In Tanzania, a member of ATD Fourth World decided to experiment in a different way. When Reuben M. first left his village for the capital, he worked hard as a badly paid unskilled labourer, but he escaped this fate when he invented a lottery machine.
Although this earned him money, he didn’t think it was a good thing to make money off the backs of others, so he decided to return to his village, return to his family's profession of blacksmith, and establish a training centre for young people with his brother’s Kisangani Smith Group, where they learn their trade as blacksmiths forging tools for local farmers.
Blacksmiths are sensitive to the destruction of the forest because they are big users of charcoal. For this reason, Reuben and his group started a reforestation project in 1998, with the aim of creating their own supply of wood. Six hundred and fifty acres of trees have been replanted to date, and some members of the group are cultivating different species of plants in a nursery, caring for a little stream and changing its course in order to construct a natural irrigation system for the nursery.
No experts or engineers have come to share their knowledge with the group. The members of Kisangani Smith Group base their work on experience born of observation. This work led them to think about bringing hydroelectricity to their blacksmith forge but also eventually to the three surrounding villages. Starting with a little waterfall they created a water main to drive a turbine. Out of a forge set up to train young people, a community development project was born.
For Reuben it’s clear that the project must include everyone in the village and that each one of them must benefit from it. This dynamic rests on an essential foundation: the capacity to bring people together in one project, then drawing on their technical creativity and local knowledge. Reuben reflects, ''with solidarity and unity we can manage to make anything possible.''
THIS IS AN EXCERPT FROM ATD FOURTHWORLD’S ELECTRONIC PUBLICATION, ARTISANS OF PEACE OVERCOMING POVERTY, VOLUME 1, downloadable at http://ebook.atd-fourthworld.org/