Tuesday, October 11, 2011
Please excuse the fact that this blog has not seen any new action lately! However, I am on the move to keep everyone posted on new developments. I have been in the US for almost 5 months now, speaking at churches all over the US, updating them on CEFA's progress, and thanking them for their partnership with all of our ministries in the Central African Republic. The above pictures show me at my recent visit to the farmers and Covenant churches in the Willmar, MN area that have supported CEFA for many years, going back to the old agroforestry program. Those supporters are connected to the Foods Resource Bank, a wonderful organization that connects farmers in the US with farming programs overseas. CEFA has been blessed by FRB and its help over the years. In the photos, I am speaking at a Threshing Show and running a combine on the Gunderson Farm - harvesting soybeans, one of the contributing crops that supports CEFA! I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone connected to FRB - for making all that CEFA has accomplished thus far, possible. I also wanted to mention that Benoit, CEFA's director, is doing an amazing job handling all the responsibilities for running CEFA. I wish he could have been with me in Minnesota! I have asked him to send me new photos of the work, so there should be further - more frequent :-) - updates.
Monday, May 16, 2011
Here is an aerial view of the new CEFA center that has been developed over the last 16 months. 80 acres (32 ha) have been planted in trees and field crops such as beans, corn, peanuts, and manioc. The buildings visible are the garage, the generator room, and the watchman's house. Other buildings partially up, walls but no roof yet, are the two Covenant homes and the main office/storeroom building. The well and the water tower were recently connected with pipes, so solar power now fills the water tower when needed, making water available for the work and gardens at any time. These photos were taken as Roy was departing from Gamboula by plane, on his way to the US to begin his year-long furlough of speaking to supporting churches and visiting with family. He has left the program in good hands with Benoit Zangao and Bertrand Ngama at the helm.
Thursday, March 17, 2011
CEFA has just received the long-awaited title papers for the 1000 acres of land where the CEFA center is situated! Bertrand Ngama, CEFA's assistant director and Baba Zokoe, CEFA's president of the Board of Administration, have been working hard in the capital city, Bangui, for many months now trying to get those papers. The above photo was the reactions of Letha and John Kerl, Covenant church's regional coordinators for Africa with myself and my wife, Aleta, who just heard that the papers were done, signed, and in hand! A hearty thanks to all of you who have been praying that this last of the three important government documents be finished at last. Previously, the NGO status papers and the CAR government accord papers were completed. Coming up next month will be a CEFA Board meeting and the following day, a dedication/celebration will be put on, inviting many important people from the government and others involved in CEFA's establishment.
Thursday, February 17, 2011
At the CEFA Center, the water tower was finally put to rest into its useable position. It was not easy to get the heavy tower raised up from the bed of the truck then settled into its final verticle position. Now, the solar powered pump needs to be installed and the distribution pipes put into place before any water can be used. We had one good rain over a week ago, but we are still in need of watering the important trees so that they do not dry up. This is also very timely as we are getting ready to begin construction on the general CEFA ag building that will be 14 meters by 10 meters. We will be making 3,500 cement block brick at first and that will consume a lot of water.
Kim Cone, Roy, and Benoit headed up to a Fulani refugee village north of Gamboula and found out that there were 3,600 of them in that area that need help in planting field crops, fruit trees, and vegetables. We also visited one of the five villages that CEFA is connecting with this year, Godawa, and met with the local officials and people to begin the process of estasblishing three development cooperatives in their village. With the other four villages, contacts have already been made and the questionaires distributed. Today, Benoit and Dieu-Beni have ridden up to Godawa to begin the teaching seminars on a well-functioning cooperative. This is not an easy task as the people in the area need to develop a sense of ownership and responsibility for determining their own level or standard of living. This must all happen before CEFA begins their projects with manioc, corn, beans, and peanuts.
CEFA has hired a new agricultural specialist to help with supervising the activities that Roy will be vacating when he leaves for the US in May. His name is Dieu-Beni which means "God-blessed" in French - and so far, we have been blessed by having him join the CEFA staff. Already he has gone out to the various villages to begin connecting with the leaders of the community that want to learn about becoming a development cooperative. He has also been supervising the gardening work out at the center, especially the preparation for planting the 15 ha of peanut, corn, and beans. Pray for him as he settles in to his new community and works hard at getting the new year's activities underway.
Sunday, January 23, 2011
A training center certainly needs a training facility, so CEFA has almost finished its first teaching nook located on top of a small hill overlooking the 100 top tropical fruit garden. This learning shelter will be the starting point for discussions of ideas centered around topics in ag development. After the orientation session into that topic is finished, then follows either a tour of the experiments, such as what would happen on a scheduled field day open to the community or the participants would move on to a particular field and learn further by seeing and by doing. Once the participants have grasped a new concept in farming or have learned about new species of plant or animal, they will take this knowledge and practice it back in their own villages.
Thursday, January 20, 2011
We have had 55 days of no rain - and with 5,000 trees to water, that can be a difficult task! However, most of the trees are not in need of water yet, witness to this single oil palm tree (upper picture), thanks to all the composting we did around the tree before the dry season began. Many people are preparing their fields for the coming planting season by cutting the grass, drying it, and then burning it. However, we at CEFA have not burned any gardens for a year now, and it is proving successful in maintaining the fruit trees even through a hard dry season. Some trees are more sensitive than others, so they are being watered by hand, depicted in the second photo. Pray for rain!