1 July 2016

FINAL BLOG – where has the time gone?

Jacintha’s Plan. Jacintha is Stephen’s second daughter who in 2007 had a stroke that left her paralysed down one side. She is hugely recovered from those days and has spent the last few years trying to catch up with lost schooling. It hasn’t been easy. Her favourite subject is Domestic Science. Well it just happens that we know a lady who bakes delicious home made cakes, is starting up a business and who would just love to teach Jacintha. If you could have seen her face LIGHT UP when we put the idea to her of leaving school to take up this trade …………………… a joy to perceive. Stephen and Rachel will have to firm up all the details but they’ll use the kitchen at Zoe House whilst no-one’s staying there. Setting up the factory for this successful venture will come later!!!

And talking of ‘successful ventures’ ….. no joy when we went to meet the District Commissioner BUT when we went to try and meet with the District Education Officer, Stephen’s cousin ushered us into Herbert’s office (as he said, ‘a very English name’!), in front of a whole queue of people as she just happens to be the Educational Standards Officer! With us was the District Planning Officer who we just happen to know from church! Herbert promised us a teacher provided we build a house for them – but perhaps that was because John threatened him with a kalashnikov should he fail to deliver!! Bet THAT doesn’t happen every day!! BOTH ladies then said they would come out with us to see Mercers and Mwazyangulu Schools – little did they realise just how bumpy those roads would be!!! Little did WE realise how much red tape is involved in gaining Govt recognition for a school – which, provided they can come up with the K100 to open a bank account, gives them access to limited funds and teaching materials. The community at Makhaza Village, where Mercers School is situated, will have to jump through quite a few hoops before they reach this stage – and we very much hope this news didn’t leave them too dispirited: we think they’re doing, and have done, an amazing job. Mwazyangulu School had got hoop jumping down to a fine art and had already been recognised by the Govt! No funds with which to start their bank account, BUT, one 2-classroom block built so only some bricked long-drop loos (with doors!) and finishing off the half built teacher’s house to do – at this stage. They already have marked out where the next 2 blocks will go and where the next teacher’s house will be. Joseph, the leading light there, is a young man with a big vision. Where the old mud school stood, a new school kitchen is emerging – again built with mud which is a fascinating skill to watch. The last of the last of the last of the t-shirts were given out!!

On hearing that the Ed. Planning Dept could supply brick layers and carpenters we have signed up to supplying the bricks etc to finish the teacher’s house (thank you Mindi!) so Stephen will be doing the bumpy road next week with supplies. Time is short before teachers are allocated so everyone concerned is going to have to get a move on!

We were so pleased to be able to catch Philemon (the leading light at Evergreen Community Garden) and John (the Chairman) before we left and to congratulate them on all their hard work. Well in; surrounds cemented (there was a queue to get water, which has a very strong flow); large garden area cleared; compost pit almost filled. They still have the water retention pit to build (you could clearly see without it just how much water gets wasted) and at 3m sq x 3m deep, dug by hand, it is a HUGE undertaking. We will supply the bricks, cement and liner for the pit and give them the treadle pump taken from Well No 4 – the one in Shupeni village that has been twice vandalised. These are 2 big and urgent projects so we will be praying for strength and endurance for the teams.

Education Dept ladies brought home to try and revive them over a cup of tea before being deposited back at their office!

John and Stephen went straight on to see Mr Jere who has the very large and (normally) amazing market garden some way out of town. The ‘exchange rate’ with him is that we buy implements to improve his farming methods and he supplies Stephen and the family with all their vegetables + seed plants for the functioning gardens out in the Chiefdom. The exchange rate had dropped even more dramatically following his wife’s death so following a ‘pep talk’ from John during their last visit (!!), it was touch and go as to whether or not the arrangement would continue. Thank You God!! Mr Jere had pulled out all the stops, the fields were all weeded, veg ready to be sold in town and his compost pit ready with all the ‘ingredients’ for the demo on how to layer it up. We left him in better heart and hope that will continue.

Thoughts are turning towards our return home, and to our return journey – and the border crossings. As a visitor it costs US$50 each for the TRANSIT VISA to and from each country each time – and a socking great stamp taking up a whole page in your passport! There is then US$50 for TEMPORARY VISITORS VISA. Cars cost US$15 VEHICLE IMPORT/EXPORT LICENCE + ADDITIONAL INSURANCE COVER of US$45. Stephen has got queue jumping down to fine art but it can be pretty frustrating. (Thought: should the very worst happen and Scotland and Ireland exit the Union, we could make a fortune copying this criteria, plus adding in tax on fuel as your car sits idling in a VERY long queue!)

We’ll see you soon guys – and thank you SO much for your prayers.

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