Monday, 30 May 2011

Ibolelo High School

Today we went to Ibolelo High School for grades 10 - 12. They face lots of challenges. There are 1500 at the school and sometimes 65 in a class and two sharing one book. We sat in on the classes and were really encouraged by the amazing teacher and pupils.

A Fantastic Sunday

We had a fantastic morning at Bread of Life Church. The worship was amazing and the team were really moved by the joy and freedom they showed. After church we shook hands with everyone in the church, as is traditional. We felt so welcome. We're looking forward to visiting Ibolelo school on Monday, who Garth is partnering with. Can't wait!

Saturday, 28 May 2011

We've arrived in Serenje

After nine and a half hours on a plane and five in a car we have arrived in sunny Serenje! The earthy, dusty smell of Africa is as welcoming as ever and it's great to be back and to bring new friends. We've met with Bishop Kasele and now we're off for dinner. Tonight is an early night all round and then church tomorrow!

Monday, 9 May 2011

Project Update

The Serenje project is in year three of its implementation. The targets for autumn 2010-2011 are:

1700 orphans & vulnerable children receiving support (school fees, uniforms)
1000 families receiving agricultural support (training and seeds)
117 church and community volunteers visiting and supporting people living with HIV and AIDs.
110 (50 church leaders and 60 community leaders) receiving leadership training.

We've received a report from EFZ in Serenje on the latest developments and we'll be blogging some of the highlights.

The period October – to March is the busiest time of the year in the project as it covers the farming season as well as identification and verification of new OVCs (orphans & vulnerable children) to the program which falls November – January.

Farmers in the project sites were positive that the harvest yields of their crop looked promising and would be able to meet household needs as well as market some for income.

The HIV and AIDS prevalence rate is 10.3% in the rural areas such as Serenje. The ART (treatment for HIV) is still being accessed freely. The challenge, however in Serenje is that medical personnel are inadequate to cope with the demand. Many people living with HIV walk long distances to access the medication at rural health centres and stigma is still quite high.

There was a further huge scale up of beneficiary targets of both orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) and on food security on households affected by HIV and AIDS referred to as “ small scale farmers”. For the OVC, the target increased from 890 in 2010 to 1700 pupils in 2011. The small scale farmers target increased from 700 in 2010 to 1000 in 2011. This involved a lot of mobilisation since some villages are far apart. The Serenje Pastors Fellowship of EFZ and volunteers from their Churches facilitate the implementation with technical support of the EFZ field officer based in Serenje. The volunteers’ network has increased from 80 to 117. These come from the Serenje churches as well as the four target communities of the project implementation which are Mwansankano, Kashitu, Chilisha and Kankoso.

Agricultural support
• We distributed seed input to all the 1000 farmers
• 600 farmers received each 15 kilograms of groundnuts seed
• 400 farmers received 15 kilograms of beans seed.

Monitoring went on well especially with the field Officer due to adequate transport to reach farmers. The field officer, now with a motorbike accompanies volunteers during their field visits. Field monitoring is being done in all the four communities on a monthly basis. All the 1000 farmers were physically visited to ensure that there is evidence of what is on the ground.

Family sizes in the project sites range from 6-9 members per household.

This 2010 – 2011 farming season farmers have estimated high yields citing that the rain pattern was good unlike in the 2009 – 2010 farming season. During visitations in all the four communities, an average of 30 farmers per community have harvested each 20 kilograms of beans in the first planting which comes up in December. We still expect a second harvest on beans by April month end as they plant twice in each farming season. The expected harvest in the second round will be slightly more than what has been harvested in the first round. Much of the quantities will be reported in May when they will have completed harvesting and drying the beans. The groundnuts should be harvested by end of June. There is a lot of progress in terms of farming yields as compared to the 2010 farming season which had heavy down pours.

Our farmers have not just relied on the seed from Serenje Kerith project but have also planted other crops like maize, sorghum, and finger millet. It was impressive that at least 65% of our farmers have at least one of those crops in their fields. So the beans and groundnuts we gave them have facilitated the growing of maize. The sales of the beans and groundnuts have enabled beneficiaries to diversify their crops.