Welcome back everyone. We are excited to update you all on what has been going on in Goi Goi this winter. If you’re a farmer in Mozambique, winter is the most important time of the year for making preparations. Normally there are cover crops like beans or sunflower to tend, as well as fields to prepare for the following season. July is the last month in which you can start to make compost if you’re planning to use it for the following crop. Up here in Goi Goi we have been doing just that. With all the left over material from cleaning and clearing up the new community garden, we were able to make a compost mound that will feed not only the new community garden, but the training garden as well. This is material that is commonly burned, such as grass, weeds, and small branches. Last year when we were visiting the farm, the air was so full of smoke from all the fires burning near the church that it was hard to see and breath. By not burning, two very important things happen. First, by cutting and clearing the plants grow back less dense making it easier to clear the same garden with each passing season. Secondly, it provides the farmer with the ingredients they need to make compost, helping them to have larger yields while saving them money on fertilizer. Nobody in our first class had ever made compost before and they were skeptical and had many questions. “Will this big pile attract flies?”, “will snakes and rats be living in this pile?”, “ won’t this start to stink if I put rotted food and animal poop in it?”. We assured them it wouldn’t stink, or attract any unwanted animals. They were also wondering how this whole mess was supposed to cook itself into something we were calling black gold. The pile was made on a Sunday afternoon and by Thursday it was ready for its first turn. An iron rod was placed into the pile to test for the correct temp, and when the rod was removed a wisp of steam followed and the ladies close to the rod started to whisper. I invited them to touch the rod and feel how warm it was getting as the pile cooked. They were shy at first (either they suspected it was too hot, or they knew that it had come into contact with cow poop) but eventually one or two gave it a poke and eventually the whole group was holding onto the rod testing its heat. As we all helped in turning the pile the group was astonished how different the material already looked. For one, it was all turning white as fungus was working it way through the warmest areas. Palm fronds that had dried stiff in the sun were now sagging limp on the pitchfork tines. And the smell, it was not offensive but instead gave off a slightly sweet odor.
The pile was turned every week while the community garden got its finishing touches. A new fence is being made to help keep the local cows from helping themselves and 6 new trees were planted in hopes that they will provide shade and nourishment for the mission in the future. (1 baobab tree, 3 Moreinga trees, 2 Mango trees)
Sadly, there has been an increase in violence in this area stemming from the armed conflict between two political powers in Mozambique. Many people have had to leave this area, schools and clinics are closed, and shops have been burnt down. A refugee camp has been opened in Espungabera, a city close to Goi Goi near the Zimbabwe boarder. More than 1500 people have already escaped to the camp and the two other camps of slightly smaller size open in the same province. Many people, including our church leaders in Goi Goi sleep in the forest and fields at night as it is deemed safer than sleeping in ones home. During this time we are staying nearer to Beira, and are starting to work with local churches while we wait to see if things get better. We ask that you continue to pray that people and the country of Mozambique will find peace and be able to recover from all the tragedy around them.
Kim and Erik