Tag Archives: Hatchery

October 5, 2011 Zimbabwe Students and God’s Blessings

5 Oct

Greetings from Zimbabwe,

Tomorrow Jeff and I need to go to Harare to take care of several bits of business. So I am going to put together a Journal to night. I am uncertain when we will be going back to town. However, some weeks the trips are rather frequent. So far we have driven 6,200 km since picking up the truck in SA. That gives an idea of the frequent trips to Harare.

Sunday, October 2, we traveled to Nyahuni Boarding School. Tracey and Pertronella, two orphans, are students
HCOC has been sponsoring there. Sunday was a gathering of friends and families for the end of the year awards
celebration. Tracy, the girl whose picture is on the left received three awards. She was the top student in her
grade in physical science, agriculture and commercial studies. We are so very proud of her.

Petronella, the girl in the picture on the right, was the top student in her grade level in Geography. It has been a struggle to find the money for school fees for these children but their achievements have been our reward. We are committed to providing for their schooling if at all possible.

We presently have three students attending Cheunje Boarding School. Those three students will be graduating at the end of this term. Due to the shortage of funds, there are no plans at this time to start any new students in Boarding School beginning the school year in January.

This has been a rainy week. It has begun to rain the last three evenings just after dark. This evening it is a gentle steady rain. Last night we had hard rain with wind and some hail. Normally this time of year we get scattered showers but not heavy rains. I guess the weather is changing the world over.

In spite of the rains the Well Drillers were able to do their work. The men and equipment arrived at HCOC about noon on Monday, October 3. They began drilling early afternoon and hit water at about 45 meters. The following day they continued drilling to 70 meters and continued to get some water. The final results are about 500 gallons an hour. It isn’t as good as we had hoped for but better than previous attempts. It certainly will provide for the crops that are soon to be planted.

Tuesday afternoon, the well drillers tore down their rig and Jeff led them to Guzha Primary School. We were not optimistic about the prospects of getting water. The hydrologist gave us only a 67 % chance of finding water. He thought the best we could hope for was enough water for a hand pump. Today, they continued to drill to 70 meters and continued to find more water.

The water was coming in so fast that the driller couldn’t blow out the borehole to install the casing. The casing that they were attempting to install kept breaking because the water and soil created too much pressure. It was necessary for them to call for a heavier casing. The final results were 2,000 gallons per hour. This is far beyond our wildest expectations. When we left the people were dancing and celebrating.

On Monday Trevor, the person that we will be buying the pumps from, will be coming out to HCOC. We had originally hoped to put in a solar pump at Guzha but he may advise otherwise. Guzha does not have electricity or any hopes of getting electricity in the near future. There are many decisions to be made and lots of work to be accomplished. Once we meet with Trevor, we will have a better idea of the time frame we are dealing with.

The picture on the right is the view outside our door this morning after the rain last night. The Jacaranda trees are in full bloom and the ground was covered in purple blossoms. I hated to see anyone walk on them but then
the goats were out and they love to eat the blossoms.

God has truly answered our prayers for good sources of water. Praise Him! We ask for your prayers as we make decisions next week. Our goal is to be God’s hands and feet in this place and to carry out His will.

In His Service,



September 25, 2011 Some Cuts are needed Due to Low Revenue

25 Sep

Greetings from Zimbabwe,

Some projects here are moving forward and others are at a standstill. Thursday, a large truck load of sawdust was delivered for bedding in the chicken run. The sawdust is free, there is only a charge for the trucking. We are going to have to figure out a way to store such a quantity. We won’t need it all at one time but as the batches of chickens are moved all of the bedding must be replaced.

Friday, we brought home 700 day old chicks. Jeff worried all the way about losing them. He had waited in the heat for nearly an hour for an order of food for the chicks. However, all was well when we finally arrived. The following morning they were all still alive. Albert was very pleased. Losing a few in the beginning is normal. The other batch of chickens is now six weeks old. They will begin selling those later next week. In three weeks we plan to purchase another 700 chicks. The goal is to have three batches of chickens at different ages going all of the time.

