Field Notes 02: On Finding Our Way 
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Field Notes 02:

On Finding Our Way

Greetings from Tanzania!

This first bit of news is coming several months late and we've struggled to find words in terms of how we should talk about it. We want to be kind, while also naming our own frustration and disappointment. The situation we currently find ourselves in has been the cause of much stress and anxiety. 

In short, EITanzania, the organization that we partnered with and was to help us get resident permits to remain in the country is transitioning... Stateside, things are okay. But on this side of things, issues have been revealed that are beyond our control but will prevent the organization from continuing to exist, or continuing in the same capacity.

We were made aware of this news shortly after submitting our paperwork to immigration for our resident permits, and just after our visas expired. For two long months, we were unable to do much for fear of risking deportation. We were then advised to attempt to cross the border into Kenya and attempt to purchase another tourist visa. This first attempt to cross the border was quite the ordeal, not to mention expensive. We are still on tourist visas and per requirement, we have to leave the country every three months. This visa expires in July. Technically, we are not allowed to "work" with this visa. 

We aren't sure what will come of EITanzania. There has been talk of hope for potential repair. We certainly have no hard feelings toward those involved. We love the folks of Ekklesia — they're some of our best friends. They've helped us so much in getting established here, as well as support us and our work financially. We are grateful for them. But any hope for repair will take both time and money. Because of our situation of desperately needing resident permits, we have no other option but to move forward with establishing After Trade as an NGO. 

Despite the circumstances, this urgency to make After Trade official feels like a much needed push in the right direction. Indeed, it is something we had considered even before things began to fall through with EITanzania. Until now we were never certain as to whether After Trade would ever be an NGO or simply remain an operative framework for the work we do here. While these changes are unexpected, we are finding a way forward.

Truly, this move will open doors of opportunity for After Trade that before would have never been possible.

As an NGO, we'll now have an opportunity to acquire land — even a small organic coffee plot that could be used for training. This would enable farmers to see how coffee could be grown using permaculture principles, with fruit, vegetables, and herbs intercropped among coffee trees. This particular NGO status we are pursuing also has a business component, so when we are ready to partner farmers with our roaster friends in the States, we'll be able to. Additionally, while we will not profit money as an organization from these partnerships, the funds received would be funnelled right back into our work — most importantly, right back into the hands of farmers and families. We will have Tanzanians serving on the board of the organization whose wisdom will be invaluable in shaping what After Trade becomes. We also have plans to begin hosting workshops in the Spring of 2016 for both expats and natives covering topics such as permaculture, organic gardening, creating micro-climates, integrated pest management, composting, herbal medicine-making, seed-saving, etc.
One benefit of the power being out so often here, is that we use a lot of matches. We save our matchstick boxes for storing all the tiny seeds we save from our land, or gifted to us by friends (pictured above).

As in the States, establishing an NGO here can be expensive. We've been advised that the total cost could be as much as $2,000. We've also learned that the prices have gone up for resident permits — instead of being $500 each, they are now $1,000 each. At one time, we had money set aside for this. However, having to leave the country every three months has nearly depleted our savings.
We need a total of $4,000 to make this happen and finally be legal to live and work in this country. 

While we feel the weight of having asked for so much already, the reality is that we would never have gotten this far alone. And even still, we don't have what it takes to establish an NGO and get our resident permits. We also don't have another option. Despite not being able to afford this, we are moving forward as though we can. We're in the process of establishing a board and writing our memorandum. In many ways, we're taking a step of faith. If you believe in us and the work of After Trade, and want to help us move forward in being able to live and work in this country, we would be so grateful if you'd consider giving to help keep us here. You'll find information on our site on how to donate. But if you are able to give specifically to this need, please email us and let us know directly. This will enable us to get the process started much faster. 
If you're able to help, contact us here >>>
We've become friends with a coffee grower and recently spent time visiting his village and walking through coffee fields. This particular village is one that still has smallholder farmers trying to make a living off of coffee. As things become more settled with After Trade, this will be the village in which we fully begin this work!
As many of you know, Stephanie continues to work as an assistant theology editor for The Other Journal, an academic journal based out of Seattle that publishes essays, creative writing, reviews, and art, around the intersection of theology and culture. 

We've been invited to publish short essays on our work here in Tanzania. Our first essay was published on National Coffee Day. Give it a read and let us know what you think! 

Read: "A Dispatch from the Field(s)" >>>
One of our dear friends, Taylor (pictured above), will be joining us and our work here in Tanzania. Taylor is knowledgeable in herbal medicines and will be sharing her wisdom with us and local farmers on how to make tinctures and salves. We are living in a country that is very much dependent on the land, and yet people are becoming increasingly estranged from it. Many are suffering with both preventable and treatable sicknesses and diseases. Without having access to modern medication — which we're all guilty of having become too dependent on — the fate of many is death. For those who do have access to modern medication, at the first onset of what appears to be a sickness, people immediately see a doctor for medication.
Traditional wisdom on how the land can also heal us has been long forgotten. 

We have been attempting to learn as much as we can about the medicinal properties found in indigenous foods, herbs, and weeds here. Taylor will be greatly assisting us in this task. The native flora is different here than in the States, and so together we hope to track down some traditional, nearly forgotten uses of plants as medicine in this country. The salve pictured above is one that Taylor made using Neem, one of the indigenous trees here. This particular salve is good for healing skin irritations, cuts and burns, and the like. 

Much like our work with After Trade, this sort of wisdom-sharing is less about introducing new information, and more about helping people remember and return to their ancient agrarian roots. We'll be hosting workshops after Taylor arrives to share some practical ways that locals can once again heal themselves of various ailments solely form all that the land offers.

We are anticipating her arrival in January or February of 2016. She has just raised enough to purchase a one-way ticket, but is still raising funds on GoFundMe for a return flight. 

Consider helping Taylor get to Tanzania >>>
As mentioned above, we've planned to begin hosting workshops in the Spring of 2016 for both expats and natives. One of the topics covered will be on seed saving, yet another ancient practice that is increasingly forgotten as the government seeks to control and enforce the buying of GMO hybrid seeds that come already treated with pesticides. These seeds are marketed with the promise of better harvests and no pests. Already poor farmers buy into these seeds, sometimes on loans that they'll hope to repay after harvest. But all too often, these crops are small and don't live up to their promise. With little choice farmers remain in debt, having to buy into the same system again in the next year. Such seeds are what Dr. Vandana Shiva calls "suicide seeds" because they are genetically constructed to not reproduce, which means they cannot be saved and replanted the following season. 

We are hoping to have Taylor bring over tons of organic, heirloom, open-pollinated seeds when she comes. If anyone would be interested in donating seeds, let us know! We'll take whatever you can give. We'd also be especially grateful for some medicinal herbs. Regarding the latter, we specifically need the following plants. We are currently in conversation with a school of herbal medicine about a possible partnership and need a specific variety of plants to get us started. 

We're also hoping to get a small seed bank going here in Moshi to continue to share seed and encourage others to do so as well. In many ways, donating seeds is a way to help seed the future here, even from afar. So long as everyone will continue to save seed, this will be a gift that keeps on giving. If you'd like to help, you can mail seeds to the following Stateside address:
Stephanie Berbec
3729 US Hwy 21
Hamptonville, NC 27020

Financial Update:

We are still incredibly grateful and genuinely in awe that we have such friends and family who believe in us and the work of After Trade enough to make it possible for us to live here and work among farmers and families. 

As aforementioned, our frequent trips out of the country every three months has nearly depleted our savings and somehow we need to move forward with establishing After Trade as an NGO and finally get our resident permits. We need at least $4,000 to make this happen. If you can help in this regard, we would be so grateful. Please contact us directly.

From the bottom of our hearts: 
thank you, thank you, thank you.
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