The upcoming garden work was also not neglected while I was on site in December 2020. The garden was overgrown with grass, which we weeded.
As soon as the garden was prepared, I began sowing the various seeds.Since there are no plant seedlings in Namibia, I sowed the seeds cabbage, pumpkin, beans, peanuts, melons, onions and ocra directly into the sandy soil with the hope that it will grow.
The little wooden sticks mark the seed course so the seedlings don't get plucked out as weeds, because I've had that experience many times in my gardening and Diana was deliciously amused that I couldn't tell Mutete from weeds.
With the onset of the rainy season, the sown seeds grow very well. Soon mutete can be harvested. Pumpkin, corn, okra and melons are growing, but also the weeds , bush and shrubs, so that continues to require a lot of work in the garden.
Due to the lack of experience in farming, the workers' efforts were not rewarded and the yields were minimal. To compensate for this lack of knowledge, we will now hire two farmers to train our workers and help them manage the enlarged garden and adjacent fields.
Before that, however, the whole property must be fenced to keep the animals away from the plants.
Since mid-July, we have been receiving assistance in the construction of our expanded garden from two local farmers who are training our men in agriculture. They started building the protective fences around the garden. They needed a wire mesh fence for this so that even the small chickens and ducks cannot get into the garden to devour the small plants.
To fertilize the soil, we rented a bakkie to collect manure from the surrounding area and work it into the soil.
In the meantime, they sowed the seedlings to plant out later.
The biggest challenge remains the irrigation of the garden.
Laying the irrigation system is now a high priority in our project work. Watering only with a garden hose is not possible because the water pressure is too low.
We started laying the hose system, but soon realized that we had too few lines. Again we had to go to Rundu to get more material. We also bought a generator so that we can build up enough pressure to irrigate the whole plant.
In the next few days, the workers will start laying the pipes.
The work on the project land has aroused the curiosity and interest of people in the neighborhood. The timid requests to help out on the land are piling up 😊.
To water the garden sufficiently, we bought and laid more pipes at the end of August. Already the seedlings are growing and thriving.
With the small truck now roadworthy, the workers were able to bring more fertilizer to the land and work it into the soil.
The access road to the planting site is only sand and the small truck often got stuck in the sandy track and had to be dug out. Costody and the workers now decided to level the road with stone-covered soil.
Again and again, the workers collect fertilizer and work it into the soil. In addition to the two hired farmers, more local residents who want to learn more about farming, gain experience and help out in the field are now coming.
At the end of each month the wages are paid. The workers travel together to Divundu and are paid and at the same time maize flour and other food is procured, which must suffice the whole next month. The way to Divundu is about 27 km and difficult to reach without transportation. Often people stand on the side of the road for hours hoping for a ride. Therefore, we are very grateful for the small truck that is now roadworthy. A big wish of the surrounding inhabitants is to have a closer shopping possibility.
The workers' efforts have paid off only to the extent that they can supply themselves with vegetables. They were not able to generate a larger yield. The reasons are mainly the lack of irrigation of the garden. Unfortunately, the thriving cabbages were also attacked by caterpillars and died as a result.
The balance between the irrigation of the garden and the water delivery to the residents is always much talked about and often meets with incomprehension from the residents.
In order to clarify these circumstances, we held a meeting with the residents of the neighboring settlements about the newly established conditions of water supply. We informed them that we were able to build the project with donations and that it is now up to them to ensure that they get their water close to home in the long term. We set the monthly price for drinking water per family at N$100. The families who agreed to this had to confirm this with a signature.
The payment must be made by the 15th of the current month and is confirmed with a receipt. The water purchase is possible only on presentation of the receipt and is not transferable to others.
In order to use the water carefully and responsibly, from now on it is not allowed to wash clothes at the water point. Also the animal herds may no longer be watered there.
The meeting also discussed the water theft that happened recently that night. Despite a closure, two people were able to open the tap and draw water. Unfortunately, they couldn't close the tap completely and the water ran out all night. A water supply ban of 2 weeks was imposed on the two persons.
Then we built an additional lock in the water pipe, which separates the access between the reference point and the house / garden, so that we have double security of the water point and can still supply the garden and the house with water.
The radio interview with this woman also gave rise to discussion. She said on the local radio that she had to pay to get water from us. That is not correct, because the local authority is responsible for the water supply of their population and does nothing to supply the rural population with water, rather it is private investors who look for the well-being of the people.
The gratitude for what our project is doing for these people was particularly evident in personal conversations after the meeting.
At the end of November we were grateful to receive another donation, which we can now use to build a second 10,000 liter water tank.
We were able to buy the required material in Rundu and transport it to Kangumbe with our small truck.
We know that our project is perceived and discussed in many ways in the district of Mukwe. Most of the comments are benevolent, which makes us very happy. Especially the surrounding villages know what we are doing for the region and how much hard work is behind it. Nevertheless, we had not expected the visit of the regional council. He visited us early in the morning and found out about our project and what impact it has on the surrounding settlements. He made a video recording, these are available in the news section.
Costody Malasa was invited the next day to the Economic and Population Development meeting in Mukwe district, which was to be held in the Max Makushe School building.
There he was informed that our project will receive an award because of our commitment to the welfare of the people in our area and to provide them with access to clean drinking water.
Gratefully and with pride we accept this certificate and will continue to work with much vigor for our project and the affected villages in our area.
We thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your support! Only together could we continue to work on the implementation of the goals this year and do something good on a small way .
The challenges in the new year started early, because when the scaffolding of the water tank was erected, the search for a long ladder began. Finally, we found one in Divundu, but the workers still had to climb the last piece to weld on the floor at a height of 5 meters with metal rods.