We have to make some tough decisions. It is the part of the job that I don’t like. Our revenue sources are not generating enough income to keep the Mission operating. The number of orphans has not changed significantly. Costs of operation have increased. We need to make some significant cuts somewhere. The chicken project is at the point now that it generates enough income to sustain it and also to produce some profit. I estimate that they will realize about $600.00 plus every six to eight weeks. But that will not cover all the expenses in other areas.

Some cuts we are considering are: No longer providing uniforms for orphans. This should save about $6,000.00 each year. We need to ship the clothing that ZMP has gathered as soon as possible so that these children will have something to wear.

1. School fees are another big expenditure. We have only been paying a portion of the school fees for a couple of years. Now that is even difficult. Schools have been encouraged to develop income generation projects that will help pay school fees of orphans. But even that takes money they don’t have.

2. We have recommended that outstanding students no longer be sent to Boarding School. So in January, the beginning of the school year, no new students will be sent to Boarding School. Some small groups at Church have supported these student in the past but donations for those fees have been slow to come and sometimes not at all. We presently have five students attending Boarding School. Somehow we want to be able to let them finish their O-Levels, which is equal to a high school graduation. It costs $1,500.00 per term for the five students. There are three terms in the school year.

3. One of our big expenses is petrol for the vehicles. We are asking the staff, who uses the vehicles, to use public transport wherever possible. Instead of using petrol for the vehicles to ferry water to the chickens, garden etc. we are considering buying oxen and a water carts for such purposes. The oxen will cost about $800. Presently a hand dug well close to the chickens is being dug. We are encouraged by the flow of water. It should produce enough water for the chickens.

4. Since the Sewing Co-Op will no longer be making uniforms for HCOC, I have been working with them on a business plan, so they will be able to continue to have an income. Unfortunately, many people in the community cannot afford to pay for school uniforms. So I am encouraging them to buy fabric and make other types of clothing that they can try and sell in Murewa or even Harare. They had already begun to do a bit of this. Some people bring their own fabric and the women make whatever they request. That way they charge for their time and a bit for maintenance of machines.

Some things never change…..We thought we had a well driller hired. When we called the driller, after the hydrologist had cited for wells, and he was booked up for a month. That would be after we were scheduled to return to the U.S. We have a different well drilled booked for next Monday, Oct. 3. Pray for us that we are fortunate and find good sources of water. We can’t schedule the pump installer until we know what kind of water supply we find. This delay has set us behind schedule and we may have to reschedule our return. It won’t be the first time.

In closing I ask for your prayers for Jeff and me. We need strength and wisdom to do what needs to be done here. I also ask that you pray that God will provide good sources of water where we drill. Without a good source of water, future expansion at the site is out of the question.

In His Service,


September 14, 2011 Zimbabwe Mission

14 Sep

Greetings from Zimbabwe,

Our gardener, Lovemore’s wife passed away a couple of days ago in Motoko. She had been in not good health for some time. More recently she had been in the hospital in Motoko. Yesterday, Mr. Bondeponde drove the big truck to go and pick up the body for burial at the family home. Mr. Bondeponde called at about 5:00 to say that the clutch had gone out on the truck about 10 km from the location they were to pick up the body. Jeff and Bryce had just come in from working all day. They were hot and tired and had not had dinner. So they drove with Albert to the township to see if they could hire a truck and driver to go and rescue the group and bring the body back. The rescue team left here about 7:00 and I understand that they got back here about 1:00 am. They towed the big truck back as well. So
it was not left on the side of the road to be vandalized. The funeral is today. Teachers have taken turns going to the home of the family. I put in a brief appearance because Jeff and Bryce were busy.

The guys have been busy working at the chicken run. The building was constructed earlier in the year. The openings were to be covered with chicken wire. However, the job was poorly done and it would not keep out varmints. We purchased a roll of new wire when we were in town earlier in the week. Jeff and Bryce have worked to get the job done correctly. They also purchased plastic canvass to cover the windows of the brooder building.

