Tuesday, November 22, 2011

What's your Mission?

 "Mission Amatongas" is a Charity Partner for the Louisiana Marathon in Baton Rouge, La. January 15, 2012. Join "Team Amatongas" and help us sponsor more orphans next year. Just click on "Mission Amatongas" when registering. Why do you run? Run for a mission!


Monday, November 21, 2011

Interview with Temótéo

         Our goal is have 50 boarding students next school year, which begins January 15, 2012, with about half of the boarders being orphans from the Amatongas area. Once the people received news of this it did not take long to have many requests and we realized we would have to organize the process. We talked to the local school directors to get names of some local orphans and began interviewing some of the students this week. Check out our video here interviewing Temótéo.

We are looking for people willing to sponsor one or more of our students for next school year. Please contact us or visit the sponsor link on our blog if you are interested in helping these orphans.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Thanksgiving in Amatongas

The school year ended in Amatongas this week leaving the place much different with the kids gone for the next two months. The most important part of that news is now we have tons of work to do to get ready for next school year beginning in mid-January.

Last week the brothers finally moved into our repaired and permanent residence, with the highlight being a new chapel. We took the third floor of the old giant Franciscan residence, which was composed entirely of bedrooms, and converted 4 of the old bedrooms into chapel, community room, kitchen and dining room. Another highlight is the beautiful views from both sides of the house. Thanks again to all those who made this move possible and to the parish for allowing us to use the two guest houses temporarily. We now live in a residence closer to the school and closer to our Sustainable Support Projects. We indeed have much for which to be thankful.

Now that we have more rain and sun, we see more flowers in the area including this beautiful orange flowering tree and these lilly's.

One of our many projects for the break is to increase the number of desks for our students next year. Workers spent a few weeks making repairs on old desks and we are trying to raise funds to buy new desks. Our estimate is that we need about 100-150 new desks next year. Each desk cost about $60 and seats two students. If you have interest in helping let us know.

One project we needed to complete before the serious rains come soon is to construct a new roof for the school building. This project was completed just recently and gave us a sigh of relief. We can now begin the work on the rest of the school, installing new doors and windows, repairing electricity, and much, much cleaning and painting.

Before the school year ended the brothers appointed a Dorm Council for next school year. The Dorm Council will be responsible for taking care of the boarders and running the activities of the dorm next year including meals, cleaning, study, recreation, and weekend programs which include club meetings.

Dorm Council with their director Br. Fabian (left)
One final note: If you are one of those who reads this blog regularly you know we have struggled with the internet for 9 months since arrival. Recently, we delayed the renovation of our computer lab because the local telecommunications company could not help us get a connection to our future lab. However, yesterday we met with the director of a new telecommunications company recently approved by the Mozambique government. Movitel is out of Vietnam and has been busy developing their infrastructure including installation of a cable which just happens to run in front of our school. The director not only said that we could get a line to the school, but that the installation and the use of the internet for our school computer lab would be free of charge. I am, of course, skeptical because we all know nothing is free and if it sounds too good to be true, welllll. However, we are thankful for the good news and possibilities. 

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Planting Season

We finished planting over 2 hectares of corn yesterday, about 6-7 acres. This project completes months of hard work clearing land and getting it ready for planting. Thanks again to the Catholic High Class of 1984 for providing the funds to pay workers, buy seeds and rent the tractor. This most important project will hopefully provide enough food to help feed our boarders next school year, feed our pigs and chickens and possibly have enough to sell in the market. Once again this Sustainable Support Project (SSP's) is just one project supported by the CHS '84 class that will provide the school with support far into the future.  Thanks also to Br. Fabian for helping to lead this project. Now we pray for rain and sun, rain and sun, rain and sun!

Br. Fabian (right) plants corn in the front field.

