Traditional medicine

Scientific tests have proved the healing properties of a plant used in traditional African medicine to stop bleeding from wounds. Aspilia africana (Compositae) is widespread across Africa and is traditionally used to stop bleeding and to clean the surfaces of sores. It is also used to treat rheumatic pains, as well as bee and scorpion stings. For more information, see www.biomedcentral.com/1472-6882/7/24

Gordon Wilkinson, Area Volunteer Coordinator, Tearfund, South East Rivendell, The Limes Felbridge, East Grinstead, RH19 2QY, UK. Email: tearfund@felbridge.com

Recycling waste

I work with the Diobass Platform, a community-based development programme in Kivu in the Democratic Republic of Congo. We are trying to do something about the ecological problem caused by all the litter and waste that is dumped in urban areas. Since March 2007, we have been sorting the waste and producing compost which can be used by local farmers.

Due to climate change and deforestation, we urgently need to protect the remaining forests by finding alternative fuels. We want to use certain waste products to make carbon bricks which can be used for fuel for cooking and heating. Our first attempt failed, as we did not have a binder to compact the carbon bricks. I would really like to hear from Footsteps readers who know of any basic techniques for this. We feel that recycling waste products could create revenue and employment for thousands of homes and ensure a better quality of life. I would be very happy to hear from other readers and share experiences.

Innocent Balagizi, Diobass Platform, Kivu

Care for orphans

I was very happy when I received the information about child care in Footsteps 72. I work for PYSOW Rural Development Programme in Uganda. We are trying to help orphans and vulnerable children in our community. Most of these children have lost their parents because of AIDS. Our community is very poor so it is difficult to provide for the needs of the children. These needs include accommodation, education, protection, clothes, food and health care. We would like some more advice on child care from Footsteps readers. We would particularly appreciate advice on how to help child-headed families.

Julius Blasio Mugwanya, Coordinator, PYSOW Rural Development Programme, PO Box 908, Masaka, Uganda

HIV and food security

We have been running ‘field schools’, which provide training for adults on farming techniques to help crops resist disease and pests, only using pesticide as a last resort. The ‘field schools’ method of training is through discussing and exchanging experience and helping the producers to find their own solutions to the problems they discover. We help them to use appropriate technology and protect the ecosystem. HIV is a problem that can affect crop production, because if people are sick they cannot work in the fields. So we have also been holding training sessions and raising awareness about HIV as part of our field schools.

Manzukula Mbiyavanga, Av Masielele 12, Mbanza Ngungu, Bas-Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo

Local translations for tree growing

Since our letter ‘Ezang: a multi-purpose tree’ was published in Footsteps 65, we have received a lot of feedback. Many of the people we work with in Cameroon found it difficult to understand the technical terms used to discuss the methods for growing trees. So we decided to publish details of these methods translated into local languages. These guides cover:

  • How to make cuttings
  • Layering
  • Grafting
  • Building a forcing-frame for cuttings and layers
  • Setting up a timber yard and managing the seed bed.

We hold translation workshops to enable us to produce these documents in the various local languages. In this way we are helping to reduce poverty and malnutrition within communities, and at the same time promoting literacy. We are keen to help any community that is interested in cultivating trees and would like to have the documents written in their own language to help them better understand the various methods involved.

Gaston D Bityo Project Coordinator, Volontaires au service du developpement (VSD), BP 14 920, Yaounde, Cameroon Email: bizang_vsd@yahoo.fr or gaston_bityo@kastanet.org