Once the tank's scaffold was stable enough, the next challenge lay ahead. After several attempts to pull the tank onto the scaffold using only muscle power, another solution had to be found. A car was additionally taken to help, but this attempt also failed. The simplest but most challenging solution was a crane to lift the tank into the air.
To keep costs down, the simplest solution was to stop a truck with a lifting crane on the road and ask it for help.We succeeded in doing this and were able to lift the tank to the 5 m high level in mid-February.
The cultivation of the garden continues to run satisfactorily. We have enough vegetables for self-sufficiency, which is a partial goal of our project. The next step is to increase the production so that we can sell the vegetables and with the proceeds buy new seeds and if possible pay the employees.
Thanks to the rainy season we have water at all times and we protect the young plants with a net against the African sun.
The neighboring settlements are moving closer and closer to our property, probably to shorten their distances to fetch water. Therefore, we have begun to fence the entire property. Trees were cut down, their branches made into stakes and pulled with cows to the distant borders of our property, buried and held together with wire.
To prevent the trees from sprouting again, the stump and roots are dug up and cut each time. The youth team of the local soccer club helped us again to clear the paths from brush and bushes.
With the second water tank that we were able to install at the beginning of the year, the question of how to distribute the water became unnecessary. We now have enough water reserves to supply the settlements with water and at the same time to cultivate the increasingly thriving garden.
As the garden work and its harvests become only visible, the joy about it is great and the variants of the meals are already much bigger than a year ago.
The new henhouse provides space for the hens to hatch their eggs in peace and in a protected environment.
Mr. Malasa visited me in Switzerland in August and we had enough time to discuss our project and to look for optimization possibilities together, which can then also be implemented in Namibia.
In the house garden now produces enough so that the team next to Pap (maize porridge) can eat fresh vegetables every day, which they share with the children of our Kindergarten. However, the plot is very large and more can be grown. We want to expand the home garden and plant the remaining field with corn, millet and beans, so that in the future we can turn the grain waste into animal feed. This is because in the dry season the animals, which are mainly herded by children through the arid landscape in search of food, hardly find any grass or leaves and often die of hunger. If the animals die, the income of the people also deteriorates and this is what we want to counteract with our new project with feed pellet press.
The workers are already working to thoroughly clear the land of bushes and shrubs.
After the opening of the new supermarket Choppies in Divundu, Mr. Malasa was asked if he would like to have the leftover food to feed his animals for a small contribution towards expenses. We accepted the offer and since then he drives almost daily once or twice to Divundu and collects a large container of discarded food. Sometimes there are still edible fruits or bread among them, which are still distortable.
For the clearing of the field we can always motivate young people to help for a small fee. This year they asked me for a soccer ball so they don't have to play soccer with rolled up plastic bags anymore. The cleanup was quick. However, we could no longer manage the strenuous and physically demanding cultivation of the farmland due to lack of help, as the people of the village settlements around our project site have their own plots of land to cultivate and therefore could not help us.
In order to move agriculture forward, we need to offer paid jobs in the future. Basically, people in the region are interested in the work and would work for a monthly wage. We are now looking for solutions to this.
Children have to help out at home from an early age. So Mr. Malasa's siblings were responsible for feeding the animals and for the garden. Every day they do a lot of work.
Together we first pulled out the meter-long nara plants (prickly, pumpkin-like, water-giving plant) and brought them to the pigs to eat, then we sowed different kinds of pumpkins, water melons and honey melons.
In the prepared garden beds we sowed onions. Pepperoni and chili seeds, we first raise in empty plastic bottles, until they are strong enough to grow in the sandy soil.
Melon seeds, already scattered in August, already bear small fruits.
A big wish of mine was to learn more about the life of the people in the nearby settlements and to learn what their everyday life is like. I met Blandine at the watering hole and we got to talking. One morning she came to me and took me to her house. We walked in the already hot morning sun, and even without carrying water, the walk was exhausting because of the heat.
Blandine proudly showed me her mud shack. She built it all by herself, gathering branches, making stakes, and pounding them into the ground. Then she filled in the gaps with mud and straw. She was able to cover the roof with tin so that she would have a dry house during the rainy season. However, the surrounding shacks all have only a thatched roof, which cannot withstand the downpours.
Like many other families, her mother worked in the fields with her brother and the help of young people. Blandine was in the fields all day yesterday and was allowed to rest today. She actually wanted to prepare a meal for the workers, but she had no money to buy cornmeal. She hopes that the young people will be understanding and she can cook them something another time.
Together we walked to her family's field, meeting other families along the way and visiting other settlements. People were surprised that I visited them in the fields and at home. Everywhere I was received first a little shyly, then with joy, hearty laughter and gratitude. Their relief at the nearby watering hole was emphasized again and again.
The way back to our project site we walked along the path that the residents use to fetch water.
In December 2021, due to a radio broadcast, we held a meeting about the charges for the purchase of the water. A woman had expressed that she did not think it was right that the basic right to water had to be paid for. She drew water at our place and accused the government that in the region many water points are only offered by private people and that the government did not fulfill its responsibility towards the population.
The day after my arrival, a couple came, a couple came to pay the water fee. Afterwards, I learned that this was the woman who had been so severely criticized by the population a year ago, because the word-of-mouth of her statement at that time was not correct.
It fills me with pride to see that we have taken a step forward.
With the new year, Kamilius Sindimba started to work in the garden. Due to the rainy season, the weeds and bushes grew very strongly and he had a lot to do to prepare the garden beds again.
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