Planting the seeds… (Day 8)
Today began with a yummy breakfast of a peanut chocolate chip Clif bar and water at 8 a.m. – I wanted to make sure that I did not forget to take my anti-malarial pill and I need to take it with “food”. They do not serve breakfast at “The Simple Lodge”. I worked on my notes while I waited for Bishop Given and Rev. Iri to come to pick us up to begin our day. They finally got there at 9:30. The delay occurred because the Kenyans had to be transported to the bus station and that took at least three different vehicles and drivers had to be located and things just take longer in Africa!
Our first stop was the Diocesan Headquarters where we were served breakfast in the room that is supposed to be the Bishop’s office but has been turned over to the Women’s Empowerment office. We got to meet some of the staff and have a lovely breakfast of boiled eggs, bread, chapattis, potatoes and tea. We also toured the Cathedral – disabuse yourself of any grand edifice. This is a small building that was basically a chapel before 1990 when the Kondoa Diocese was created out of a much larger diocese. It served around 19 civil servants. It had not been expanded until 2 years ago when Bishop Given arrived and added maybe a quarter more space. Originally he thought that would be one of his priorities, but after he realized the living conditions of his members the size of the cathedral just wasn’t that important anymore.
We stopped by the Bishop’s house to pick up Lilian and begin our 2-½ hour drive to Kikore. Reverend Iri drove us in the other Land Rover on the road that was still under construction. I found out today that this is the famed Cairo to Cape Town Highway. It is being built by the UN and was first proposed in the late 19thcentury. It is over 6200 miles long. We did pass through a section of it that was actively being worked on. I was happy to see that Tanzanians were being used as operators of the heavy equipment in addition to the unskilled portion of the work. The Chinese appeared to be the supervisors of the project. There were some sections that had been smoothed over even if they weren’t paved so they were pleasant to ride on. Others were very bumpy and bouncy. This time I sat in the middle section of the LR and definitely felt every jolt! We had a full vehicle again with Lilian and the General Secretary of the Diocese sitting in the back of the LR.
When we arrived in Kikore the pastor and his wife greeted us. They are in the process of building a new church – they just need a new metal roof and to clear out the floor. The floors in all of the rural churches we visited are just hard packed dirt – just like in the pastor’s and farmer’s homes that we have visited. The current church will become the youth group and pre school program building.
Once again we were invited into the pastor’s house for lunch. As with every other meal that we have had, we washed our hands before entering the house. We had a meal of boiled pumpkin (a pleasant change of pace – Lilian explained to me that she has had to encourage them to serve pumpkin to the visitors, they think that we won’t like it), chapatti, boiled eggs and rice with hot tea.
After lunch we all went over to the church where the congregation had been waiting for us. We watched another performance by a youth group again accompanied by a portable generator powered keyboard and dancing and singing. The added treat this time for me were the three little boys in the front who were trying to imitate the older kids by dancing and singing except they had to keep turning around and looking in order to know what to do next.
After the performance we were all introduced and a few words were spoken and we were invited to the front again. John and Christopher were presented with a length of cloth that was draped across their bodies to signify their recognition as “wise men” of the community. I was then presented with my own cloth as a symbol of my recognition as a “wise woman” for the women of the community. What a wonderful memento of the visit!
We finally made our way over to the area that they were proposing as the location for the demonstration garden. This region is very green, with beautiful mature trees, amazing views and most importantly of all a river that flows down from the mountain. We were told that approximately 20 years ago the national government came in and built a series of small canals running parallel to the river. The canals were actually in surprisingly good condition and were being used. There were at least two weirs that were operational also – basically a movable plate that could be used to divert the water from one canal to another. We walked along and inspected the fields that were closed to the canals and the river. The farmers were not taking full advantage of the availability of the water so that the crops were not as well managed as they could be. However, they were growing maize, sunflowers, kidney beans, and cowpeas in the field. Additionally there were avocado, fig, and mango and banana trees growing in the large field that had been cleared in anticipation of our visit. The youth group had actually started their own little garden plot up in that section.
Before we headed back we had a quick snack of tea, rice and the ubiquitous tomato stew, bananas, cucumbers and oranges. As much as I wanted a cucumber or orange I controlled myself because it is too risky to eat something that has not been cooked thoroughly!
I was a relief to get back to Bishop Given’s house for dinner. John and Christopher discussed with Bishop Given the possibility of developing Kikore as the demonstration garden for the Diocese. It was felt that the water supply could be better utilized; the community was strong and would be supportive. It is critical to find the right person to head up the new extension in Tanzania. It must be someone who can spend the time with Christopher in Malawi to be trained, someone who can be adaptable, creative, and comfortable in another culture, can learn Swahili and be a good manager of people. Not a small order!
Finally after many phone calls during the day and night it was confirmed that we have seats on the flight from Dodoma to Dar on Thursday morning!