I am running out of space and I am determined to limit the journals to just two pages.  As I close for this week, I am requesting that you keep this mission in your prayers.  The needs here are much greater than the resources available.  Please pray that we will be wise Stewards of the resources entrusted to us.  So many children benefit from the programs here as well as members of the community.

In His Service,

Roberta

May 19, 2018

24 May

Journal 5
May 19, 2018

Greetings from Zimbabwe,

I hope this finds friends and family doing well. Summer should be close at hand. Winter is coming to this part of the world.  Days are pleasant and hot in the middle of the day but nights are cool.

A question has been asked about O-level and A-level exams. The O-level exams are given near the end of a child’s Secondary Education.  The results of those exams determine whether the child is prepared to go on for further education.  If so, next step is to go for A-levels with the focus on the area of the child’s interest. This is a two year education at a Boarding School.  Passing A-level exams is important if a student plans to go to a University.  It is rather like a senior in High School and a year of Junior College.  The cost of taking the O-level exam is $15.00 per subject.  Normally we only pay for five exams, or a total of $75.00 per child but sometimes students want to take additional exams if they feel they want to go into a profession.  Taking nine exams would cost $135.00.  Because we have so many children to consider we have made a practice of only paying for five subject exams.

Finally, the dryer has been released from Customs.  Albert is in Murewa as I type this transferring money to the shipping handler at the airport in Harare.  The dryer has been in Harare since May 3.  What a challenge we have had!  Hopefully it will soon be on site.  I am not certain how it is going to be transported to HCOC.  Both trucks have had mechanical issues.  As of one hour ago, the Nissan is back on the road.  The Toyota still has issues.  Hopefully they can find repair parts for it.  Monday, Albert and I are going to Harare to look at what trucks may be available.  There is a 2016 model in SA with only 64,000 km on it.  My concern is the issues of getting it into Zimbabwe.  There are always issues of duty etc.   It will be a last resort.  I am hoping there is something available locally.

Yesterday, some orphans came along with care-givers to help with clean-up and additional harvesting of maize.  The greenhouse was destroyed in a storm before I arrived. It has now been rebuilt and so the children were helping with weeding and the salvaging of the Moringa plants that had been in the greenhouse.  Everything looked neat and tidy when they had finished.  I am anxious to have the compost bins completed so the worms may be transferred from the greenhouse to the compost bins.

The septic tank at the Moringa Building site is in the process of being dug.  I am amazed at how high the workman is able to throw the dirt up and out of the hole. He plans to dig it three meters deep; that is a little over nine feet.  This will be bricked up on the inside and plastered with cement when finished.

A second pit is being dug to catch the wash water from the Moringa Processing.  This water, plus rain water run-off from guttering will be reused for irrigation in the Moringa field.

The garden is beautiful.  It is full of vegetables, carrots, spinach, lettuce, rugare, peas etc. The plants are healthy and abundant. This is the first time that I have seen such variety.  The cooks were picking vegetables for the lunch for the orphans that had come to work on Saturday.  The varied diet plays a role in fewer visits by orphans to the clinic.  They are definitely healthier than in the past.

Praises!  The dryer for the Moringa is finally on site as of Monday, May 21 about 5:30 in the afternoon.   Thank you to those who were praying with us and for its safe arrival.  It appears to be in perfect shape.  We have not unboxed it because I don’t want people testing the controls until we have it in place.  The work still has not begun even though the suppliers have been identified. Nothing happens quickly in Africa. The next step is getting the money here so that we have funding to purchase supplies and I am working on that.

I am asking you to Praise God for the safe arrival of the Moringa Dryer.  It is truly a blessing and will provide employment for a number of community people. I am especially grateful for the support given us by Rotary.  We saved more than $5,000.00 on import charges.  This is a real Blessing when we work on such a tight budget.  It required much patience.

In His Service, Roberta

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

May 10, 2018

18 May

Journal 4
May 10, 2018

Greetings from Zimbabwe,

The dryer for the Moringa has been in Harare for one week. It still has not been released to HCOC. I am convinced that it is a delay tactic to allow for more storage charges.  We have sent them a copy of the invoice marked paid.  We have sent them a copy of the check and now they insist on a hard copy.  Banks in the U.S. destroy copies of checks once they have cleared the bank.  I am so frustrated and at times am ready to give up. Then I think of the children that will benefit from the income the Moringa has the potential to generate.

