Rufaro Makamure

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since Dec 07, 2016
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Recent posts by Rufaro Makamure

I am at a point in my life where I think I have touched rock bottom. I am surprised though because of how I feel. There is the normal feeling of being low but at the same time I do not think I have ever fought for things as much as I am doing now and there is an unusual feeling of so much hope.

I have realized I am a complete misfit, I am not successful in any shape and form as is defined in today's vocabulary, but I am satisfied.

Things at the plot are at a stand still, the gigatonne challenge has had a surprising left turn and has seen my group splitting. It's as if nothing is working for me.

In all this I have been consistent with not compromising some things that I believe are fundamental unless I learn otherwise, and I find myself letting go of the future and it's uncertainties. If there is one thing I am learning it's how unpredictable the future is.
4 days ago
The economic growth at the plot has been easier to write about, because the results are visible and tangible. In most cases there were steps we could follow technically.
It was clear that we needed to develop/ improve in various aspects in order for us to experience life fully in an enjoyable way. We focused on the area we were familiar with, economic development. Sustainability was also key, and this led us to finding regenerative ways of profitable farming. We knew we had to build the soil through use of zai pits, mulching and composting. We started collecting rain water, improving knowledge on crops we were growing and we stopped using commercial fertilizer.
We have seen the place generating income slowly and steadily. The system we have created is relying less and less on an individual or on money as the sole incentive. It’s been 2 months without me being involved in the daily activities at the plot and without leaving instructions on the running of the place and I found Ngoni
1. Has started working on zai pits in preparation for the growing season
2. Is still looking for mulch
3. He dug out a neighbours’ garbage pit and filled most beds with compost he found.
4. And all other things we have been establishing

We are now 2 guardians of this space and it’s exciting. Below are images he sent on plot progress

I mentioned in passing how we can use soil from the compost pit we dug during the Gigatonne challenge, to raise beds that are prone to being flooded and we divert water towards this composting pit. He has also started on this.

Our stagnation in growth made me look into other aspects in life and I am finding that we need to work more on social development like being in the present, improving self-concept, self-love, team work, communication,… etc., for us to reignite the economic growth. Most of this realization is coming through my participation in the gigatonne challenge, where I not only work with a team but I am a team leader. I remember it was difficult to write my role as a team leader when we were filling out forms and I had to be pushed. I have to face so many of my social insecurities, l am completely out my comfort zone.
I know Ngoni has had growth of his own, from thinking he is not worthy taking part in the challenge at all, to gaining some confidence and willingness to give it a shot. The willingness to improve our self-confidence is just one example of one of the things we are both improving on. A friend who advised me to look into self-love, recently connected me to someone who works with people to develop this and I am excited because opportunities seem to come at the most needed times.
3 weeks ago
We did not make it through to Level 3 of the Gigatonne challenge and we have to redo L1, to help us with team building.

This is also proving to be a little difficult because commitment levels are currently low as everyone is busy trying to earn a living, so I am  not sure how all this will end. What this experience though is giving me is the ability to work with a team which is an extremely foreign idea to me.

As for the plot we have been harvesting sweet potatoes for home consumption since May. So it has served both as breakfast and lunch in some days. It has made it easier to bring back the topic of intercropping. We are enjoying the benefits of diversifying and even though the bean plant and nyemba (cowpeas) did not do too well, I took the opportunity to sell this idea once more, imagining how things could have been if we had harvested cowpeas. I did not have to say too many words.
1 month ago
We have had such an intense month for our Gigatonne challenge. We finished L2 and we managed to transport, weigh and compost 910.6kgs of waste in the last three days of the challenge.

One thing we are excited about is that the Gigatonne challenge has given birth to the start of our own community based organisation called Shuwonetwork. Which comes from Shona words meaning hope, wish and desire.

We are now going to be a part of a group and I am excited to see what changes it will bring for Ngoni and me at the plot.
2 months ago
We are now entering the final week of the Gigatonne challenge. In this week we should be preparing to present the work we have done, that is how much waste we have managed to collect and compost and whether we have managed to reduce the month’s target of carbon abatement equal to 10 tonnes.
Currently our team has an empty pit to show for the month. The month has been filled with an attempt to build capacity to be able to tackle this challenge. For level 2, we are supposed to collect about 9000kgs of waste that could have gone to a landfill and compost it. When I picked my team members, I focused on people who could spare sometime for collecting waste, open minded enough to even consider collecting waste without a direct payment/ incentive and I was not big on the financial position. Level 1 was easy enough, we just needed to fill up a couple of wheelbarrows to get 400kgs of waste from nearby illegal dumpsites. I overlooked the psychological effect this process had on team members. We would have never guessed the work we needed to do, though it was doable. I suspect team members did some reflecting after level one and the disadvantages were outweighing the advantages. These are people who live in a place where an incentive for doing something is limited to a direct monetary payment, who are just getting by and the room for risk taking is small, so doing something basing on faith that we might be creating jobs for ourselves is a little bit too much to ask from them, but I do not see too many options within reach. They do have some knowledge about the climate change crisis but sustenance for the day, is the highest priority when it comes to daily activities. They did not have to spell it out for me when I approached them the second time for us to take up level 2, which now required 10 times more effort and still without a direct incentive.  I was not too worried about capacity because it was obvious to me that the city council, which is responsible for waste management would be willing to support us with transport and access to even more waste and a space for composting. Then after level 2 it becomes a job we are actually paid to do, which is what we all need. The city council has goals in line with carbon abatement and it already has a trailer/ tractor that sometimes collects waste from illegal dump sites and we were going to be free labour for the month. I did not think I had too much convincing to do. I sent in a pitch, and then a proposal and it looked like all was well, but up to this day the document is yet to be read.
This derailed everything and further demotivated my team. But I had to figure out something and new doors were opened. We now have a company that’s willing to help. I know together we have the capacity to reach the target in time. I have my last shot at selling the idea of our capability on Monday and less than a week to collect and compost 9000kgs of waste.
Already they have been able to help us with human capital, our team members had dropped to 3 but they have boosted our number.
2 months ago
We have reached a state where  growth has just plateuaed and no matter what kind of information or idea that comes, our growth is just so small and insignificant. To change this I planned to become actively involved in a regeneration SEEDS group, hoping that through interacting with the different people, with unique backgrounds, maybe different skills and perceptions can develop. To do this, I have been trying to push level 2 of the gigatonne challenge which  was introduced through SEEDS. This time it's even harder than what I experienced in level 1. Reducing carbon emissions could be important, but the priority around me is survival, and mobilising a team to tackle this challenge has been/ is still an impossible mission. I targeted people with some kind of exposure and open mindedness and after two weeks we have dug our fist pit for composting. The people who helped me in digging the pit are Ngoni and his wife and it is really because of our relationship and they say they are still yet to understand what carbon abatement is about. What I like about the challenge is we might be creating jobs for ourselves and this is what we need to keep our project running and the icing on the cake is that it is still in line with regeneration.
2 months ago
I went to the plot and I liked what I saw. The Sandy part of our field caught my eye especially. It's been stuffed with so much grass, I am sure at the end of the year there will be a visible change on before continuous feeding and after images of the soil. Mitchell is also going to school now and she will be with her parents which is another thing to celebrate.

