Sunday, October 21, 2012

Another New Computer lab

Twenty more computers arrived this week from our friends in Spain at Foundation Corazonista. We cannot thank them enough for their friendship and help. The computers are being set up in a classroom that will be used by our new Technical School. The classroom was renovated and the new furniture was provided by our school in Rome, Cristo Rei.

Students will be given an introductory course this week so they may become familiar with the computer and formal computer classes will begin next school year in January. 
Resident students help Br. Angel unload the 20 new computers

Unpacking begins

Then it's time to test

This week the students will get a quick introduction course

More Birthdays & End of Year Celebration

It's hard to believe we are already at the end of the school year. Next week the students will take final exams and then we will be on break until the middle of January. Last night we celebrated the end of the year by honoring our 22 birthday boys from September until December. A great feast was offered by our cooks along with cake and cold drinks. Afterwards the students put on a special thanks for the brothers and then it was time for singing and dancing.

Marcos leads the dancing after the cutting of the cake.

Br. Angel joins in on the line dancing.

The 22 birthday are celebrated in traditional fashion.

The cutting of the cake is an honored tradition

The feast is prepared...

...and then enjoyed by all.

Amatongas Farm Continues to Grow

We had been hearing people talk for over a year about some land the mission could use for farming. Little did we know that it was located in a valley next to a small river which even now after 6 months of no rain still has water. Once we realized its great potential we couldn't hesitate and started clearing and plowing immediately to get it ready for the rainy season. After 6 weeks of hard work we now have planted 5 hectares of corn (12.5 acres) and 1 hectare of beans (2.5 acres). This farm is about 5 kilometers from the mission down a rough dirt road, but well worth the trip. There is a great possibility we could expand more next year to maybe as much as 10-12 hectares. As you see, the importance of acquiring a tractor has increased greatly.

Our farms are an essential means of providing sustainability for our future, both as food for the boarders and income for the mission. Please pray for rain especially during these critical two weeks after planting. Adding these 6 hectares to the 5 hectares near the school, should if all goes well, help us immensely next year.

Standing here with some of the local kids near the new farm. 
We rented a tractor to disc and grade.
It cost a great deal, but much needed.

Our water source we plan to use for irrigation
during the next dry season for year round planting

Br. Fabian with the local children.
They enjoyed running after the tractor and catching mice.
The huts in the background will be used
by a family to provide extra security at the farm.

Our boarders take a Saturday to help plant over 100 Kgs of corn.
They will be eating this corn in about 4 months!!!

Boarders enjoyed lunch cooked out at the farm. A great adventure.

400 Youth Attend Meeting in Amatongas

 A few weeks ago Mission Amatongas was honored to host over 400 young people from around our diocese, the largest diocese in Mozambique. The overnight event began with a rosary walk which lead into a Mass in our Immaculate Conception parish church. The enthusiastic young people were supposed to sleep in the classrooms in our school, but I don't think anyone slept at all. The entire night was filled with prayer and much singing and dancing.

Opening Mass in the church

Skits lasted into the night

Prayer under the stars

Two of our boarders who participated

Closing liturgy the next morning and the kids still have energy

Monday, September 17, 2012

A Computer Lab in Amatongas

Thirty used, but very nice, computers arrived in Amatongas yesterday with great fanfair. Thanks to our friends in Spain at ATM (Friends of the Third World) for this incredible donation to our students in Amatongas. I can't imagine there being too many schools in Mozambique with computer labs this nice. We are indeed blessed. We also want to thank our school in Rome, Cristo Rei, for providing the funds to renovate the classrooms with new lighting, electrical outlets, windows and painting. All we need now is to get the internet hooked up. We have only been waiting for the new internet since January.

The truck finally arrives

The driver thought he would have to unload this himself.

