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2016!

 

La Chica welcomed in 2016 in Gippsland, rural Australia.  She witnessed stunning Aussie beaches, and got to hold a giant koala.  After spending nearly the entire 2015 in Tanzania, La Chica is thrilled to have time back in her home country.  As always La Chica has set new year resolutions so she can be perfect!  No one has the heart to tell her that it will take more than some resolutions, but that’s ok.  One of her resolutions is to improve her Swahili, the official language of her adopted country Tanzania.  After struggling for over 11 years talking to her bestie (Namnyak) in a mixture of English, Swahili and Masai, she’s finally decided it is time to sound older than two years old when speaking their native languages.  Thanks to Pimsleur she can be heard repeating the same Swahili phrases again and again.  One can only hope that when she returns to Tanzania next month she’ll be required to ask a man if he is from Kenya, and tell him that she wants to eat  (she’ll have to go thirsty, because she can’t get the word for ‘drink’ into her head!).

Another of La Chica’s resolutions is to blog once a week – so be ready for more regular updates again of La Chica’s adventures in Oz and in Masai land in print or on radio.  La Chica has one radio interview under her belt already this new year, and will no doubt speak again soon (can’t shut La Chica up!).  You can listen to her radio interview here http://testigoafrica.org/media

2015 was a great year for Testigo, with another two villages trained in permaculture.  Over 100 women and men in each village were trained over an eight month period to grow vegetables for the first time.  The villages, Olchurai and Loiborsoit ‘A’ excelled in their enthusiasm and hard work, and La Chica is very pleased that when she returns to Tanzania she’ll be starting the seventh village for Testigo Africa’s permaculture project.

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Last month La Chica graduated with a Masters degree – a Master of Commerce in Social Investment and Philanthropy – so now she’s allowed to run Testigo Africa, the charity she founded (and has been running) for about seven years now!  Ok, so not having the degree didn’t stop La Chica, but now she’s excited by all additional knowledge she can bring to her work with the Masai.  Yay!

 

 

 

What do cows, rain, reindeers and snow have in common?

La Chica has been intrigued recently by the array of words available in the Masai language to describe different attributes and behaviours of cows. Here are some examples:

Ngarip – means the cow who runs to be united with her calf when she returns from her day of grazing

Nengalejani – means the cow who withdraws her milk from her Masai owners who are trying to milk her, saving it for her calf

Nladutio engine – means the cow with small teats the size of a goat’s

Ngaipilay – means the cow who walks around in circles while being milked

And how are cows similar to rain, reindeers and snow? Well, in recent conversation with some British chappies, La Chica was told how the British have many words to describe rain – pouring, bucketing down, drizzle, deluge, downpour, mist, spitting, light, raining cats and dogs, pelting down and no doubt many more.

And snow? Well, according to authoritative sources (google) Anthropologist Franz Boas ignited the claim that Eskimos have dozens, or even hundreds, of words for snow. Additionally, the Sami people, who live in the northern tips of Scandinavia and Russia, use at least 180 words related to snow and ice, according to Ole Henrik Magga, a linguist in Norway. The Sami also have as many as 1,000 words for reindeer. These refer to such things as the reindeer’s fitness (“leami” means a short, fat female reindeer), personality (“njirru” is an unmanageable female) and the shape of its antlers (“snarri” is a reindeer whose antlers are short and branched). There is even a Sami word to describe a bull with a single, very large testicle: “busat.”

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The moral of the story?  La Chica has too much time on her hands!

La Chica is back! Orpul fever!

La Chica is back blogging!  For all her latest exploits in deepest darkest Africa (read: Masai land) keep an eye out for her future blogs too.  La Chica was so excited to be invited to her first ever Orpul, she just had to blog about it.  An Orpul is a Masai meat fest!  It’s usually men only, so La Chica assumes that these Masai men haven’t yet realised she’s a woman, so she was very lucky to be invited to participate in the Orpul.  It typically last for three to four weeks, and is an opportunity for a small group of Masai men to go on a men’s retreat to eat beef and drink Masai medicine.  They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so La Chica has written many thousands of words merely by posting some photos of her Orpul experience.  Says it all!

