December 7, 2021
Letter from Africa
The Seaboard Region has taken the lead in reaching out to and staying in touch with our Abayudaya brothers in Africa, coordinating generous donations and marketing Abayudaya crafts by other regions as well. New England Region members have helped provide support and advice for establishing chicken farming there. Recently Allan Zilaba, President of the Abayudaya Men’s Clubs, gave International President Allan Kahan an update of how they are doing in this second year of the pandemic. The message, excerpted below, is a mixture of hope and continuing concern. It has been lightly edited for clarity:
Things are trying to return to normal with a slow countrywide reopening after the second deadly Covid19 wave, which prompted the government to a second lockdown. There had been no vaccines in the country since the first outbreak. Of late, we received the good news when the US donated several vaccines. Now people are starting to take their jabs.
Our economy has been seriously hurt. The community is struggling to get back. Many people lost their income/small businesses and they no longer have a startup. Schools remained closed with no hope of opening up this year. Many of our school-going children have been seriously affected with many cases of early pregnancy, forced marriages, and forced child labor as a consequence of the pandemic.
In our country men are the sole providers of their homes, they are the bread winners. When their incomes get affected, everyone suffers. The pandemic continues to affect everyone including our Men’s groups and Clubs. All social gatherings – including places of worship – were suspended since the first outbreak and there has been barely any activities taking place. The good news is that a few weeks [ago] the president directed a reopening of all places of worship. We are now planning on how to get back to our feet as AMC.
Mark Gelfand and Richard Gray deserve a lot of credit for their dedication and commitment towards our community. Besides Mark’s donation, they have gone ahead to offer consistent training to the current managers of the chicken project for a period nearing to 9 months and we continue to learn from them.
Briefly, the poultry enterprise is a data driven project. We collect a lot of data daily on spreadsheets and it’s through this data collection that to improve. This is a new idea in our community, and perhaps our country, of dealing with the birds. Already many people are learning with us, and we have much hope in the future. Our current pilot farm can accommodate 1000 birds. We have been able to do small experiments within this struggling time and it worked. We could get small profits from sales to sustain the farm without asking for additional funding.
Currently, we have 8 people volunteering at the farm. Our future plan is to expand to our new farmland which has 15 acres and is strategically located near Mbale City, which acts as a hub and trading center to the nearby districts. G-d willing, when our dream is achieved, the new farm shall employ several hundreds of people within and outside the Abayudaya borders.
Thank you for the warm wishes! Sending much love from Abayudaya.
Allan Zilaba, President
Abayudayah Men’s Club
See the link below for continuing updates, including how your region, club, congregation and you can help the Abayudaya and also order beautiful handcrafted Abayudaya kippot and other items: