Beer & Tomato Gardens

Today we won a HUGE VICTORY in Chiyembekezo’s home village of Mbenjere!! Money is hard to find in the village during this time of year. People are broke and they need to buy seed, fertilizer and start to save for their children’s school fees in January. In the search for money to help in their time of need, many women have begun buying clay pots to brew a local beer called Kachasu. It’s illegal and the cause of many a broken home and needless death.

These aren’t bad people. They’re just desperate. It’s hard for me at times to know how to address situations like this because we regularly help the victims of alcoholism. It’s very common for men to beat their wives and children while in a drunken rage. But it’s the same women who continue the vicious cycle by providing the beer. They honestly don’t think there’s any other profitable way to make money. It’s so frustrating and we’ve had little success fighting this issue. 

This past Sunday we had a full house at Chiyembekezo and it was amazing! But four women who live beside the church were right in plain sight brewing their kachasu! I could see the drunks starting to sit outside their homes while worship was going on. But I’ve learned that it’s wise to move slowly when addressing issues like this. The last thing you want to do in an honor/shame society is to publicly shame someone in front of others. That was last week. 

Today in the village we invited the same husbands and wives together from these four families. They’re all members of our church  and knew why we were there. The women couldn’t even look at us. We could tell they were expecting a scolding from me and I had a pretty good one prepared! But that’s not what they needed. Instead, I looked at them and said how I understood why they were brewing beer and that I believed their intentions were honorable though misguided. I explained that I understood how they just wanted to take care of their families. Immediately their countenances started to soften and I could see our words got through. 

Then I made a proposal for a trade! If they gave me their distilleries and beer, we would provide a startup package with tomato seeds for a new garden! Their brewing days would be done and they would have a lucrative business that could potentially bring in 10x more cash. One by one they agreed as they brought out their pots! It was an exciting moment and a sober one as well. They were putting their faith in our words and that there was a better way. It was a step of faith. 

So right now we have 80L of alcohol in the church and 4 distilleries!  Lol. It’s going to be an interesting Sunday!  

Written by Damon