The plastering of the outside of the Moringa Building is coming along nicely.  I had not planned to have this expense but decided it was best after seeing the quality of the bricks.

Tuesday was spent gathering quotes for the plumbing, electrical work and carpentry that still needs to be done.  Our biggest single expense appears to be the stainless steel tables and sinks used in processing the Moringa.  The stainless must be food grade and so more expensive.

Albert is proposing to purchase materials ourselves and pay the contractor for just the labor.  This appears that it will save considerable money.  I hope we can get the work underway by next week.  If the work is not complete on time, it will mean that I will have to remain longer than planned.  I want processing team adequately trained before I leave.

Yesterday, I traveled with Albert to the bridge his Rotary Club is responsible for building, to enable children to cross safely going to and from school during the rainy season. Over the years 17 children have lost their lives attempting to cross to school when the water was too deep and too swift.

The Rotary Club of Harare City is the lead club and have partnered with a club in Michigan.  Much of the funding has been contributed by a local bank and a steel business in addition to the Rotary Clubs.

The purpose of the meeting was to determine if the work could resume.  The water level has dropped several feet.  The engineer from the U.S. embassy was present at the meeting and an architect from Salt Lake City.  The work is being done by the Zimbabwe Army Corp of Engineers at little to no cost to Rotary.  The Army is required to do some service projects.

This was a huge undertaking for a club of the size of Harare City Club but the task is nearing completion.

On our way back from the bridge, Albert stopped to check on the butchery HCOC operates in Murewa.  They have recently acquired a meat showcase for their shop.  It was quite a nice display and people were coming in and out to make purchases.  This outlet provides significantly more profit on the poultry than selling to a processor in Harare.  They have reached the point now where they need to open another Butchery like the one in Murewa.  Fresh produce is also marketed at the butchery when the garden produces surplus.

This morning, Sunday, Albert, Stewart, Godfrey and Gaylord gathered at my house at 7:30 for breakfast and to go over quotes for the Moringa building.  It was a slow tedious process. The total is $5,000.00 over the $25,000.00 of available funds.  Harare Rotary Club is holding about $4,000.00 that was sent by the Denver Rotary Club and so it will help but it will be tight.  We will review again and hope to find a way to cut the costs.  I am determined to proceed and get as far as funds will allow.

If I don’t complete the building now and get workers trained, I may not be able to do it another year.  I feel blessed to be able to still travel at my age.  It is not as easy as it used to be, I will admit that.

Today, Tuesday, May 15 is the day that Albert normally goes to Harare to run errands, check on the dryer and for Rotary.  However, neither truck is road worthy.  The Nissan is worn out as is the Toyota.  The Nissan has close to 200,000 km on it.  Heaven only knows how many km are on the Toyota. The odometer only works about half the time.  Right now it is not working at all.  My estimate is that it has over 400,000 km on it and probably closer to 500,000 km.  It has become apparent to me today that we need two trucks replaced.  There just isn’t that kind of money available.  If we keep the trucks, they both need new tires.  In such a remote area, we have to have road worthy vehicles.

Please pray this week for the work here at HCOC.  In spite of the needs, many good things are happening. Students are preparing for O-level exams which will determine their placement for A-level education.  HCOC pays for five exams for those eligible students. One student has come requesting special consideration for writing nine exams.  Gaylord, an orphan from here has paid for one additional exam, I matched that. Gaylord is looking for additional donors.  I am so proud of Gaylord’s efforts to help a fellow orphan.

In His Service, Roberta

May 3, 2018

7 May

Journal 3
May 3, 2018

Greetings from Zimbabwe,

Bill and Joyce have left to return to Colorado. Yesterday they made a trip to the Great Zimbabwe for a bit of sight-seeing.  I am lonely without their company.  However, there is a lot of work ahead.

