H – Diary #8

1st August
Going nuts, growing maize

Of course we didn’t leave on time but we did at least leave. In the false security of brilliant sunshine the two bikes set off from Iganga into the sub-county of Matuuku to visit 9 farmers group leaders, representing some 150 farming families. Four of us from MTCEA (Multi purpose Training and Community Empowerment Association) are evaluating the progress or otherwise, of the animal traction project that had been initiated by MTCEA, over the last few years. An hour later, covered in dust from the dirt tracks, we are greeted by the first group of representatives.

They’re growing mainly maize, ground nuts (like the shelled peanuts we have in NZ), and rice.
The project has provided a pair of young oxen and a plough to each group, under a loan scheme.
They love it. It’s heart-warming to hear the genuine progress this initiative has brought to so many. They can now rely on a regular food supply for themselves, can sell the surplus and send their children to school, buy clothes AND repay their loan. Many have sold their by now ageing oxen at a profit from their initial investment, and have replaced those with TWO pairs of animals. They rent them out and make extra cash…

From the feedback it’s also clear that the next phase must be to provide a better source of quality seed, a bigger storage facility, de-hulling machinery for rice and maize, and better access to commercial markets. The project is also looking for funding for a micro-credit scheme to enable it to expand. 1500 families have benefitted from this fantastic scheme so far.
I love hearing the co-ordinator, local Peter Owor, pointing at ploughed paddocks or healthy oxen, as we speed past on our way to the next group, proudly shouting back to me, “another one of our families”. So special.

And then it rained. Heavily. And we got got very wet…. And that wonderful combination of treadless motorbike tyres on mud raised the adrenalin just enough to feel the warm glow of happiness surge back through the veins.


3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Jo thompson
    Aug 01, 2012 @ 18:14:02

    Sim, your descriptions are really vibrant and so clear.
    Feel as tho’ I’m there too!
    The project sounds exciting and so positive.
    Look forward to daily readings!
    auntie XX


  2. Annette
    Aug 01, 2012 @ 22:07:18

    Hi Simon
    I have to thank you a lot for sharing your dossier (sounds better than BLOG) link. I really enjoy reading your diaries. It must be an amazing humbling experience to be part of this scheme, even if only for too short a time.
    Your beautifully written descriptions are very humbling and touching. This is REAL aid!
    I’d love to do some VSA work as a teacher……..if teachers are needed
    Keep up the good work! You will be so fit from riding your trusty steed all over the place…..
    Look forward to meet up with you and your wife when you come back!
    From rainy Nelson


  3. Anna Li
    Aug 10, 2012 @ 20:42:33

    I bet it’s so motivating to see the projects are really working. So happy for those people who can now make a real go at living life. Love you dad, Anna


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