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Hallelujah…the medicines have arrived!

It is with thankfulness that we can report the arrival of the long awaited donation of 12 boxes of medicines and medical supplies. The shipment was scheduled to arrive prior to Christmas. The combination of human interventions which likely included inspectors, the payment of import duties, transportation inland from Dar Es Salaam and all those along the way who felt they needed to benefit...delayed the arrival of the much needed medicines. We are hearing that most rural hospitals still do not have medicines which makes the arrival of our shipment that much more timely. Now if the Government Health Insurance Plan would only process and forward the patient fees owed to Makongoro Health Centre...then the staff at the Makongoro Health Centre can be paid their salaries which are now six months overdue. 

On a sad note, the 47 year old Head Nurse at the Makongoro Health Centre passed away very suddenly last week. Jannetta has lost a co-worker, a very dear teacher and Christian friend. The picture (see photos) of Jannetta and the Head Nurse was taken in October 2013 when we first arrived. February was a very busy month. Jannetta and I attended a 4 day agriculture/nutrition/technology conference in Arusha, a city in north central Tanzania which is very close to Mount Kilimanjaro and several National Parks. We learned much at the conference and can apply this knowledge in our teaching activities in the areas of conservation agriculture and health care. 

In mid-February, Phil was asked to travel to Dar Es Salaam (Tanzania’s largest city of 5 million people located on the Indian Ocean coast) to help out with World Renew administrative duties for a week at the World Renew Country Office. Last week, Phil joined a World Renew evaluation team of 5 people and spent a full week learning about the activities of one of our partners here in the Lake Zone Area. 

The evaluation process looks at the organization capacity of the partner and the programming that theyare able to carry out through funding organized by World Renew. We had the opportunity to visit many rural villages to see the results of trainings being done in conservation agriculture, introduction of new cash crops and training on land rights. It was exciting to hear the testimonies of those farmers who have received their land rights and to hear women speak about opportunities for them as well. 

In most cases, our visits also included a meeting with local government officials in the villages as the government is both supportive and interested in learning more about the trainings that World Renews partners have initiated and continue to teach in these communities. They have many requests for us. The rural village of Nyehunge. The Village Executive Officer addresses the evaluation team. The District Agriculture Officer was also in attendance. What you do not see is the 30 plus other attendees peering through the door and window to see us and to hear what was being discussed in Kiswahili.

Life in Mwanza is great. We continue to pinch ourselves that the place where we are volunteering is pleasant, comfortable and safe. In the past month, Phil has harvested the corn and peas on the demonstration farm and has replanted corn and sorghum. The crops of beans and groundnuts that were planted in early November have survived January and February when we had no rain. This is an indicator that the practices of conservation agriculture that Phil is able to demonstrate are very beneficial in terms of conserving soil moisture and keeping the ground covered with a growing crop. Corn harvested, stalks used as mulch, ground replanted to sorghum. Lab lab beans as a green manure cover crop. Pigeon peas in the background were planted in March 2014 and have become small trees. 

The head office of the Africa Inland Church is on the same Makongoro property as where the Health Centre is located. Phil had a tour of this office complex back in October 2013 and was asked to make suggestions as to renovations of the building that would allow for more adequate emergency preparedness, traffic flow and overall safety. I remember presenting a pencil sketch proposal on graph paper (to scale) to the administration at that time. For 18 months there was no indication that any renovations would take place....until last month. Apparently a government building inspector made his annual ?? visit and made some strong recommendations about safety in case of an emergency regarding this office. The plans had not been lost. The photos below provide the before and after shot (see under "Photos" tab). There are at least 50 differences. See if you can spot them. The winner gets a fresh bouquet of hibiscus flowers which are blooming on the edge of the office gardens right next to the poinsettia tree.

We give thanks for learning opportunities, for safety during our travels, for our excellent health, for your Christmas cards and care packages, (a Christmas card from Oakwood postmarked Dec 15 arrived March 1st) and for a visiting friend from Pennsylvania who blessed us with several bars of dark chocolate and 2 packages of “low fat” cherry twizzlers.

Please pray for the following – with over 13 months of volunteering here in Tanzania, we have become deeply engaged in both ministry activities and with the team of World Renew colleagues. It is an exciting time to be in Mwanza as World Renew anticipates significant long term funding opportunities in the areas of Conservation Agriculture and Maternal Child Health. Pray for discernment for us as we consider a third term here in Mwanza. 

There is also change in the future as Phil’s Mwanza based work colleague and family will be returning to Canada in July after having completed 6 years as a World Renew staff here in Mwanza. The interviewing process is already underway to seek out the new candidate who will continue this important work as World Renew Program Consultant for this area of Tanzania. Please pray for the process. 

In late October 2015 there will be national general elections. Political parties are already active in the cities and rural areas attempting to sway the general public to vote for them. Pray for peace and respect for all. 

Blessings, Phil and Jannetta