Because of improved irrigation, agriculture is improved in the Village

Because of your donations, Placid has been able to install improved irrigation. Now they can plant a lot of maize (corn), melons, tomatoes and more. And they are even starting to raise pigs. There is no longer hunger in the village.

Here the villagers of Luhombero are planting 6 acres of maize.

Father Placid proudly showing off the tomato field!

And here is the beginning of their pig farming industry.

A Visit to Luhombero in January, 2018

Who do you think of when you think of a Renaissance man (or woman)?

Leonardo da Vinci? Dude who painted the Mona Lisa and harnessed solar energy 450 years before green energy was cool.

Ben Carson? The neurosurgeon and presidential candidate who is currently dismantling the US Department of Housing and Urban Development?

Lisa Kudrow?  She was a biopsychology major before becoming Phoebe on Friends.

Julia Shinnick and her mother visit Luhombero 2018
Julia Shinnick and her mother visit Luhombero 2018

I think of Father Placid.

I first learned about Father Placid Kindata when he was the bursar at Kasita Seminary, one of the premier Catholic secondary schools in Tanzania. Having completed a masters degree in business administration, that administrative role made sense for him.

Then, I met him when he was a parish priest at Kasita parish, a small parish down the road from the seminary. He started a kindergarten there. Due to an unwavering belief in the power of early childhood education, he could often be seen with a swarm of 5-year-olds following him.

Water access is a huge issue in Mahenge, and when there was not enough water to irrigate the small farm he created on Kasita land, he found a natural spring to water it. Then he set about trying to implement year-round farming.

At the same time, he oversaw the construction of a massive, new building to replace the parish church, serving as a contractor for the project. And he taught people how to look after livestock.

Over beers during a visit in the rainy season, Father Placid has told me the stories of how he used to trap animals of all sorts—warthogs, hippos, antelopes, to feed his grandparents and others in his village. He learned to fish and farm around the same time.

During one of these stories, two little girls came and joined us for lunch. Before long, Father Placid was laughing heartily with them over rice and beans. They were born with HIV and their classmates refused to sit with them at lunch, so Father Placid invited them to his house instead.

Julia Shinnick and a mysterious beekeeper
Julia Shinnick and a mysterious beekeeper

Father Placid fixes a myriad of problems arising from life in the under-privileged and remote village of Luhombero, and he’s also fixer of problems of the heart.

As well, one of the things that makes me love Father Placid and proud to call him my friend—beyond his great sense of humor and his talent as a conversationalist and his infectious laugh—has been his unwavering commitment to help people with epilepsy.

A generation ago, many people in the Mahenge region believed that epilepsy was a curse from the devil or ancestral spirits. To this day, many people with epilepsy in the area are discriminated against and thought incapable of working.

Having worked to help Dr. Louise Jilek-Aall provide medications and rehabilitation for people with epilepsy, Father Placid sees the potential and ability in those who have been viewed as hopeless cases.

This especially matters to me in particular because I was born with refractory temporal lobe epilepsy.  I would have been seen as a hopeless case had I been born in Luhombero rather than the United States.

If I had been born in Luhombero there’s a pretty good chance I would have been ostracized at elementary school, too, like those two girls afflicted with AIDS, and I’d most likely be unemployed as an adult.

Julia listens to Father Placid explain more irrigation plans
Julia listens to Father Placid explain more irrigation plans

Instead I’m applying to Ph.D programs. I live and normal and often privileged life.

Father Placid is the sort of person that every young person with epilepsy needs: the teacher who treats them as capable, the social worker who makes sure they are not too anxious, the case worker who makes sure they took their medications, and the friend who invites them to a meal all in one.

Having now visited him in Luhombero, I’ve seen how he serves as the epilepsy jack-of-all-trades for the communities of Luhombero and Mahenge.  Genetics or fate didn’t call him to this work. This is a man who pours his heart and soul into working with people with epilepsy simply because he sees their need and believes that everyone deserves a fair shot at a decent quality of life.

Too often this work with people with epilepsy day-in and day-out goes unrecognized.

It’s important for my good friend Father Placid to know he has allies in North America.

If you’re reading this far, you are likely someone who cares about such matters.

Please help Father Placid help Luhombero.

Please made a donation by contacting us. Even a little makes a huge difference.. Thank you!

— Julia Shinnick

Inge Bolen Writes to Father Placid

Here is a letter we received from a wonderful woman who helps poor people in the Andes.

Inge Bolen dancing
Inge Bolin, a Vancouver Island University anthropology professor, joins in celebrations to honor the deities of nature, continuing halfway through the night. The more one dances, the happier is Pachamama and the better will be the meadows and harvests.

Recently I came across the beautiful letter written by Father Placid Kindata “The Irrigation Systems are installed at Kasita and Luhombero.”  Given climate change, water scarcity and its pollution, it’s wonderful that an irrigation system took priority in your village. Father Placid might want to investigate that work “Engineers without Borders” do in different parts of the world.