Sunday, Albert took them to the bridge that was built in the early years of this mission.  Last year a plague was placed there in memory of Ralph, the community and the District Counsels effort to make crossing the river safe for the children and community.

This morning as I returned from morning meeting, I found women in the maize field outside my house.  They were beginning to harvest the maize that has been drying.  Of course the little ones come along.  From the sounds of things, they are protesting loudly.

Some of the early crops have not produced well and in some cases they had to replant because of the lack of early rains.  In spite of this, some later crops have done well.

The picture on the left is a group of gentlemen from Harare that visited us on Saturday. They are carpenters, electricians and plumbers. The fellow in the white shirt on the left is a Rotarian with Albert, who assembled and brought these gentlemen here to give us quotes.  He grew up in the Guzha area and graduated from Nyamshato Secondary School.  We are anxiously awaiting their quotes so we can move ahead completing the building.  Yesterday, a double door was installed in the building to give easy access for the dryer.  The dryer is scheduled to arrive in Harare today.  I am very concerned about getting it here safely over these rough roads. Rotary is handling all of the clearances for HCOC.  We only have to pay $10.00 duty is my understanding.  I believe they said that we would also have to pay vat tax.

After more than 20 years of traveling in and around Zimbabwe, I had never seen a red dragon fly.  This one we spotted at the bridge when we visited there recently.  It wasn’t terribly bothered by our picture taking. What a beautiful specimen!  The white around the eyes were really noticeable.

We have had to do some alterations of windows in the processing building, which were incorrectly placed.  The work is complete now and we are ready to move forward as soon as we receive the quotes on plumbing, electrical work and ceiling plus insulation. A restroom for the workers is also important.  I am concerned about the costs that are adding up.

A water catchment system is needed so that some of the water from processing can be reused for irrigation in the fields close by.

I had planned on purchasing a different vehicle for the Orphan Care Center.  The Toyota is one Ralph and I drove and is about 16 years old, I think. It is beginning to cost too much to keep it running.  The odometer no longer works and so we have no idea how many miles are truly on it.

Saturday, some of the orphans and caregivers came to help harvest the maize crop.  Only a small group gathered, since many of the orphans had gone to spend the term break with relatives and had not returned.  School resumes on Tuesday and so the children will be back by then. When the group had finished one portion of the field, they filled the bed of the pickup completely full.  A good harvest!  The best part for the children was eating when the work was done.

Please pray for these children that have experienced so much loss in their young lives. The sad look on their faces is heart wrenching.  Getting them to smile is next to impossible.  May God guide us in helping them to smile again.

In His Service, Roberta

 

 

April 30, 2018

1 May

April 30, 2018
Journal 2
Greetings from Zimbabwe,

Allen, in the center of the picture, is an orphan.  His grandmother is on the left.  She is an Orphan Care Giver and has been from the beginning of the Orphan Care Program.  Fifteen years ago she came to me crying and begging for help.  She had a baby that was seven days old.  The mother, her daughter, had died in child birth and the father had passed away a few days earlier.  The grandmother had no way of feeding the baby and she was begging for help. Ralph and I headed for Harare in search of formula and baby bottles.  We were finally successful but it wasn’t easy.  Formula was very difficult to find, but our goal  was finally accomplished.  Today was the first time I had knowingly seen him.  He is a fine young man.  It was such a pleasure to meet him.  This is only one example of why I do what I do.

This afternoon Beauty took us to visit some orphans. Aaron is 16 years old and lives alone. After his parents died he went to Harare to live with
relatives.  He was abused and so he ran away and came back to the rural area.  He is attending the Secondary School at Nyamashato.  Life is tough for these young people but he is trying to stay in school.  He was happy to receive the food supplies we had brought.  These children desperately need clothing.  I wish it was still possible to ship container loads of supplies as we used to do.

Blessing and Blessed are 16 year old twins.  Their older brother was not at home.  He was herding cattle for someone.  These boys attend Nyamashato Secondary School. Several years ago HCOC built a two room house for the boys. I believe this happened in 2013.   Their living quarters were falling down and gave little protection from the weather or much of anything else.  Things were neat and clean when we paid a visit today.  They are making the best of a very difficult situation.

