Butoke update, Sept. 21, 2008
Sept. 21, 2008
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I am writing from my hospital bed in IMCK. I developed on Sept. 19th acute abdominal pain and was taken here on the suspicion that it might be appendicitis. So far we do not have a firm diagnosis of what went on, but we detected malaria, which we treated. The pain has receded and is now strictly localized and I am back able to walk and talk and even write.
September is almost gone. We had several storms. One was in fact a tornado, and lifted many roofs. The Butoke center in Tshikaji suffered minor damage to the roofing, which we repaired the next day.
Most people are ill with malaria, some with typhoid; and deaths in the villages and towns are frequent. So we receive daily emergencies involving children and the elderly.
The food crisis continues, and so our Center continues to receive on the average 10 new cases of malnutrition a week. We received also some donations of about $ 3500 and so we bravely continue to buy food and pray we do not run out of the essentials until the end of the year.
Food security is on everyone’s mind these days. So ground surfaces worked for agriculture are increasing everywhere. The tragedy is that seeds are rare and expensive.
The three main activities outside of the Butoke center and outside of the geographic range of Tshikaji this month have been the following:
· Agriculture for Food Security in six territories;
· Water and Sanitation and census work in Luiza; and
· Also in Luiza, distribution of non-food items to people driven out of Angola (Non-Food items are such things as blankets, cups, plates, spoons, second hand clothing, plastic sheets for covering or flooring, a knife, etc.)
This latter latter activity is new for us, but logically follows our interest in these unfortunate people.
Food Security is supported by the Canadian Agency for International Development. Water and Sanitation and the support to people driven from Angola are funded by UNICEF.
We have 28 agronomists working with us, each supervising 25 to 30 associations. The final count of hectares under production this season is not yet in, but many associations have chosen to work 2-4 hectares, so we may well exceed 1000 ha.
Journalists have seized upon these activities and so many people comment about them with admiration and wonder. Some, instead, spread vicious rumors.
The distribution of Non Food items has been a very intensive demanding activity. First, the census needed to be taken for a population spread out over the whole territory. We did it with the help of radio appeals and a screening done by knowledgeable people, themselves driven from Angola. Then the items needed to be delivered in an orderly manner, preventing riots, which have been common events in the past.
About a thousand households have been served so far without incidents or thefts. People are amazed, as at previous occasions riots and fights broke out. We feel it was our own transparent attempts at fairness and equity that set the tone. Who knows? In any case, we are grateful that everyone seemed happy. We have still 6000 households to be served and delays are likely, as the goods are being sent to us from all around Congo.
Cecile, Jean and Lazare
The good news is I have fully recovered. The bad news is Dr Jean has fallen ill the same way as I was. We continue our activities as before against the constant backdrop of food crises and for the past two days, also political crises: strikes galore of official services as well as the resignation of the prime minister. Please pray that out of the chaos comes a cultural and political renewal. Congo needs it badly.
Contributions to Butoke in Canada can be sent through Real Lavergne, Canadian International Development Agency, 200 Promenade du Portage, Gatineau, Quebec, Canada, K1A 0G4. Contributions in USA can be made payable to H. Branch Warfield, 13801 York Rd., V-3, Cockeysville, MD, 21030 marked “for Butoke” or to Maryland Presbyterian Church, 1105 Providence Rd., Baltimore, MD, 21286, USA, also marked “for Butoke.” Contributions to Maryland PC for Butoke may be tax deductible in the USA. Contributions in the UK can be sent through Paul Evans, 5 Westville Ave., Ilkley, LS29 9AH, United Kingdom.