The Back Field cleared and plowed adding another 4 acres of corn

We helped the family below move into a new residence next to our pig house. All of their belongings (five bags of corn, a suit case of clothes and a bag of pots) and the family of 7 piled into the back of our Land Cruiser for the short trip to the mission. Their new residence has electricity, new doors and a new roof, also provided by the SSP's by the way. They will provide much needed security for the back of the mission as well help take care of the animals.
Zeca and family on moving day

Thanks to Br. Angel for doing much of the work in the newly renovated bathrooms, which we hope will open next week. Below he is shown finishing up the painting.
Br. Angel finishes up painting of renovated student bathroom
One of eight new toilets installed
In one previous post I mentioned about the burning going on everywhere. I was finally able to get a decent picture with my little camera.
Proof of "The Burn Season" (see previous post)
On our travels to get supplies we see many crazy things and wish we had a camera. Here is a common sight, people using any mode of transportation available to get to and from the big markets in the city
Getting to the market any way possible
Finally, we can add one more member of the mission, another kid-goat joined us Tuesday. This picture was snapped just minutes after birth. Mother doesn't seem to be too concerned and just keeps eating. For all those keeping count, we now have 4 pigs, 5 goats, 2 dogs and more chickens than we can count.
Another baby born in Amatongas
We are waiting for the painting to be completed on our newly renovated residence closer to the school so we can move in. We thank the parish for letting us use two of their guest houses for the past 8 months. However, we are very much looking forward to moving closer to the action.

FYI: I'm sorry for this delayed post. It took me almost a week to put together due to bad internet connections. One time I lost two hours of work uploading pictures. Yes, we are still looking for decent internet.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Meeting the Challenge

Father Andre Coindre, founder of the Brothers of the Sacred Heart, met the challenge of his day when he secured support from his friends to help the orphans in Lyon, France back in 1821. Today, we are trying to help the orphans and other poor young men and women in Amatongas, Mozambique. Thankfully, we also have support from so many friends. It is a good time to celebrate the Brothers of the Sacred Foundation Day on Friday, September 30.

Thanks to all the volunteers helping to
"Meet the Challenge" at their 1st car wash fundraiser

“Meeting the Challenge” is a great title for this blog entry. A Non-Profit Organization, "Meet the Challenge", started by students from Catholic High, St. Joseph's Academy, University High, and Episcopal from Baton Rouge, LA designed to promote equal educational opportunities to help break the cycle of poverty throughout the world was gracious enough to partner with "Mission Amatongas". Because of their efforts Mission Amatongas will be able to support more orphans during the next school year beginning in January. Young people from across the globe helping other young people to have an education, proper and adequate nutrition, improved hygiene and health opportunities as well as a formation that includes social, physical and spiritual needs is indeed a breath of hope. Please help this group when you get a chance.

Also thanks to another organization of young people in college, HIA (Health Initiatives Abroad),  who had a great fundraiser called “Art for Africa” They are raising funds to help our school build a health clinic and infirmary.

SSP (Sustainable Support Project Update)

These four little pigs took their time arriving in their new home, but here they are enjoying a nap in their feed trough. Thanks to the Catholic High School class of 1984 these Sustainable Support Projects will hopefully help support the school and help us become self-sufficient as soon as possible. 

Along with the pigs, we now have goats, chickens and even a few new dogs to help with security. The German Shepard puppies may not look mean now, but wait a few months.

"Ama" and "Tongas"
 We received good news from the Bishop last week about expanding our land for the farm. After the war ended in 1992 there was apparently a land grab and people just used whatever land they wanted to raise crops. Unfortunately, a large portion of the original mission property, which was quite huge before the war, is being used by the local people or abandoned. It's difficult when you don’t know what land you can and can’t use for growing food for the school. However, after his recent visit, we received the permission to use more land next to the old pig house. It will help us expand our corn crops to 2 hectares, which we hope to plant next month. Again, all the work of clearing and maintaining the property, as well as buying the seeds, was made possible through the SSP program and the CHS ’84 class.

Bathroom Update


Though they are not finished, we wanted to include updated pictures of our bathroom renovations. The renovations were made possible by a generous donation in the memory of the mother and father of Br. Noel Lemmon, SC, Mr. and Mrs. Henry Louis Lemmon, Sr.,  We are hoping the renovations will be completed in the next few weeks. You can see by the pictures how much the renovations were needed. More pictures will be posted in a few weeks once completed.