This group of chickens is doing very well and should be ready for market in less than two weeks. The brooder room is clean and ready for a new batch of day old chicks. Godfrey is ordering them today. Jeff and I hope to get them operating on a three week cycle of 700 chicks in each batch.

Yesterday afternoon a USAID truck arrived with a delivery of medicine for the HCOC (Heather Chimhoga Orphan Care) clinic. They are well supplied for several months. The only medicine that is not provided is medicine for ringworm and for Bilharzia. The medicine for Bilharzia is very expensive and works only if children are educated about staying out of polluted water. It is not easy to convince children to stay out of the water, especially when it is very hot.

Bryce left last Friday, September 16. It has left a void for me. I miss him terribly. He kept Jeff and I busy and on our toes. I had not realized how many traits that he has like Ralph. I only see him on brief visits in Houston and in Denver.

We have had a set-back. The well driller we used last year had told Jeff to give him three or four days’ notice and he would come and drill the wells. So when the hydrologist had completed his work and sent his report, Jeff notified the well driller that we were ready for him. Then we were told that he was booked for 30 days. So today we are in town to meet with another well driller. Hopefully he can get to us in a couple of weeks.

Jeff is also attending a Rotary meeting at lunch time. The club he is meeting with is the host club for this project. Perhaps they can help us get a reliable driller. In closing, I ask that you pray that we can find a well driller soon and that the drilling will be successful. Unfortunately, we are in an area where it is difficult to find water. We are going to be limited in our expansion if we cannot get adequate water.

In His Service,


September 04, 2011 Zimbabwe Journal

4 Sep

Greetings from Zimbabwe,

Our need for an ambulance was reaffirmed this afternoon. Late in the afternoon, Jeff was summoned to take a woman to the hospital. Beauty the nurse felt that she was having a stroke. Albert went with Jeff to the hospital. The road from here to the tarmac is very rough and so it was a long trip. It was after dark before they returned. Jeff says the road is rougher after dark. The woman was admitted to the hospital.

Bryce arrived yesterday morning, Saturday September 3. It was good to have him here after a very long trip. Bryce had worked all day Thursday at his office and then left at 6:00 in the evening to begin the long trip here, 34 hours of travel. He seemed to not be too tired because he had been able to sleep some on the plane.

After some errands, we returned to the mission. We found that there was no power. We have had no power since a week ago today. Without power we have no water either. The tanks at our house still had a small amount of water in them. Jeff started a load of his laundry and Bryce rigged the generator up to operate the washing machine. It worked fine but then we ran out of water. Can’t do laundry without water!! This morning Bryce hooked up the generator to the pump in the well.

Water is pumping into the tanks as I type this. The teachers want to turn on the big tanks but Bryce locked them down until the generator can pump enough water to get ahead of the demand that there will be. Soooo, Bryce has really been put to work.

Our biggest challenge at the moment is water. The garden at the expansion site is minimal because the amount of water available is very limited. Water has to be hauled from Nyamashato to the chicken project. This takes the time of someone who can drive. Albert still doesn’t have anyone to take Mr. Scott’s place. As you may remember Mr. Scott passed away last year.

When we made a visit to Inyagui, we learned that they were unable to start the generator to pump water. Bryce and Jeff worked on it and determined that the air filter had not been cleaned. They finally were able to start it by jumping it with the truck battery. Enough water was pumped to last for a few days until a new battery could be found.

Today, September 8, I rode with Bryce and Jeff to Inyagui School. The gardener was busy expanding the garden. The Headmistress told us that he is a community volunteer. He had told her that he wanted to help the orphans. We hope this sets an example for others in the community.

I suggested that the staff at the school (Inyagui) dig a pit at the water tank to catch the run off when people come to collect water. I also suggested that water used to wash vegetables and to do dishes could also be dumped into the pit. I told them that they could dip buckets of water from the pit to use in watering the garden. When Jeff and Bryce returned from there the other day they were busy digging the pit. They will brick it and cement the inside to hold the water.

