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March on

Tuesday, April 6, 2010 — March has been a busy month for the project and an exciting one for Ondati village. With the completion of the ‘zero grazing dairy unit’, otherwise known as a cow shed, the time had come to locate and purchase 3 beautiful animals to call it home. However, this was not as easy as first thought. Information flows in mysterious ways in these parts and the farm that was identified by our crack team of project staff and government livestock officers as a sure bet turned out not to want to sell. To their credit though, they persevered through the night and turned up at 1am with the goods, or at least something resembling them.

The cows are now settled into their new surroundings and enjoying the type of care that they would never have dreamed of before. As appreciation for their luxurious diet of napier grass, calliandra and dairy meal, the only one that is currently lactating has decided to increase her production by 40%! Let’s hope the others follow suit when they calve down in 2 and 5 months respectively.

Learning by doing
The ethos behind the income generating activities of the TAMTF model is not only to cover school running costs. It is also to enhance the students’ education by involving them in the activities such that they learn technical and business skills that will empower them to make a decent living when they leave school. For Ondati girls, the first of this involvement will be in the establishment of agricultural demonstration plots. They will put into practice the theory that they have learnt in class and form groups that will take responsibility for planting, maintaining and harvesting their designated area with maize, beans and vegetables.

Water is life
Water has played a big part in the activities of March. The first week witnessed the completion of the borehole and installation of the hand pump that will supply all of the project’s aquatic needs. As a result, the committee saw fit to use the occasion as a celebration of the project so far and an opportunity for members of the community to add their views. Before I knew it a ram was being killed and skinned in front of my eyes and I was being asked to cook ugali for 40.
If water was coming only from the ground I would have been happy. But alas, most of it was coming from the sky as rainy season imposed itself aggressively upon us. Luckily, the pattern is relatively predictable – clear in the morning, gradually clouding over from 3pm and letting rip at around 5, just when I’m walking home.

April should see the arrival of several African bee colonies, hopefully not the killer variety.


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