Road block on the way to the Orpul

Road block on the way to the Orpul

Testigo volunteer Jessie enjoying an informal Orpul chat

Testigo volunteer Jessie enjoying an informal Orpul chat

Cooking beef

Cooking beef

Fresh beef hanging, waiting for its time to be cooked and eaten

Fresh beef hanging, waiting for its time to be cooked and eaten

Hang your knife on the tree as you enter - one of the rules of the Orpul

Hang your knife on the tree as you enter – one of the rules of the Orpul

Traditional medicine - roots and branches, drying ready for adding to meat broth

Traditional medicine – roots and branches, drying ready for adding to meat broth

The kids get to eat the meat, drink the broth and  help prepare the ongoing feast

The kids get to eat the meat, drink the broth and help prepare the ongoing feast

Using the cow skin as a water proof chopping board, plate, etc

Using the cow skin as a water proof chopping board, plate, etc

A notch is made each day of the Orpul

A notch is made each day of the Orpul

Adding fragrant leaves to the collected cow blood

Adding fragrant leaves to the collected cow blood

Basket of used Masai medicine

Basket of used Masai medicine

Adding fresh cow's blood to the cooked meat

Adding fresh cow’s blood to the cooked meat

Eating the intestines!

Eating the intestines!

La Chica drinking Masai medicine soup - containing roots, branches, beef broth and cow's blood...yum...

La Chica drinking Masai medicine soup – containing roots, branches, beef broth and cow’s blood…yum…

Pounding the cow fat

Pounding the cow fat

Balls of cow fat ready to be added to the Masai medicine soup

Balls of cow fat ready to be added to the Masai medicine soup

Lengai, the host, making balls of fat

Lengai, the host, making balls of fat

Pull the tail off the ...cow

Pull the tail off the …cow

The cow's tail becomes a handle cover for a knife

The cow’s tail becomes a handle cover for a knife

The cow's jaw is the only non-edible non usable part in an Orpul

The cow’s jaw is the only non-edible non usable part in an Orpul

Preparing the ribs for the Masai style BBQ

Preparing the ribs for the Masai style BBQ

One of the Orpul participants

One of the Orpul participants

Another Orpul participant

Another Orpul participant

The kids learn about the Orpul and eat an abundance of beef

The kids learn about the Orpul and eat an abundance of beef

Masai style BBQ

Masai style BBQ

Dancing Queen

Dancing to Beyonce

Dancing to Beyonce

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La Chica was home alone, a little bored, so she decided to play some dance music. She was dancing alone, outside the house, looking at herself in the mirrored windows.  She popped out the gate to look to see if El Chico was coming home, and saw two kids from the neighbourhood. She invited them in to dance with her, and they lined up watching themselves in the windows. Then a few more kids came…until there were 16 kids dancing, all copying her less than professional dance moves.  They danced until dark! Gotta love Arusha!

Mundarara permaculture project up and running

La Chica is very excited that Testigo’s permaculture training has been extended to the Masai village of Mundarara, in Longido District.  About 45 minutes drive from Longido village and La Chica’s mud hut homes, Mundarara is an rich in minerals, especially rubies, providing an alternative livelihood for the more adventurous Masai men.  Philipo, one of our participants in our last permaculture project in Kimokouwa, is leading the training of 98 women and 2 men. Emanuel Saakai, Testigo’s Tanzania Country Manager (and El Chico) gave a slide show demonstration on his computer to the trainees, and was delighted to be shown the land put aside for the demonstration and training plot.

