View from the house.
Hello all! I had such a good day today, really emotionally charged. We visited two villages that contrasted so much it was hard to believe how close they were. I’m still processing it all really, and I think that I’ll continue to think about today for a long time. One of the villages had been helped by Caritas/CAFOD for five years, and one had never received any help from an NGO. The villages are called Makassa and Makoba Loko.
Makassa was badly affected by the war, and Caritas (through CAFOD) first started working there five years ago. They first provided the village with clean, pure water, then a primary school, then various agricultural projects: ground nut, potato vines, cassava cuttings, cashew nut trees and rice. Caritas were also able to provide enough training to the local community so they are able to take complete ownership of their own livelihoods. All 650 adults in the community work farming the crops so that, as well as having enough to eat themselves, they can sell crops to traders. They also have a seed bank so they can store some of the rice. Anthony Kamara (see photo), the chairman of the community said, ‘Caritas and CAFOD have given us a sustainable development which will go on to the generations yet unborn. Everyday I thank God and CAFOD.’ The village still has its struggles – there are not enough primary teaching resources, the secondary school is five miles walk away and there are no health care posts which can have devastating effects in emergencies, particularly when women go into labour. It was great to see how much the work of CAFOD has helped these people with water, food and education – three basic essentials of life. The people in the village were so thankful, and said that as they will keep CAFOD in their prayers, would we too keep them in our prayers. I left with a big grin on my face and felt so elated. They also gave us a live chicken to take home with us which the boys promptly named ‘Dinner’!
After Makassa, we drove approximately one mile down the road to the village of Makoba Loko. I was immediately struck by the extreme differences. There has never been any NGO presence here- before, during or after the war (although this village was largely unaffected during the war). Not only can many of the children not get an education (because there is no room at the school) there is no local access to clean, safe drinking water or toilets and I also noticed a clear difference in the apparent nourishment of the children. The people here were very welcoming and were desperate for help. The difference between Manchester and this village was unbelievable, even the difference between this village and Makassa was overwhelming. It was a very sobering meeting, and really reinforced that CAFOD is already doing such an awesome job in so many places, but there is still a long way to go for so many people. So we returned to our accommodation in the bush with a chicken in our hands and prayers in our hearts.