Sep 2017 visit by Dirk Juttner
What is a success in Africa?
Success in Africa is not rare though that is the impression the media, with its emphasis on bad news, always gives. We want instant success these days but in Africa things take time. As they say: “You have clocks, we have time.”
The reasons for this are manifold. Often it is because the people have to rely on the weather for survival, living on agriculture. The customary weather pattern is becoming more and more unpredictable.
There are also many other reasons and sometimes it is even us Europeans thinking we have the answer for getting quick results without consulting the local people.
This year however I experienced two great successes when visiting the CMM Sisters in Masasi, Tanzania, where I lived for a few years some time ago.
About a year ago they drilled for water and, at a depth of 48 meters, hit a very large reservoir of good quality water for domestic and general use. After installing a pump earlier this year they planted not only over 100 fruit trees - mango, bananas, cashew nuts, oranges, avocado, passion fruit and pawpaw but also enlarged their vegetable garden considerably. I also had the benefit of running water. What a blessing a well can be!
This project is already a success as the Sisters now have plenty of vegetables and sell what is surplus to their needs, making them more self-sufficient.
Another project now fully in operation is the girls’ hostel. The 16 girls there are orphans or come from broken homes. Thus this place is fulfilling a great need for those teenagers (12 -17 years). It provides a secure home where they can study in peace while attending a local secondary school. Coming from this background they cannot contribute to their living expenses, but the Sisters provide all their essentials with help from some donors.
The Matron, one of the Sisters, creates a loving atmosphere as their mother and friend which is so clearly shown in many ways. She also teaches them practical domestic skills.
The chickens and vegetable garden provide some of the basic food. Once the cow ‘Malala’, has had her first calf, there will also be milk available. - Malala, sounding Swahili, was suggested by a member of Mary’s Collegiate Parish Church after the young Pakistani activist for female education. She is the youngest Nobel Prize laureate. - A parish collection paid for this cow. The surplus milk can then be sold to help with the cost of the fees for the girls. The same is already happening with the vegetables, eggs and chicken.
When I arrived in Masasi I was surprised to get such a hearty welcome not only from the Sisters but also from quite a few girls from the hostel standing there singing with bunches of flowers. It was school holidays. I was then told that the girls feel this is their home and want to stay there even in their holidays.
One day they invited me for dinner and we had good discussions. I told them that we want them to work hard to produce good results at school and get a chance to have further education. As is said in Africa: “Educate a women, you educate a family.” A few days later I got 16 letters giving thanks for our friendship.
Another success story is what a young women did with the money I gave her last year to feed her family. She bought a pig as the price for meat is very high. This year when I saw her again she gave me pictures of the sow she got last year and the four half grown up pigs she has now - a reminder of the parable of the talents (Matt. 25.14). It just demonstrates what people can do with just a little support.
To the school for children with learning disabilities at Lulindi I took the dolls which I had been asked for. Some ladies in the parish kindly made these to be used as teaching aids. The headmaster was most grateful and the children were full of joy and happiness as they ever are.
At one of the Sisters’ nursery school I was pleased to meet the teacher of the 5 - 6 year old children. He told me that he had been a boy there for three years some 20 years ago. It shows the good start in life which the Sisters give the children, as they do to so many people - water and spirit, Life.