Imani in Pictures 2013

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Michele Provencher and Sylvie Chamberland are two Université de Sherbrooke students who will be spending September – December 2013 at Imani Vocational Training Centre. In addition to increasing agricultural productivity through improved composting techniques, Michele and Sylvie have volunteered to capture and their experience at Imani in images and share them with us. New pictures will be added on an ongoing basis. To access the gallery, click here or select “Imani in Pictures 2013″ from the main menu bar above.

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Peter Morrin Update #1 – Oct 3

Dear Family, Friends and Supporters,

As most of you know, I have returned to Tanzania and Uganda for my third year.  I am working at the same sites, but with a range of new projects.  The biggest development this year is the addition of two students from the Universite de Sherbrooke and my new friend, Ted Dawson.

Michele Provencher and Sylvie Chamberland are in their second year of a co-op Environmental Studies program at the Universite de Sherbrooke.  They are passionately interested in organic farming and are constantly assessing our lifestyle from an environmental perspective.  I promised them a work-term unlike any other and so far I don’t think we have disappointed them.

Michele and Sylvie are working on an Engineered Composting project to improve the quality and efficiency of the traditional techniques.  They researched different composting methods during their academic term this past summer and are now applying this knowledge in the field.  They will be running two parallel compost streams, one in a pit 6’ wide x 20’ long x 3’ deep, and one at grade of a similar volume.  They will be working to create accelerated compost which we hope to be ready for application before the girls leave in early December.  In addition to their technical research they have been working feverishly on their Swahili to allow them to communicate their information to the students and staff.  In this manner we hope to create a lasting impact on the farming practices here at Imani.

Ted Dawson is a retired carpenter/farmer/small business owner from Toronto who I met while responding to an add Ted had posted on Kijiji regarding the sale of an antique wood plane.  It turns out one of his many side interests is collecting and trading old hand tools.  When I mentioned I was interested in sourcing some serviceable hand tools for the Imani carpentry program, Ted not only volunteered to help collect them but also to join me here for 10 weeks to demonstrate their refurbishment, maintenance and use (this was before he found out how loudly I snore).

In the end, with the generous support of many individuals and Lee Valley Tools, we assembled 5 pallets of wood-working and gardening tools for the Imani carpentry and farming programs.  These were sorted, documented, and packed with the help of four young volunteers (Julia McPolin, Brad Badham, Jacob Denofreo, and Simon Dickens), Ned Dickens and my ever patient wife (no snickers from the peanut gallery).  The pallets were moved to a temporary holding trailer generously donated by Leon’s Kingston awaiting transfer to the sea container.  Our tools will be accompanied by medical and dental equipment assembled by Karen Yeates , and if the Gods and customs officials are willing, might get here before we leave.  If not, we have brought 250 lbs of hand tools which Ted will use for demonstration purposes.

A brief update on the Imani School.  Through the support of Swiss couple the school has added a boy’s dormitory, a commercial tailoring, embroidery and knitting facility, and finished off the dining hall that was in the last stages of construction last year.  The wood-working and metal-working shops are turning out windows, doors, tables and desks for these buildings as well as a couple of external contracts.  Furniture grade wood is very scarce in Tanzania and our shop foreman has actually been sourcing some from the after-hour vendors who circulate after the Tanzanian Revenue Inspectors have gone home for the day.

The Egg project we started last year seems to be a resounding success.  We have lost only 2 of the laying hens which have grown from tiny chicks into plump mama birds pumping out an egg, per bird, per day.  The students and staff finished off the pens and coops that we constructed last year under the tutelage of my egg experts, John and Cora Beking.  The eggs are generating a steady revenue stream as well as increasing the nutritional value of the student’s breakfasts.

Last Sunday we were invited to the 50th anniversary of Sista Adella’s aunt in the Pare Mountains.  This involved a 6:45 AM boarding of the local bus at the Moshi bus station.  This bus was a step up from the local dala-dala, but was typically packed to a similar level of over-capacity.  Again the trip was accompanied by the distinct odour of burning rubber (or brake fluid) as we barreled down the Dar-es-Salem road, but we arrived at the roadside stop of Lembeni without incident, sore butts aside.  Sista Adella came and picked up the three Mizungus stranded by the road in a Subaru no less (much more together than your’s truly’s).