This organization was brought to my attention by one of my former students at Vancouver Island University, Lori McFadyen, who built a school in India and has been running it for several years. The school and the village of Sainji are very happy about the work of “Engineers without Borders.” I also will inquire if they can help us in Peru with our water-related projects there. I will be in Peru again in April.

Isn’t it interesting that places without electricity, running water and other amenities always call us back?

Inge Bolin
Vancouver Island

Link to information about Inge Bolin’s work in the Peruvian Andes

The Irrigation Systems are Installed!

We appreciate greatly!!!!!

I am here, Father Placid, to express my appreciation and sincere thanks to everyone who has so kindly donated funds to improve life here at Luhombero and at nearby Mahenge where we help the epileptics.

Your personal commitment is incredibly helpful and allows us to reach our goals. Your assistance means so much to us and actually gives a light to the dreams we want to realize. It is something which is so touching to me to see people from the other continent taking such a concern to help.

For me, this is something which goes beyond my imagination. Growing up here, I would not have thought it was possible. Indeed, your sympathy and love will be a healing to the needy and many disadvantaged people.

I believe whoever helps is a hundred times returned.

So much has been accomplished.

It was a big task to lay down the irrigation project at Kasita and Luhombero. The systems now are done. At the Kasita irrigation project, harvests have started. How joyful it is that we have started harvesting maize and water melons.

Different kinds of vegetables are also planted. This was a dream to the many, but now it is actual. This would be impossible without your support. We thank you very much for being such kind to us.

Here are just photos of the crops. We appreciate greatly!!!!!

Click pictures to enlarge.

Now, with this irrigation system, if will become possible for us to grow food all the year, not just in the growing system. This is something I have long wanted to do, to encourage to the people to make their food always.

It took much time to get the necessary pumps and pipes. I had to make the long trip to Dar es Salaam. But it has all become worthwhile.

Also, right now, at the Mahenge Epilepsy Clinic, the place that was created by “Mama Doctor,” Dr. Louise Jilek-Aall, back in 1960, we have Nurse Grace Kibiriti providing anti-seizure medications to 423 recovering epileptics. It is a wonderful thing that Nurse Grace can dedicate herself so well to this work.

If some people in Canada don’t realize this, I should mention the rate for epilepsy in our Morogoro region, as Mama Doctor discovered, is ten times greater than the global average. Here, like lepers, the epileptics are often discriminated against, and made to feel badly about themselves. That’s why the work we do helping with these people is so necessary.

Currently our rehabilitation program has twelve epileptics working under my direction, doing agricultural work, and receiving proper payment for their labour. This is very important for their self-esteem and also vital because it enables them to live independently, so they are not made to feel they are a burden on their families.

We remain most grateful to all the donors from British Columbia, Canada, who have supported this ongoing program. I particularly wish to thank Ken Morrison and his Provision group for regularly sending along the funds you have all donated to help pay for the workers’ salaries.

A very small amount goes a very long way to changing a person’s life here.

I will be ungrateful if I do not mention Mama Doctor who lies behind the entire scene. It has been her efforts to help the epileptics in Tanzania for more than fifty years that has brought all of us to this point.

The seed that she planted in order to help the epileptics for sure will be continued and improved in a wider perspective. If, as we have hoped, your generosity and support will soon make it possible for us to purchase either a pick up truck or a tractor, that will make our lives so much better.

Click pictures to enlarge.

Luhombero is a very far away place, even in Tanzania. Luhombero is very far from Canada, but this does not mean that one who intends to be at Luhombero cannot reach. Luhombero is reachable. May I take this opportunity to welcome all of you at Luhombero. Alan Twigg is a good link for whoever wants to come to Luhombero or Tanzania in general.

It is a grace to me to know Alan Twigg connects us all here to all of you. And I thank my Bishop for encouraging our efforts to help the people here who need help most. I believe our efforts together will bring a lot of changes not only to the epileptics but also to other people in our area. It is my expectation that the support given will truly solve so many problems and hence realizing a better life full of joy and respect to all of us.

We, the people of Luhombero and Mahenge, wish you all a prosperous life.

And on their behalf, I heartily thank you for your donations.

Yours sincerely,

Fr. Placid Kindata.

workers in Luhombero
Workers Digna Mathias Mayowa, Wenceslaus Wenceslaus Lyamba, Nurse Grace Kibiriti, Kasian Francis Mnyankuli, Fr. Placid Kindata, Sangtus Paul Chidowi, Scholastica Frank Mbawi.
Nancy Morrison visits Father Placid at Luhombero
HELPING HANDS TOGETHER: Nancy Morrison of Provision Group made the difficult trip to inspect Father Placid’s progress in the summer of 2017, along with her husband and co-supporter Ken Morrison.