LSU Tree

Mozambique celebrated LSU’s new number one ranking by sprouting beautiful purple flowering trees. We are grateful for three days of rain in the last two weeks helping our vegetables, bananas and flowering trees to flourish.

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Sunday, September 11, 2011

Amatongas Car Show 2011

If you haven't noticed, I love the cars and trucks the kids make out of scraps from home. I thought I would share a few more pictures. It wouldn't be right though if I didn't also include the proud owners of the vehicles. Share these with your family and friends and perhaps your children or grandchildren will get some ideas to build their own cars and trucks.

I tried to get some closeups as well. The one below I call the ATV, the biggest I have seen so far. He put a great deal of time in this one.

The thing I like about this car is the builder spent time constructing a hood and side panels.

 OK, an antenna on this sports car was an eye catcher.

This simple but useful design was actually a working truck when I saw this young man transporting grass.

Friday, September 9, 2011

The Burn Season

For those of you looking for more information on the local people and the effects of drought, the article below from All Africa News is a great article. Most of the people living near us, actually including us, have small farms. We are waiting for the first rains to come before planting our big corn crop.

Climate Change Threatens Smallholder Farmershttp://allafrica.com/stories/201108171621.html

Arlinda Cunah, 34, listens to her solar powered radio.
As a disaster management volunteer it is her duty to pay
attention to flood and cyclone
warnings and to alert her community
I publish this article because water has become such a big cause of concern for us. I know I have taken water for granted for way too long. During the last few weeks we have had a few scares when the pressure drops and a town about 18 km west of us, Inchope, has no water. How can a town have no water?

We are trying to find information on drilling a new well. There doesn't seem to be a company near by, so our search is expanding. We may have to look into Zimbabwe or South Africa.

Our work continues here as usual. Some projects are nearing completion such as the bathrooms, pig house and our residence. I'll have pictures up soon. Unfortunately, after purchasing our first four pigs from the Franciscans in Chimoio, two of the pigs died even before being transported. Actually, we aren't sure if they were our pigs that died or just two in the litter and they delayed the transport until they find the cause.

Finally, our wonderful Land Cruiser that I'm sure was used in that TV show back in 70's "Wild Kingdom" (I think that was the name) has broken down twice in the last few weeks leaving us stranded on the side of the road. Being stranded on the side of EN6 highway in the middle of nowhere Mozambique is a wonderful experience, by the way, that everyone should have once in your life. It's even better during the burn season. Oh yea, the "burn season". This is the time of the year when all the people use semi-controlled burns to cut the grass and old corn fields. A lovely smell and the smoke is everywhere.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Children and their toys

What do you do when you don't have any toys? Well of course, you make your own! I love watching these kids play with their homemade toys.
Homemade soccer ball

How simple, but you see it everywhere!

Many homemade cars and trucks,
with steering

The family below sells bricks on the side of the road not far from Amatongas. Now when we drive up they come runnng down the hill wanting their picture taken. The pictures below were actually taken by one of the kids after I had given them my camera.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Buying Goats

I haven't been carrying my camera around enough, so many opportunities for great photos are lost. Seems like things happen every day and "I wish I would have had my camera" comes out of my mouth again. However, since I remembered to bring my camera yesterday afternoon when we went to buy goats, I thought I would post them below. We are starting to purchase some animals as part of our Sustainable Support Projects. Projects we hope will support the school for years to come. Also, we wanted to buy the goats locally to help the people of Amatongas.

The Sunset
 Amazingly, as much as I say Amatongas is a small village, it really is quite large, 36,000 people. We got a better understanding of just how large when we traveled to look at the goats. Thanks to our rugged Land Cruiser, we made it through some tough trails and then walked up a hill to visit a family.

The Family
I am sure the money we used to purchase two goats can feed this family for a few months. Also, looking around I saw no water. I am sure the women spend a better part of the day carrying water, perhaps for hours.
The Goats

The House on the Hill
 They laughed at me when I kept taking pictures. The pictures don't do it justice. The sunset was incredible, truly Africa.
The Sunset 2

The Trail