Agriculture in Putti Village

Putti Village dreams of larger scale farming

 

Putti Village AgriculturePeriodic draughts and famines are a constant challenge in Africa.
For that reason, the people of Putti Village have a dream to make their food production more efficient.  In order to achieve that, they are striving to gradually change from small scale to larger scale farming. The progress they have made in recent years is already helping the community to fight poverty. But more needs to be done, to insure the community’s food supply. 

Putti Village AgricultureThe agricultural activities, as they take place right now, involve both men and women from all ranks of the village. The community typically divides the land in smaller units and applies crop rotation and mixed farming to prevent depletion of the soil. As the community wants their products to be organic, they do not use fertilizers and since their land is so fertile, this has not posed any difficulties as of yet. Even with the growing need for production, the community has still been able to resist the temptation to use fertilizers.

While still ploughing the land using bulls that are rented from their Christian neighbors, members of the Putti community dream of owning a tractor that will not only be used to cultivate their own land, but can also help them make money, as they will be able to rent it out to neighboring farmers. In addition, if each family gets a dairy cow or some poultry for their household income, this will also be a way of fighting poverty in the Putti community.

“Our dream is to evolve from subsistence farming to commercial agriculture, that is to say, farming on a larger plot of land, planting both food crops and cash crops, using more efficient farming technology, and rearing animals for milk and birds for meat to be sold”

Feeding the village

Putti Village AgricultureThe most commonly planted crops include the following:

  • Maize
  • Beans
  • Soya beans
  • Rice
  • Cassava
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Watermelon
  • Banana
  • Carrots
  • Onions
  •  Tomatoes

Putti Village AgricultureThe planting of crops takes place twice a year; in March and in September. The harvesting takes place in July and in December. Since the ability to water the crops is solely dependent on the weather (i.e. rain water), every harvest turns out differently.  The exact timing of the harvest depends largely on the type of crops that are planted.  Some crops (e.g. maize and beans) take three to four months to mature.  Other crops (such as cassava and millet) take more than six months before they can be harvested.  After the crops are gathered, the food is first dried and then stored locally in polythene bags, or at times in people’s houses.  Again, in efforts to keep the food supply organic and healthy, the villagers of Putti do not use pesticides to protect them.

Running the Project

There is not just one person in charge of the community’s agricultural efforts.  Board members and community members alike volunteer to make this project come alive. Our hope is that recent graduates will take the lead as they have experience with computers, internet access, and analytical skills. We are looking forward for this project to evolve more efficiency and to a larger scale.

You can help!

We greatly welcome donations for seeds, fruit trees, and farming equipment for our agricultural projects.  If you are able to send us a donation (or even make a monthly commitment, no matter how modest it would be) you will not only be feeding the people of Putti right now, you will be investing into the future of the village’s ability to become self-sufficient.  

Click the link below to plant your life giving tree in the agricultural community of Putti Village. Thank you!


The Mikvéh In Putti (Uganda)

What is a Mikvèh?

A Mikvèh* is a collection or gathering of water, and fulfills an essential role in the religious life of the Jewish people.

The Background:

According to Torah law (also called the “Law of Moses”) a person can become ritually ‘impure’. This ‘impurity’ does not suggest sinfulness and is most often not perceived as negative in itself.  The most important consequence of such impurity was that being impure would (temporarily) disqualify someone from visiting the Temple in Jerusalem.  It is generally assumed that the one of the main functions of such a concept was to instill a higher level of awe and respect to the person while entering the Temple and participating in its service. 
There were several different levels of ritual impurity, depending on what had brought the impurity about, and related to these different levels, there were distinct rituals for removing the impurity.  In some cases, for minor levels, the impurity would cease automatically at the end of the day.  For others, only the washing of the person’s hands was required.  In the most severe case, after touching a corpse, a highly complicated ritual was involved that lasted a week, for the impurity to be removed.  In many cases however, the appropriate procedure was for a person to totally immerse him or herself in water.

Some Laws of Ritual Purity Perpetuated after the Destruction of the Temple:

After the destruction of the Temple, maintaining these practices had become less relevant.  Therefore, in most cases, the rabbis of the Talmud decided to temporarily abolish them, until the time when, one day in the future, the Temple would be rebuilt.  However a number of exceptions were made for cases in which the practice would continue.  The ritual washing of hands in certain occasions, such as before eating bread is such an example in which purity laws were perpetuated.  Other examples directly involve the topic of our article, the Mikvèh (which is a body of water that fulfills a number of prescribed conditions; more about that later). 
These examples are:  Firstly, the immersion of someone’s entire body at the occasion of his/her conversion to Judaism (which, as a side note, also explains the origin of Christian Baptism).  Secondly, the practice to dip newly acquired metal and glass food utensils in such a body of water.  And thirdly, the requirement for a menstruant woman to immerse herself after a period of separation from her husband, before she can resume intimate relations.  Similarly such an immersion is required at the end of a period following giving birth. 