It is 4:00 in the afternoon and we have just received a phone call from Albert. He is stranded in Harare. He and Godfrey had gone to town today to pick up things necessary for the Memorial Service for tomorrow and food supplies for the Feeding Center. On their way out of town, they heard a noise and stopped to have a look, only to discover that one of the front wheels was about to come off the truck. Jeff and Bryce have just left to go pick them up and bring the supplies back that they have purchased.

Friday, September 9th the Memorial Service for Ralph was held. People were everywhere. It was estimated that there
were 1,500 people who attended excluding children. People attended from the district offices as well as the people locally. Some of our friends from Harare also attended. Many spoke of the things that had been accomplished over the 15 years we had been coming to Zimbabwe.

Today, September 13, we are in Harare to purchase materials so that Bryce can construct some coverings for the windows needed for the chicken brooder. At present they are using plastic that flaps in the breeze and is pretty well torn up. I think they have to replace it every time they buy a new batch of chicks. This seems to be wasted money.

I hope to have an opportunity to send this before we leave Harare. I don’t always have a chance to
email when we are in town.

In His Service,


September 2, 2011 Arrive in Harare

2 Sep


Jeff and I arrived safely in Harare about 6:30 last night, Friday.  We stayed at the B & B that Ralph and I often stayed at.  The drive was long and tiring but had no truck problems.  Crossing the border went off in a fairly timely fashion.  However, there was one glitch that was overcome by my age. Ha! Ha!  Customs discovered that I only had four or five pages left in my passport and refused to give me a visa.  He insisted that I go to a US Embassy and get additional pages.  It was very obvious that most of the pages were filled with Zimbabwe Visas from past years.  SA had not found it a problem when we landed at Jo’bug.  After much talking and his scrutinizing my passport, he realized my age and finally gave me the visa.  He said I was older than his great granny.  In this culture age is respected.  Sooo old age does have its perks.

In a few minutes we will leave to visit Derek Forbes and drop off things we brought for people here in Zimbabwe.  Then Jeff and I will pick up some supplies and head out to school.  Getting the house opened is always a long stressful day.  I am glad that we both had a good rest last night.  Jeff was really tired after the long day yesterday.  The roads in Zimbabwe have not improved any.

Albert called yesterday.  Everyone at HCOC is anxiously awaiting our arrival.  I am afraid that is going to be a difficult reunion for me.

More later.

In His Service,


October 21, 2010 Children of Zimbabwe

21 Oct

Greetings from Colorado,

I apologize for not sending a final journal from Zimbabwe indicating that we would be returning to Colorado. On Oct. first, we had a window in our truck smashed in Harare and our computer was taken. We were in a grocery store parking lot that is fenced and is guarded. It was our last trip to Harare before we left to come home. I felt like one of my arms had been cut off. All my pictures, journals, spreadsheets, emails, etc. were on that computer.

Jeff, Ralph and I arrived in Denver on October 12 after a very long but uneventful flight. It was good to be home but we always return with a hole in our hearts because of all the work that still needed to be completed.

September 24 was a day of many emotions.

Mr. Scott’s funeral was on that day. Community members from all around gathered at the family homestead. It was such a sad day. We had the opportunity to meet Mr. Scott’s son who was the apple of his father’s eye. He is at the University studying accounting. He is a fine young man and the type of person that Zimbabwe needs.
Albert, our manager, had an opportunity to address all who had gathered. Mr. Scott had become Albert’s extra hand and will be terribly missed. The children will miss him as well. Mr. Scott always had the time to talk with the children. Frequently the children would run to greet him when they saw the truck coming, because he would stop and give them a ride.

