Communicating with Zeze has been difficult - the mobile phone signal is generally poor, particularly in the rainy season and so Benedicto would have to go 40 km into Kasulu to send emails and Skype. But in May 2016 Avanti, set up a pilot Community Hotspot in Zeze providing satellite broadband in the village, courtesy of a grant from the UK Space Agency.
This has meant that MVG are now able to communicate with the outside world. They are monitoring climate change and water levels in a research project with Kings College, London, and can now email data without having to travel. They have also been able to download resources to teach the illiterate women starting to learn to read in the community library, as well as e-books for the children.
Unemployment is high in Zeze - there are very few opportunities other than the subsistence farming that is insufficient to provide an adequate income. But when the schools need new desks they currently get carpenters in from Kasulu, as there are none with adequate tools or skills in Zeze. So MVG is setting up a welding and carpentry workshop to train local youth and provide these services locally. Getting equipment to a village 60km from a tarmac road and 40km from mains electricity is a slow process, particularly in the rainy season when everything turns to mud, but the workshop is built, the instructors in place and the youth identified, and excited to start learning in the New Year.
One of the issues with farming here is that soils are
depleted and farmers cannot afford good seeds or organic fertilisers. So MVG have set up a farmer training and loan scheme to help them. The first 31 farmers planted their hybrid maize last week after great rejoicing that the rains had finally arrived, 2 months late. Another issue is access to water. So far MVG have hand drilled 5 bore holes, including at the clinic, which did not have water. This is a slow, hard, process, taking up to 6 days of hard physical labour for 7 men. But it saves hours of walking to collect water for the villagers, and means they don't rely on the filthy ponds some of them resorted to previously.
They've got big plans to improve their community here, and money goes a very long way, so if you are able to donate it is very much appreciated and you can do so here. Asante!