W Bro Robert Mayo reports

Bro Luca Lobina, a Master Mason of Loggia Italia No 2687, first visited Tanzania in 2011 to meet a thirty-year old Masai man he was personally sponsoring, named Rafiki Marko Saleyo.

Rafiki lives as part of a small Masai community in the village of Kwekinkwembwe in the Mkindi area of Tanzania. After many years of sending money for him and his family, one day, almost in jest, Bro Luca said to Rafiki, Why don t we build a farm to generate income for the other members of your community? .

Rafiki was inspired by the idea and decided to buy a piece of land, which he put into their joint names. Although he took the idea of building a farm very seriously, he was reluctant to commit to any direct financial involvement in the running of the business. Bro Luca said to himself: Right – one step at a time, slowly, slowly we’ll build a small farm . Bro Luca asked for the costs of everything needed to build the farm including the livestock. He then started sending instructions with the money, telling Rafiki what he was to do and buy with every penny. In return, Rafiki sent Luca photos of everything he bought or made.

To begin with they acquired a piece of land of about 1000 square metres (measurements in those areas are very approximate) with two goats, and seven hens. On this, the people are digging a small reservoir by hand to hold rain water. Luca organised the bulk purchase of 400kg of corn which they were able to sell to neighbouring villages to generate some income. He decided that they should keep part of the income to live on and use the rest to invest in developing the farm and increasing the amount of livestock and the reserves of corn and to buy more land. Bro Luca has since sent more money to enable them to construct a proper farm building to hold more livestock – and a small house where Rafiki can live as the manager of the farm.

Since then, Bro Luca s Lodge, Loggia Italia, has expressed a desire to support this project and has donated £500. This significant sum will enable the purchase of one cow, two calves, three goats, six hens and 450kg of corn – and, above all, it will allow Luca to buy another 3000 square metres of land on which he will build a brick medical centre so that the community that he supports will not have to travel long distances to seek medical treatment. This move will allow the development of a small local health service. Bro Luca’s aim is to try and grow the business and the farm in order to create more opportunities and more work for the people in the community, so they can live and eat. Bro Luca hopes that they may eventually be able to build a real village. In addition to Rafiki, 10 other Masai are currently collaborating on the project on a voluntary basis with the hope that they may become part of the farm team. Anyone wishing to support this project can do so by contacting the Lodge – details are on Rosetta.

This article is part of the Arena Magazine, Issue 43 January 2021 edition.
Arena Magazine is the official magazine of the London Freemasons – Metropolitan Grand Lodge and Metropolitan Grand Chapter of London.

Read more articles in the Arena Issue 43.