The Foundation Farm
The new maize crop is growing well.
As the Foundation continues to grow and advance we have moved some of the older updates and newsletters to an archive. You can see here how the projects have developed.
The new maize crop is growing well.
We’ve decided to have a News section, monthly if we can manage it, to bring all News which isn’t in the other pages on the website.
Unfortunately the ship on which the Bananana Box Trust’s first container was being carried was hit by a huge wave off Durban whilst awaiting instruction to come into port; it listed 30 degrees to one side and then the other. As a consequence, some containers were lost overboard, although fortunately not the one in which our 58 boxes were travelling. All of the containers were damaged, however, including ‘ours’. The immense force of nature at work but it is what it is – an accident.
At the time of this update (8/10/18) the container is still in Durban. Distance makes firm news difficult but it’s believed that the contents have been transferred to two containers; that more paperwork is awaited and then the container/s will be going to Ekwendeni. We are keeping fingers crossed that at least the majority of contents (of everybody’s goods) will be dry and intact.
We now have 52 boxes in the BBT warehouse in Dundee awaiting the next container out, and we wish it a safer journey’s end.
Across West Stirlingshire, Scotland, people have been so supportive to the Foundation and we would like to thank everyone for their kindness.
Schools, parents, friends and children got behind us and contributed so much. When they realized what the orphans needed they put in those extra items too. So many people, so much kindness and we thank you all.
One of the young mothers asked whether gloves were needed – and we did not have a clue so we asked Levison, who confirmed that yes, those children who had to walk several miles to school and whose hands were so cold by the time they got there, such that they are unable to write for a couple of hours, would love to have gloves.
So we decided to have an appeal for gloves and hats, along the lines of the one done so successfully last year for stationery.
Mary and Sarah included sweets in this appeal as, thinking ahead to the Christmas Party – the first these children have ever had – the Malawian ladies will bag up sweets to hand out to the children.
We have lovely ladies knitting, some of whom are experienced knitters; others haven’t clicked needles for years; some never have but are loving it. Not all in West Stirlingshire either and we mustn’t forget about the kind men who, although they might not be knitting – although William is – are buying sweets, hats and gloves and sending them to us.
Apart from the specific appeals, however, we have had to draw a halt to goods being sent out – although hopefully as more donations are received and more folk come on to the Shire team to help – we will be able to resume to an extent. The monies as they become available must now be put towards the build and to ensuring that the Foundation can be as self-sufficient as it can be.
At the Resource Centre there will be two grounds, one for football and the other for netball.
When some of the building team have not been needed on the build on a particular day, they and Levison have been out clearing and levelling the pitches.
The kilns cooled, building was able to start. The first job was the ferrying of the bricks from the kilns and sand from the best places, to the site. The villagers rallied round, children included, some of whom are the orphans themselves, fetching and carrying, with great industry and enthusiasm.
The Giving of Joy
The Foundation team decided that the Ibuluma villagers, some of whom walked up to 8km there and back from their homes to the Foundation site, to ferry the bricks and sand should receive a token of appreciation – a little money but worth so much to them.
Levison gathered them together, and included the folks who had worked so hard on the harvest.
Many of them had felt without hope for so long and now they could see that support was there and was real. They sang and they danced. Where there was sadness, there is now joy; where there was hopelessness, there is now hope as can be seen in the two new small videos on our Youtube link.
It was a red letter day when the build itself was able to start on 1 August. The concrete floors were laid for both male and female latrine blocks and then the first bricks were laid. There is only a small team, a builder, two bricklayers and two ladies who carry the water, and the carpenter at appropriate times. And Levison himself when he could.
Brickmaking and harvesting have taken up so much of Levison’s time but nevertheless he has managed several outreaches, the last one being a week ago when he cycled 11 km, almost to the Zambian border, to see a lady and some orphans in need. He took them salt, soap and sugar and will go back in the next couple of weeks.
On 4 July he and Julius went to five homes to give words of comfort and give items to the folk in need and you can see the delight in the touching responses from some of the recipients in the video here or on our Youtube Channel.
The harvest has been wonderful. The soybeans and the maize have been harvested and the groundnuts will be ready in the next few days.
Between build work and harvesting there has not been a lot of time for photo-taking, but here are is one of the start of the maize harvest and one of the end result.
There are 61 50kg bags treated and packed and still more being winnowed and bagged at the time of writing this update. And four 50 kg bags of soybeans which, again, for the size of the existing growing area, is excellent.
While Levison was at the site, he and one or two of the building team who were not needed while the carpenter was working, set to and levelled the ground for the netball pitch, the first of the Foundation’s sports facilities.
The all-night kiln firing of 30,000 of the bricks made took place and the kiln is now cooling down. It ended up having 21 burner ports (so 21 people manning it).
The second kiln, of the remaining 20,000 bricks, is now being built up. This will have more or less the same number of ports but will not be quite as high.
