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Mariachiedza near Chegutu, Zimbabwe, AFRICA

The Sisters of Jesus of Nazareth, Mariachiedza, have a farm-monastery near Chegutu, Zimbabwe. They are a contemplative group, but, with two Fathers of Bethlehem priests, they also conduct retreats and other spiritual shortcourses. They raise their own food on about 250 hectares of land, but times are difficult for some people in Zimbabwe right now, and so they also feed about 25 people a day who come to them for food and who otherwise would have nothing to eat that day. Because of this, they also wanted to build fish ponds and raise tilapia, which is where I came in. Fisheries and aquaculture is what I have done for more than 30 years now. With the financial support of Fr. Armand Nigro, SJ, my good friend Fr. Vince Beuzer, SJ and I travelled to Zimbabwe in 2006 to teach the nuns about St. Paul (Fr. Vince) and to teach them how to build fish ponds and raise fish (me). I taught the nuns "appropriate level technology" so that they in turn could teach it to those who had nothing but land, water, a shovel, perhaps a wheelbarrow and some garden wastes or chicken manure they could use to fertilize the ponds. This technology is patterned after what our Peace Corps' Rural Aquaculture Promotion project did in Zambia right next door (see my Peace Corps galleries). The idea is to raise 30 kg. of tilapia in 300 square meters of water every six months, restocking with the fingerlings spawned by the fish to be harvested, thus sustainable. The month I spent in Zimbabwe was no doubt one of the best months of my life and I would like to go there again and again. The nuns are warm, loving, happy, talented, intelligent people and I have never felt surrounded by more people who loved me than I did while I was there. They are the salt of the Earth and work in their own quiet way to bring about the Kingdom of God on Earth. If you want to know about this project, please visit http://www.catholicanchor.org/archive06/archive07-28-06.html and scroll down the page to the article "Aquaculture in Zimbabwe, with a big help from Anchorage" by Effie Caldarola. If you want to hear the nuns singing and dancing, check out my videos at: http://www.myspace.com/josephusroger
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