In the countryside of Tanzania

The fraternity of Murugaragara has been located in the countryside of the northwest of Tanzania for what will soon be forty years. Two brothers in particular have lived there in a stable manner: Marcel, who is now retired and lives in Vitrolles (France) and Lorenzo who has lived there for almost thirty years, working the land. The brothers have made a great effort to try and improve the yield from the land, to add variety to the crops, to create a more balanced diet for the people and obtain some income. Edouard planned to integrate himself into these projects but events took a different turn.

I am very happy to be able to write something about how I have been living here in Murugaragara for the last two years.
At the beginning, from my arrival in April 2008, I intended to concentrate on agricultural work, mainly gardening. Firstly, Lorenzo who has lived here for nearly thirty years working with the hoe was able to manage with other brothers who have stayed (I lived in this fraternity for three months in 1993 during my postulancy). Secondly, I never imagined that I would be able to find a job in computing, for which I had been trained. Thirdly, I hoped to continue working with the Christians in the village, work above all which could bring in some income while at the same time teaching us to work together in small groups of farmers. And fourthly, the community had received a motor-driven pump a SIM tank and some irrigation pipes. Unfortunately, there were not enough pipes and we also had to use watering cans

During the first few months we managed to plant some red onions and the harvest was not bad. We harvested about 400 kg among the sixteen of us. the first harvestthe first harvest My first impression was good, apart from some people who disappeared when it was time to water. So we became used to marking down who was present in order to make it easier later on to share out the harvest without some people benefiting from the work of others! However, there were a lot of commitments for only two brothers. We were busy from morning til night because we had taken on this work during the dry season and we had to water twice a day. As a first activity in Murugaragara, this helped me to get to know the people of the village, whom I did not know very well. Personally I have great respect for the farmers who struggle each day to earn a living despite the weather conditions which are not often good, especially in gardening when one is badly equipped. My objective was to work alongside Lorenzo to improve what he had started as a community project for the Christians of the village (this base community is called "Kigango"). During this first experiment we had even integrated a small group of Pentecostals (unfortunately they withdrew later after the first harvest). As a project in cultivation we planted vegetables, beans, corn, potatoes as well as cultivating Jatropha.
Lorenzo and I, as a fraternity, also had work maintaining banana trees, and we plated soya, beans, vegetable (cabbage, aubergines, carrots and tomatoes) not just for the needs of the house, but also to sell.

Unfortunately (or fortunately) one day towards the end of November 2008 one of Lorenzo’s friends, the Executive Secretary of Diocesan Caritas, came to visit us. We took a turn around the tomato fields together which was nice and he asked me lots of questions about work, if I only knew how to grow things or if I had another career. I told him about my training in computers. So immediately he told me that if I had the time I could go by his office sometimes to see if I could help him. So I worked in the garden, and at about 9 a.m.Downtown Rulenge!Downtown Rulenge! I went to Rulenge to the Caritas office when there were reports to write, leaflets to arrange, etc. I worked as a volunteer from November 2008 to July 2009. A few months later I was thinking of stopping this volunteer work because the director had changed. I did not see my future as continuing this voluntary work for more than a year because I could no longer work with the farmers. But the new Director of Caritas called me and asked if I wanted to work as a secretary on a full time basis. That happened in October 2009. With Lorenzo's agreement, I took the position despite the very small salary.
So on the first of November 2009 I began work as secretary for Diocesan Caritas. There is a lot to do. It does not only entail writing reports for benefactors, I also need to put files in order, not forgetting getting into the activities of the different Caritas projects in order to gain a better understanding of what I am writing about.
The majority of people we help are peasants. In total we have 14 groups and each group consists of 40 families. The 14 groups are helped by the Gender and Development Programme where efforts are concentrated on agriculture, nutrition, and good order in families, with an emphasis on the complementarity between men and women in development in general.
There is also a service for handicapped people. Our Diocese has a lot of handicapped people: we have 700 registered handicapped people and more than 300 suffer from epilepsy. We sometimes have to go and find some of the handicapped people at their homes, or at the centre which is closest to them, in order to take them some pills. They cannot all come to Rulenge. Often they do not have enough to eat. I have found myself accompanying the project coordinator to the villages to see the reality of the
situation for myself.
The third program is Relief and Emergency, a programme for emergency situations. This last service is important because we have lots of requests for help, for example when houses are burned down along with all that they own (clothes, provisions), but unfortunately in this case there are not enough funds to be able to help all those who need it. It seems to me that this service worked when there were refugees in the area between 1993 and 2000.
Those are just some of the sorts of people we are often faced with who are looking to climb out of their situations with the help of the little that we can offer them .

Personally I am beginning to get used to the job. It is true that there is a great deal of work. I leave the Fraternity at 7 a.m. and return at 6 p.m. Outside of work, I have introduced a public administration service: when there are not a lot of reports to do, I can carry out several little tasks like bookbinding, laminating, photocopying, creating work or student cards for those who want them and this brings in a small income for Caritas. This service began in June 2010 because before that people had to go to Ngara, the closest town, for similar services. I also began to train the staff, at the management's request, so that one or two at least will be able to open a document on the computer.
I have been given a bike which allows me to get to work on time. Edouard -setting off for RulengeEdouard -setting off for Rulenge I was getting tired of paying a lot of money to the young people with their motor cycle taxis or going on foot all the time, walking 12 km a day. I did that for a year.

At the moment that Lorenzo is alone as he was when I found him in 2008. The activities with the village community have greatly increased and I have almost abandoned him. We only see each other in the evening. We have planted lots of Jatropha (an oil-giving plant that we hope to be able to use for fuel)Jatropha -from the grain to fuel oilJatropha -from the grain to fuel oil, and 500 banana trees as a little project to provide revenue for the Kigango. We have already begun to sell the first bunches of bananas. There are also two cows to feed, and there is the corn mill to look after at all times to keep it working because Uhuru, the young man in charge of it, can’t cope alone. I understand that it is not easy to control the situation especially as we face some challenges regarding the commitments of the village leaders. We had hoped that each little project would be overseen by a leader and member from the Kigango, but when one of them agrees to do something today, you look for him tomorrow and don't find him, and consequently everything falls on Lorenzo.