Those who have been following the blog will know that Pastor Zacharie has moved on from Rutonde Parish where he has been looking after our porridge project. His stint at Rutonde was temporary while the church appointed a permanent Pastor. Zacharie is a locum, used by the church wherever there is a need for his skills. And these are many. Aside from being a pastor, he is an agronomist, educator and knows a thing or two about programming computers.
Today we have come east from Kigali with Zacharie to visit his next posting in Mwogo. The town is an hour's drive from Kigali city and near to where the new airport is being built. This is new territory for us.
Mwogo is dry, deserted and looking like it has seen better days. There are shops in the centre but most are empty. The market, the size of a football field is occupied by three women selling their meager produce in one corner.
What population there is gathers in the churches of which there are two, and the bar, singular. This particular hostelry is an interesting custom-built steel box still in pristine condition. A generator and fridge are fitted inside and a bolt-on frame provides an awning. At midday a group of men sit contemplating their beers with glazed eyes.
At the church Zacharie has been working his magic. Already an experimental field has been set up to teach the people how to grow crops through the dry season. There have been a couple of rain storms recently but the soil is still parched.
Everything here is about learning. A group of youngsters are keen to learn English and any other skills that might give them a living. Older church members are learning simply to read. One trick that Zacharie has handed on already is how to make homemade paint. By mixing the local soil which is a yellow-ochre colour with kasava powder and baking the mix to a powder, a very effective paint can be made. The church hall has been completely covered inside and looks very fresh for it.
What these people need is skills and encouragement to lift themselves out of poverty. Simply by demonstrating how to grow crops in the dry season is a step forward.