Friday, May 18, 2012

Teaching Preserving in Malawi, Africa

The amazing story below (told through a letter to our author Sherri Brooks Vinton) is a good reminder that in so many places in the world people really do feed themselves without having money or access to stores. We have seen this in the Amazon basin in Peru and in Africa — people who live miles from any civilization and grow or forage everything they eat. Having them be able to preserve food to last until the next harvest is wonderful.

Dear Sherri Brooks Vinton,

I am taking a moment to tell you the story and send you pictures regarding the book on preserving called Put 'em Up. My husband and I traveled to Malawi, Africa, in Oct 2010. I had the opportunity to go for teaching as a nurse. I met a woman called Mable while visiting a church. Mable started an organization for widows & their children called “Women of Action Ministries,” and she expressed the desire to learn how to preserve food. My heart was stirred.

My husband and I decided to embark on our first humanitarian trip in November 2011 [on the concept of] vegetable gardening & food security. As we prepared for this trip, I searched many books on preserving to bring as a tool. I chose this book because it explained the processes simply and with pictures or drawings. Many of the women had limited schooling, and I wanted to empower them, not overwhelm them! The ingredients in the book were simple and easily available (tomatoes, mangoes, lemon juice/vinegar).

The biggest obstacle was to find ''Mason jars'' as none were available. So we brought the first 200 jars by plane from Canada. Not one broke!

The women were so interested a few walked 6 hours (barefoot) to come to the class! They learnt how to save mangoes and tomatoes as lesson #1. They were amazed we could keep tomatoes and mangoes without refrigeration as they have none. Fruit goes to waste as there is an abundance in season with no basic method to save/preserve. Majority have no electricity. The group came together and were able to process tomatoes safely without the elements of the ''B'' BAD germ = Botulism.

A second group of women . . . from another village were able to benefit from this new learning experience and wanted to transmit this knowledge to others. This is good news!

This enriching experience in teaching preserving to become sustainable and allow women to come out of poverty by saving food is to continue.

We will return for more teaching! We will try to find a way to have more jars & lids at an affordable price. So far I have found $3.00/jar USD from South Africa, which is not accessible to the poor! Therefore, I will ask many women here if they have jars collecting dust in their basements and try to find donations for transport by boat. I will obtain a new copy of your book as I gave two away in Malawi.

Please enjoy these pictures of the women who are so grateful to you who made a difference in their lives and those of their children. Be blessed!


Claire & Nelson

In response to this letter, Storey donated several copies of Put 'em Up to Claire and Nelson for their next humanitarian/preserving trip to Africa.

Sherri Brooks Vinton commented,
I am so grateful to Claire for the work she is doing in Malawi to empower eaters to maximize their limited resources and enjoy their harvests throughout the year. Canning is fun and delicious, but it is also an essential part of enjoying locally produced foods when fields are fallow. I am honored that the group has found Put 'em Up to be a useful part of this effort and look forward to contributing to group’s work moving forward.

Storey's publishing program is of such use to so many developing countries and people that are striving for self-sufficiency. In Tanzania Storey helped to support a library through an organization of Friends of African Village Libraries ( The library is in a very remote place, and it has become the adult education center of the area.

Intro paragraph and closing paragraph were excerpted from an e-mail by
Pam Art, Storey Publishing president, in response to Claire's letter.


Many more of Storey's authors and employees donate their time, knowledge, and funds to help people who have limited resources. We plan to share more inspiring stories like this on our blog.

Let us know of ways you help in your community or around the globe using homesteading or self-sufficiency skills.

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