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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4 Jun

June 2, 2017
Journal 10

Greetings from Denver,

The last week in Zimbabwe was very hectic and I could not find the time to write the final journal. Now I am home and this is the first opportunity I have had to bring this trip to a close. Many things happened the last week and many things I had to leave unfinished. Hopefully, the staff is able to move forward and see that projects are completed. Life in Zimbabwe is very difficult. Godfrey, our accountant, spends countless hours standing in line at the bank to get money. Purchases are done through bank transfers. This requires an individual to wait before they can pick up supplies. The money must clear the business bank account before supplies can be picked up. Sometimes people wait in line at the bank only to be told that the bank has no money.

The gentleman pictured here is Stewart our new religious leader on staff. He lives in the local community and has volunteered at the offices frequently. He is not an ordained pastor but has had considerable religious training. He also has a certificate in Social Work. He will be a big help to Beauty, our nurse, in helping in the care of the Orphans. His focus will be the children who need someone to talk to. He will check on them in their homes to observe their needs. Stewart will conduct early morning worship and also after school classes for any child who wants to attend not just orphans. His beginning salary is $200.00 per month if anyone would like to help out.

He is able to ride the motor bike and so will be able to get around the rough terrain. That has been a problem always. Our vehicles are showing evidence of a lot of wear and tear.

May 19 was the day of celebration. It marked the 20 years since Ralph and I made our first trip to Zimbabwe. Our goal in the beginning was to help rebuild a school. However, our focus changed when we became aware of the needs of so many children who had been left to fend for themselves after the parents had passed away, many from AIDS. Schools still need help in improving the building structures but the care of the children takes priority. HCOC provides not only meals but school fees, uniforms, school supplies and medical care. We are presently caring for more than 700 children.

A choir from one of the schools presented several musical numbers during the program. A large number of the children in the choir are orphans. I never cease to be amazed at the harmony that the children present.

One of our orphans, who is in Secondary School, presented a tribute to me for all the help we had given to the orphans like himself. Before he gave his speech, he asked for a moment of silence in Ralph’s memory. I was very touched.

It was the very last week before I had the opportunity to meet with the sewing ladies. I was pleased to see that they had expanded their group. I saw a number of younger women and was not only surprised but pleased. Women that I trained originally have dropped out for health reasons or have passed away. With younger women being involved, they have to bring young children with them. I experienced that in the beginning as well.

While these women have a few electric machines, they can’t use them because they have no meter for the electricity that Ralph had installed. Meters can cost several hundred dollars. I told them if they could save $50.00 I would come up with the rest. I just hope they can be motivated to save some of their money.

I visited the knitting co-op the same day that I visited the sewing group. I had made appointments with both groups on three different occasions and something always took priority.

These women have also expanded their group. However, they only have one of the three machines working. I have instructed them to find someone who knows how to repair the machines to come to the school and repair them. Hauling the machines over the roads will only increase the damage. I know they will have to pay transportation costs but it is the best alternative. One of the machines has missing parts. It was a new machine that I shipped several years ago. I am hoping the parts will be obtainable.

One of the most significant events of the trip is seeing the positive impact that the USADF grant has made on the organization. It is looking very positive that the grant will be renewed. However, the amount of the grant will depend on what happens on funding here to USADF. Probably the most significant thing that came from this grant is the organizational meetings that were funded. USADF has an excellent follow-up program to make certain procedures are carried out. I have been very favorably impressed. The mission is not yet financially independent but things are progressing in that direction.

Opening the butchery in Murewa has helped HCOC increase the profit on the poultry significantly. Selling live chickens to processors in Harare eliminates the need to dress the chickens but it reduces the profit considerably. Godfrey indicated, before I left, that their profit now was running well over $1.00 per bird. The profit had been sometimes less than $.60 per bird. With the Blast Freezer, they are able to dress large numbers of chickens at one time and freeze them immediately. They need a large freezer to transfer the frozen chicken to after sharp freezing. It is too expensive to store in the blast freezer.

Please pray for this mission. Pray that God’s Will be carried out. Pray for the children who depend on us for survival. In His Service, Roberta

May 12, 2017

23 May

Journal 9
Greetings from Zimbabwe,

My departure date is fast approaching and there are still many things to be accomplished. I feel like I am in panic mode. Mr. Bondeponde asked me to meet with the sewing women this morning. It is now 10:30 and no one is here. I decided to begin the Journal while I waited. I just don’t have time to mark in place.

This is a picture of the view from the house this morning. It is so quiet and peaceful. The sky is so blue and no clouds in sight this morning.

Workers are building a cage outside the house to contain the bottles of gas for the stove. This was begun before I arrived but is just now getting completed.

Beauty is working on finding a couple of orphan boys who have left school and have nothing to do. She is going to see if they would like to train as painters. Hopefully she will be successful in finding a couple of boys. They will begin training next week with the fellow from Harare that I mentioned in my last journal..

This is a new staff house that was started at the end of 2015. It is incomplete because of insufficient funding. The work remaining is plumbing, electrical wiring and the installation of the doors. There are a couple of windows that need the glass installed. Then closets need to be installed in three bedrooms.  A counter and a few cabinets in the kitchen need to be built and a sink installed. It is estimated that this work will cost between $10,000.00 to $12,000.00. I don’t think it is healthy for two families to have to share one house. I am hoping that by the end of this year, funding will allow for this work to be completed.

Clive, who had presented a workshop on composting about a month ago paid a follow-up visit last Thursday to see how things were progressing. He was pleased with what had been done but encouraged the workers to speed up their efforts. He encouraged them to take advantage of all the green matter available at the moment to incorporate into the compost. Maize is being harvested at the moment and so the stalks should also be added to the compost. Clive will graduate the end of this month from the University. Hopefully he will continue to pay periodic visits and continue to encourage the workers.

Today was a very busy day. It began with assembling all of the cooks this morning. I demonstrated making porridge using locally grown grains that had been ground and mixed together. At the end of the cooking, I added a teaspoon of powdered Moringa per serving. Then I gave each cook a small serving of the porridge. They admitted that they were unable to taste the Moringa. They felt the children would like it.

After that, we showed the cooks and Moringa workers the power point presentation on the importance of Moringa in everyone’s diet. Most of them were very surprised at the nutritional value of the Moringa. At the end each person was given two pots of Moringa starts to take home and plant at their homes. We encouraged them to use Moringa in their cooking.

Recently, I purchased a portable electric sewing machine for the Secondary School Fashion Dept. The school has installed electricity in the fashion building. Now they can use electric machines.   All they have had in the past were old hand crank machines. Of course they don’t do zigzag stitches. The purpose is for making sanitary pads for orphan girls. Beauty, the nurse, has begged for a solution to the problem of girls missing days of school. So the pads will be given to Beauty to distribute. These pads are washable and reusable. The teacher and I spent some time together on Sat. getting used to the new machine. I taught her how to make the pads. I had researched on line some time ago to see how the problem was dealt with in other third world countries. This is how I came up with the pattern.

I am out of space and out of time and so I will bring this to a close and send my news on its way. Lots of things are happening at HCOC. Friday, we will be celebrating 20 years since Ralph and I began the work in this area of Zimbabwe. Plans are shaping up for a big celebration. I hope the day is not too cool. The weather is changing.

As I close this journal, I ask that you pray for the children who have no parents. It is so sad to look at their faces. I visited the preschool yesterday and took some pictures. In many cases I could not get some of the children to smile. It breaks my heart.

In His Service,

Roberta