It’s been a long wait, but we are absolutely THRILLED to share that we have 10 new businesses starting up with grinding and pounding machines manufactured right in Dekpor! This is all thanks to a wonderful donation by Meridian Aero Parts Corp. and Andy Nevison.
Here’s how this all unfolded in Dekpor…
Recently we invited a new welding and fabricating business to Dekpor Central Shops--two brothers who had completed their training a few years ago, were thrilled to get a space to work. A third brother offered assistance by giving them a lathe. As you can imagine, it caused quite the excitement when it was delivered! Then patience was required. We waited for a 3-phase meter, and we waited some more. The electrical company was delayed month after month. In the meantime, all the preparatory electrical work was done by one of our own graduates and all the necessary materials were delivered in anticipation. Finally, the meter arrived and was inspected and approved by the local government electrical company so they were set to go. There was so much work making these machines that they hired two assistants to help!
It had been decided that four different machines would be made and each type was specially designed and fabricated: one corn mill, two fufu pounders, two pepper grinders, and five cassava grinders.
The corn mill is electrical, has to be set in place on a concrete pad and also requires a 3-phase meter. A small enclosure was created and roofed. The other machines run on petrol.
The cassava machines are on wheels are taken around to various houses to grind the cassava after it is peeled. The resulting pulp is then dried out for a several days before getting dry fried in a pottery container. It is moved around by the women tending the open fires until it is totally dried. The resulting product is called gari. Yes, it is a long, long process to make it, and it is consumed by everyone in Dekpor. Ground cassava is also used to make akbla, a type of local dumpling.
The fufu pounders are used to make fufu. This is a local dish made from cooked cassava and plantain which is formed into a dumpling-like food that is eaten with a stew. The fufu machine saves the women many, many hours of hard work since previously all fufu was pounded by hand.
The pepper grinders are dual-purpose and can also grind up tomatoes to make a sauce which is eaten as a condiment or mixed into stews. Dried peppers can also be ground up for a valued condiment and is in high demand.
The recipients were selected based on their work ethic and contributions to the community’s development. Abraham and Linda also made sure that the machines were spread out around the town so that competition would be minimized.
At the presentation meeting at the end of October, Abraham and Linda discussed how much each individual contributed in various ways to the development and well-being of the town. It was noted that often their volunteer work would cut into farming time costing them many hours of labour.
None of these 10 people have had much of a chance in their lives and yet each of them has tried their best to make Dekpor a better place by the volunteer contributions to the town development. They all greatly appreciate the opportunity to build a business and are excited beyond words.
As an added bonus, we want you to appreciate each recipient. Volunteering of one’s time is not a usual practice in Dekpor. Each of these 10 people is an exemplary citizen and we know they all will continue to make a positive impact!
Raphael was elected to an unpaid position as part of the Unity Committee. This group acts as a liaison between local politicians and the town. Raphael has also stepped up to clean toilets for several months when one of the attendants was ill. He did this without telling anyone and expected no reward or payment. He is also a member of the Town Development Committee. Raphael is one of the hardest workers in town and is very much filled with gratitude for this chance to have his own small business with his new cassava grinder.
David has been the school’s PTA chairman for many years. He has worked very hard coordinating efforts done for the school. He is also a member of the Town Development Committee and also acts as advisor in the town when there are any disputes.
His wife makes and sells gari and this cassava grinder will help her a lot as well as given them a chance for make some extra income to support a large extended family.
Agbamavi has been a member of the Town Development Committee and the Youth Development Committee for over 20 years. He acts as an advisor to many people in town and is known for his caring and fairness in settling any disputes. He is so excited to get started with his corn mill to help support his large family and grandchildren. His mechanical skills made him the practical choice to receive the corn mill.
Navi is the person who prepares the lunches for our lunch program. She is so very generous and has given many hungry children extra food when they don’t have money to buy. At her age, taking the physical strain out of preparing fufu is a wonderful gift.
Chamiga is the town linguist and also an integral part of the Town Development Committee. He is responsible for settling arguments and disputes in town. A subsistence farmer with a large family to support, he is so thankful and said that this cassava machine fulfills a long time dream of his to have his own small business. He helps with just about everything that is done in town, and he has been a huge supporter of every project DSDO has done from the start.
Demodzi is a long time member of the Town Development Committee and acts for the town chief when he is not in town. That means settling many disputes, going to see other chiefs on business, and much more. He has raised a large family of his own and taken on several other children when they become bereaved, making sure they have enough to eat and attend school. He is one of our biggest supporters and is always ready to lend a hand or advice for all our projects. He is physically challenged and the cassava mill will be a big help for him to earn funds for his family.
Adja has also been a long term member of the Town Development and Youth Development Committees. The Youth Committee is responsible for communal labour when both men and women do a few hours clearing roadside gutters, weeding the cemetery and helping with building projects in the town. Although has worked tirelessly to help develop the town, he was completely surprised to have been selected and thought that no one had ever noticed his efforts. He is overwhelmed with gratitude to be able to have his own small cassava grinding business.
Baby (yes, that IS her real name) supports her children and grandchildren by selling at a roadside stand. Most people in town know they can go to her for a meal when things are tough because she is incredibly generous. Many children have benefited from her kindness. She is also a member of the Women’s Committee and takes time to help countless others in town. The fufu pounder will be a great addition to her kiosk!
Evelyn comes from a family of 11 children and supports herself and her three children by selling goods at the roadside. She is a long time member of the school’s PTA and is active in the Women’s Committee. She has been a support for many young girls starting out after completing JHS and also does some dress-making when she can. She is thrilled to now have one of the pepper grinders!
Philip has been an active member of our WATSAN Committee since its inception. He is responsible for pumping water from the boreholes and to the town towers. He also does the maintenance on the reverse osmosis water purification system and minor repairs for the entire water system and at the town toilet facilities. He receives an extremely small stipend for this and generally does this work in the evening so he can farm in the day. He has spent extensive time researching water systems and advises others on current farming techniques. He is actively working with elders on town development.