In February we headed back over to Shalom to see how everything was progressing and make plans for 2010's project development activities. It was great to see the boys again. The night we arrived at Shalom, they greeted us with a firecracker display, and Geoff loved the chance to let off a few bungers himself. The boys were all well, growing taller, studying hard in the mornings and evenings, and helping with jobs around the farm. Their December exam marks showed everyone had passed and 2 of the boys were in the top 5 in their classes, which is a fantastic effort. Their English is improving much faster than our Tamil, and each visit its easier to chat and communicate with them.
The farming side of things is slowly developing. There were lots of chickens everywhere, 6 goats, one due to give birth soon, and one of the dogs had just had 3 puppies. The boys took Karen on a grand tour of the fields and enjoyed pointing out all the different veggies, watermelons and banana plants. During our second week, we went cow shopping and thanks to Kenmore Baptist Church (KBC) Kid's Church we now have our first cow and calf.
Unfortunately the continued drought conditions are inhibiting the full development of the farming activities. The irrigation bore supplies enough water for our current number of animals and about a quarter of the land. However to cultivate the rest of the fields and support 10 cows and 30 goats, we need to get good monsoon rains each year.
Israel continues to do a great job looking after everything and everybody. We discussed plans for expanding the income generating activities and worked on business plans for the cows and goats; visited tailoring businesses; goat breeding farms; and talked with a group of widows in Madurai who we want to help find ways to earn income.
Geoff and Karen with the boys at church in Madurai.
Israel with the boys checking out photos on the laptop.
Karen with some of the boys on the front steps at Shalom.
Saturday afternoon rest time for everyone including Geoff.
Joshua, Potti and Kalimuthu with the irrigation bore and tank.
The veggie gardens. The taller plants are food for the goats.
Irrigating the banana plants.
Every day the gardens produce a fresh batch of veggies.
One of the goats is due to have babies in March.
The new cow and calf arriving from a nearby village.
The baby calf is very cute. When it's full grown it will also supply milk.
The man in blue is Ponnumani's Grandfather, he came to live with the boys and tend to the crops.
The boys showing off the drawings they drew to thank KBC Kid's church for the new cow and calf.
Kalimuthu and Divagar with their drawings.
Meeting with a group of widows in Madurai to discuss ideas to help them find work