Last Thursday I touched down in Jo'burg and after a restless night, picked up a rental car and headed north past Pretoria and on to Ukulima Farm. I am always a bit surprised at how easy it is to adjust to driving on the left side of the road!
Josh (ECHO's Project Manager) met me at the ECHO house but Tim was down working in the test plots so I headed down to the ECHO pivot. The Moringa trees are all growing nicely and a special drip irrigation has been installed. The ECHO weather station has been set up and once a missing cable has been installed, we should be able to track the weather in our field through a direct satellite link.
As expected, since this is the year we see what grows well and want doesn't, there are mixed results in the plots. Some are growing really well and Tim was counting nitrogen fixing nodules finding some very encouraging results.
I met several of the partners and saw several of the project sites. The staff spoke very highly of Josh. We have a great team there. Josh put on a great braii my last night which was a real delight.
Night time in Africa is so very special. The star are beyond imagination as one lays in bed staring out the open windows. The night breeze rustles through the thorn trees and about the time I started to fall asleep a jackle begins his yiping ... it's great to be back in Africa.
Early Sunday morning, I headed back on the road to Jo'burg to catch a flight to Arusha Tanzania.
As the sun set behind Mt Meru on the drive from the airport to Arusha, the smells of Africa passed through the taxi and all of the memories that are associated with those smells. Charcoal smoke from a families cook fire, cut grass from the forage pile by the road, burning trash - the results of the roadside being cleaned, all memories of Africa.
The symposium delegates, including former interns, staff, and Board members, are mixing, talking, and learning from each other here at the Nauru Springs hotel. It is fun to listen to the soft roar during breaks in the program as delegates connect with each other. This is the sound of networking.
The planning committee did a great job of putting together a program with good diversity. Well over 100 were in attendance and almost 20 countries represented.
It is safe to say that the interest in ECHO having a permanent presence in East Africa is very strong and when God provides the resources to make this happen, it will be very well received.