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Mundarara's choice for our new permaculture demonstration plot

Mundarara’s choice for our new permaculture demonstration plot

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Nemama, one of our participants in our Longido permaculture project, presents to the Mundarara group

Nemama, one of our participants in our Longido permaculture project, presents to the Mundarara group

Kimokouwa put on a warm welcome for Testigo guests

La Chica brought her Aussie visitor Sem, Africa Country Manager at AFAP, to the village of Kimokouwa to meet the permaculture project participants where Testigo is running a permaculture project.  Arriving in Old Red, they were greeted by the women and children of the village singing songs of welcome.  Sem was very impressed with the permaculture gardens and the abundance of fresh vegetables available to the women and their families.

La Chica with the wonderful girls of Kimokouwa.

La Chica with the wonderful girls of Kimokouwa.

Sem with La Chica and El Chico, visiting a boma in Kimokouwa.

Sem with La Chica and El Chico, visiting a boma in Kimokouwa.

Pesi with her keyhole garden.

Pesi with her keyhole garden.

El Chico, Ndoye and one of our Kimokouwa beneficiaries with her lush kale keyhole garden.

El Chico, Ndoye and one of our Kimokouwa beneficiaries with her lush kale keyhole garden.

A young Kimokouwa girl dressed to sing to us.

A young Kimokouwa girl dressed to sing to us.

Our welcoming committee!

Our welcoming committee!

La Chica with the group of Kimokouwa permaculture participants.

La Chica with the group of Kimokouwa permaculture participants.

A balanced life!

For those of you lucky enough to have electricity and running water as the norm, take time to feel gratitude for that. Here in Arusha La Chica and her El Chico are on a 2 week ration program, which means electricity for a few hours usually in the wee hours of early morning, but not long enough to stop the freezer defrosting, and no water as it is dependent on a hydro-electric scheme. But only half an hour from their home in Arusha there is a national park – always a pleasure and pretty cool animals to boot!

 

Colobus monkey

Colobus monkey

Blue monkey

Blue monkey

La Chica and her friend Sue

La Chica and her friend Sue

We all know what this is...

We all know what this is…

 

Hanging around

Hanging around

 

Bulls eye!

Bulls eye!

 

080editsmallSome sweet day I'll make her mine, pretty flamingo  Then every guy will envy me  Cause paradise is where I'll be

Some sweet day I’ll make her mine, pretty flamingo
Then every guy will envy me
Cause paradise is where I’ll be

Here’s why our permaculture project was a great success….

La Chica is thrilled that the Longido permaculture project did so well, so she’s sharing her findings and has attached some photos!

The permaculture and bio-intensive agricultural technology training was provided to a total of 120 participants in Longido. A main demonstration plot was established, encompassing compost preparation based on cow dung, a keyhole garden, sack gardens, double dug beds, swales and terraces, rainwater harvesting using a hafir (plastic lined household dam), drip irrigation and planting of trees including guava, papaya, banana and avocado fruit trees, moringa and neem trees. Vegetables grown and harvested include kale, spinach, chinese cabbage and night shade, corn, beans, lemon grass, vine potatoes, sweet potatoes, and also passion and sunflowers. A chicken coop has been constructed, chickens introduced and fencing surrounds the entire plot. Three secondary demonstration plots were established in the village within existing households, each comprising a keyhole garden, sack garden and double dug beds – these were used for demonstration plots in their respective geographic areas.

Six farmer groups were set up, training an average of 18 women and two men per group. Men have not been excluded from project participation, as this would have resulted in men not allowing the project. Apart from one single man, and an older man who stood in for his wife, the other men in the project were husbands of women in the same groups, working as teams on their home plots.

Of the 120 Masai people trained, there were 108 or 90% women, and 12 or 10% men.  From the total number of trainees, 90% have planted vegetables; 85% have harvested and eaten their homegrown vegetables; 57% have sold their produce. 96 people or 80% have prepared 186 double dug beds between them; while 32 people or 27% have constructed 35 keyhole gardens and 28 people, or 23% their own sack gardens. One of the women became an assistant trainer to one of the groups, and within two months she had sold over 100,000TZS (A$70) worth of vegetables – an outstanding amount when considering that most of these women live on approximately $1 a day. She also gave vegetables away to her church group. 

