Thursday, September 30, 2010

Lesotho: Kingdom in the Sky

Lesotho is known as the Kingdom in the Sky.  Found in the middle of South Africa, Lesotho is surrounded by stunningly beautiful mountain terrain.Lesotho 156Lesotho 084

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For two centuries the plough has been used for farming with devastating results.  Dongas, or massive ravines, have formed as summer storms have washed away much of the top soil. 

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This donga measured over 6 meters high!

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A group of about 60 of us converged to set up a campground on the Growing Nations site.  Our purpose was twofold: to assist the Lesotho people with a proven conservation farming method called Farming God’s Way (with yields up to 10x higher than traditional methods of farming), and to take part in in-field mentoring and training.

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The first day focused on orientation, training in large scale field implementation…

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and training in contour farming.

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We then divided into 4 teams and travelled to various venues where we trained Lesotho farmers in Farming God’s Way principles.  Training focused on the biblical foundation for Farming God’s Way, technology and management keys.

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Training was done with practical demonstrations…

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and hands on training. Lesotho 152Lesotho 188        For the next 2 days we worked with farmers on their fields, mentoring them and helping them to implement Farming God’s Way.Lesotho 241   Lesotho 268   Lesotho 318 Lesotho 324  At the end of the training we were able to bless farmers with new hoes.Lesotho 364 Lesotho 368

My prayer for the Lesotho people is to, “Trust in the LORD, and do good; dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness.” Psalm 37:3

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Wednesday, September 29, 2010


From September 17 to 27 we had a fantastic time in Bloemfontein, South Africa (Arleen) and Lesotho (Karl). Karl will write more about his Farming God’s Way mentorship/training in the mountainous kingdom of Lesotho, but here is a summary of my time of refreshment, reflection, reading and studying, participating in a national teachers’ convention (and shopping!) in the city of Bloemfontein about 2 ½ hours from where Karl was camping.

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The Foundations for Cross-Cultural Education national Christian teachers’ convention was held in this school which was established in 1907 by Andrew Murray, a famous South African missionary. 

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It was a fantastic time of learning and fellowship with educational leaders and very dedicated South African teachers who are passionate about impacting their students (and their country) through Christian education.

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One of the most inspirational men who told his story is this school principal (above centre), Chris Tshibaka.  He came to South Africa from the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 1994 and taught in various schools until he felt God calling him to lead a school based on Christian values and principles.  He was given the principal post in the most dysfunctional secondary school in a township in Free State in 2008 and in two years the school has been completely transformed through prayer, discipline and integrating biblical values.  The violence and apathy has given way to peace and hope, and the pass rate on government exams in grade 12 has gone from 46% to over 80%. 

Bloemfontein and sunflower spirals 021Timothy is one of the primary teachers we met at the FCE school we visited in Zambia in May.  He began his teaching career in South Africa under a tree in an open field with a piece of plastic and some poles to protect the books when it rained!

All in all it was an excellent convention and I came away with many ideas to implement in our teacher training programs at the Timothy Centre here in Uganda and with a renewed vision from God for what He wants to accomplish through Christian education.

It was also great to see a new part of Africa, and enjoy a few of the sites of Bloemfontein in their ‘springtime’.  Flowers and trees were beginning to bloom…

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…and it was lovely to visit one of their shopping centres on the edge of a picturesque man-made lake.

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A wonderful ten days!  Thank you, Lord.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


Kibaale Community Primary School was the first private school in Uganda to pilot the government’s new primary school thematic curriculum (at the same time it was piloted in government schools).

Some of the major improvements over the older curriculum are using the community’s local language as the medium of instruction in the Primary 1-3 classes, teaching literacy in local language before teaching English literacy, using more child-oriented methods, and organising the content around themes that are relevant to the students’ lives (rather than in traditional ‘subjects’).  We have found it a very effective tool to move students from traditional rote learning to learning with meaning.
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Kibaale School July 2010 051The really unique feature in the curriculum is the Primary  4 “Transitional Year”.  Uganda is the first African country to plan a systematic transition from teaching in local language to teaching in English.  This is crucial to help students use their local language literacy skills to transfer into reading and writing in English.
This Primary 4 curriculum has been used for 2 years in the  government schools country-wide, but lack of adequate re-training  and mentoring of teachers has been a problem in successful implementation.  We have worked very hard in our school to give teachers the support they need in implementing this curriculum and have found that this has made a huge difference in their confidence and willingness to try something new.  Some of their lesson plans have even been used as models in the local teacher training college.  We are proud of the efforts our teachers have made in pioneering this curriculum. 
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The government has also stressed the importance of including the teaching of life skills and value in the curriculum, and  our teachers have led the way in showing how this can be done practically with biblical integration. 
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The National Curriculum Development Centre has encouraged us in this pilot project and have asked if their directors can make a visit to the school this month to observe how teachers have implemented the curriculum.  We pray they will be encouraged to see that educational improvements can take place as we seek God for the wisdom and strength to persevere.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Double Blessings

The teachers in our schools in Kibaale were feeling very blessed this week, as they received a volunteer from Canada to help in the Special Unit class in the primary school…. as well as a heavy downpour of much needed rain.

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Natalie arrived from our church in Canada and will be helping Rosebell and Jessica, our Special Unit teachers who teach a group of students who are hearing impaired and have other learning disabilites. 

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She is already busy learning Ugandan sign language along with the students.

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This is the first week of Term 3, the last term of school for 2010.  September is also the month when the rainy season usually begins, after 3-4 months of very dry and dusty weather.  People have been praying for the rains to come, as seeds need to be put in the ground for the new growing season and water for household use is in very short supply.  As Natalie’s arrival coincided with the beginning of the rains, she is regarded as a very special visitor who will bring much blessing!

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Our rainwater tanks are filling up!!

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Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Strawberry Fields Forever!

In an effort to make the Timothy Centre as self-sustaining as possible, we have started to develop various income-generating projects.  The apiary is the biggest project at the moment, but we also have cultivated a large strawberry garden.

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Karl planted this garden from one plant that survived when we transplanted it from our garden in Kibaale a year and a half ago.

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There are about 900 plants at the moment and they have thrived even in the dry season (with some hand watering) because of the grass mulch blanket that has kept the moisture in the soil. This is one of the practices from Farming God’s Way that has worked very well for the strawberries. Now that the rains have begun again, we are seeing lots of fruit and anticipate a great harvest!  Karl has already found a market for the strawberries in two of the grocery shops in Masaka town. 

strawberries Aug 2010 001The workers here on site have never tasted them before, and have loved them!  We have enjoyed them fresh, in pie…

strawberries 001…and in our own Timothy Centre brand of strawberry lemonade.

strawberries 083Watch for these items on our menu when we open the restaurant for our Timothy Centre guest house :)