Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Alternative Gifts

Alternative Presents

I have previously referred to my father's anniversary present. Well I think that it is time to show it in all it's glory! So here it is!!

I remember that when CAFOD introduced their alternative Christmas presents they were amazed by the number of people wanting to provide goats instead of buying unneeded gifts in the UK. For the past few years our parishioners have given donations and received cards to send to their friends and relatives. The donations have enabled gifts of food to be given at Christmas – last year over 100 people in Monze had extra food to help celebrate Christmas. Many people are now keen to celebrate Christmas and other occasions by supporting those who need gifts more than they themselves. My friends and family are now used to receiving some novel gifts.

As you can see the acknowledgement on the ox cart is not quite the discreet plaque I intended! I will be interested to know what impact is has as it travels the tracks near Monze.

Before leaving Monze I spent some time with Charles talking about my experiences visiting Chisamba and the north of the country. He has taken on board the issues with growing maize using fertiliser and recognises the significant loss made last year because of the crop failure. However, it isn't easy to persuade people to change a tradition that has developed over many years and he is finding it hard to convince others that they need to think again about setting large areas of land aside to grow maize.

Even in Zambia I am aware of the huge power of advertising. The large companies spend a lot of money persuading small scale farmers that only by using their hybrid seeds and chemical fertiliser will they get a decent crop. None of us like to believe that we are influenced by advertising – but billions of dollars are not spent by these companies for nothing! In a country like Zambia it is invariably the foreign 'investors' who have the resources to mount large advertising campaigns and it becomes ever more difficult for local companies to compete.

So for now progress for Charles and the PEASSA project is represented by an ox cart pulled by Captain and Saddham!

Best wishes


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