When we arrived in 2003, Pastor Sikiyani owned a plot of land about 100m up the hill from the Chiuta village shops, measuring approximately three acres, bordering the (dirt) road. He had no official documents proving his ownership.
On this land there is a three-roomed house and separate kitchen for the Pastor and his family (and some of the orphans), which he had built himself.
There is a church building (approx. 10m x 8.5m), which was built with funding from an American organisation, in partnership with a Harare-an church (El-Shammah Ministries), and was painted by the first Oasis Global Action Team based at El-Shammah. It was only being used on Sundays for services and had broken windows.
There were two (unfinished) brick toilets, built by El-Shammah, with some external funding.
Water had to be brought in containers on a wheelbarrow from about a mile away, where there is a hand-pumped well which dries up in the dry season.
The remainder of the land was usually planted with maize, Zimbabwe's staple crop, but even with fertilizer this was for the most part unsuccessful.
A borehole was sunk close to the buildings, and a submersible pump installed, in order to provide a safe, clean, convenient and reliable water supply for the domestic, church, play-centre, and agricultural needs of Pastor Sikiyani's plot. The funding for this was raised almost entirely by Tavistock Parish Church, UK.
In order to power the pump, electricity needed to be brought 50m from the nearest supply. This was a huge operation, and was funded mostly by Stanbic Bank, Zimbabwe.
The existing brick toilets were completed, but more were needed to meet requirements for the pre-school, so three 'Blair' toilets were built from kits donated by another local Oasis pre-school, sand found locally for free, and cement and stones bought with external funding. The labour for the brick toilets was provided by a local builder, and for the kit toilets was mostly provided by members of the Rusike and El-Shammah congregations.
The land surrounding the church building now has a children's play area, complete with jungle gym, swings, tyres, balancing beams etc. This was built by the third Oasis Global Action Team (in whose training we were very involved) to come to El-Shammah, using funding raised from their UK churches, plus some locally donated tyres, and they physically installed the equipment themselves (except for the jungle gym, which was done by the professional).
We managed to persuade the team to stop (unsuccessfully) growing maize, after demonstrating the successful growth of other crops more suited to the sandy soil, such as rape, beans and sweet potatoes.
We partnered with other organisations such as Farming God's Way (who advocate a zero-tillage method, and using manure and mulch instead of fertiliser) to train the community in alternative farming methods.
They fenced off (to protect from wandering livestock) a 200-metre-square section in which they planted many highly nutritional moringa trees.
This garden was designed to supplement the diet of the community (especially the orphans) and to generate extra income to support the education of the children.
Using donations, we provided the community with a drip-irrigation system for this patch, and showed them how to use it. Once the borehole was up and running, they had all they needed to continue a sustainable agricultural project.
We helped Pastor Sikiyani to obtain legal documents affirming his ownership of the land (a complicated, lengthy and confusing process). He then decided to donate his land to the church and orphanage. We helped him write a clause ensuring that he and his family would not end up homeless, but would be allowed to live on the land until they chose to move elsewhere.
Pastor Sikiyani already had a small brick house built himself for the family chickens (usually saved to feed visitors), but they were not secure from thieves and predators. With help from visiting UK friends he was able to add a fence. With the help of more visiting friends, a new large chicken run was built, giving work to Biggie, a local builder whose house was destroyed in 'Operation Murambatsvina'. A third couple of international visitors asked for donations to The SEED Project instead of wedding gifts, and this will set the project going with the necessary first laying chickens, feed, troughs etc. A local bank, who provided funding for the electricity, was then inspired to set up another large chicken run!
From SEED's own experience of running an income-generating chicken project, and Project Manager Robert's training and experience, SEED was able to give valuable training and advice to the local Rusike team on how to run this project. The eggs provided a valuable source of nutrition to the orphans and a surplus was available for sale to the local community, thus improving health for more people.
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