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MITONGWE WOODLAND RESERVE
Opportunities come, doors open, and God leads. In 2019 we added Mitongwe Woodland Reserve to our areas of focus in Malawi. This 350ha property is in the southeast corner of the country, giving us 150ha of agricultural land and 200ha of mature natural forest. We are partnering with Charity Hands, a Dutch organization, to continue developing and running this venture. Our main mission is to continue with Chisomo Training Center, working to train Foundation for Farming techniques in this new area.
We continue to see the value of Foundations for Farming training in the villages of Malawi. Farmers are working to improve soil health, seed health and eventually crop yield, which ensures larger harvests and food availability year-round.
Growing food to feed the hungry is a definite priority for us and there are multiple opportunities to develop this. Our training programs give us a chance to plant and harvest crops that are then donated to needs in the area. Donations in the meantime have enabled us to provide food for many of the grandmothers (agogo's) who end up being primary caregivers to extended family.
A government school for the area is leasing land on our Mitongwe property. There are up to 900 children depending on the season, with many areas where our involvement is needed. School supplies are very low, washroom facilities are grossly inadequate, and there is no feeding program for the children who have little if anything to bring from home. These are all areas we are addressing at present. Part of our farming training has been to plant food crops that will be the base for daily meals at the school. Donations from Holland and Canada are coming summer 2020 with supplies to boost the school rooms and facilities.
There is a myriad of opportunities available for development at Mitongwe, from existing programs to new concepts. There are sheep being cared for and used for training but also for breeding and manure. There is a community animal husbandry program, where village cows are brought onto the property to graze, while their owners are trained in proper care. We are developing a bee program, with training ongoing, which will result in business opportunities on the farm, plus training for community projects in the neighbouring villages. Training in creating a healthy seed bank is another project in process. Medical clinics will be run and youth sports camps are being planned.
EmploymentDeon is our full-time Operations Manager, working with Steven, our trainor, and Jeremiah, our Spiritual mentor. They work with our 70 staff, as well as identify leaders in the neighbouring communities who will be trained and return to their areas to pass on this knowledge.
Our property has a newly renovated guesthouse that is ready, waiting and enjoyed by volunteers, trainees, partners and for retreats and events.
There are many opportunities to bring community chiefs, leaders, church groups etc together. It is important to communicate how Mitongwe will benefit us all as we work together to create a healthy community. They are excited to hear we will be working on spiritual development, will create a library, health care post, preschool, youth groups, and offer vocational, agriculture and animal training.
We are partnering with Team Up Canada to develop a Sports Academy, using sport as a common language. We know teamwork, leadership, responsibility and persistence are qualities these young people need and can learn, along with the enjoyment of friendly competition.
Deon, Jeremiah and Steven have developed a relationship with a group of young men in the area, mainly fatherless, and previously unemployed. They are mentoring them and providing work opportunities, resulting in their first paycheque.