What followed was a lively outdoor Mass where the priest told amusing stories of Sista Roselina in the tribal dialect, a huge buffet where the we were invited to “snack” on the meat first to make sure we got some, and a raucus set of dance routines where gifts were brought up to the guest of honour.  My dancing apparently brought great amusement to those assembled (along with a little bit of terror seen in the eyes of the younger members of the congregation). Apparently I (still) ain’t got no rhythm.

Ted and I leave for Uganda next Sunday and will be joined by Donna on October 10.  We will have a busy week and a half installing a solar water pumping system for the Care for Your Life Community centre after which we hope to do some touristy things before Donna heads on to Nepal and we return here.

All our best.  We look forward to your emails,

Peter, Ted, Michele et Sylvie

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Imani Update – Sept 2013

Dear all,

It gives me a great deal of pleasure to provide you with this Imani related email containing the major developments that have occurred over the past year. Over the past few years I have slowly been transitioning responsibilities for the direct oversight of the CACHA/Imani partnership to Peter Morrin, and Peter has already taken the project in a number of bold and promising new directions. Peter departed this week for a 2.5 month stay in Tanzania and Uganda, a significant portion of which will be spent at Imani on a number of initiatives. This is his third extended visit to Africa in a development capacity.

In fact, it is not only Peter that is travelling to Tanzania. Peter managed to connect with the University of Sherbrooke Environmental Studies department, and recruit two young female students to stay at Imani for a period of 3 months. With academic interests in organic farming, Michele Provencher and Sylvie Chamberland will be focusing their efforts on helping the school improve the quality and speed of composting, a process that could help the school increase its garden yield. Given the heavy emphasis on self-sustainable agriculture and animal husbandry at Imani, I imagine Michele and Sylvie will be drawn into other useful areas as well. In the future, Peter is hoping that student volunteer positions will occur at Imani every year through the Sherbrooke co-op program.

In addition to the two students, Peter is also being joined (for the entire 2.5 month duration) by a retired carpenter, tool collector and gardener, Ted Dawson, whom he met while trying to obtain tools for the school. Having originally contacted Ted by Kijiji in order to buy his old tools, Peter discovered that Ted was keenly interested in the project. Ted and Peter began a quest to obtain used tools from fellow co-workers and contacts, and eventually secured five skids worth of useful equipment for the various Imani programs. A significant number of these tools were donated by Lee Valley Tools thanks to Ted’s professional contacts, and we are hopeful that an expansion of this corporate sponsorship could be on the horizon. While in Tanzania, Ted will be spending the majority of his time at the $35000 carpentry workshop (funded primarily by the people that make up this email list!) to improve, in conjunction with the local master carpenter, the efficiency of the workshop and the quality of products built by the Imani students for sales purposes.

As always, Peter will have a lengthy checklist of to-do’s, from viewing and making enhancements to established projects to working with our partners on the implementation of new ones. Some of these will include:

·            Observing the chicken houses, pig shelters and irrigated garden which, according to Sister Adela, continue to be productive and profitable (outputs are sold for profit at the canteen or fed to the Imani students)

·            Working with the tailoring program to create prototypes for high quality carrying bags that will be marketed to NGOs and Kilimanjaro climbing companies. This initiative is in line with our current focus on increasing the productivity and profitability of existing programs at Imani, rather than making large investments in new infrastructure

·            Investigating the feasibility of using Imani produced inter-locking bricks and reinforced masonry concepts to build water storage tanks (which could potentially be built more cheaply and locally than using imported steel)

·            Helping the Sisters at Imani to continue to improve their accounting and financial project management skills so that the profitability of each individual income-generating activity can be better monitored

·            Ensuring that Michele, Sylvie and Ted are comfortable and engaged with meaningful initiatives

·            Viewing other developments at Imani not related to CACHA contributions and sharing his ideas with the Sisters regarding future strategy (according to reports, Sister Adela has almost finished building a boys dormitory; she wishes now to build a new dining hall and knitting production facility, as well as purchase an additional 20 acres of land to grow irrigated maize.  The ambition of the sisters is, as always, impressive.)