Requirements for a Mikvèh:

Water, like people and many objects can become ritually impure. Under Torah law, however, there are two distinct conditions that can make a body of water immune from becoming impure 

In other words, under two possible circumstances will water always be pure.  According to rabbinic law, exactly such water is needed if one would immerses oneself for the purpose of purification.  Only water which is inherently pure can be used for this specific ritual.
The first scenario involves rain water that has naturally gathered into a basin.  However, the flow of the water into the basin must happen without any interruption, and there is a number of rather complicating additional conditions.  One of them is that the rain water cannot flow through any metal pipes or through certain vessels.  Also, once the rain water is gathered into the basin, it has to be still, i.e. it has to stop flowing.  This limits certain bodies of water to be used as a Mikvèh.  For instance, a river that is primarily fed by rain water is unfit for ritual immersion.
The second scenario involves water that flows uninterruptedly from an active spring.  This involves a different set of prerequisites, which are generally less complicated.  Most significantly, the water can be used even if it keeps flowing from the spring well.

The Mikvèh in Putti:

It is this second type of Mikvèh that is used by the community of Putti. The water flows from thespring into the Mikvèh basin and back out again (see below).

The Mikvèh in Putti:

The Mikvèh

(Photography: Menachem Kuchar)

In the second illustration, one can see the actual water spring and the channel leading to the Putti Mikvèh.

The actual Mikvèh is made slightly removed from the spring itself, to create safer conditions for immersion as well as an environment of privacy by means of walled enclosure (as the immersion is typically performed without clothing).

The Mikvèh2

(Photography: Menachem Kuchar)

The third illustration shows Putti’s actual Mikvèh:

Making use of a spring and flowing water offered the significant advantage that it doesn’t offer a breeding ground for mosquitoes.  The alternative option for building a Mikvèh, namely with collected still-standing rain water, would instead have created a dangerous source of malaria.
In addition, in the way the Mikvèh was built in Putti, the water flowing out is now used to irrigate the crops on the land that feed the people!

The Minimal Amount of Water in a Mikvèh:

One thing we know is that there should be enough water to cover the entire body of an average person.   According to some authorities, as long as a person’s whole body can be covered with water, then the Mikvèh is sufficient for him/her.  The majority of the rabbis of the Talmud however held that the quantity of water has to be at least 40 se’ah.  The question then immediately comes up: How much is a se’ah?  Typically for most things Jewish, that is a matter of debate.  It doesn’t really help to know that a se’ah is supposed to be the same size as 144 eggs…  How big the average eggs in the time of the Talmud were, is another point of discussion.  In short, the opinions on the minimal quantity of water in a “ritual bath” differ from 293.2 liter (77.5 gallons) to a much stricter opinion that quotes a minimal amount of 572 liter (151 gallons).  Nowadays, as there is no maximum quantity of water, all Mikva’ot, (including the Putti Mikvèh), are built larger than the biggest quoted minimum, to accommodate all opinions. 
The above mentioned immersion of new cooking utensils has a smaller minimum of water, but can be done in the same Mikvèh as well.

Other Types of Mikvèh:

Many of the world’s natural bodies of water, such as seas, oceans, spring-fed lakes, and spring-fed rivers  are Mikva’ot as well, and can be used for purification purposes.  Before the construction of the Putti Mikvèh, the members of the Putti community generally utilized a nearby river, which offered several hazards, such as the presence of parasites, water snakes and other creatures that live in the rivers.

When the Mikvèh is Used:

According to Jewish practice, immersing in a Mikvèh is required on a number of occasions.

1. Most importantly, a Jewish woman is required to immerse after a number of days following her menstruation.  During this period she and her husband are not allowed to be together in an intimate way, until she immerses in the Mikvèh or, as we saw before in another valid body of water.  Initially, according to Torah law and in most cases, this period of semi-separation lasted seven days in total, starting from the unset of her monthly period.  As a result of a development that started in Talmudic times in Babylonia, the custom evolved into a counting of seven days starting from the end of the woman’s menstruation (often resulting in a total of about 12 days on average).  This approach has become the general practice of virtually all observant Jewish communities.

2. As the practice of monthly immersion is only observed in the context of marital life, an unmarried woman does not visit the Mikvèh.  Therefore, her first visit to the Mikvèh is typically on the night before her wedding.

3. The above described practice is also observed after a woman gives birth. 

4. All Jewish converts, both men and women, immerse in a Mikvèh after they have been accepted by a Jewish court (a Beth Din).  This immersion constitutes their entering into the Jewish people.

5. In all these occasions, the ritual of immersing oneself in a Mikvèh, is more than just a ritualistic or legalistic practice.  Therefore, apart from the above described cases, there are other occasions for using a Mikvèh, which are voluntary and done for purely spiritual purposes. 
As an example, some grooms visit the Mikvèh on the day before their wedding. 
In addition, many Jewish men (and some women) visit a Mikvèh on the day before Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement).  Others practice this custom even before other Jewish holidays, some every week before the start of Shabbat and few individuals go early every day before morning prayers. 

