Hello to all of our extended CA family!
I wanted to share with you all my trip to Rainbow Ridge. I wanted to share this with you because I believe Communities Assist has now turned a corner – and with the building of our SPEC in Tanzania this year and funding for our sustainability program over the next 3 years - together with the new branding our marketing sub-committee has been working on – the future is only rosy for CA and the communities it seeks to assist.
The Site – Permaculture/SPEC
When I first arrived at Rainbow Ridge on the morning of 18th of August the first thing I noticed was that the plant growth had really blossomed since I had last visited in January and there was now mulch in every garden with new plants placed in specifically requested areas. The site was spotless with bins located all around the site for rubbish disposal. I was so impressed; first impressions are everything!
It was so incredible to see small but important improvements such as in areas where plants were previously not growing (i.e. along pathways) the team had planted lemon grass, rosemary etc. – Plants in various places which are consistent with the principles of permaculture provided some particular purpose and input for some other element on the site. Trees along the swales were really booming – particularly the fruit trees which means that fertility must be great.
The Moringa trees are getting so large and you can now see bean like seeds hanging, this is amazing as these trees are known to be a super food and have a variety of different ways in which you can use their produce. They can be ground into a powder and used on site for medicinal properties and also for soap. Moringa seed pods can be eaten like green beans when still green and the leaves are also great for greens in food (you can see them hanging from the branches below!).
It was so inspiring and rewarding to see that Gretha and team doing are doing such a great job with the development and maintenance of permaculture practice on-site. The focus now needs to be on food production to achieve one of our primary aims; to make Rainbow Ridge sustainable from a food point of view (not including staff wages).
The NGO/CATZ/The Board
Prior to arriving at Rainbow Ridge, our social welfare officer, Duncan, had warned me of our status and new government requirements for NGO’s with the new president – so I was ready for a busy week. I drafted CATZ’s new constitution and arranged a meeting to appoint new local board members. I felt it was time for the locals to take ownership and control with 8 potential local directors – Mari Pizzinga and I being the 2 foreign directors. The meeting was incredibly positive and dealt with many issues including the NGO’s purpose, vision, mission and objectives as outlined in the Constitution, local community perceptions and local community. Board members were appointed and constitution executed with application for new NGO registration currently undergoing assessment. Success!
The staff of Rainbow Ridge and CA Kids is now fully local! All our managers speak English and they are all performing excellently and have the staff all operating effectively and happily. They all advised they have everything under control and it was evidenced during my visit. I had a meeting with all the workers on the last day and the cohesion, cooperation, humility and happiness was so impressive.
It has taken us a long time to get a harmonious team working at CA Kids, Rainbow Ridge and it is now an environment which is taking off.
I believe that our message and our objectives are becoming even clearer – they are truly crystallising and everything is falling into place.
In short, it is my view as discussed at length with one of our new local directors - experienced NGO executive Wilfred Mlay (previously World Vision executive for 20 years in Kenya) that we have the ability - as evidenced by what we have already done – to work with local communities to create sustainable living environments around us. The food that our kids are eating, the air they are breathing and the life they are living in my view is healthier than the lives we live in the west. It is my view that we need only uplift the local community from below the margins so they can feed themselves all year round nutritiously and school their children – without over working – which can deprive them of time with friends and family – and we can show that they are living healthier and happier than us.
I like – many of us (not all) – have walked to the post-industrial/corporate tune – like an ant among many other ants – working in jobs we don’t like to acquire things we don’t need with insufficient time to enjoy the simple things in life. Let’s ask ourselves the general question across the board. Has time with family and friends increased or decreased since we were kids – since our parents’ time? Do kids today have more stuff than we did? Do they need it? Does it assist them? Do they appreciate it? You need not answer. It is obvious. Let’s show these people around Rainbow Ridge that there is a better road than that which the we have taken. They need not aspire to have a life like us. Sustainability and simple objectives (education, good food, home and time with family and friends) – that is the answer to health and happiness – and we can give them that.
You need only see what we have created so far to see what can be done. Each trip I take increases my belief that we are really onto something here and we will succeed.
Thank you all for your continued efforts!