Much has happened since the fundraising part of our project took place last spring. Thank you again to all who participated in the fundraising both within and from outside our congregation!
We are able to report that we have raised a total of just under $20,000 in all, thanks to the generosity of so many.
Last year at this time we were hoping our modified combine would be in Iringa, Tanzania, to start working during the maize harvest in July or August, 2014. Steve Strehlow and his team at SJS Farms, Inc. did their part by getting all the modifications done and tested. But, it turned out that shipping the combine in a container across two oceans was more challenging than even the first part. Which was buying, modifying, and preparing the machine to go…
With this decided, we were able to secure an agency in Dar es Salaam, to handle the dealings with the port, customs, and overland transport. On this end we were finally able to get a shipper to give us a firm quote(involving many parts) for a pickup in Hanover, at Steve’s shop, to the port of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania. We had help from Books for Africa and Global Health Ministries in advising us of the documentation needed.
Finally, in February of this year we were ready to schedule the loading of the combine into a 40’ hicube(9 ft high) container. The big day was February 27th; Steve Strehlow and his crew had it all figured out and were able to fit the combine into the container with an inch or so to spare on either side!(see pictures elsewhere)…
The container was picked up on March 2nd from Steve’s shop by TSC Container Freight. Over the next few weeks it was shuttled between various railway companies until it reached New York and was loaded aboard the Al Safat, a container ship, on March 25. It was unloaded at a container port in the United Arab Emirates, Khor al Fakkan, around the end of April. It was reloaded aboard the Albert Rickmers and left the port on May 10, scheduled to arrive in Dar es Salaam, Tanzaina on May 18.
We have been working to get all our documents in order with our agency in Dar es Salaam, Bollore/AFRICA LOGISTICS, one of the largest such companies in the world, I am told. At the time of this report, it seems, all is in order and that we can expect that our container will move smoothly through the bureaucratic “gauntlet” that the port of Dar es Salaam has become…at least in the opinion of some!
We have been fortunate to have made a good contact with the John Deere agency in Tanzania and they have offered to unload the container at their service facility a few miles south of Iringa. They have also offered to help with the reassembly of the combine at that facility. It is still our hope that Steve can find time in his busy schedule to take a quick trip to Iringa to take charge of the work in putting the combine all back together and testing it out…but also training local drivers and mechanics in the operation and maintenance of our John Deere 3300 thresher/sheller.
The harvest season in the Iringa area begins around mid-July so it is our hope that our machine will be ready to start a small revolution in the threshing and shelling part of Cheetah’s innovative production and marketing system that is lifting many small farmers out of the survival/subsistence mode to a much better life where they can pay school fees for their kids, buy medicines for them when they are sick, contribute to clean water wells in their villages. Using our John Deere 3300 will enable them to eliminate an average of 20% losses in the shelling of their crop! Add to that the labor savings for the women who used to shell all the maize by beating it with a stick…and now things get real interesting.
Our church will be organizing a group to travel to Iringa some time after our machine has had a chance to make an impact with the farm families who are partnering with Cheetah in this great effort. Stay tuned for details about this…we want to be able to talk and visit with families who have benefitted from this pilot project of Cheetah Development…and to report back to all of you who have been a part of it whether through financial support or prayer support or in kind and services support…whatever! We may even be able to produce a short video using the video equipment that we sent to Cheetah in the late summer of 2013. Anyone who can help with this part of the project, please contact us…