About us!

We are Amisadai and Louisa Monger (aged 15 and 13). In 2010, we moved to Tanzania in Africa - look at the map below to see if you can find it! We hope you will enjoy reading about our adventures and looking at our photos! Please don't forget to send us a message too!

Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Birthday Time by Louisa Monger

Thank you everybody for the messages you sent for my birthday!  I had a very  fun day!

From mum and dad I got a tea-set and knitting book and from mama and papa I got a drum and sewing kit! For school on my birthday, we had a castle day and made castles and talked about castles. We went out for pizza and I had pink ice cream too!

See my lovely new watch and pink scarf and new shoes!

I had Rainforest party for my birthday on Friday. Amisadai and mummy made spice cake with coffee and cocoa icing with a rainforest and a waterfall on the top. We had rainforest fruit kebabs, cocoa-pepper cookies, guacamole, peanuts and cashew nuts and lots of bananas (and peanut-butter banana sandwiches). We had freshly squeezed orange juice or banana milkshakes to drink.

We played a jaguar hide-and-seek game, had a rainforest treasure hunt and played “Spin-the-Wheel” and “Pin-the-tail-on the-Monkey.” It was a fun time.

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Bag Gardens and a NEW Website!

We have finished learning about the Rainforest now. All the things we learned we put together and made into a website. Well, we did all the writing and typing up, but Mum had to help us with putting it all on the website. It was a bit tricky. It is called Rainforest Explorers and you can find it at www.rainforestexplorers.webs.com

Did you see how to make a Keyhole Garden? Our keyhole garden is doing well, rows of seedlings are growing. The tomatoes are doing extremely well! There is a lot of weeding to do. I pulled some up. Mum did the rest!

Here are the instructions on how to make a bag garden. These are multi-storey gardens! They are good to put near houses in the village where there isn't much space or much water and also it's something kids can look after! You can do as many as you like and put them anywhere!

How to Make a Bag Garden

1. Collect lots of small stones. And have a load of soil and compost mixed together (2:1)

Collecting stones
2. Put an empty tin with both ends taken off in the bottom of a sack. We used a medium-size old flour sack. Fill the tin with stones.

3. Pack the soil around the tin and then take the tin out.

Filling the sack with stones in the tin can and soil all around.
The first layer.

4. Move the tin up, and repeat steps 2-3 until the sack is filled with a central column of stones and a soil-compost mix.

All the way up with stones and soil

5. Support your bag with two sturdy sticks either side.

6. Cut holes in the sack (this is a bit fun).

Cutting the holes

Lots of holes

7. Plant seeds or seedling in the holes and on top.

8. Water your bag garden regularly from the top, directly onto the column of stones. This filters water throughout the bag garden.

9. Harvest a regular supply of vegetables!

(see how ours is coming along!)

(These instructions come from "Send-a-Cow")

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

How to Make a Key Hole Garden

We have been making a key hole garden. It is a lot of hard work! But we are trying one at home before we try them in the village to help people grow nutritious vegetables at their homes. Let me explain about the key hole garden. The key hole garden is called a key hole garden because it is in the shape of a key hole. This is a really good type of garden because it is easy to make, with free materials. It uses kitchen waste, used and dirty water, ashes and animal manure. The design is good for watering and very good for giving nutrients to the soil. Also many people in Tanzania have difficulty getting healthy food, so having a keyhole garden is a good idea because it grows lots of healthy food all year round. Any leftover vegetables can be sold and the money used for school fees and school supplies. 

First of all, some string and sticks are needed. The sticks are tied to both ends of a 120cm length of string. Then one of sticks is pushed into the ground and one person holds the stick in the ground while another person walks around, marking a circle in the ground. Draw an entrance triangle from the circle to the centre (width of 60cm). This is so that you can walk into the centre of the circle.

Measuring and marking the circle
After that, lots of stones and bricks are laid around the circle perimeter. A couple of wheelbarrows full should be enough. A single layer of bricks or stones is enough, but if it is wanted higher, it won't hurt.
Placing the stones in a circle

The finished circle
Then the middle compost basket is built. Find some straight tall sticks to use as posts and then wrap wire around them or line with leaves and grasses. This is where the compost is placed. Compost gives nutrients to the soil which helps the plants to grow. It is needed to be quite high. It should first be filled with soil and then compost. All the kitchen waste like dirty water, scraps of peelings and food and ash from the fire can go in here.

Dad banging the posts to support the middle compost area

We didn't have any loose wire to tie the sticks with
so we just used a big piece we had all the way around
Then lots of tiles, old mugs and pottery and bricks are thrown in your garden and then buried in compost and soil. This helps the drainage and it also helps the plants to not drown. Old tin cans are good too.

After that, lots more compost is taken to your garden and mixed with lots of spades of soil. Then the mixture of soil and compost (2:1) is spread over the key hole garden. It is spread all over the key hole garden till it is a very high mound all over. This compost shouldn't have bits in, but be old compost.

Ready to plant!

After your garden has enough compost and soil in, the seeds can be planted. Don't forget to water them! Then in a couple of months your fine crop will be growing!

Isn't this a great idea? You can try it at home too! We will let you know how it goes in the village in the summer. And we'll let you know how our vegetables do. Some seedling are already starting to appear!

And the other thing we are trying in the garden, I will write about soon. It's BAG GARDENS!

Heavy work!

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Rubbery Rubber!

How do we get Rubber?

How many things can you think of made of rubber? We went to a rubber plantation in the Udzungwa Mountains, Tanzania. A man showed us round and explained everything really well. It was very interesting – it is the best way to learn about rubber in a fun way!  I am now going to explain how we get rubber.

First of all, the sap (latex) is drained out of the tree. This is done with a special tool with a sharp, hooked end. A curved line is scraped in the bark. All the white sap dribbles down the line and then falls into a 1 litre cup, which is attached by string to the tree’s trunk.

Then, the sap is poured into a tray and dipped into water and acid and then laid out to dry. It is dried for two days, then it is squeezed though a mangle. It is now a sheet of rubber about 1 foot.
After that, it is dried in the sun. It is hung on long sticks in the sun. It is dried for a day until it turns brown.           

Next it is taken to a small smoke house. It is hung on sticks again, but this time it is in smoke for a day. It is really stretchy after this!
After that, the rubber pieces are stretched into long strips and hammered together into large bundles, big enough for two or three people to sit on. This bundle weighs about 50 kilograms.
Then those big bundles of rubber packed into trucks and are sold to places all around the world.

 Here are some other interesting facts about rubber…

  • The little bits of dried sap that are left in the 1L cup are sometimes used to make rubber footballs
  • Rubber actually really stinks!
  • When it is drying in the sun, it turns brown!
  • The smoke house makes the rubber sheets really stretchy, about 3 feet!
  • A rubber seedling is taller than 6 feet high when it’s 2½ months old!
  • A rubber tree provides rubber for 50 years
  • Each rubber tree is scraped an inch every month (there can be three grooves in every inch).

Now click here to see the rubber slide show to see what all these steps look like!

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Rainforest Fun in the Amazing Udzungwa Mountains!

We went to the Tanzanian rainforest for two nights last week. It was a great holiday and we had lots of fun.  We drove about 5 hours to meet our friends, the Dixons, at Hondo Hondo which is a lovely place to stay in the Udzungwa Mountains. Hondo Hondo is named after the Hondo Hondo bird. Louisa and I had our own Banda (a fancy tent) to sleep in – all by ourselves! The first night I dreamt there were crocodiles all around us and then woke up and thought it was real! There was a really huge thunderstorm in the night and the lightning made it look like daytime. It was very loud and we thought the tent might leak. Also in the night, you can hear lots of noises like frogs, monkeys and insects. And sometimes elephants walk through the camp. In the morning there was so much water everywhere that that it came up to our knees in places on the path. We had loads of fun wading and getting very wet with Elia and Finley.
Sanje Falls
We went on a long hike up a mountain to the Sanje Waterfall. It was a 6.3km walk and very steep going up. We had guide called Amini who lead us and helped us. We saw lots of monkeys swinging and screeching in the trees. They fly through the air from tree to tree. We saw the indigenous Red Colubus and Sanje Mangeby and Black and White Colubus.  We saw lots of interesting trees and plants. Many are used for medicine and our guide told us what the different leaves and bark were good for. One helps tummy aches, one for diarrhoea, one for having babies. We found a teak tree and rubbed and twisted the leaf and it turned red because of its tannins. This stops the elephants and other animals from eating it. People use it for lipstick! I tried it but it made me itchy! It also didn’t taste nice! Another interesting tree is a softwood tree which was used by the Hehe tribe a long time ago to call meetings because it makes a loud thudding noise when you bang it with a stone, which echoes through the forest. I tried it, but nobody came! We saw the poisonous antiaris toxicana tree. The sap is used for poison arrows.

