Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Let the Children Come

He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. (Mark 10: 13-16)
I know I share with many people this favorite quote from scripture. It's hard to put into words the difficulty of this post, not my usual. However, it is a reality we live in. Children, young people and the elderly die at an incredible rate here in our small village. Almost daily we have a funeral. You become kind of numb to the feeling of seeing or hearing of another needless death.

Mozambique has a population of around 24 million with 10 million being children. So, roughly 50% of the population is made up of children. Four million children die in the first four weeks after birth which rates us in the top 12 countries with the highest under-five mortality rate in the world.

Other than premature births, most deaths of children are caused by infectious diseases and, of course, malaria is the biggest killer claiming 46% between the ages of 1 and 4. Also, I believe many deaths back in the bush go unreported, so the numbers could be greater. Lack of fresh water and very poor medical facilities will continue this trend for many years to come making our mission more important to the children in the area. I see many large service organizations in the area, but in my 2½ years here I don’t see what they're doing. It will be a long slow process I know.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Mutuchila Veggies

As promised the trip ends at our new Mutuchila Farm. From what I've heard the Franciscans used this valley by the Mutuchila river to farm about 200 hectares, almost 500 acres. After the war people slowly moved on to the area and we now presently have about 20 hectares (50 acres), but we're trying to acquire more. The farm is mainly used for corn and beans, but we now are planting a large vegetable garden thanks to new irrigation equipment. Thanks again to our friends from Manos Unidas for donating the pump, hoses and sprinklers that are now used everyday. We are presently planting cabbage, onions, tomato's and couve which will be happily consumed by our borders and then the excess will be sold in the market.

Our two new sprinklers...

...get used twice a day.

The caretakers children watching the cabbage grow.

Our new pump by the river.

Tomato's, cabbage and onions almost ready to harvest.

Karine, a volunteer from Canada, helps to plant tomato's

Marie-Pierre (Canada), our photographer, has her picture taken for once.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

On The Road To Mutuchila

Almost everyday I drive the tractor, usually with trailer in tow, down to our farm near the Mutuchila river. It's a farm that we have now irrigated and use a small section for year round vegetable growing. Anyway, I'll have more on the farm later. This post is about the ride down to the farm. No matter how I'm feeling, often tired, sometimes frustrated, the smiles of the kids along this road brings a smile to my face and heart. I have driven down this road now hundreds of times and each time the kids come running, sometimes dancing and singing to see the tractor roll down the path. Just an awesome feeling I wanted to share.

We often pick up stragglers for a ride

By the way, you can tell these pictures were not taken by me, they're much too good. Thanks to our visitor/volunteer from Canada, Marie Pierre, for these wonderful pictures. You will be seeing more from her in the coming days.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Mission Cross in Amatongas

New sign out by the road in front of our school
Well, it's not the big iron mission cross of our founder Fr. Andre Coindre, but we are proud of our small carved wooden cross now hanging in just about every room of the school building. The cross's were hand carved by a local artist who tried to match the original sent from the province of New Orleans. After the war our school was taken over and operated by the government with no real religious symbols present. It has been a slow process changing the culture of the school and making it a Brothers of the Sacred Heart school. This is just one small, but important, step.
Ametur Cor Jesu!

All classrooms now have a cross

The school office as well

The original cross in the brothers chapel

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Primary School Families Working Together

Families of present students gather together on the weekends
There are many primary schools close by that feed our secondary school population. One primary school is just across the street from us and we actually have some primary classes being held in our school because of overcrowding. However, that can't continue as we continue to grow and need all the space we can find. This past month a plan was set into place to build a new classroom block at the primary school across the street. It was pretty incredible to see the families come together to begin the process of making bricks from scratch out of mud and sand nearby.
Bricks are formed two at a time

Women gather to feed the workers

25,000 to 30,000 bricks will be needed for the new classroom block

10,000 at a time are dried and cooked in the huge kiln

Primary students in their present classroom with no windows

However, they do have books and dedicated teachers

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Eggs Have Arrived in Amatongas

We now have 100 laying hens. It took months of research investigating why we couldn't buy laying hens in Mozambique. I finally found out that the huge chicken and egg company in Mozambique has a monopoly and though they sell millions of eggs, they don't sell the hens at point of lay. So, thankfully we have our own Br. Fabian from Zimbabwe who was able to contact people from his country and with a little effort we bought and imported from his country the hens at point of lay.
The hens will lay eggs for about a year and a half and we are presently collecting about 50 eggs a day, enough to feed our boys and sell the rest from our little general store.

And in our random pic from the day below, we have vendors coming by the school everyday to sell to our students and teachers. Bananas and fried bread are popular items.

Friday, July 12, 2013

And Now We Have Doors

It has been a long two and a half years waiting for the completion of work on our school. We now see an end in sight. The new doors started going up last week and it brought joy to our hearts. A school just looks much different with doors, don't you think? Thanks to our friends from Spain at Africa Directo and The Community of Madrid "C.A.M. for making this dream a reality. We could never do this work without help from so many around the world.

The first classroom with a door. Oh yea, and windows too!

Our new dorms are beginning to house a few new students as well.

The first picture of the front of our school with windows

Homemade sunglasses out of glass bottle, sticks and grass, priceless!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

New Five Ton Trailer

I know it has been a while since I last posted and many people have been asking me if I was feeling well. Thankfully, my health is good and I have no excuse other than the busyness of each day here in Amatongas. However, the kids finish their second tri-mester exams today and will be away for a few weeks beginning next week, so I thought I would begin posting again. Get ready for many posts in the next few weeks in no particular order as there's a great deal to write about and update.

My first post is a thank you post. We are really blessed to have many people helping us do the work we do each day. A few months ago the Ruckstuhl Foundation in Baton Rouge provided us with this new 5 ton trailer. The trailer is used almost everday transporting corn and bean crops from our big farm about 5 kilometers from the mission. It has become essential to our future goal of self-sustainability. However, that's not the entire story. We also help the local people bring in crops as well as transporting many things like bricks, sand, rocks, wood, coal and it has even been used to transport people for funerals.
As always, the local kids lend a hand. Always a group effort in Amatongas.

The trailer and tractor make a big impression in our village each day

The local brickmaker with 8,000 bricks