Monday, December 30, 2013

A Final Thought for 2013

I can't believe 2013 is almost over. How time does fly. It seems like the time goes by even faster here in Mozambique. Perhaps it's because there's so much to do, but before I know it the roosters and goats are waking me even before dawn and another day begins.

We have been so blessed here that I certainly can't complain about anything. It goes without saying that our orphans we work with in Amatongas keep us motivated and we know the work must continue. So, in my last blog of the year I just have to spotlight one of our sponsors. Without these incredible people who have helped us on the way we would be nowhere. Chrisof Jensen (CHS '84), my classmate back at Catholic High in Baton Rouge, is a great example and just one of those who help us care for these students who would otherwise really have little to no educational opportunities. He sent me this below.

The Jensen Family in Raleigh, North Carolina has been an active supporter over the years and currently supports four students.  "The opportunity to assist in the education and religious growth of these young men, through the good works of the Brothers of the Sacred Heart, is very inspirational", writes Christof Jensen. "The support of even one child can make all the difference, and we want to encourage others to support Brother Chris and the volunteers with their financial aide". 
The Jensen family sponsor Arnaldo, Modesto, Paulo, and Jossias
Please consider helping us as our numbers continue to grow. Sponsoring a student is simple and the rewards last a lifetime. 

Brothers of the Sacred Heart Foundation "Amatongas Mission Sponsor" 4600 Elysian Fields Ave. New Orleans, LA 70122

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Holiday Work

Just when you think the work maybe will end or at least decrease a little, we begin new projects. First, we are helping the primary school in Amatongas build new classrooms. This will help benefit our school as well since the primary school is presently using some of our classrooms during the day.

Director of the primary school (left) and supervisor of work

Four new classrooms are being added

Also, we are adding 12th grade in 2014 and we needed to find a few new classrooms ourselves. So, we are renovating the Parish Youth Center into two classrooms, 11th and 12th grades. The building will still be used by the parish on the weekends, but during the week it will be used by the school.

A new ceiling is being installed to help reduce heat, as well as new windows, black boards, lighting and a new door and entryway for the 12th grade.

Carpenters install new ceiling
And finally, the corn update you have all been waiting for. Well, you may not have been waiting for it, but you get it anyway since it's a major preoccupation for me, the brothers, the students, and pretty much everyone living in Amatongas and probably Mozambique. Of course, corn is the main staple of the diet here and in most of Africa.

Below is the 5 hectares of corn we planted just a few weeks ago. Thanks to good rain this new field will most likely be our best and should produce a minimum of 30,000 kilos and hopefully closer to 40,000.
You just gotta love those straight lines produced by our new planter
 Meanwhile our other two fields are looking much better after the rains last week. It seems like they grew a foot or two overnight.
Some students and our parish youth group helping to clean the corn fields
 And when you finally see the corn fields begin to flower, it's a beautiful sight.

The 1st field we planted begins to flower

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Feliz Natal!

From our family to yours, we wish you Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Orphan Interview for 2014

We like to interview our new orphans before they arrive the first day. The reason for the interview is to get to know the student better, make sure they are truly in need and ensure their desire for a good education. With so many students wanting to board with us, the interview has become essential. Yesterday we were lucky to have Br. Jose Ignacio, our Superior General in Rome, join us for the afternoon.

Betinho Nicon is a 13 year old 8th grader who lost both parents due to illness a few years ago. He and his brothers and sisters live with their grandmother about 9 kilometers east of Amatongas. He has been walking to and from school each day, about a 2 hour journey one way. Br. Fabian, Betinho's English teacher, noticed he would come late to class frequently and suggested he come board with us.
The walk into a small village
Betinho's grandmother is an elderly, but strong, woman taking care of many children. She was excited for her grandson and asked how many more we could take.

Meeting with Betinho and his grandmother 
 Betinho and his brother sleep in this mud hut...
Br. Jose Ignacio picture in front of Betinho's small hut
 ...with no electricity or water. We didn't see many clothes in the hut, or books, radios, etc.
Betinho (red shirt) with his brother inside their mud hut
 As a boarder, Betinho will receive a real bed, three meals a day, clothing, school uniform, school supplies, a place to study at night, tutoring and much more. Hopefully, someone out there will want to sponsor Betinho or others like him.
The sister looks on...

...and three other children as well. 
Betinho's grandmother was very excited to offer us two chickens as gifts of thanks.

Offering gifts of chickens as thank you

You never know who will show around the corner

Thursday, December 12, 2013

More Mouths Means More Corn

The video below may not seem like a big deal, but in Amatongas it was a gift from God. Thanks to the Ruckstuhl Foundation in Baton Rouge we can now plant as much corn in one day as we previously planted in one week by hand. We'll need a lot more corn this year with 106 mouths to feed. Ground corn is the main staple in the diet here and is eaten twice a day, every day. This year we planted 400 kilos of corn. That's almost 900 lbs for those of us metrically challenged. Now as long as we get good rains we should harvest enough corn for the students to eat and for us to sell in the market.

Help Us On the Way to 106

Yes, we're on our way to 106 boarders when the next school year begins in February, 2014. What started out as a small operation continues to grow, it seems every day. With 50 of these boarders being orphans from the local area, it makes our task much harder, but all the more rewarding.

We want to first thank all of those who sponsored orphans this past year. Without your help our little mission would not be possible. You have given these young men hope for the future and in Mozambique it's all about the future.

I can't highlight all our sponsors on this blog, but I would like to spotlight a few. First, thanks to the de Brueys family in Baton Rouge for sponsoring the four students below in 2013 and have already renewed for 2014. Edson, Hortencio, Quizito and Francisco not only receive an education, they also get three great meals a day, clothes, school uniform, bookbag with school supplies, toiletries, a place to study at night and last but not least friends for a lifetime. All of these things are paid for by the $300 per year sponsorship for one student.
Edson, Hortencio, Quizito and Francisco

I would also like to highlight and thank our volunteer community of the Brothers of the Sacred Heart in Baton Rouge who sponsor Lazaro. The brothers sent me this picture below which is a picture of Lazaro that has been placed in the brothers chapel. The brothers not only have made sacrifices to sponsor Lazaro, but also pray for him every day. There are presently 6 different communities of brothers sponsoring 9 of our orphans. I'm not sure if we would have made it this far without their help.
A picture of Lazaro in the Brothers Chapel
In less than two months we will be doubling the number of boarding students which also means we double the number of orphans. And yes, I'm already getting nervous thinking about feeding, clothing, and caring for the new boarders, especially the 25 new orphans. However, I know God will provide us through new sponsors.
Our new beds are ready to go for 2014

How do we feed twice the number of kids?

Will the little ones in Amatongas have a future?
Click on the sponsor link on this page or go here to join our Louisiana Marathon fundraiser. The countdown to February 2014 is on.