They have started working on the zai pits in the field which is also good.

I am continuing with exploring selling samoosa, now pies..., e.t.c, until I find the right thing that sells consistently.
2 months ago
It's been weeks since I have visited the plot, I am proud to show how there is so much progress regardless. There are some values we have been building on that are now showing and I am glad.
Based on what I have come to understand wealth is built from, (i.e. Land, labour and capital),

-we now grow soil to create value on the land we have and we get as much of the resources we can from what's surrounding us. Ngoni has been making chicken soup, even for sweet potatoes and he is now big on mulching, without any external push

-labour has to be productive labour. This is an area which as obvious as it sounds was/is the hardest practically. Productivity is something we are learning and trying to increase the value of our labour in relation to time and effort. We have been gradually growing and we both are trying to understand each other in this context. We seem to be at opposite extremes where I would rather we grow gradually while watching our capacity and avoiding getting to shorten the lifespan of the things we already have, to be specific the pump. There aren't any running hours that came with the manual so it's pretty much guess work and my judgement could lead us to under utilise the pump. Ngoni on the other hand is for taking risks and sometimes it has proven to help in getting us to the next step but in some instances we loose in times we could have avoided it. We have increased the vegetables, added beans and onion to plants we are learning to grow and with maize we have increased the probability of a harvest though all the external factors are going against this. Ngoni in the past weeks replanted the one side which had vegetable beds with old plants and when he bought chicken manure, he offered to go and clear the manure so as to get more. All this he initiated. He is also experimenting with tomatoes and okra,  both which he is using water from the well. The tomatoes are looking so healthy and so far they have overcome the nights that are getting colder and colder and he is excited to prove to me that this risk was worth it. His effort is more and coming from an inner drive.

-capital: All the time we have spent together learning and growing is allowing me to include capital building, without needing to be at the plot 24/7. I have been selling initially turon/ banana fritters. These have in some cases really sold and in some cases failed dismally because it's a completely new product which either is liked or not accepted. The inconsistency has not been profitable and now I am selling samoosas. I can't tell yet on profits as I have just started, but l am determined to grow the capital we have, instead of us just being a pipeline, where capital slips through/ past us.

3 months ago
I have been doing a little research in the past days to find a fundraising idea to support the main project of growing a self-sustaining plot/homestead.

One thing that is in abundance is the banana fruit and I found something I can make with it, that is feasible and that is not in the market, at least common market. A turon or banana fritter. I tried it out today and I have a strong feeling it will sell and it's such a unique but simple product. I need to just add a few touches like try it out with cinnamon to make it a little complex to add value.

My sisters will be coming for the Easter holiday, so they will be my critics and from then on I will try it out in the streets.

The other thing that has been on my to do list was approaching the city council to try and get them to help my friends and I, to do level 2 of the Gigatonne challenge ( the one where we are composting waste from illegal dumpsite to help reduce carbon emission which I mentioned earlier). This too has a potential of having us earn a living and for me it will help me connect with other people around me which is huge for social networking.

I just submitted a written pitch today to city council and I am crossing my fingers, that they will like it and will be onboard.

PS: I took an image of a vendor's spot in my neighborhood, it's not as close and clear, I didn't want to cause any trouble but it gives an idea of how much bananas are cheap, if one vendor can afford a whole cart. In town it's even worse, it's not a cart full of bananas after every corner but possibly after every stone throw away and we only eat bananas as fresh fruit, with banana cakes being found in the big supermarkets. In homes it's rare to find a banana as an ingredient for anything other than being eaten fresh.
3 months ago
The onion sets we planted are starting to look gorgeous. We still have to wait though to add mulch in the beds, because the king onions are still tiny.

When we started collecting grass that we will use for mulching later, we were piling it along bed-sides. We realized that the free range area for ducks is a perfect place for storing our grass. The ducks' droppings will add more value to the grass and there will be added comfort for the ducks too.The grass outside the beds is way older than that in
the free range area but it actually looks the opposite.
3 months ago