The Olive branch is a Canadian charity providing services for people in one of the poorest regions of rural Tanzania.
Created by Deborah McCracken, a young Ontario woman with a master’s degree in English literature, the Olive Branch provides medical services, support, education and home care to 600 people with HIV/Aids. It provides food for the incapacitated and seeds for the able-bodied. McCracken has helped establish income-generating communal gardens, fish ponds, cassava farms, and has established 28 Montessori preschools, widows’ groups, food security classes and HIV/Aids testing and education.
The Olive Branch Foundation has acquired a property on which they hope to build a permanent home for 46 orphaned children. The prospect of moving out of rented facilities, which are not appropriately set up to accommodate children, have no indoor plumbing, cooking for 50 or more is done over charcoal burners in the open air, and the possibility of moving into their own home is a glorious one. The property is very isolated and has no electricity, water or sewage provisions as yet. But they have begun work on building a home.
Ivan Rhodes is a builder and contractor with 40 years’ working experience. He encountered the work of the Olive Branch for Children in Vernon, where Deborah was giving a talk at a local church. His response was immediate. They were trying to build a home for 46 children, with no tools and no expertise, and he knew he could help.
When he got to the site in Tanzania, Rhodes was astonished to see what they had accomplished from nothing. However, chaos reined. They had a beautiful design, contributed by a German architect, but no skills or tools with which to implement the design.
Rhodes is returning to the site with the aim of building a modest carpentry workshop, and supplying it with basic tools. He intends to train local people in the skills required to build the children’s home. In this way the Olive Branch for Children will be equipped to do their own work. They will be enabled to create a business doing building for others. As well, they will have the knowledge and expertise to train others, giving them a way to make a living and contributing to their community at large.
To accomplish his goal, Rhodes needs tools. Since the cost of shipping such heavy items is prohibitive, and because the electrical supply in Tanzania is 220 volt, his plan is to purchase the necessary tools in Dar es Salaam and transport them to the site. It is to help with the acquiring of the tools that we are aiming to raise $5,000.
Rhodes will give a presentation with slides of the project and explain his plans for his next visit to Tanzania slated for Sept. 15. The talk will take place at the Essentialist Church of Christ today at 7 p.m. at 2001- 45th Ave., Vernon
To assist with fundraising, the Essentialist Church of Christ is holding a garage and bake sale with numerous preserves for sale on Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at 2001-45th Ave.