Thursday, April 10, 2014

More moments...

On the heels of my last blog, I thought I'd share some more Timu moments. 

It's green right now. The rains started about a month ago and we see a heavy rain once a week. It's enough to turn the land this lush green (see below). 
 People are engaging in group work and traveling to different gardens every day. Whoever's garden they are currently digging in, that person provides the daily 'meal' of beer. The Ik seem to enjoy group work so much more than solitary digging, each man for himself. There is merit to it and it definitely promotes a feeling of community. Below is a garden directly down the hill from our house.
 Recently we've witnessed something for the first time: in Kamion subcounty (the area where we and the Ik live) animals and corrals have been moving onto our land. The Karamojong and Turkana are always searching for good pasture for their animals. When times get tough, they move the animals closer to us. The sad thing is that they cut down many trees in order to make a corral and then only stay in it temporarily. Such waste! It also speeds up the process of deforestation and brings it closer to Timu. Soon, the Ik subcounty will look just like the Karamojong and Turkana lands...devoid of trees and vegetation.

The pastoral life might have worked for these tribes in the past, when they were truly nomadic and roaming from grazing land to grazing land. But in recent years, they've settled down in one area. They have wells (a reliable water source), schools, healthcare, and free handouts from USAID. Why would they want to move on now? But their problem remains: the land cannot sustain them if they stay settled. The trees (and source of heat for cooking) will be gone. The lands will be overgrazed and their cows thin. They can still farm, but they will face the unpredictability of the weather patterns. And when it doesn't rain for an entire year (like last year), the people won't have food. They'll have to cry for help to NGOs and become dependent once again upon relief and aid. This is a chronic problem in Karamoja.

Yet, how do we break the cycle? How do we help the people to be independent and empowered to survive on their own? I don't have the answers, but I do know one thing. Both the recipients of aid and the aid workers themselves are benefiting from the chronic problems in Karamoja. If the problems went away, so would the hand-outs and the jobs of the aid workers. I suspect that all involved would not want to see that happen, even if it was for the best (true development) of the people. Okay, I'll get off my soapbox now. Just wanting to bring up some of the issues we struggle with in this impoverished place. I didn't even mention how marginalized the Ik are for being subjected to this kind of behavior. I'm referring to people moving onto their land and doing as they please. The Ik certainly aren't allowed to move into other subcounties, cut down their trees and 'use' the land as they see fit. Yet it's acceptable for the Karamojong to treat them this way? But marginalization is a topic for another blog.
 One of our girls' favorite toys is...sand. Below Terrill and Ngiriko are building them a more permanent sand box so the sand doesn't spread out so badly. Terrill's not a mason by trade, but he does what he can, and it is functional. I'm just thankful that he's willing to try new things. It's a trait needed for living overseas.
 A few days ago, we had friends from Kaabong come up for a visit. Andy & Connie (below) are from Ohio and know all about the Amish/Mennonite community where I grew up. What a small world! Besides Andy & Connie, numerous other baptist friends were there for the visit. We had 14 people around the table for lunch. I'm so thankful again for having a house to accommodate visitors, but also for the presence of dear friends near-by.
 On a normal day, we're usually hosting one or more Ik kids over lunchtime. A few of them know exactly when to come for a play date. ;-) Below Lokolikol is eating hummus and falafel with my girls.
 Last week we put up the tent to air it out...but also as a treat for the girls. For two days, they pretended it was their little house. Kids really do love tents!
 Sometimes during our preschool lesson, we have arts and crafts. Here the girls and their cousin are making a star wall hanging with glitter and cut out stars. Unfortunately, there was more glitter on the table and floor than on the stars themselves. But they had fun...and I suppose that is the point.
 Just this week, Janet discovered dominoes. And not only is it a fun game (toppling the dominoes), but it's turning out to be educational as she's forced to count the dots.
 We're also learning that Janet is a huge fan of insects. Here she has a walking stick on her head. She's a pretty brave girl and her influence is making Lemu more brave as well.
 As always, on the road trip home from Kaabong, this is how I find my girls. Can they get any cuter?


The Reeds said...

They are SO cute Amber. Really. The marginalized post would be so great to read. It's something that we always heard but don't know many details about. I'd love to hear more.

Notinthewild said...

It was nice to have all the adorable pics after the sad story of deforestation and dependency.
As for masonry...what trait ISN'T needed abroad, lol!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing all of this. I really miss those beautiful green hills! And I LOVE seeing the girls enjoying one another and learning and growing so much.

They have a word for 'trading' group work here for planting/harvesting/building in exchange for daily food and the hope of future help for your big projects - it's 'bayanihan' in Filipino. Apparently a popular concept in many cultures! :)


PS-Falafel in Timu makes me really really happy. :)

Anonymous said...

I do pray that the group coming from South Africa will bring farming and ranching methods that preserve the forest and the fields, such as planting legumes (black eyes or cow peas and soy ) that can serve both as cattle fodder, soil conservation and fertilization, and food for families. There IS a better way : )


tom said...

I woke up this morning with the name amber schrock. Would like to know if there is anything you need. Thanks !

tom said...

My wife and I prayed for you both this morning. If there is anything else we can do let us know. Thanks