At 1:00 the MP (Member of Parliament) for our area had invited a large group for lunch. It included the HCOC staff, Headmen in Ward 1, Executive Committee Members etc. It was an informal gathering providing an opportunity for everyone to gather and review the accomplishments over the years. The lunch was provided by the MP. It was also an opportunity for the community leaders to express their appreciation for all the work accomplished over the years. The climax was the goat presented to us by the MP. In the Shona culture, it is a custom to give a goat to someone that you wish to thank. The MP had mentioned doing so for several years but nothing was ever done. This came as a total surprise. Unfortunately I do not have a picture since my computer was stolen. The Ram is a handsome animal and is happily staying at one of the teacher’s homestead that has a herd of female goats.

Water is essential for life.  Without water all living things will die.  Even the cattle know that.  Here you see some cattle that have come to investigate what the men are doing at the well.  Ralph and Jeff put in some long days the last week trying to repair as many wells as possible.  Sometimes it was dark when they returned for supper.  On some days they were able to repair three wells in one day.  All total, 15 wells were repaired in the community.  This was made possible when the supplier of the repair parts learned what Ralph and Jeff were doing.  He gave them a huge reduction in price on the parts they needed.  This allowed them to repair more wells than anticipated

Most of us in this country take water for granted. All we have to do is turn on a tap. That is not true for a large number of people in this world. In one instance, Ralph and Jeff repaired a well that had not operated since 2002.

The community that used the well that was broken dug a hole in the ground under some bushes in order to have water.  Imagine having to do this in order to have any water.  Can you imagine using such water for drinking, bathing, cooking etc?  I don’t know if those who used this water source boiled their water.  My best guess is that they did not.  No wonder that during the rainy season there is an outbreak of cholera, malaria, dysentery etc.

On June 6 Jeff, Ralph and I attended an awards ceremony at Nyahuni Boarding School.

Two orphans from HCOC are attending Secondary School there.  Tracey and Petronella were outstanding students in grade seven and are continuing to shine at Nyahuni.  Both girls received awards for outstanding work.  Tracey received a first place for her work in Agriculture and Petronella received first place for her work in Shona.  It costs about $325.00 per term for each child to attend this school.

Finally we have power at the new HCOC site.  ZESA, the power company in Zimbabwe, finally came through and completed the job of getting power to the new well at the site.  It was only accomplished through a lot persistence and aggravation.  There was also additional expense involved that we had not planned for.  We have experienced this before but there seems to be no end to the tricks they pull.  They know they have you over a barrel.  Keeping this in mind, I need to add that we only had power at night.  Usually the power would come on about 10:00 at night and would go off at about 5:00 a.m.  It isn’t the best situation but it does allow the pumps in the well to operate and at least pump enough water to get through the day.

The stand for the water storage tanks at HCOC is complete and the tanks are in place.  The electricity has been connected to the

pump in the well and water is being pumped into the tanks.  The trenches have been dug for the water lines to the manager’s house and for the garden land in the background.  Trenches have also been dug for the water lines to run to the Moringa plot.  We are waiting to hear that all is in working order.

A lot was accomplished this trip.  As always not everything was complete when it was time to leave.

In closing I would ask you to pray for the children being cared for at HCOC.  It is through your help that these children are smiling.  It has not always been so.

No children with HIV have died in over a year.  This is due largely to the improved health care being provided and the improved diet the children receive at the feeding centers.

In His Service,
Ralph and Roberta

September 17, 2010 Water at Last

17 Sep

Greetings from Zimbabwe,

Petronells Guvamombe & Tracey Kache arrive at boarding school.jpgRalph and I stayed overnight in town after putting Todd on the plane for his flight home.  The following day we drove up to Howard Hospital with Priscilla and Claudio Penny.  We had wanted to see Paul Thistle that has been the Dr. at that hospital for 15 years.  It had been a number of years since we had visited with him.  This hospital serves an area of about 250,000 people.  There were people everywhere waiting to see Dr. Thistle.  Paul operates the hospital with only three student Drs. who come for two or three year missions.  One of the student Drs.  was leaving the next day to go to a Mission Hospital near Mashvingo for a two year stay.  This was going to leave Paul very short handed.  Paul says a normal day usually ends at about 7:00 pm. unless an emergency comes in.  It is a seven day a week job.  Burn out must be a problem.  He is looking forward to a sabbatical.