As was alluded to before, there is a strong spiritual component to this practice.  For one thing, a Mikvèh can be seen as representing the waters of creation, or/and a mother’s womb, while immersing and coming out of a Mikvèh symbolizes rebirth and spiritual renewal, or even resurrection.
Therefore, it is not surprising to find that a rather new application of the Mikvèh has emerged in our days, namely as a tool within certain post-trauma therapies.

Historically:

Jews have been building Mikva’ot for thousands of years.  In fact the Mikvèh is such an integral and essential part of Jewish practice that a Jewish community is required to make the building of a Mikvèh their highest priority.  A community is required to build a Mikvèh, even before investing in a synagogue!

Here are some pictures of Mikva’ot from (a) Antiquity, from (b) the Middle Ages and from (c) Modern Times.

The Final Stage:

The  building of the Mikvèh in Putti was made possible by generous contributions of donors like you and me. As a final stage we now need to plant trees around the Mikvèh, to provide shade and privacy for the people using it.  In addition the outgoing Mikvèh water can be used for fruit trees that provide nutrition and vitamins.  Efforts are made by the Putti Village Assistance Organization to raise money for this goal.

You can contribute to this lofty cause by donating $20 for a fruit tree, through the following link:  http://puttivillage.org/donate. (All donations are tax deductible)

Raising school funds for Sarah Nakirya

Help us raise money for Sarah's educationsPlease help Sarah achieve her goals in Education!

Despite a difficult childhood, Sarah now 20, excelled in her education so far. She passed High School with flying colors and has scored five aggregates (an honor degree) in History, Geography, Computer. Sarah has a passion for children’s freedoms and rights and wants to pursue a degree in Education. She had been admitted into University, but that is where the problem lies, Sarah has no more funds to continue her education and achieve her dreams with out your help.

Please Help!

The degree would take two years, each year has two semesters and each semester entails about $800. That means that, if we could raise $3,200 we would be able to provide her with tuition for her entire course. We have started a GoFundMe campaign for her but you can also donate directly to PVAO as well. Click the donate button to donate through PayPal. 

From Sarah

Hi, my name is Sarah Nakirya. I am 22 years old and one of the youths of the Abayudaya Village of Putti in Uganda. I have been Jewish since my childhood and a loyal, talented and caring person who loves making a difference into the lives of young children. I am open-minded, patient and supportive towards other people, especially towards children, and have an excellent ability to remain positive, even when things get tough. My family does not have the money to afford me to continue my studies. I am hoping that PVAO  will find the necessary funds for my education so I can pursue my dream. Can you please help me?

Let’s all rally around this wonderful young woman and help her reach her goal of $3,200 to continue on and become a teacher!

“Whoever is merciful to the poor, God will be merciful to him”
(Shulchan Arukh, Yoreh Deah 247:3)

What is Hanukkah?

Hanukkah (Chanukah) means “rededication” and is one of the most important and significant periods in the Jewish calendar. This Festival is often known as the Festival of Lights.

This year, Hanukkah started on the evening of Sunday December 6th. During this Festival, it is traditional to give gifts to one another. Putti Village Assistance Org. (PVAO) thought, what better way to start the Festival, than to give each family living in the Putti Jewish Community, a life saving mosquito net. These nets will undoubtedly help the Community to combat the unseasonable current malaria outbreak which is affecting every family in Putti. Children and the elderly in particular, are at most risk. We need to buy many more nets so we can ensure everyone is given one. No-one needs to die, nor fall seriously ill – mosquito nets will hopefully ensure that does not happen. For every $10 donated, we can buy a specially coated net for maximum protection. Our goal is to raise $750 by the end of the year.

Please help us by donating to this cause. Click the donate button to make a donation with paypal.

Happy Hanukkah to one and all!




Shabbat Shalom

Zechariah 4:6

 Then he answered me, “This is the word of Adonai to Z’rubavel: ‘Not by force, and not by power, but by my Spirit,’ says Adonai-Tzva’ot

Shabbat Shalom

A sucessful trip to Israel

Joel Beatti visits Israel

Joel Beattie and Rabbi Riskin in Israel

Joel Beattie and Rabbi Riskin in Israel

Just wanted to report on a successful and safe trip to Israel. The tour that I was on kept us busy non-stop for 12-14 hours every day. There was little to no free time while I was in the land. I had a fantastic phone conversation with Ari Greenspan, and also Menachem. I also received voice messages from Ari Zivotofsky, but was unable to meet with them. Interestingly enough, one evening at the hotel in Jerusalem, our tour had scheduled a guest speaker, and unknown to me, ended up being Rabbi Riskin. Afterwards, I was able to put 2 and 2 together, and introduced myself. We were able to spend a few precious minutes conversing and getting to know each other. We felt as though it was a divine appointment. And I was thoroughly blessed. Not to mention, he gave a fantastic lecture on the meaning of Sukkot along with the connection between creator and creation. This was the first time to Israel, and the trip was extremely impactful. As the saying goes, “Next year in Jerusalem”

Chag Sameach!