November 2011 Update: Return from Ethiopia

August 1st, 2013

On November 8, Chizungu, the village chief, informed Xavier and Melanie of Green Beat that his wife had malaria. Treating this disease is fairly simple ? drugs can cure it in less than a week. But for a Pygmy, with no money or resources with which to pay for it, this treatment is out of reach. Xavier and Melanie took them to the nearest hospital and gave them enough money to pay for the treatment.

Xavier and Melanie spent the next day with a dozen Buyungule Pygmy men, including Chizungu, building the raised beds that had been planned out a few days earlier. Xavier showed the villagers how to plant the seedlings using the methods he and Melanie were taught in Ethiopia. He explained the benefits of planting the seedlings close together and demonstrated the benefits of intercropping ? planting different types of seedlings together to make the most out of the limited space they had.

After one day, Xavier, Melanie and the villagers had planted 2,800 carrots, 2,700 onions, 500 cabbages and 280 tomatoes across the several raised beds. They also scattered bean seedlings to fix nitrogen in the soil and marigolds to repel pests.

Spending the morning of November 11 in Bukavu, Xavier and Melanie purchased materials for a second rainwater capture system for the village. They bought a 1,000-litre plastic tank and hired a plumber to add a faucet at the bottom and drill a hole at the top.

When they returned, Dominique of Strong Roots Congo and Jeph, the local agrologist, took them to the site of their next field, located right next to the village. Chizungu asked a number of villagers to clear the weeds and grass so they could begin planting the field. They did so, and finished in a few hours, leaving the plant debris so it could fertilize the soil. A team of men joined Xavier and Melanie and spent a few hours planting, until the entire field was full.

Eventually, a delivery truck arrived with the water tank, sheet metal, and soccer balls for the children. The sheet metal would be made into rain-collecting gutters for the church roof and an office for Chizungu.

The next morning, Xavier and the village men started installing the new gutters on the church roof, while the children played soccer. Melanie and a group of 30 villagers prepared another set of beds to plant in. By the end of the day, the rainwater capture system was almost fully installed, and 12 new raised beds were built.