·            Investigating the feasibility of building a technical library focused primarily on Imani’s trade programs

·            Travelling to 2 other CACHA projects that he is involved with, one near Lake Victoria in Tanzania, the other in Uganda

·            Getting flat tires, harassed by street vendors, drinking tea with nuns, giving high fives to kids, watching out for pickpockets, twisting his ankles in potholes, crawling into bed completely exhausted each and every day, and, hopefully, finding some time to enjoy a cold beverage and some bbq goat meat with Mt Kilimanjaro making a spectacular back drop.

I cannot stress enough how pleased I am with the progress that has been made at Imani in recent years, with Peter primarily at the helm. His broad technical knowledge, keen interest in innovative ideas and immense dedication to African initiatives are tremendous assets. Combined with the ambition and reliability of our partners at Imani, we have built a strong partnership that has benefited hundreds of young Tanzanians.

Thank you for your interest in the project and continued support, and a special thanks to those that have been supporting this project financially over the years. I encourage everyone reading this update to consider making a contribution—I feel strongly that is simply a good way to spend our international development dollars. If you would like to make a tax-deductible donation to help us continue this work you can do so by clicking on this link (or by visiting www.cacha.ca and navigating to the Imani donation page).

Sincerely,

Greg

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Imani Update – October 2012

Greetings all,

A couple weeks ago Peter Morrin set off on another African development expedition. He spent 2 weeks in Uganda and is right now on his way to visit ImaniVocational Training Centre in Tanzania for approximately one month. This will be Peter’s third time visiting Imani and the second as our representative on the ground. Having run an engineering company for many years, Peter has a wealth of experience that is helping to improve existing projects at Imani, implement new initiatives, and work closely with our partners at Imani to map out the strategy moving forward. As it has been in the past, the focus of our efforts is to help Imanimove towards self-reliance through the implementation of food- and income-generating activities. Imani, meanwhile, remains focused on providing vocational education to disabled and non-disabled youth and to equip them with the tools they need to support themselves in the future.
This year Peter will be focussing his efforts on three main initiatives as follows:
1. Chicken Operation – construction of elevated grating, feed troughs and water troughs, purchase of new batch of chicks
Previous efforts to build a successful egg-laying business at Imani ended unsuccessfully after disease wiped out much of the flock. Fortunately the building we built for this purpose remains fully intact, and Sister Adela, director of Imani, continues to see the chicken operation as economically viable. We have consulted experts both in Canada and Tanzania and have identified ways to prevent similar problems in the future. While in Tanzania Peter will be working with Imani to build a grating system that will elevate the chickens off the ground, new food and water delivery systems, and purchasing a new batch of immunized chicks that will develop into laying chickens. We expect to spend about $2000 on this project.
2. Carpentry Building – inventory control, workflow management and market development
The large carpentry workshop which was financed largely by those of you receiving this email is fully operational, and is well stocked with the raw lumber for student projects. In additional to producing and selling furniture to the community, the workshop also generates revenue by providing carpentry services (eg. cutting, planing, etc). Upon Peter’s visit to Imani last year he and Sister Adela identified as an additional area of need the improved control of people, inventory, raw materials, orders and tools. Improvements in these areas will come both from the implementation of new tracking/receipting/accounting systems and the potential construction of small reception counter, steel grate door or other physical barrier. They will also continue to explore various avenues to develop additional markets for Imani-produced furniture. We expect to spend about $1000 on this project
3. Internet Service – installation and activation
Communication has always been a challenge when working with Imani, mostly because the school is located in a rural setting with no internet service and minimal cell phone coverage. Over the past year Peter has researched various options to help improve the situation, and has identified the mounting of a small antenna tower at Imani as the best option going forward. This will allow those at Imani to access the internet without travelling into the city of Moshi. Sister Adela will be able to communicate more frequently and reliably both with us and with other potential partners, and will give internet access to any visitors to the school. While the internet service will initially be intended for the administration team of Imani, it could one day be offered to the students and/or used potentially as a small business opportunity. For now, Peter and Sister Adela’s job is to get it up and working. We expect to spend about $1000 on this project.
In addition to the above projects we have set aside approximately $1000 for Peter to spend on an assortment of small improvements/repairs, pilot projects and other incidental expenses.
As you can see from the above descriptions and cost estimates we are no longer making major investments in large infrastructure projects as we have (successfully) done in the past. Rather, we are investing smaller amounts of money to refine and improve existing initiatives in order to make them more stable and profitable.
On behalf of Peter Morrin and myself I would like to thank you for your ongoing interest and support of this project. If you would like to make a donation to help us continue the work we are doing you can do so at http://cacha.ca/donate. If you are donating via Canada Helps, remember to select “Imani Vocational Training Centre” from the dropdown menu beside Fund/Designation.
Safe, happy and productive travels to Peter, who will be sending updates of his time in Tanzania and will provide pictures of the progress to date.
Sincerely,
Greg