We had lunch at the top of the waterfalls. We were very high up. We climbed onto the big rock at the very top and could see down the valley for miles and miles. We dipped our feet in the pools in the rock and looked over the edge. It drops 180m down! Our guide had his legs dangling right over the edge!
We went back down and swam in the pool at the bottom of the huge waterfall. We could see how high we had been before! It was really loud and there was lots of spray. It also started to rain while we were swimming.  On the way back, I walked in a path of army ants and they bit my feet. I screamed! Then Dad got bitten when he tried to help me.  Ouch!

The Nature Trail
We also went on a nature trail. We had to find 12 number logs and then look for teak (red lipstick) leaves, the strangler fig tree or elephant poo, or monkeys. It was very fun but we missed Number 7 and 10. We also got a bit lost! At first we went wrong so Ben and Mum went to see if they could see a path and then the next moment, we saw then hanging on branches like koalas! We later found out that there was a deep gully. They looked so funny! Then we found the trail and started again. We saw lots of indigenous plants and fungi and there were lots of bridges and gullies as well.

Click here for a slide show of our Rainforest Adventure.

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

How Do We Get Coffee? And Coffee Maths!

Masumbo Coffee Field Trip

While Dad was away in Mwanza, Louisa and I went with Mum on a fun coffee expedition to Masumbo, where our friends, the Moyers, grow their coffee. David showed us all around and explained everything about growing coffee. He even let us eat a coffee cherry! It didn't taste very nice. Inside (in a slimy coat) there were two coffee beans, which we had to spit out! Louisa has made a slide show (with some extra help at the end) which will tell you all about coffee and how it is grown and processed.

Learning about coffee with David
Louisa with a coffee cherry in her mouth!

And here is Louisa's Coffee Presentation ...

Here are some tricky problems for you to solve.

You get 4kg of coffee cherries from one coffee bush. David has 4500 bushes, so how many kilograms of cherries does he harvest?

You get 1kg of green coffee beans from 7kg of cherries. So how many kilograms of green coffee beans can you get from 1 bush? How much will David get from all his bushes?

The ratio of green coffee to roast coffee is 1:0.88. So how much actual roasted coffee comes from 1 bush? How much does David get from all of his bushes?

You can plant about 2200 bushes on a hectare of land. About many cherries can you get per hectare? How much roasted coffee can you get per hectare?

When you roast the green beans you lose 12-20% weight, but the volume increases by 50 -80%. Can you make up a problem with these facts?

First prize to the first person to send in all the right answers! I couldn't get them all!

The Coffee Machines

To help David, we thought we would invent a machine that could do all the steps for him. Here are our blueprints!

Some Other News ... Pigs!

Two weeks ago, we got two pigs! Mummy was really excited and so was I. We got one boy and one girl. We have called them Peppa and Percy. We got them in Magozi from Marco. They are four months old, now nearly five months. We are really enjoying having them!

... Eye problems

Louisa has been having eye problems. She says that everything suddenly goes all tiny. We have noticed how her pupils go very large. We found her trying to put a glue stick in her mouth sideways! So she went to Dar with dad, to get it checked out but the eye doctor said he didn't know what it was and couldn't find anything wrong with her eyes. Esther Shaw's sister who is an eye doctor, says she has seen it before and can help. So Louisa will go back with dad in two weeks.