Farm Horizons, May 2008

Wanted: farm equipment for the Sudan

Ivan Raconteur
Staff Writer

Tractors that once worked the fertile fields of Minnesota could soon bring hope and self-sufficiency to people in the Sudan.

Donations of tractors and related equipment are being sought for a project that came about during a chance conversation between two people last September.

During a convention Cliff Dobie, an implement dealer from Truman, sat across the table from Rev. Ray Wilkie, founder of the non-profit relief organization, Orphan Grain Train (OGT).

Wilkie asked Dobie what kind of work he did. When he learned that Dobie had worked for John Deere for 40 years, and now runs his own used equipment business, he saw an opportunity.

Dobie, along with Arno Norman, chairman of the OGT Minnesota South division, and Pastor John Dinge, a refugee from the Sudan, explained the mission at Zion Lutheran Church in Cologne April 21.

The group is seeking donations of farm equipment that will be taken apart, shipped by container to Sudan, and then reassembled.

The group is also looking for volunteers who will spend two weeks in Sudan in November re-assembling the equipment and teaching the local people how to use it.

The group is especially looking for 1950s vintage equipment. Several Allis Chalmers WD45 tractors will be sent, and the group is looking for any ground lift, not hydraulic, attachments to go with them.

Dobie said this model of tractor was selected because it is light-weight, yet powerful, and weight is concern for shipping. Sending tractors that are the same model is an advantage because the parts are interchangeable.

Attachments, including plows, drills, disks, field cultivators, planters, and drag sections are all welcome.

Dobie said that any equipment will be accepted, with the understanding that anything that is not sent to the Sudan will be sold and the proceeds will be used to fund the mission.

The deadline for getting equipment to Truman is Saturday, May 31.

It will then be taken apart, color coded, and packed in containers for shipping.

All equipment that is donated is tax deductible. OGT is a 501C organization, and can provide the donation forms.

Want to help?

Anyone with questions about the type of equipment that is needed, or with equipment to donate, can contact Cliff Dobie at (507) 236-4464. General questions about the program can be directed to Arno Norman at (507) 235-9880.

Donations to support the mission can be sent to treasurer Nancy English, 1407 Brookview Drive, Winona, MN 55987.

Farming is part of a larger project

The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Sudan owns 12 acres of land in Sudan near the city of Malakal.

In November, when volunteers re-assemble the equipment and teach people how to use it, other volunteers will install a fence around the property.

The equipment will be stored on the property, and used to farm other land in the area that is owned by local people.

Dinge said the average income for Sudanese people is $290 per year. The country has an abundance of agricultural and mineral resources, he said, but much of the agricultural land has been dormant during 22 years of war.

The donated farm equipment will allow some of the people to produce their own food.

Another container that is being shipped with the equipment will be converted into a clinic.

The group also plans to build a school. Classes are currently conducted outdoors, and children sit on old tin cans and write in the dirt.

There is also a water project underway, to pipe water nearly a mile from the White Nile River to the property. A water purifier will be sent to provide clean drinking water.

Another container will be converted to living quarters for volunteers.

In addition to farm equipment, the group needs generators, tools, such as post drivers, and other supplies.

The group also hopes to deliver textbooks and other children’s books to Sudan.

Dinge left Sudan in 1983, first going to Ethiopia, and later to Nairobi, Kenya. He came to the US in 1995. He attended seminary in Fort Wayne, Ind., and is currently a missionary at large and assistant pastor for a church in Lincoln, Neb.

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