4:50 PM Harts for Africa 0 Comments

Many people overlook the small amount of resources they have to build themselves a better future. Mozambique is land rich, there is more than enough to go around. If someone has a vision to use agricultural land well, the Government will give them land, and in many cases seed to start off. If a person takes that land and uses it, in a short time they will have a profit and are then able to begin building a better life. 

The hinderances to being a successful subsistence farmer then is not what they have, it is very much cultural. A lack of desire to change from traditional methods of farming and adopt improved sustainable agricultural techniques and family expectations / pressures are just two of the hinderances standing in the way of being financial security. 

Typically a 4-hectare farm is considered to be large among the people. This is partly due to the habit of preparing the ground after the first rain falls in the wet season. They are then in a rush to plant so they can catch the next rain and they have not yet cleared the weeds that will compete with the crop. The lack of adequate ground preparation and fertilisation and the rushed 'we'll just plant as much as we can in a short period of time' approach severely limits the quality and quantity of any harvest to come. If this crop fails they don't have enough to sustain the family never mind having some extra product to sell to pay school fees, buy clothes, visit the hospital or cover other vital expenses. If this crop is successful the family can usually just get by until the next harvest.

A severe hinderance to a larger than normal farm is that if a Mozambican was to plant say 40 hectares of crop during the year with the assistance of a rented tractor or traction animals, they would then be expected to help support those in their extended family who did not plant or planted too little. So they may also struggle to get through the year due to the number of "dependents" they have. So they work harder than others to gain the same result. Where is the incentive? What is the answer?

The answer lies in the need to disciple the whole community. We need to change the world view of the people to become more Christ centred. Those who don't understand the teachings of the bible may well disagree. My challenge to you is to read the book that takes man from a garden into a city. It outlines the steps along the way. Covering ways to trade successfully, ways to relate to those around you and most importantly, ways to put others before ourselves including the one who created us. 

The bottom line of any community development is changing the way people think and what they have the capacity to plan and achieve. To really help Mozambicans out of poverty we are seeing that more time spent explaining and encouraging is needed and less time doing and showing.

When a handout hinders.

11:33 PM Harts for Africa 0 Comments

Mozambique was and still is one of the poorest countries in the world. Over the past 9 years we have seen the economy of Mozambique improve yet many people still live in absolute poverty. How can we help these people? The answer for many Mozambicans is to look to other nations to give them a handout. They want to be given houses, food, vehicles, schools, churches, hospitals, businesses etc…. but does this actually help? From a donor's perspective it depends on the desired outcome, if handouts are given by donors in an attempt to make the donor feel they have done something, it does help. If the donors desire is to help a nation stand on their own two feet, a handout can hinder the objective. For the recipient it does help - momentarily. And there in lies the problem - it is not sustainable and perpetuates the lie that the only way to help developing nations is to give enough handouts to 'get them started'.

An example of how handouts do not help is by building a water system to supply a town with clean drinking water. A wonderful objective, but if outsiders come and do it, within a relatively short period of time the whole system will break down due to a lack of maintenance. Because the people expected to maintain the water system (recipient) are not the ones who sacrificed to build it (donor). The recipients have little sense of ownership, nor do they understand the importance or methods of preventative maintenance and in may cases they believe it is the donor's responsibility to do maintenance not their's.

To understand what I am saying consider two seventeen year old boys, both want a car, one boy's parents give him a car, the other boy's parents help their son find a job to buy his own car. Which son has learnt the most and which son is more likely to care for his car? One lesson learnt by buying their own car is delayed gratification. The power of achieving a goal over time. Not borrowing to have it now and working later, but the power of saving first and buying later.

We have met many in Mozambique who have decided that the answer to meeting their financial needs lies in relationships with people from the west. The view is that westerners have no end of resources. The Mozambican establishes friendship with the view that "the westerner is my friend so I can benefit from them". If a donor (friend) helps them build a school, The recipient can take some as a wage and "borrow" some to build their house, buy a car and gain an increase in their standard of living. Some have worked out that the church is very generous so to build a church comes with the same benefits.

These people have little idea what those donors in the west have sacrificed to assist them nor do they know the amount of hours people put in at work and the expected output during those hours. When a third world nation catches that it is hard work and creative, progressive thinking that creates a better standard of living they grow. Take China and Korea for instance both these nations have an expectation that people will work hard and both nations have huge increases in recent decades in their GDP.

I believe every time a person is given a free lunch it reinforces that their provision will appear, dependent on who they know, and that it is not dependent on how hard they work.

The answer lies in that we should be looking for ways to educate, encourage, train and equip a nation to identify and problem solve their needs which in turn give long term benefits that are not reliant on the continual handouts from other nations. This is the way to help which benefits both the donor and the giver and is sustainable in the long term.

Bridge to nowhere

11:33 PM Harts for Africa 0 Comments

I had one of those but the wheel came off!

8:30 PM Harts for Africa 0 Comments

I was 400km from home looking to repair the radiator in my car. I searched all over Harare to find someone to repair it, only to be told that it needed to be replaced. So a new search started for a radiator, one place no stock, second place over $1000, third place no stock, 4th place yes we have one but the top and bottom tanks need to be swapped with your existing radiator. That's no problem a guy can do that for me that afternoon. I arrived radiator in tow only for him to discover the radiators were slightly different and the tanks wouldn't fit. 


The next day I went back to return the radiator, then it happened that I entered a pothole and didn't come out! The front ball joint in my car let go and basically the wheel fell off. I was in a different country than I live, so I start trying to think who can help? I contact Kim, stay calm and think what do I do? How long will the repairs take? Who can repair it? How do I get home to teach Bible College on Friday? How do I pay for the repairs? 

I remembered a friend who lived in Mozambique near us a few years back (like 5 years) who now runs a business in Harare. I called him to ask if he knows a mechanic, he does more than that; he organized a tow to a mechanic who specializes in Toyotas and imports his own parts. Three days later we were back home in time to teach that afternoon.


God blessed me in so many ways.

1) The wheel fell off at 40k/h, the next day I was planning to return home at a top speed of 120km/h and that would have been nasty.

2) I was 3km from the mechanic's workshop. In Mozambique the closest mechanic to us is 180km away.

3) I had the unexpected opportunity to have lunch and reconnect with an old friend.

4) I have the bill delayed until I find the money to pay it.

5) The ministry did not suffer due to the down time of the car being repaired.

6) The repair took 3 days. It could take 6 weeks at best in Mozambique.

7) I finally know who can fix my car.

8) Nobody was hurt.

9) My car feels like a new vehicle, the whole front end is reconditioned.

10) It was the final straw that drove Kim and I to fast for 10 days and press into God.

11) In 6 weeks time the mechanic will have a new radiator for me and the stop leak has worked as a patch.


As my friend dropped me back to where I was staying, I started to count my blessings. He said that's the difference with Christians, we can see the good in a bad situation. That comment made me feel good.