Monday, April 25, 2011

Brief Work Update and Birthdays

Weather:  We have had three significant rain falls in the last week, which have been great.  Along with the much needed rain comes cooler temperatures, great wind, and a break from sweating. 

It's been a while since I gave you a general update on the work that is happening in our partnerships.  Allow me to give just a brief overview, and then I hope to bring more specific stories over the next couple of months.

Liberia:  LEAD has been engaged in several new projects since I last wrote about them.  They are:
Beginning work at research farm
  • Research Farm - LEAD has begun planting, building and planning for a 25 acre research farm in Nimba County, in the North of Liberia.  This farm will be a place where new crops, new opportunities, new methods, and new technologies will be researched and then moved out to farmers who are interested and willing to engage. LEAD already works with over 60 farmers and the needs in Liberia for agriculture improvement is significant.  Things like irrigation techniques (currently farming only occurs during the rainy season), composting, higher yield seeds, hoop houses, and many more ideas are being brought to this research farm.  New ideas to Liberia, like mushrooms, snail farming, high quality maize, ground hogs, and others are making their way into the plans for this farm.  It is exciting and so full of potential.  Brett Pfister, our intern, from Indiana, is working hard with the LEAD staff to get this going.
  • Capital project - After two years of having seven plus LEAD staff members in a office that is 15 x 20 feet, LEAD is finally going to build an office building and has secured the land for this project.  We are 6/10ths of the way to our fundraising goal so far!  The project will also have some space to rent, so it is an income generating project as well to help LEAD reach sustainability.
  • In a partnership with a Canadian NGO, called Hope for the Nations, LEAD has begun bringing business training and Business as a Mission to a local high school in Nimba County, training 17 students in how to run a business.  These students will be given a small loan to work for the remainder of the semester (which goes until the end of July), while getting ongoing support from LEAD staff in managing their businesses.  The youth are our future and LEAD wants to invest in them now!
Cote d'Ivoire:  With the capture of President Gbagbo, the city of Abidjan is beginning to be restored to order, although occasional violence is still being reported. We thank God for the positive movement toward peace in the country and pray that people will be able to return to their homes soon.  In the meantime, Dea Lieu, our Affiliate manager, continues to await a kidney transplant in Iowa.  It looks like some prayers have been answered and they may be able to begin moving forward soon with the surgery.  In the meantime, we continue to pray for Dea and his family, as well as all the businesses in the Danane area whose lives have been so interrupted in this past year.

Renita, Fanny, and intern Tina Oh
Ghana:   Hopeline has completed the training for their 3rd batch of business owners and commissioned 22 more business owners as Marketplace Ministers.   They are now preparing to start again with a 4th batch on May 11.  Fourteen new mentoring relationships have been created, with the help of Tina Oh, our intern from Partners Worldwide.  And the SME business owners have started their own savings and loan groups to save and loan to themselves, while Hopeline builds capacity to meet loan demands.  We continue to work on capacity building by getting ready to begin a loan software training and shoring up loan policies and procedures.

Jeremiah Yongo
Nigeria:  We are thankful that the Jos area, which has experienced so many difficulties in this past year, has been spared the post-election violence that has been taken place further north.  We continue to pray for peace for the country and that the 40,000+ people who have had to flee from their homes can return soon.  The work in Nigeria has been proceeding well under the guidance of Jeremiah Yongo.  Jeremiah will be making a learning visit to Ghana and Liberia at the end of May to see what our other West African partners are doing and how we can learn from each other.  On our West Africa call last week, Jeremiah shared about the food grain banks that three different communities have begun, where farmers are gathering together to store their grain in a safe, dry place, to sell when the market isn't flooded and there is greater need.  This is an issue being faced in all of our partnerships and so the dialogue was lively and fruitful.

Birthdays:  I don't know about the rest of you, but the last half of April is a very busy birthday month for us.  Let me wish a few people "Happy Birthday".  I don't have pictures of everyone, but here are some.
Hannah Reed - turns 18 today, April 25!!!  As usual she wakes us all up at her birth time, 5:30 am, saying that no one should sleep through this very important moment:-).  I can't believe she is now legally an adult.
Dale and Janette VanderVeen - Dale, my brother-in-law, shares his birthday with Hannah today.
Keith and Lucille Mosher, Bob's mother and step-father.  Keith turned 88 years old on April 18.
    My brother, Henry, celebrates his birthday this Saturday, April 30.  Marnie, his wife, is sitting next to him.
    Rachel Bronsveld, my very first niece, turned 30 on April 22.  I was 12 years old, in the 8th grade, and remember that day clearly!
    Adam Schenk, nephew, turns 20 on April 29.

    Sister-in-law, Carolyn Reed, celebrated her birthday on April 23.
    Sister-in-law, Patty Reed, celebrated her birthday on April 20.
    My nephew, Peter.  He's the one with the big mouth.  On the left. Birthday on April 24.