Thanks to the generosity of so many people who have donated, not only were the latrines and the kitchen foundations dug, but brickmaking was able to begin, to make the bricks for the latrine blocks, kitchen and craft shed.
The brickmakers, three ladies and three men, took their time to find the right site, with the best clay, and set to work, assisted by the Ibuluma villagers. Their target was 2,500 bricks per day and they exceeded this every day. There are now over 51,000 bricks made, as you can see in the photos below and in a short video.
Purpose-grown eucalyptus wood (blue gum) is being cut to make two huge kilns and all-night firing of the bricks will take place, probably at the end of June.
We had a Father’s Day fundraising campaign, as part of Mary’s wider JustGiving appeal, where folk could buy bricks for their Dads, as gifts or as a memorial, and names will be put on to a plaque to be hung in the Resource Centre. This has been hugely successful giving the Foundation more money to enable the brickmaking to continue. Mary’s appeal.
When the kiln is completed, and it’s expected to be about 3 metres high, a layer of clay will be prepared to cover the bricks, to act like a skin, and keep the heat in. Wood will be placed into the holes and lit. Grass on top of the kiln will act as a signal. When it catches fire the bricks will be baked. There are 19 holes, and so 19 people will be manning the kiln during the all-night firing.
Schools and villagers in West Stirlingshire, Scotland have been so supportive to the Foundation and we would like to thank everyone for their kindness.
There are, we estimate, about 30 boxes which will be taken to the Bananabox Trust warehouse in Dundee to await the next container to Malawi.
We have great quality school uniform from several schools in the area, and when people realised what the orphans needed, they put in those extra items too. So many people; so much kindness, and we thank you all.
Another appeal is just about to be launched by Sarah and Mary – for gloves and hats for the children who have to walk miles to school and whose hands are frozen by the time they get there, such that they are unable to write for a couple of hours. Included in the appeal will be packets of sweets as the ladies are thinking ahead to the Christmas Party at the Resource Centre. These items will go out by air.
But more of that in the next news update.
For several weeks, since the gift of Lego from the local children to the children of Ibuluma, Sarah has been going to the Balfron Nursery in West Stirlingshire to speak with the children about the differences between Scotland and Malawi. She has taken photos of a typical house that a rural Malawian family might live in. She’s told them about the difficulties of obtaining water, and disease as a consequence. Many aspects of everyday life have been discussed and the children have been full of questions.
They have been fascinated to learn so much and they’ve had educational fun, with their teachers, making African houses. They’ve done painting in African colours and made necklaces, too. They are currently writing letters to the orphans.
All the artistic work was put on display at a big annual agricultural show and to their delight – and ours – they won 1st place.
Another local Stirlingshire school, Strathblane Primary, has also been helping the Foundation.
Sarah and Mary were at the Fayre held at the school, and sold bricks for Fathers Day. In addition, several kind people donated outgrown items of uniform for the orphans.
Many of the children were very interested in what the Foundation was doing and who their clothes would be going to.
Strathblane Primary has kindly let us have a box in the school on the last week of term, for people to donate other items of clothing, and they have also put a piece on their school website: http://www.strathblaneps.com
Levison was told of a family in a very remote area who have a little boy with mobility problems. He went with a guide, Julius Msafili, through the difficult terrain, carrying 20 kg of maize, soap and two Bibles.
The Foundation has just celebrated its first anniversary – photos of the celebrations can be seen in our gallery.
In this infant year, great strides have been made, beyond our dreams, thanks to the generosity of so many people who have taken Malawians to their hearts. Many parcels have been flown out by air; many more are due to arrive on a container in May and over forty boxes are waiting to go out on the next one. Folk are holding events; some are working donations into their businesses; others are writing to raise funds; companies have been generous in their gifting, too. We are welcoming more and more people to the Foundation as word spreads.
Levison and his helpers are working tirelessly to keep pace. The Gallery is regularly updated so please have a look at it, and the links on that page, to see the happiness which is being brought.
The Centre will be built in four stages:
Levison, his helpers, and the latrine builders, have been out preparing the ground for the latrine blocks, which was no mean feat; the Luzanguliro bushes were thick and well rooted, and there were numerous tree stumps to be removed. No mini diggers or stump removal machines here; it’s all pick, shovel, toil and sweat.
But they did it, and work is under way to dig out the latrines themselves to an 18 foot depth. It has been decided, rather than have four separate blocks, to have two two-compartment blocks, one for males and one for females, to save work and money.
We will put up more photos of the build as it progresses.
The crops are growing very well indeed and the soybeans are almost ready for harvest. Local people, some of whom will be helping to get the crops in, are very enthusiastic about the fact that the Foundation is growing food for the people in need, and the fact that it will provide a little employment for as many as donations given to the Foundation will allow.
One villager has been so impressed by the Foundation’s work in such a short space of time that he has gifted a parcel of land, too. This is nearer to the Chambo River and will be an ideal place to extend the growing; a great variety of seeds and bulbs has been sent for this part of the farming project.