Top Banner

The dedication of St. Aidan’s Church in Maramba was clearly the most important event during our trip but we also visited schools, parishes, churches, permaculture gardens and enjoyed hospitality in many different homes.

As an educational officer Clement Shehiza was keen for us to visit many of the schools within his jurisdiction amounting to eleven altogether! At nearly every school we were welcomed by crowds of children often singing and banging drums. The protocol was much the same at each school by having mutual introductions with the head teacher in his or her office, then the entire staff in the staffroom before confronting all the children who had assembled outside with almost military precision. This involved each of us making a formal introductory speech three times before any informal discussions took place.

Every school is doing its best to teach an ever increasing number of children but there are many problems. Insufficient classrooms with the average class size being one teacher for up to 80 pupils. A lack of educational materials and sporting equipment. Poor attendances as some children have to walk long distances to get to and from school. The list goes on but the staff in most schools are keen to have partnerships with schools in the UK which they feel will help them to overcome some of these problems by having extra support. Five of the schools we visited already have links and have enjoyed teachers from the Tenbury area teaching in their schools. We have now been given the task of helping to find schools within the Hereford Diocese who will be interested in creating links with the remaining six.

We looked forward to a visit to Kuze, a mountain village we had been to before but this time the journey developed into quite an adventure as we never arrived. Heavy rain had fallen during the previous night and the steep road became impassable.

The photograph on the left shows our vehicle stuck perilously close to a ditch with Father Francis preparing to give it a push. It was to no avail so we took the only alternative and started to walk up the final few miles. We thoroughly enjoyed the change as we were able to meet the local people as they came out of their traditional African homes to welcome the unexpected hikers. We gave woollen hats provided by the Tenbury knitting group to mothers who were delighted to put them on the heads of their babies (see photo). We managed to walk as far as Kibago a village within 2 miles of a steep rise to Kuze when it was decided that folk from Kuze should be asked (by mobile ‘phone) to walk down to meet us.

As they arrived we were astonished to discover that the priest accompanied by the church leaders plus the choir and the entire congregation from Kuze Church had all walked down. In addition the teachers and all the students except the youngest class from Kuze primary school joined in this special occasion. There were far too many children to count as they sang their welcoming songs before we embarked on our speeches of introduction and thanking everyone for making us so welcome. Most children had brought a mango fruit as a present for us (see photo) and these were placed in an enormous sack which we suggested could be auctioned to raise money for the church. The renowned Kuze church choir performed with song and dance before some of the lady members accompanied us for the long walk down to our vehicle which was now pointing in the right direction for the journey back to Maramba – What a day!

The emphasis during the latter part of our trip was on visiting some of their permaculture projects. It is difficult to explain what permaculture means but the nearest equivalent back home would be sustainable kitchen gardening. Daily meals are very often based on maize and children are fed a porridge called UGALI before or when they arrive at school. We were given a sample to try and found it to have a rubbery texture with no flavour and I accidentally dropped a bit on the floor and was astonished to see it bounced!

There is a very clear need to improve nutritional levels by widening the variety of fresh food and families need to be encouraged to grow it themselves. The land immediately round their homes and schools is usually very fertile but the tradition has been to sweep these areas daily and remove biodegradable waste. In the humid climate this debris can be composted to provide a medium in which crops can grow quickly to produce fruit and vegetables. The speed of growth is astonishing with banana, orange, paw paw and mango trees producing fruit within a very short period. Cassava, ground nuts and Chinese cabbage (see photo) can also be productive within a year. Water is essential and although the averagerainfall is 30 inches/annum it falls in only four months of the year. Water can be harvested by diverting the run off from roofs into covered tanks for use throughout the year. Clement Shehiza has trained as a permaculturist and has converted his plot of land into a permaculture demonstration garden by installing a SIM tank (trade name) financed by Tenbury for saving water. We were delighted to look round his garden and discovered that he has also built a holding well for water and is also developing a biogas system. Clement is now keen to open his garden to the community so that families can learn how to provide more for themselves and improve their nutrition.

The St. Aidan’s choir took us for a picnic on a two acre site where water melons and paw paws are being grown. This new venture has been instigated by our friend Mary Diwi and her daughter Getrude with the help of the choir who can be seen in the photograph. The water melons need to be grown to a high standard and kept clean to attract a high price so sticks are laid under each fruit to achieve this. We were guided very carefully through the plot to keep out of the way of any snakes that could be hiding under the sticks

The demand for building timber and wood for fuel has been increasing for many years and deforestation has become a big problem. There is now an emphasis on developing tree nurseries and at Churwa primary school we saw how lemon pips had been sown in compost in individual plastic pots to grow small lemon trees. Orange tree cuttings were then grafted on to these trees which when transplanted quickly grow into mature orange trees. The children were very involved in this work as part of their education in the art of permaculture.
We came home laden with gifts and as our baggage allowance on the internal flights back to Dar es Salaam was only 15 kgs each we knew we would be in trouble at Tanga airport. However due to the inevitable chaos when checking in, our bags were not weighed and we got away without paying a fine. Once back in Dar we had a day to spare before catching our night flight to the UK. At last we could relax and discovered that Kilimanjaro lager had never tasted so good!!

Following our visit the link have sent out £1000 to help restart the building of the church at Kigongoi, £300 for Father Francis to buy a new laptop, £500 for Peter Mhando to buy a motorbike to help him visit and care for HIV/Aids patients throughout the deanery and £160 to enable Stephano Augustino to buy a mobile generator for his tailoring business. We were delighted to be able to give a talk during the Harvest Festival service in St. Laurence’s Church, Ludlow when the congregation generously raised £260 towards the cost of sponsoring Yohana Kiango from Maramba who is an ordinand training at St. Mark’s College. Hopefully schools can be found for some of the Maramba Deanery schools who are keen to have a link.
Peter Metcalfe/01 November 2015

Page 1.