On our tour of the hospital we saw a set of twins that had just been born.  The picture that has stuck in my mind is of this child with its legs in traction.  I don’t know what had happened.   We also saw a baby that had fallen butt first into a bucket of boiling water.   The burn on the buttocks was third degree.  The baby whimpered non-stop.  My heart aches for all of the little ones who were suffering.   A lasting impression is the masses of people waiting to be seen by Dr. Thistle.

Last Saturday, September 11, there was a surprise Birthday Party for Ralph’s 81st Birthday.  It was attended by teachers, HCOC Executive Committee members, HCOC staff and some community members.  What Fun!  Ralph was so surprised that he was speechless.  They went all out with a meal, birthday cake complete with candles, pop corn and even a gift.  They gave Ralph a new suitcase.  They are afraid that his suitcase is worn out and that he might not come back.  There was singing and Shona dancing.  Even the children got involved.  I would love to send pictures but all I had with me was my video camera and I didn’t think to take snaps.

Jeff arrived Wednesday at about noon.  He was fine but tired after an extremely long trip.  After lunch we picked up groceries and headed back to school.  Jeff was definitely ready for a good night’s rest.  The next day he was immersed into many activities including the celebration at Inyagui.

Petronells Guvamombe & Tracey Kache arrive at boarding school.jpgInyagui had planned a celebration to show off the improvements that had taken place at their school in recent years.  Parents, teachers, the Member of Parliament and dignitaries from the Department of Education were in attendance as well as district officials.  They showcased the kitchen where food is prepared for the orphans, the administration building as well as the recently completed new two-classroom building.  The highlight was the new well that was recently completed.  I can’t begin to tell you how happy they are.  Their smiles say it all.

Ralph and I are truly blessed to have many supportive friends.  We have been enabled to pay school fees for several bright and deserving students attending Boarding Schools.  Funds have been provided for irrigation at   the new Moringa plot.  The same donor has sent money so that Albert may begin a small poultry project to generate income for HCOC.  And now we have been blessed with a sizeable donation from another donor that will allow Ralph to repair numerous wells in the community.  Community wells are really not our responsibility and yet they are essential for the health of the community.  Our orphans live in the community and have to use the wells as their source of water.  We are working hard to get families in the community to contribute to the repair of the wells.  It is not an easy concept for them to accept when they are so accustomed to having donor involvement.   The Councilor for Ward 1 is holding a meeting with Village Headman on Monday.  Hopefully something positive will come from that meeting.

Petronells Guvamombe & Tracey Kache arrive at boarding school.jpg

Last section finally in place

Today, we are in Harare picking up a large order of repair parts for the wells.  The money sent to us has made it possible for Ralph to make these purchases.  Mr. Bondeponde followed us in town with the ton and a half truck.  The truck was full when Ralph completed the purchases.   Work will begin tomorrow.  Ralph will be supervising a group of villagers and showing them how to repair their wells.

Petronells Guvamombe & Tracey Kache arrive at boarding school.jpg

Job complete, water at last

Our time is coming to a close and as always there is still much to be completed.  Three major wells have been repaired.  Today, Ralph and Jeff and their crew are attempting to retrieve objects that dropped into a well sometime ago.  I hope they are successful.  They have a couple of young men who are willing to work and listen to instructions.  Ralph has been impressed with them.  He is hopeful that they can maintain the wells after we leave.

Mr. Scott has been diagnosed with cancer.  The Dr. at Parirenyatwa Hospital is booked up with surgeries until September 29.  The family took Mr. Scott to Karanda Hospital, a mission hospital, in the North Eastern part of Zimbabwe.  The family was sent back to Harare to get a hemoglobin test done before they would schedule surgery. He has now been admitted to Karanda Hospital and we are told that he is failing.  He is terribly missed here by everyone, including the children.  Please pray for a successful surgery and healing.  Also please pray for his family at this critical time.  Our Lord is a powerful God.  He can do anything if it is His Will.

In His Service,  Ralph and Roberta