St. Mark’s mission in Binga turns bare ground into productive land to achieve self-reliance

By Quegas Mutale in Binga

Vegetable garden at St. Mark’s Mission in Binga, Diocese of Hwange.

St. Mark’s Nagangala mission in Binga has embarked on a self- reliance project through a gardening project to fund pastoral activities.

Fr. Brillie Tshuma, Priest in charge of St. Mark’s Mission transformed bare ground into productive land. This resonates with Pope Francis’s words of appreciating those who tirelessly seek to resolve the tragic effects of environmental degradation on the lives of the world’s poorest on paragraph 13 of his encyclical, the Laudato Si’ of 2015 about care of the earth, our common home.

“When I came here, this place was bare, with no grass growing. The land itself was not favorable for gardening”, Fr. Tshuma noted. St. Mark’s Mission had no nearby water source, hence making agricultural production almost impossible. An underground water source was drilled, and a water storage tank was installed during the tenure of Fr. Kolwani Nyoni in August 2019.

Reached for comment, Fr. Nyoni indicated that, “the first thing we needed to do was to drill a borehole to have access to water. We were happy that we found water.” The borehole became a source of water for the community.

Fr. Nyoni was impressed by cooperation of Catholic and non-Catholic community members in doing the works upon installation of water system. According to Fr. Tshuma the community participated in digging the trench for laying pipes to draw water into the mission premise.

“Self-reliance was an important idea to be realized at St. Mark’s Mission”, Fr. Nyoni said. His dream was fulfilled after his departure when Fr. Tshuma influenced the community to establish a vegetable garden. The community mobilized manure to fertilize the land. Fr. Tshuma indicated that Fr. Mathias Sibanda, the diocesan chancellor inspired him to be a hard worker.

According to Fr. Tshuma, the garden project started in September 2022 with two beds which were extended. Flowers and exotic trees were planted to revegetate the area.

The mission supply local communities, Tusimpe pastoral centre and local restaurants with vegetables. Fr. Tshuma said that they get a minimum of US$90.00 from vegetable sales per month.

He said that when he arrived at St. Mark’s Mission, he knew that they were supposed to be self-reliant. Therefore, proceeds from vegetable sales are used to buy fuel for the priest to visit out stations, do minor repairs, buy food and pay the mission helper.

“We are in rural communities where it is difficult to get money. The best thing was to start working towards getting food and other necessities”, he said.

Fr. Tshuma established a garden after realising unavailability of vegetables close by. He encouraged the church community to venture into garden project to take care of the priest. The mission community assisted financially and provided labour as people alternated to work in the garden.

Originating from his hard work, Fr. Tshuma said that the community call him Fr. Mdumeni due to his initiatives.

St Mark’s mission also has broiler, goat and pig production projects.

Bishop Emeritus Albert Serrano made the idea of setting St. Mark’s Mission consisting of 13 centers weaned from All Souls mission. Fr. Tshuma encouraged missions and parishes in Hwange to run projects to sustain priests. In his view, rural communities always have something to offer.

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