Recently we had a chance to go out to Los Palos about 6 hours drive east of Dili. The plan was to go and visit the Timorese Pastors, Samuel and Uli. We had a load of things to take in a ute as well as meeting up with a truck half way in Baucau to take silos. The whole family went so there were a number of stops to donate various unwanted fluids along the way.
In Baucau, we stopped in at East Timor Roofing where they wanted to donate 6 small silos. They had also made us a 2000L silo for our corn farming microfinance project with Lino. All up it totalled 3.5 tonnes of storage capacity for the farmers. These are high quality, airtight zincalume silos that allow indefinite grain storage. Without good storage the corn is eaten by weevils and rats and destroyed within a few months of harvest.
I spent a fair bit of time with Lino inspecting his field and discussing farming. We’ve purchased some newly released white corn seed that we hope to grow and sell as seed for other farmers. Seed for replanting can get a price of $2/kg as opposed to the usual 40c/kg for grain to eat but it takes a bit of extra work to get a good standard. We measured his field size, altitude and location using my phone with GPS (needed in ag research) and also did a pH test. Unfortunately it sits around pH 5 which is quite acidic. There’s a number of things we can help Lino with including fixing the pH, improving fencing, applying cow manure, improved planting techniques, companion planting and post harvest processing and marketing. It all takes time but we hope it will be worth it and if it works out other farmers in his group can learn from the experience.
His corn milling machine is installed with a special concrete base and roof and he’s writing down each day the income he earns from milling corn – usually around $2-$4 a day. He wants to repay the loan we provided for this as quick as he can so he doesn’t have to worry about it. It works very neatly because although he is 7 hours away he can give the repayments to Pastor Samuel who gets regular donor support through us. Just remember, we live in a world here without efficiently functioning banks so this allows us to run a small regional banking facility which helps alleviate money transfer. (it all works out in my head anyway, and we just need to keep good accounts).
There was still heaps more to do in Los Palos. We brought a felt board set donated by the Lismore Salvation Army Corps. You know the old sunday school deal where the teacher would tell a story and stick up felt pictures for the kids to see. This was a massive new set with heaps of pictures and an instruction book. Pastor Samuel and Uli can use it in church, sunday school, kids activities and the 5 house churches they look after.
We also delivered 6 guitars for their churches. Unfortunately the youth who could play guitars have gone to the big smoke. So if you have a flair for strumming and would like to do a one week guitar session with the Timorese please make yourself known.
Cynthia chose a nice but simple electric sewing machine from donations from the Lower Clarence, NSW. This was given to a widow in the church who has a big heart for helping people. She was really struggling with her old singer sewing machine. I went and took a look at it and she was getting all distressed about how much sewing she had to do for various folks. Then in walks Cynthia to show her the ‘new’ sewing machine and the poor lady was brought to tears. I wish you could have been there. Sometimes, I wish we all weren’t so far apart and the ladies in the local towns in Australia could see just how much their gifts are appreciated over here. Sorry I didn’t get a photo of it all but I hope to one day. I reckon we can restore her old one so she can teach someone else but I just didn’t get time this time around. (I have a dream of sticking an old beautiful singer treadle from Maclean on our boat and delivering it to a village on the island over the sea where they have no electricity.)
We also had donations of clothes to deliver to the church here and I gave them some rosella seeds (but that’s another story). Our last task was to inspect some land out the back of the church for a new building. Pastor Samuel wants to build a small youth accommodation centre so that young people from further in the mountains can come and stay to go to school. This will help to keep them off the street and allow Pastor Samuel to mentor them. We put up $500 to kick off the foundations.
Finally, I just want to say that this is not supposed to be a rave to make ourselves look good. Rather, I want to let you know what we are up to which is really an extension of many of the people who support us. So thankyou very much and thanks to God who guides our path.
God with his paints out again – sunrise on the road to Los Palos