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Sister Placida coming to Canada

That’s right folks: the one, the only Sister Placida Mosha is coming to Canada. We are organizing two events in her honour, one in Ottawa and one in Waterloo. Here are the important details:

1. Tuesday June 22nd, 7:15pm at Glebe Collegiate Institute (Auditorium), Ottawa
2. Tuesday June 29th, 7:15pm at
St. Paul’s College at the University of Waterloo (McKirdy Hall), Waterloo

At the event Sister Placida and I will give a detailed update of recent developments at Imani, providing a first-hand accounting of the support she has received from us. As an international award winner for creative rural development (http://www.woman.ch/june09/women/laureates08/laureates-africa-5.php), Sister Placida will share with you her vision for future developments at Imani, and for rural Africa in general. In addition there will be light refreshments, a meet and greet with Sister Placida, door prizes, African items for sale, and best of all both events are free. Prepare to be captivated by this remarkable individual. Hope to see you there!

Questions? Email operationimani@gmail.com

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Waterloo – sell-out times two

The final summer 2009 screenings of Operation Imani took place on August 11 and 12 in Waterloo. Thanks to some great publicity from the KW Record and Waterloo Chronicle both shows sold out. See the Media > Media Coverage section of the website for these articles, as well as some new radio interviews I did.

Thanks to everyone who helped make the screening tour a success, either by working on my behalf or coming out to support it. I hope to continue screening the documentary in the future, please continue spreading the word.

Greg

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Toronto down, Waterloo next

We are reaching the end of the current Operation Imani cross-Canada screening tour. The Toronto shows went well, with a combined crowd of about 200 people seeing the two shows. The final leg of the tour takes place Tuesday and Wednesday August 11/12 at Princess Twin in Waterloo. Both shows start at 9pm and tickets are $10.

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Ottawa – biggest crowd yet!

Operation Imani screened in Ottawa on Thursday July 30th to its biggest audience yet, with over 170 people in attendance. The highlight of the Q & A was an elderly gentleman who had immigrated to Canada from Africa a number of years ago – he stood up and delivered an empassioned one-minute speech suggesting that the approaches being implemented at Imani are exactly what are needed. This was followed by loud applause, which seemed to be an endorsement of his thoughts. Will there be more one-minute empassioned speeches at the Toronto shows? There’s only one way to find out:

Royal Theatre (608 College), Wednesday August 5th, 7:15pm
Revue Cinema (400 Roncesvalles), Thursday August 6th, 7:15pm

Be sure to check out the Media & Feedback section of this website for some recent coverage of Operation Imani, including interviews and media coverage.

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West Coast Report

The West Coast leg of the Operation Imani Canadian tour wrapped up this past week-end after successful screenings in Vancouver (2) and Calgary. All three screenings were well-attended, and the feedback I received for the documentary was positive. This was particularly meaningful considering the quality of the audiences–it was clear from the Q & A that many members of the audience were well informed about development issues already. At each of the three shows we had to stop the Q & A portion as time had run out.

Looking forward to the Ottawa (July 30), Toronto (Aug 5, 6) and Waterloo shows (Aug 11, 12)…keep spreading the word!

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World Premiere in 3 days

Just a reminder that the WORLD PREMIERE of Operation Imani: Ideas for Sustainable African Development is in only 3 days time. July 10th, 7:15pm at Fifth Avenue Cinemas (2110 Burrard Street Vancouver). Make sure to SPREAD THE WORD to all your Vancouver contacts!

A little (somewhat unrelated) teaser: those that make it out to the screenings will hear a Tanzanian hip hop song playing over the closing credits. It’s called “Peace and Love” and it’s performed by a close Tanzanian friend of mine named Nico “Wisemad” Benjamin. When I was first dabbling in amateur filmmaking I threw together this little piece on Nico, who spent 4 years living on the streets as a child. Check it out.

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