La Chica and El Chico are looking forward to continuing this amazing permaculture training in two more Masai villages in the coming months!

 

La Chica with a sack garden growing kale.

La Chica with a sack garden growing kale.

 

La Chica with one of her favourite fruit vines - passion!

La Chica with one of her favourite fruit vines – passion!

 

A group harvest of night shade.

A group harvest of night shade.

 

Wife and husband team working on their household permaculture plot.

Wife and husband team working on their household permaculture plot.

 

La Chica and Sarah amongst the corn on Testigo's demonstration plot.

La Chica and Sarah amongst the corn on Testigo’s demonstration plot.

 

Healthy organic produce - Chinese cabbage.

Healthy organic produce – Chinese cabbage.

 

 

 

 

 

Aussie visitors to Testigo’s permaculture project in Longido

La Chica was delighted to welcome Sem and Nelson to Testigo’s permaculture project in Longido.  Sem is the Africa Program Manager with AFAP, Testigo’s partner in Sydney.  Nelson is with Concern International, based in Kenya, and also a partner of AFAP.  Sem had the opportunity of meeting the Testigo team, including Emanuel Saakai, Testigo’s Tanzania country manager, Sokoine Tumuti and Denis Mzava – Testigo helpers, Sommy Issangya, Testigo’s permaculture trainer, and Ndoye and Joseph, beneficiaries and now new trainers for Testigo’s permaculture project.  Sem also spent time interviewing some of the Masai women who have been participating in the permaculture project, and had a tour of Testigo’s impressive demonstration plot.  Namnyak cooked lunch for the visitors using produce from the permaculture gardens and the women sang songs they had written about Testigo and Los Chicos!

The Longido women welcoming Sem and Nelson.

The Longido women welcoming Sem and Nelson.

La Chica filming Sem interviewing some of the Longido women about Testigo's permaculture project.

La Chica filming Sem interviewing some of the Longido women about Testigo’s permaculture project.

Testigo's visitors Sem and Nelson being shown our demo plot by trainer Sommy.

Testigo’s visitors Sem and Nelson being shown our demo plot by trainer Sommy.

La Chica filming Sem talking to one of our oldest beneficiaries.

La Chica filming Sem talking to one of our oldest beneficiaries.

Sem in Longido with Nongipa, one of our permaculture women.

Sem in Longido with Nongipa, one of our permaculture women.

Sem in Longido with one of our permaculture women.

Sem in Longido with one of our permaculture women.

Here chick, chick, chick….

As part of Testigo’s permaculture project chickens were transported from Arusha to Longido and Kimokouwa for the Masai participants.  Old Red was used to transport the chickens the 77kms from Arusha to Longido.  It was an eventful trip for La Chica, with some of the chickens flapping around inside the car en route.  On the arrival at Longido and Kimokouwa the Masai helped to transport the chickens to the chicken coops.  La Chica’s demonstration plot chicken coop also housed many of the chickens.  La Chica was thrilled that one chicken was old enough to lay an egg – the only one so far!

Emanuel's brother Amani delivering the chickens ready for transporting to Longido.

Emanuel’s brother Amani delivering the chickens ready for transporting to Longido.

Preparing the chickens for packing into Old Red.

Preparing the chickens for packing into Old Red.

Packing in the chickens in Old Red.

Packing in the chickens in Old Red.

Chickens anyone?

Chickens anyone?

Unpacking Old Red.

Unpacking Old Red.

Unpacking Old Red.

Unpacking Old Red.

Emanuel with a couple of the chickens.

Emanuel with a couple of the chickens.

Emanuel Saakai, Testigo's country manager, checking on the chickens.

Emanuel Saakai, Testigo’s country manager, checking on the chickens.

Nosim familiarising herself with the new chickens.

Nosim familiarising herself with the new chickens.

La Chica holding the first egg from the demonstration plot chickens.

La Chica holding the first egg from the demonstration plot chickens.