April Project Roundup
April 25, 2016
Survivor skills classes are underway! Between the two schools, 29 girls are meeting every Friday to learn something new about how to thrive as an adult in the real world. The curriculum kicked off with classes on getting to know one another, as well as gaining knowledge and practical habits regarding physical health and interacting with the world around them. The girls made their first trip ever to a restaurant where they applied their knowledge of etiquette and social manners, and also learned how to order from a menu and pay the bill. It was a very positive experience and one student even said it was one of the happiest days of her life. We look forward to another leadership visit to Panama on April 19th to begin connecting with leaders in the local corporate market who may have opportunities to employ the students as they finish the program. We also plan to meet with Carolina and the students to get an overview of how the curriculum is being received.
Five farmers are allowing us to demonstrate sustainable conservation agriculture techniques on their land. This is a key indicator that we are establishing trust in the area, and we are delighted that these farmers are willing to try something new to improve the prosperity of their farming ventures.
The number of active VSLA groups is now at 12, representing 244 people actively saving money, loaning money to one another, and building community trust.
Our team in Ghana is cultivating great respect from the community, and their accurate reporting and entrepreneurial assessment promises great economic return in this area. Joshua Fiagbedzi will be leaving our team this summer, which is disappointing for us but exciting for him, as he and his wife, Emily, will be moving to the U.S. to continue their education. We pray for the challenges ahead of them, and we have no doubt that God will bring us together again one day!
Bauya, Sierra Leone
VSLA groups continue to form under Joe’s guidance, and many have issued their first loans. Joe and Sullay are using techniques different from those we are using in Ghana, and they are very effective! So effective, in fact, that we asked them to share what they have learned with Shanty in Lunsar, as he embarks on facilitating VSLAs there. Joe and Sullay are gaining significant traction from the community, and there are many groups who have asked for their help in forming a VSLA. They are starting to keep records on their phones using Google Docs, which presents fantastic real-time project tracking opportunities. They also are having great success training farmers on sustainable conservation agriculture methods and have purchased seeds and chicken manure to use in additional training sessions.
We have delivered 540 palm seedlings to Abu Bangura, Dauda Koroma and Musa Macauley. These past Just Hope employees have prepped three acres each and are awaiting the rains to plant the 180 palm seedlings they each received from Just Hope.
Two of the goats we purchased to jumpstart goat husbandry operations became diseased and died. We pray that we don’t lose any more before this outbreak has run its course.
Lunsar, Sierra Leone
Our leadership team had a terrifically successful visit to Lunsar, where Foday assembled 36 community leaders for a sustainable conservation agriculture demonstration with David. Jenneh, Joe and Sullay from Bauya came up for the training, which was a joy for us. They were able to see in person the techniques they had learned only through email with David, so it was a delight to see their remaining questions answered.
The people who attended the demonstration were deeply inspired by the experience and the possibilities for improved agricultural output. There was a great deal of excitement about trying the techniques on their own land. Despite many of them having to let go of deeply held beliefs about their current practices – such as the notion that smoke from a nearby field produces rain – they are open to new ideas. We are humbled by their trust in us, and we are honored to walk with them in this journey.
Additional demonstrations in the area attracted 32 in the village of Kerefe and 58 in the village of Lungi Lol! Since our visit, we are encouraged to hear that 30+ farmers have started new plots using this new knowledge, and that our two demonstration plots all successfully germinated and look healthy!
May God bless our efforts and those of all these remarkable people, who are willing to open their minds and take a chance!
The dwarf banana plants have sprouted in the first half of the banana farm! The second half of the farm has now entered the planting stage. Planting the farm in two different shifts will allow for two rounds of harvesting at different times, which is good for cash flow and labor management.
We encountered a quality problem with many of the shoes in the retailing project. The wholesaler we are working with sent a team to inspect the shoes and have promised to make it right.
The boys living at the survival skills home are doing well and have a big MMA tournament scheduled May 4 in Honduras.