22 November 2016

The sun will rise tomorrow, and it is always rising on some horizon.

I stood in my courtyard last night, the moon had yet to arrive and it was the darkest of dark. The stars absolutely blew my mind. I’m not sure how many times I turned a stationary circle, enjoying the way the specks of light seemed to grow at the edge of my vision, and then shrink to simply shimmer as I drew my focus to them. The sky is and always has been my savior, a humbling force: a blanket of grays, cozy, melancholy; a cloudless blue, hot, yet a cool balance against the green of leaves; a playground for angry masses, billowing white as they race each other in to and out of vision; a silent fire, fading with the bird song; a canvas of silhouettes, lit behind by the pocked face of a low, fat moon; a slow flush of pink, cold awakening, yet shadowless and unthreatening; blackness, above to match below, a beautiful darkness that allows even the smallest most far away star to reveal its beauty. The sky helps me to remember that there is plenty of air in this world of which I can fill my lungs, and that it’s okay to feel small, or to feel like I could stretch out to fill all that black world, reaching the farthest of stars to receive its gentle kiss. And it reminds me, most importantly, that no matter how far I reach, or no matter how far I fall, the sun will rise tomorrow, and it is always rising on some horizon.

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(No, I did not draw this! A college friend sent it to me long ago because it reminded him of some of our adventures together…)

Anyway. Kazi inaendelea, the work continues. All seven wells have been drilled and built! Below is the process… Drilling, preparing and placing the pipes, filling around the pipes with small stones, and then making the foundations and setting the pumps.

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Now we are waiting for the cement of the foundations to dry, and then next week, the builders will return to install the ropes and to do the final pump tests. They will also collect water samples to do analyses for various types of bacteria and chemicals, ensuring the water is safe to use and needs no extra intense treatment.

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Above is an old version of the rope pump – you can see where the rope goes. Attached to the rope are pieces of rubber that fit the pipe. As they are spun down and around, they bring up water little by little.

Additionally we are planning a meeting/training for the whole community to learn how to take care of the wells, and the environment surrounding them. For example, how to build areas for recharging the water table: by digging holes and trenches filled with gravel or small rocks to collect rainwater, you create space around the wells for that water to easily enter the ground, permeating down down down to the water table = recharge. The water engineers have plenty of great things to teach, and I think the more the community knows and understands, the more ownership they’ll take to maintain the wells. Here’s to hoping.

We will also set up leadership to manage each well by forming groups of five community members, in charge of monitoring and reporting any issues that might arise. If a rope breaks, for example, they will know immediately and will work with the village water committee to buy and install a replacement.

In other news, the gutters will be distributed next week. A woodworker will soon finish making the attachment pieces – small bits of wooden planks with a U- shape cut out, in which the gutter will sit. I have also purchased nails to attach those pieces of wood to the roof beams, two per gutter, and also some wire to wrap around the gutters, to keep them snuggly in their U. We will explain distribution and installation in a village meeting next week.

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Last, but certainly not least: the gardens… Two sub-villages are prepared to start garden construction. They have formed their 34 garden groups (of five or six households each), and have constructed simple fences in preparation. Tomorrow, their 34 drip kits, one per group, one per garden, will be distributed. And then the garden trainers will start work, helping each group to make and plant their own permagarden.

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(We’ve also distributed all the seeds.)

A third sub-village is nearly to this point. They have formed their 17 garden groups as well, and have started making fences. Once those are completed, drip kit distribution will be scheduled, and they will also start work. The other two sub-villages, with the remaining 29 groups, are a bit behind. But hopefully they will catch up soon because the rains are on their way! Below is a picture of my garden last year after a good rain…

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And those are the project updates! More pictures to come…

Also exciting: my final lessons for the Environmental Conservation and Agriculture clubs I formed at the primary and secondary schools will occur next week, the last week of classes for this school year! This week they took their end-of-program exams, the same exams they took Day 1. Most did very well, showing vast improvements – they learned! Next week the lessons will be relaxed. They’ll get their exams back, and then we’ll watch a Planet Earth episode. I may even bring some treats to celebrate. Next year (school usually starts again at the end of January), the secondary school kids want to make a video about what they learned in the club, and I will certainly do my best to facilitate, as I think it is an excellent ambition.

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And lastly, a picture of me and some of my closest friends:

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