Archive | September, 2018

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,




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