Treating animal skins

Thank you for sending the back copies of Pas à Pas. Many things in them interested me, especially about goats. I have started to raise milk-goats. I do not yet know how to milk them, because they don’t like it and kick the dish over! What interests me most is how to treat the skins with natural plant products that we can find here in West Africa, because the products that are normally talked about are both impossible to find here and out of our price range. The skin has to keep its wool and be very supple, to turn into cushions and other pretty things, because this is a very profitable artisan outlet.

Mme Giordani, Soro M-Christine, P 71, Ferkéssédougou, Côte d’Ivoire.

The Laoumbeo Restaurant

My earlier letter mentioned the women’s groups of Ngaoundaye (Footsteps 39) and their efforts over five years to open a restaurant. Many traders used to pass through the town, on the road from Cameroon. Alas, in 1998, an exceptional flood carried away the bridge which had allowed lorries to pass. The traffic had to be diverted and the potential clients vanished. However, the women saw that instead they could supply meals to the families of the many patients hospitalised in the Health Centre. Many come from Cameroon and do not have a place to stay. A fine building was constructed next to the hospital, thanks to an Italian project.

A cook is employed to prepare meals each day. The twelve women of the group share the remaining work between them so as not to be away from their homes too often. The large bright room is decorated with gourds and local pictures and contains six tables. A large veranda allows coffee to be taken outside. An artist from the village has painted pretty decorations on the panels of the blinds which keep out the sun. The opening ceremony took place with the presence of the Sub-Prefect, the Mayor, the doctor and all the womens’ husbands.

It will take several months before we know how profitable the restaurant will be. Will the women get tired of sharing the work? Will they find financial ‘backers’? Will the restaurant make a profit? However, the women have proved to themselves that they are capable of organising themselves to achieve something completely new. They have learned to work together, to discuss, and to share the tasks between themselves. That can only be positive.

If you are passing through Ngaoundaye one day, be sure to come and dine at the Laoumbeo Restaurant. You will also find there copies of Pas à Pas magazine which are made available for the restaurant’s customers to read!

Chantal Gaudin, The Ngaoundaye Women’s Group, BP 23, Bouar, Central African Republic.

Rain harvesters

Rain is a gift from God which has been neglected by many people. In Uganda only a fifth of homes harvest rain water. Our group (called the Rain Harvesters) is committed to challenge people and institutions (especially schools) about the need to harvest rainwater. The cheapest way is usually through building ferrocement tanks and we provide a simple leaflet and guidelines. We are grateful to Footsteps for the practical information on building ferro-cement tanks which we have found most useful.

A number of families and schools have now built these tanks and are sharing their skills with others in the area.

Dickson Tenywa, c/o Nsanbi FG Church, PO Box 15131, Kibuye, Uganda.

Recycling of plastic bags

I am head of the Niamey Bible Centre, in Niger, where our library regularly receives Footsteps. We are planning a series of training sessions on starting up and managing micro-projects, based on training material from SECAAR.

One of these projects concerns the recycling of plastic bags. Two groups have experimented with the idea of weaving ropes from old plastic bags. Ill health has prevented one group continuing and the other found the ropes were so strong they injured animals. However these ‘ropes’ show much potential and could be used for other purposes, such as weaving into sacks or chairs. The work could combine both protection of the environment (since used bags are spread about everywhere and damage the health of the animals which eat them) and production and use of the ropes. Street children could be employed to collect the bags. The work would require only a little investment and it could use a great deal of labour.

We are seeking individuals or groups who have had similar experience with this type of material, to exchange ideas and to receive advice. Please write to:

Philippe Hutter, Centre Biblique de Niamey, SIM, BP 10.065, Niamey, Niger. Tel/Fax: +227 73 46 76

Trees for the new millennium

We share all the information from Footsteps with others. To mark the millennium, our project – now known as Nyota Agroforestry – has planted 4,200 teak trees together with avocados and citrus fruit trees. We encourage others locally and worldwide to follow our example!

Thomas Juma Ayub, PO Box 43, Koboko, Uganda. 

Information about epilepsy

The Global Campaign Against Epilepsy has recently been established to improve ways in which epilepsy can be treated in developing countries. Can any readers help by sharing information about the following topics?

  • The kind of training provided to healthcare workers on epilepsy.
  • Education given to the local community concerning epilepsy.
  • Ways of integrating epilepsy services into primary health care.
  • Ongoing and sustainable health treatment for epilepsy.

If you have any useful information, please send it to: Robert Scott, Global Campaign Against Epilepsy, 2nd Floor, 33 Queen Square, London, WC1N 3BG, UK