Butoke Update, April 2006
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
It is now 4 April, and unfortunately we did not get the time to write an update in March. The secondary season has just been concluded for planting and sowing.
Last weekend, we had the visit of Africa Inland Mission AIM our new Canadian partners. They sent a team of three Dr John Brown, Rev Sam Thomas and Mr. Brian Relph. They came with a missionary plane and spent 2 1/2 days with us. The missionary pilot Sam Norman (Swedish) took part enthusiastically in all the visits.
This season, we were lucky to find 1100kg of niebe H36, which permitted to cover the seed farms at once with selected seeds and reach hopefully top quality in one cycle. We did as planned 24 ha of bean seed farms This will fill an important gap for good quality seeds which cannot readily be purchased on the market and will permit us between 70 and a 100 ha niebe H36 during the main season. This season, the associations did about 150ha of local beans and a special effort was made to include women in leadership and people over 55 in the teams. So this season announces itself well for the beans we hope to start harvesting mid May to beginning June.
Although cassava is a staple food in the region, improved varieties are hardly found as in the savannah area as they are fertilizer dependent. The fertilizer at its turn is not only expensive but unavailable on the market in the province of Western Kasai. Furthermore, throughout Congo, including Kasai, cassava is under heavy attack of mosaic virus.
Butoke has found it hard to support cassava farming because of these handicaps but is also convinced they should be overcome to improve caloric availability. So we have started using one of the FAO promoted improved varieties, which so far is not visibly infected. Finding the uninfected variety took us up to 12 March after many false starts. We planned for 2ha but have been able to do slightly more in 4 locations, in the forested areas and along the rivers where clay is available. This variety without fertiliser takes 9 months to mature. So it can be multiplied as of January 2007. There is already strong demand on us for cuttings. We are hopeful that this will permit to extend to 50 ha or more. But the problem we will face is that the appropriate soil is in areas infested with sleeping sickness. So we need to develop at the same time the prevention of this terrible sickness, by purchasing traps for the fly that does the transmission. As always development has its own problems…
All of us had been both apprehensive and in joyful anticipation of the visit of AIM. It’s a bit the situation of the bride in an arranged marriage. Would AIM brothers be as nice as their letters? Would we be able to ensure the necessary logistics with the old taxis we can hire? Without mishaps or major delays? Would they be able to understand and appreciate based on such a short visit? Would they feel entirely comfortable with our ecumenical, bottom-up approach? Would the associations act normally facing four foreigners? Would people overwhelm them with demands or would they be able to state clearly how they are working for a better tomorrow? Would this visit confirm only the partnership on the Food Security and Nutrition Project? Or would it confirm a wider partnership? This could be the definitive take off of Butoke.
We can now report we had one car breakdown before leaving town, but we were able to get a backup car almost immediately, Jean Lumbala had done an excellent job of planning. Similarly he had planned and led the execution of the plan to bring safe water and food everywhere and also all plates, cups and forks and spoons. Our administrative secretary chauffeured our old motorcycle with one of our lawyers who wanted to see the work and managed to stay whole and ever on time. Cecile rode the hobbling cars while translating questions and answers. So we were relaxed throughout and let reality speak for itself.
We visited with them the nutrition center, some of the associative fields, some of the seed farms. We could see the reality was a bit overwhelming. Some barely could hold tears in the nutrition center, while observing the many withered widows and the little kids eating their hearts delight while still looking very frail. Looking at the carefully worked and spaced planting of the big fields, they seemed very impressed.
We also did two forums with participation of church leaders and associations on the responsibility of the church and the believer for the indigent. They were amazed at the passion of the discussions and the clarity of the answers that emerged.
And yes they are as nice in real life as in their letters. The partnership is confirmed and affirmed for Food Security, Nutrition with a potential of extension into the reflection and training on the role of faith and the churches in development, distributive justice and peace for all local churches of any tendency. This means a lot to BUTOKE and to Western Kasai, and we were happy to learn that for AIM it will be also be a new venture to go in partnership with a ecumenical NGO. The combination of Food security, Nutrition and strengthening of the churches understanding of their social role, could help revitalize the communities. Both partners are prayerfully hopeful. Please join us in giving grace and asking God’s guidance.
Jean Lumbala, Lazare Tshibuabua, and Cécile De Sweemer
A small reminder on contribution channels. Be careful, the Belgian account has changed.
1/ For the USA through
1105 Providence Rd
Towson Md 21286
Cover letter BUTOKE and your designation of funds
2/ Internationally through
M and A Rawji
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ING Ltd Belgium
IBAN BE 57 3101 0347 4535
BIC - BBRUBEBB
Indicate for Dr Jean Lumbala Butoke
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WU for amounts over USD 1000
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Dr Jean Lumbala Muamba Pres Butoke
Western Union ( Over the counter )
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