Gogoi Development Project
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United Church of Christ in Mozambique
Gogoi is in an extremely remote area of Mozambique, cut off from Mozambique’s major city and the headquarters of the United Church of Christ in Mozambique (UCCM). The region is heavily impacted by its history and the decisions made by colonial powers from the 1900s. The Mozambique/Zimbabwe border divides the Ndau people and left the Ndau of Mozambique isolated from the rest of their fellow Mozambicans by geography, and also isolated from the Ndau in Zimbabwe by an international border. The effect of the isolation and having two different colonizers has left the Ndau in Mozambique far less developed than the Ndau in Zimbabwe.
The United Church of Christ in Mozambique has focused priority attention on Gogoi in recent years. The initial phase of development was the building of an elementary school. This was negotiated with the Ministry of Education in Mozambique. Education was the first priority for the community.
The second phase is the development of a farm which will serve as a source for food and employment for the people in the community. The project will serve families in the community and help Gogoi continue on the path toward development and sustainability. The farm is being developed with the help of the United Church of Christ in Zimbabwe (UCCZ) across the international border. The farm at Gogoi in Mozambique will provide food for the 200 to 250 families that live in the community. The current food situation is tenuous at best and families currently scrape out an existence which is heavily impacted by malnutrition and hunger.
The project will employ a farm manager as well as workers, primarily women, from the community. Workers compensation will be modest, provided to recognize time worked during the clearing, planting, tending, and harvesting of fields. The initial plan is for cultivation of crops with the potential to later expand into the raising of animals to provide eggs, milk, and meat, as well as the added income. The farm also will serve as a means for education and training for the community, as a whole, and for its youth, in particular.
Collaborations over the beginnings of the farm at Gogoi have served to strengthen the relationship between the UCCM and the UCCZ. The UCCZ has long been the recipient of mission funding. Assisting Gogoi is an opportunity for them to reach out and help others. While Zimbabwe continues to face its own share of issues, including limited financial resources, their outlook is “the little we have, we share.”
The third phase of building at Gogoi (along with the school and farm project) includes the construction of a church building and the development of a secondary school. As is the case in much of the world, the church building will function not only as a place for worship but as a community center and a base for other development work happening in the community. The work in Gogoi, school, agricultural project, and church community, is a strong expression of the UCCM’s theology, which is very similar to Global Ministries priority of Critical Presence . . . being present to God’s people and creation at the point of deepest need: spiritually, physically, emotionally, and economically.
July 2011 – January 2012 Report
In order to help this remote area, the United Church of Christ in Mozambique has established the following programs:
Construction of the Church: Following the strategy first used by the missionaries to bring the people to God and educate them, the first building to be set up at Gogoi farm was the church. Although small in size, it had the power to call the community to worship the Lord. This same church building was also used as a classroom to teach young children, taking them out of the activities of herding cattle and illiteracy.
Construction of the classrooms: Because so many children began attending classes it was deemed necessary to build more classrooms. A lack of funds led to the first two classrooms being built in 1993 out of very precarious materials, i.e. rough wooden poles thatched with grass. In 2008, with the financial assistance from Global Ministries, the church managed to build a modern and beautiful building with three classrooms out bricks, roofed with corrugated iron sheets. This has encouraged more children to attend school. The local government was very happy by this very significant contribution by the church to the community and the school building is the best in the area. More is still to be done with the construction of the Administration office and the Headmaster’s house, which is an obligation according to the Mozambican law.
Water: Although water is not very far from the mission, the church found it necessary to bring the water nearer to the school children. Therefore, a well with a manual pump was located at the school premises.
Agriculture: The church has found it necessary to produce food to feed the local people and others and, since this a non-profit project, the products will be sold at a reduced price enough to sustain the project. For the agriculture year 2011-2012, and as an experimental step, the church opened a cornfield of approximately 25 acres but only planted approximately 12 acres of corn and two acres of sesame. The fields were ploughed manually and have no irrigation system. The first stage of the corn was very promising, giving hope for a satisfactory harvest while taking into account the technology used.
Update: December 2013
Farming is most important for the development of this project. According to the UCCM, evangelizing and teaching people who are hungry does not make much sense. Therefore, UCCM found it necessary to produce food to feed the local people and others at Gogoi. The aim of the farming activities is to sell products at a reduced price in order to sustain the project. For the agriculture year 2012-2013, the church opened a maize (corn) field of approximately 19 acres but only planted approximately12 acres of maize and two acres of sesame using a manual plough and no irrigation system. The first stage of the maize was very promising, giving hope to get a satisfactory harvest; but at the end of season the result was not good, due to a drought which attacked all the production, resulting in no profit. Due to this negative result in these two years of the experiment, there is now a vision to install an irrigation system at Gogoi farm. The water is not far from the farm. They now are looking at prices of equipment for irrigation.
There is still a problem of accommodation at Gogoi Mission. There are no houses for teachers or for the headmaster. Teachers have to walk long distances to school and this situation causes negative results for the children because many times the teachers arrive late to the classroom and at times they arrive tired, especially during the hot season. The UCCM’s hope is to have some housing at Gogoi to alleviate this problem.
For this season (2013-2014) about 14 acres have been prepared for maize, and four acres for sesame. They are expecting a good harvest but can never predict what will happen in the future. According to the weather forecast, there seems to be good rain predicted for the season.
The UCCM realizes that the Gogoi community, especially in the farming area, is very isolated. However, the growing presence of the church and mission activities are bringing change to the area. People are coming to work at the farm and, all together, they are discussing their concerns with UCCM members. Even the issue of land and modern agriculture are being discussed. There is a growing dialogue among community members and they are realizing the level of their responsibility in development issues and the well-being of their families and communities.