Resident students helping to unload

The new lab with 30 computers

The Annual Dry Season Post

Four swings were finally added to the playground

Boarders enjoying soccer on the basketball court

Expanding the farm and doubling the size from last year
Yes, this part of Africa does have an annual dry season, but this is getting a little out of hand. I have been saying for the last few weeks that it hasn't rained in three months, so I can make that four months now I guess. I could use that as my excuse for not posting an update for a while. I was just waiting for the rains to come. Unfortunately, that is a terrible excuse and who knows when it will rain again.

Speaking of the rain, or lack of it, the dry weather has really caused many difficulties around here. Our 20 year old bore hole and 50 year old water tank is on its last leg. The security guard can only turn the pump on two hours at a time, letting it rest the next two hours, because the water level has to return to sufficient level for the pump to operate. We have been trying to find a better water source with very little luck. Water is now being rationed. I also hear the women are lining up at 4:00 AM to pump water for their family each day.

The Old Bore Hole struggles to keep up with demand

We found this old, dry bore hole site in our vegetable garden

This 50 year old tank also struggling and has many leaks
Drillers attempt to find water twice with no luck

Our first big litter of 10 piglets

Saturday, June 16, 2012

A Backyard Adventure in Amatongas

There was no way I could adequately cover this volunteer trip in one blog post so you will have to put up with a few more.

I knew from the beginning the kids would love the new playground, but I wasn't prepared for such a response. Since the completion last week there is not a second when the playground isn't full kids. It's almost like they have never seen a swing before, which is probably not far from the truth, certainly not a tire swing or rock wall.

Thank you once again Chuck and Amy Saia at Backyard Adventures in Baton Rouge. You will never fully realize the impact of your gift to these kids. I know you will appreciate the smiling faces in these pictures.

One minute there's 20 and the next there's 30-40 

Some are just not sure about the rock wall

Tire swing is a huge hit, just need 10 more

Still waiting on sand for the sand boxes...

...and one more beam for more swings

HIA group is welcomed by the dancing group at the primary school
Thanks again to the HIA volunteers who built the playground.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

We Love Our Volunteers

We love our volunteers! Nine young people from the Baton Rouge, La. area arrived here in Amatongas a few weeks ago and spent 12 days working on many projects. Their time here will be remembered for many years to come because it was not just about the projects. The volunteers were able to build lasting friendships with our students and the children of Amatongas. We hope the volunteers felt our welcome and thankfulness for their work and for the joy they brought and spread throughout our little village. Here are just a few pictures from their visit. I will post more pictures in a few days.

I have written before about our relationship with Health Initiatives Abroad (HIA). The group of volunteers from HIA put together a blog about their visit with us and you can read it by clicking here We know that HIA would not be able to do such great work without help. Thank you to everyone who make their mission possible.

The first of many welcomes at the primary school

A great big thank you goes to Chuck and Amy Saia at Backyard Adventures in Baton Rouge. Chuck is my classmate from Catholic High, 1984. Chuck and Amy also sponsor one of our orphans, Timoteo. Chuck and Amy donated all the equipment needed to build the playground. The playground is the first in Amatongas and the only playground I have seen in the whole area. Many kids have basically lived at the playground since its construction and I will post more pictures soon.
Many spectators for the playground project

The playground makes a statement for the area

The volunteers also taught health classes in the primary school. They were able to give the students toothbrushes and toothpaste and also demonstrated proper ways of cleaning teeth and wounds. Thanks again for all those people that donated these supplies.

Donated health supplies, toothpaste and toothbrushes

The volunteers brought donated soccer equipment and uniforms. Another big thank you goes to Bo Cassidy, Catholic High Soccer team and the Brother Martin soccer team for donating uniforms, balls and shoes. For the first time our students put on real cleats to play soccer. It was awesome to see.
Donated soccer equipment

The volunteers received a huge welcome after Sunday Mass

Painting the primary school brings many friends

The volunteers ate their lunch and supper with the boarders

The volunteers take a break to do a little hiking in the area

HIA Volunteers on the day of arrival
 Finally, thank you Michael, Chip, Knox, Anthony, Blake, Cristina, Trey, Kelsey, and Randy for sharing your joy, energy and hearts with us. We will never forget you.