Serving God's People in Africa since 1868

Build a BioGas Facility in Tanzania

I received a piece of mail the other day from a travel company. The company was offering “color tours” — chartered buses which drive through various scenic parts of the country during the autumn season . . . when the leaves of the trees have reached the peak of color. For the most part, this a very American concept. We have been blessed to live in a nation where the change of seasons creates a variety of colors. But in the rest of the world, this isn’t necessarily the case.


Dear John,

I received a piece of mail the other day from a travel company. The company was offering “color tours” — chartered buses which drive through various scenic parts of the country during the autumn season . . . when the leaves of the trees have reached the peak of color. For the most part, this a very American concept. We have been blessed to live in a nation where the change of seasons creates a variety of colors. But in the rest of the world, this isn’t necessarily the case.

In many African countries which are nearest to the equator, there really isn’t much difference at all between summer, autumn, winter and spring. The amount of rainfall may change — and temperatures may dip into the fifties at night, but there is no change in the color of the trees. And as incredible as it may seem — even if the weather did get cold enough to affect the leaves of the trees — there are simply too few trees left for anyone to really notice! Please read on and I will explain.

Recently I received a letter from one of our missionaries in East Africa. Fr. Gerard Derksen lives and works in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania. There, he is in charge of one of our missions which reaches out to the poor and those in need. He is also in charge of the boarding school located at the mission.

“The poverty here is overwhelming,” Fr. Gerard explains. “And since the need for all that we can do and offer is so great, we must make use of everything we possibly can to minister to those who are suffering. Nothing — absolutely nothing — can go to waste.”

“One of the biggest challenges we face,” his letter continues, “is providing food for some of the poorest people in the mission as well as for the nearly 300 boys and girls living at our school. These are poor children coming from poor families. And even though we may not be
getting funds from their families to cover the cost of operating the school, we still provide them with an education and meals every day.”

“The cost of food is obviously a major expense,”Fr. Gerard writes. “But what a lot of people do not consider is the cost of fuel to cook the meals. Most people in this region use wood, not only to cook their meals, but also to heat their homes. But because the number of trees here is quickly becoming less and less — wood has become more and more expensive.”

“Unless we make some changes, we will soon not be able to afford the fuel we need.”

“To remedy this, we want to begin building a ‘biogas’ facility. Making biogas fuel is a process which involves storing the manure from our livestock (we have cows and pigs), storing it while the sun heats it, and then allowing the fermentation process to create gas which can be burned. This gas is then stored and used as needed. The entire process will provide a free supply of fuel for cooking and even heating the school on cooler days.”

“The number of children needing our help is growing more and more. It is essential that we do everything we can to keep our costs down. Is there any way you can help us?”

Fr. Gerard’s project will not only help provide hot meals, but will also help others see that there is an alternative to destroying all of the trees. Because as they continue to destroy all of their trees, they are also destroying their nation. Areas which were once forests are now desert regions!

My friend, I am hoping we can raise at least $32,500 to help Fr. Gerard’s mission get the bricks, metal containers, pipes, valves and other materials they need for building the biogas facility — as well as help other needy missions throughout East Africa. Imagine what a difference this project will make not only for the continued operation of the mission and the boarding school, but also for others in the region who will see new possibilities. Whether you can send a large amount or a smaller one, please know how grateful we are for all that you continue to do for the poor and those in need.