New procedures were also implemented to receive new babies and their caregivers. We had the opportunity to put the new policies into practice when Angel, our newest arrival, joined the orphanage at the beginning of April. Since then we’ve been able to add additional safeguards to ensure that those already living at Patmo aren’t put at risk when new babies come to live at the orphanage. It has been a team effort with staff and bintis making suggestions and helping us to come up with the safest way to continue providing families with assistance during their time of need.
The rainy season and our raised beds are a true blessing right now. The bintis, Daniel and Robati have been working hard to keep the gardens thriving and tend the fields. It is our hope that the orphanage will be able to raise enough produce to not only feed the toddlers and bintis but also our staff. By reducing the need to leave to shop, we are able to reduce the risk of coming into contact with someone sick with Covid-19.
The orphanage director Tisho has been busy meeting with staff and the bintis to develop and share new policies and procedures to keep everyone safe during the pandemic. It was determined that the biggest risk of illness would be staff coming and going for their shifts. Our amazing staff agreed to move onto the orphanage property and remain indefinitely once Covid-19 spread to Morogoro Region. The virus first was diagnosed in a patient in Morogoro around mid-April. All staff were given about 2 weeks to try and prepare, harvest their fields, stock up on supplies and move into the compound. Many have left their immediate families in order to continue caring for the infants and toddlers at Patmo. We are so thankful for the sacrifice and commitment of our staff!
We are also so proud of our bintis and Daniel’s wife Martha, who have done an amazing job of sewing masks. They began by sewing enough for every binti, staff member and staff family member to have two masks each. They also sewed masks for some of our older children. Once they finished sewing all of those masks they continued to sew masks and provide them free to anyone in our village who conducts business, whether in a store, at the market or walking up and down the street selling produce. They have sewn 136 masks and will continue sewing masks until our supplies run out. We were even able to donate a mask to be used as an example to a group in Morogoro Town that wanted to sew and donate masks in the city.
UPDATE ON OUR FENCE AND DAIRY PROJECT
This year we were blessed to receive additional funds from Living Word Lutheran Church, BREAD and individual supporters to help us carry on building the fence. Berega Orphanage also received the Lightner Grant through TMS Global which really helped us. The project is about 85% finished! The two man team making posts lived out in Berega for weeks. They made over 450 posts to support the fence around the orphanage! At the end of April a group of young men from the village began digging post holes and carry the heavy posts to each hole around the perimeter of the orphanage. Then orphanage staff and a few additional village helpers begin the long process of cementing in each post. Daniel and Robati were in charge of a small team that installed the fencing wire once the posts were ready. The fencing wire was purchased at the same store we've purchased wire from in the past but the quality wasn't very good. Since there are no returns here the men spent many, many hours straightening out the fencing wire and trying to get it ready to use. This summer work began to cement the wire to the ground to make it stable and prevent people or animals from going under the fence. The largest half of the orphanage property is finished. We will need to wait for additional funds to be able to continue this project on the smaller side of the orphanage.
In June Terry, a professor from Langston University, came to spend 2 weeks with us in Berega. He taught Tisho about what to look for when purchasing dairy goats and cows. He helped choose 4 dairy cows and 1 dairy goat for the orphanage to purchase. One of the cows purchased was able to be milked when she arrived. We have been able to have enough milk to support orphanage needs since the end of June. Excess milk is being sold and the profits used to pay the salary of the man herding the animals and to buy additional feed or medicines. One goat was purchased before his visit and just had a kid at the beginning of August. Our first dairy cow also had a baby at the end of August! As the milk supply increasing we plan on learning how to make cheese or butter to be sold in Morogoro Town.
Terry also helped advise Tisho on building the goat and cow sheds. He also taught us how to turn corn stover into feed for the cows. Tisho has experience raising meat goats and cows. Terry was able to teach him about the differences between the animals. During Terry's visit the water troughs out in the main pasture was completed. The second trough in the smaller pasture was constructed in July. The troughs were connected to the orphanage water system. When the orphanage receives water from the village the troughs and their tanks will fill. This will allow the animals to have access to water without asking the bintis to carry water in for them every day.
There are still a few things left to do before the project is finished. The base of the fence will need to be cemented to stabilize it and barbed wire will be put along the tops of the entire fence. Thankfully the wire was purchased through the grant. We also have plans to expand our dairy goat herd. We will be traveling to Kenya to meet Terry at a university there to purchase goats. Terry and Tisho traveled all over the region, up to 6 hours away, but were not successful in finding true dairy goats in Tanzania. Terry will help facilitate the purchase of goats. While on that trip we plan to stop at an orphanage in Lushoto, Tanzania to learn how to make cheese and see if it is something Berega Orphanage will be able to do.
Zawadi & our cows
Working on the fence
Guard house & entrance
With all of the busyness of construction projects and changes going on at the orphanage this year we decided to have a small Christmas party just for staff, their families, the binitis and babies instead of putting on a big Christmas party. We wanted everyone to be able to celebrate Christmas in a relaxed, fun way instead of having to worry about a few hundred guests! The kids had art projects and the staff and bintis practiced to sing a number of beautiful songs. The pastor of our local church came to share a Christmas message with us all. It was a wonderful way to celebrate!
Corn Harvest 2019
During the short rains at the beginning of the year we planted one of the fields with corn. A new variety of corn was planted that is supposed to be more nutritious. Unfortunately the short rains were very short and only a small portion of the field we planted was able to grow to maturity and be harvested. As you can see from the pictures we only had a small pile of corn.
Initially we weren't too concerned. We had plans to replant the field during the longer rainy season that typically starts at the end of February or beginning of March. However the long rains were also a problem this year. Rain didn't begin to fall until April. We did plant the rest of our corn seed in a small section of one of our fields but the corn never reached maturity. At the orphanage we are fortunate that we do not depend on a good harvest in order to eat like most of our neighbors. We planted beans and were blessed to have a plentiful bean harvest.
Next year, God willing, we will again try to use the improved corn seed to see if it is beneficial in improving nutrition. We also hope to learn more about Foundations For Farming to see if there are new methods we can use to improve soil fertility and crop yield.