The poultry project is continuing to expand.  You will notice that a security fence has been installed inside the electric fence.  This is an addition since I was here last year.  This is a second line of defense to protect from intruders, goats and otherwise. The picture on the right shows a wheel wash being installed that trucks coming in and out will drive through a disinfectant as they enter the poultry compound.  The gates will be kept locked except for deliveries and pick-ups.  New baby chicks arrived yesterday. Unfortunately, the poultry market is in a slump at the moment.  I don’t know if it is just a seasonal issue or not.  Schools resume on May 9thand that will help HCOC.  Murewa Mission buys 300 chickens a week from HCOC.  HCOC also sells to other Boarding Schools.

This is a view of the Moringa Processing Building.  The construction is way behind schedule. However, work is in high gear since I arrived.  Friday, we sat down together and made a time schedule for completion of the building. If things stay on schedule, it should be complete by May 25th.

We are expecting the dryer to arrive in Harare next Thursday, May 3.  Albert’s Rotary Club is handling the importation of the dryer and I am hoping the delivery to the site.  I plan to leave the dryer crated until the building is complete.

Through one of the Rotarians, I understand that we have been exempted from paying duty but will have to pay vat tax.  At least it could have been worse.

Yesterday, Saturday, was the last Saturday of the month. People in Zimbabwe and Denver pray at the same time and pray for the people and their needs.  Stewart had a group of orphans present.  He handed out the greetings from people at Canyons. Inside each envelope was a little red Bible.  Stuart explained to the children how to take care of it and to carry it in their pockets where ever they go.

In His Service,
Roberta

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

April 24, 2018

28 Apr

April 24, 2018
Journal 1
Greetings from Zimbabwe,

We arrived in Zimbabwe on Thursday the 19th. Joyce and Bill were able to sleep some at the hotel.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t so lucky.  I slept very little on the plane and so was really ready for bed when I arrived at Elizabeth’s house.  I slept soundly and certainly felt better the next day.

We arrived at HCOC about 3:30 in the afternoon on Friday. A large group of people had gathered at the gate and escorted the vehicle down to the house, singing and dancing as they went.  They had planned a short program of welcome and then they left to give us time to settle in.  We had grocery shopped and so had to attend to that first.

Saturday was a quiet day for Joyce and I.  Bill traveled with Albert to a Rotary gathering.  They had a day of tree planting and Albert had taken a selection of Moringa starts to add to the task.  Afterwards they attended an outdoor barbecue before returning home.

Sunday, Joyce, Bill and I attended the church that Stewart attends.  It was a very lengthy service and full of children.    The children were really involved.  Singing and dancing was a large part of the service.  I recognize many of the people that were present. They all made a point of shaking my hand.

The pastor is a member of the Board that oversees HCOC. He asked me to speak. So I briefly summarized the history of the mission for the benefit of the orphans.  I emphasized that the mission began before any of the children present were born.

Today, we spent a great deal of time viewing the status of the processing building.  I was disappointed that it was not farther along.  Building always progress slower than one would like.  We discussed placement of the dryer and window arrangement. It is a long way from being ready to begin processing Moringa.  I am hoping my presence will speed up the work.  I don’t want to leave until everything is operational and I have people trained to operate the dryer.  I must stress the importance of sanitation with the workers in the building once it is operational.

This is a view of the worm compost bins that have been constructed. As soon as the space between the rows of bins is cemented it will channel the run off to a pit.  This liquid will be diluted and used to fertilize the Moringa fields.  It makes excellent fertilizer.

These women have been harvesting Moringa and cutting the trunks down close the ground. The trunks will be put through the chipper and sent to the compost bins.

Notice that in this picture there are rows of beans planted between the rows of Moringa. When one crop is fertilized both crops benefit. The same is true for watering.  This will reduce water usage.  The crops are looking pretty good.

Tomorrow we will be going to Harare.  It is Rotary day.  We are all going along to run errands.  I am hoping to find a place to send this email.

Please pray for safe shipping of the dryer.  It should be on its way.  We are anxiously awaiting its safe arrival.

In His Service, Roberta