Tuesday morning was the D-Day…but of course it rained heavily
. I thought no one is going to dig today, so we would most likely postpone it, yet a few minutes later Khrissee wrote me that a bunch of kids are in front of her door ready to get dirty. I quickly went to borrow Mzee’s boots and waded to the farm. The kids had of course left (it was porridge time), but we were assured they would return and help us afterwards. So, Khrissee and I started to dig and clean the pond that used to be there but was not maintained. It looked discouraging I have to admit. The pond was great, but filled with huge wooden poles, plastic, bricks, soil with all kinds of plants and insects and it seemed impossible to do this with only a hoe and a machete. And after just a few minutes we were so exhausted…I wonder how I survived my dad when I was a kid? The funny thing was that the kids actually didn’t return. (Okay, not really 'ha ha’-funny, but more ‘you gotta be fucking kidding me’-funny!) We were told that they ‘fear the rain’. (Are they made out of sugar…my dad would have asked!) Now, Gore explained that here people do not like to go out in the rain because they are afraid of getting sick, which I certainly understand. I have to admit that it drizzled slightly, yet not more than this morning when they insisted on digging while we suggested skipping it for the day.
After lunch the kids came to help. But before they did, they all stood around us, pointed and laughed
. Every now and then they asked me ‘Omanyi okulima?’ (You know how to dig?) This is such a random question as they stand there watching me do it. When I answered in the affirmative they giggle and shouted ‘Olimba!’ (You are lying!) Again…they watched me dig and why on earth would I lie about something like that? And how difficult can it be? Then, Elias was giving me advice on how to hold the hoe. Now, I have to say that though I am right-handed I do some things as if I were left-handed, such as holding my cutleries and apparently also holding a hoe. He repeatedly told me to hold it the other way, yet it was totally unnatural to me and when I told him that he said it was because I didn’t know how to dig correctly. That seriously pissed me off. I don’t tell him that he doesn’t know how to type correctly because he uses one finger!!! As long as the work is done what the heck should it matter how I hold my hoe???
Now, after having them kids stare at us for a great amount of time I got annoyed and told them to come and help. ‘Fenna?’ (Together?) Well, yes, because the more we are, the faster we will finish. So, the girls took the hoes and spades and machetes and started working immediately. The boys looked around and cracked jokes. They refused to jump into the hole because there could have been snakes. So, Khrissee and I jumped down. Again, everybody was talking about how we bazungu don’t know how to do it and…hihihi…how funny to see us there in the pond. I really wish they would get over this!
The boys also asked for ‘lukumi’ (1000 UGX) all the time. I ignored it, because I have no money to give. Khrissee and I talked about this the next morning though and we were told that the kids believe that we had paid Elias who refused to give them their money
. Now, we talked to Ruth and Dawood in order to help us on that matter. Dawood then came to the school to talk to the kids. I am not entirely sure how the talk went as I went back to do the digging while I let Khrissee handle the talking, because it was her project and she had done the research, so she would be so much better in explaining the purpose of this and there wa no reason that we both stand there and look mad at those kids. After a while Khrissee came with all the girls and they immediately jumped into the pond where I was sweating like crazy. Two hours later the pond was almost cleaned up. I was so mad because I had toiled and toiled and toiled and had managed to clean a tiny wee corner, yet I was totally dead and these girls come and …schwupti…it’s done! I mean, I wasn’t really mad coz I was glad that it was done, but how I wish they had been there with me from the start! We all went for lunch. I have to admit…walking to town which is not more than 1km was the longest walk ever and I hated every step of it. We chose a restaurant that was very close and thank Goodness, the food was very nice. (Doesn’t happen all that often lately!)
Now, after lunch we finished off the rest and were actually quite proud of us and the kids. We thanked them and they left. We were too tired and just sat there for a while and looked at the pond. It is so much work and we totally underestimated it
. We thought we’d be done in a week, no problem! But I think what frustrated us most was the comments we received from people: ‘This is never gonna work!’ - ‘I don’t see it happen!’ - ‘Are you sure it will work?’ Well, no we aren’t sure! We have never done this before. We told them it was an experiment; shouldn’t they give it a try? The sweetest thing was when Ruthie and Gore said they’d love to come and see the pond. Ruth told me that during the 5 years that she worked for RACOBAO she’d never been to the farm. I have to say, I felt very honoured and took both of them to see our pond immediately. Luckily, none of them fell! ;-) They made me explain the entire thing and then Ruthie said: ‘Ja, I think it will work!’ (Eeee, ono ari mukyala wange!!!) Sure, they are probably as ‘knowledgeable’ as Khrissee and I about water harvesting and pond-digging and may thus be equally na´ve; yet what matters is that they have understood that we are trying something here and that it may fail. This comment clearly shows that they are supportive of this and that they acknowledge our effort, because this may in fact work and could thus provide a valuable water source for the communities. (Oh, please let it work!)
Our next step was lining the edge with rocks in order to give it support and minimise erosion
. When we told Elias, he said we had to buy the rocks. Wanji??? We don’t want to decorate it with marble or diamonds for that matter; but just ordinary rocks that are lying around and sheltering bugs all over this place. Who should we pay for those? Anyways, we talked to Steven and got permission to take the rocks that are in his front yard. Buying rocks! Now, our truck couldn’t get all the way down to the pond, so Lukyamuzi dropped them as close as he could and … yes, you guessed it … the kids and we carried them down there by hand! Now, the idea was to build this pond with all local materials and we have also adopted the local style! The kids were of course less excited than we were (only on the outside in my case!!!), but Sister Fortunate, God Bless Her, was telling them to get moving and faster, faster, faster! And since she is a Woman of God, no one dared answering back and they just worked and worked. It was great! In 2 hours we managed to get all the edges lined with rocks and cleaned both trenches. We thanked them by giving them ndizi (small sweet bananas), which Sister donated.
Now the tricky part will start, because we need to figure out some way of how we can insulate the pond. People here give us contradictory advice and we are confused: use cow dung, but the water will smell; use banana leaves, but they will rot; use clay, but it can’t be found in Lyantonde; use local-style clay, but it will dissolve in the water. So, I suggested going and talking to the Russians. ;-) No worries, not for another tea/ vodka-party. I mean, they are building the roads here; they should be able to help us out. And if they cannot, they must have some local people on their staff who do know. I felt so weird when we entered there, but they were nice. We got sodas and chocolate (Cadbury’s and Mars … wish they had Twix or Bounty or Milky Way) and they were very helpful, but their English stinks and they told us to wait for their supervisor, Avi, who came shortly after we had arrived
. Now, he was the guy I hated the most when we had ‘tea’, but now he was so friendly. (He wasn’t yet drunk!) He gave us his mason, Julius, who was very sweet. He explained (by showing) how to make that local clay and then came out to see our pond. He said, we had done a good piece of work… ;-) Anyways, we came to the conclusion that we needed cement as nothing else would be effective and sustainable. Avi then told us he’d donate cement and sand, which was really sweet.
This is basically where we are at right now. Next week, Khrissee’s friend Colin is coming to help us with the cementing and Julius said he will also be available as long as we just ring him up. This is soooo gonna work…
Khrissee and I started a water harvesting project. (This is such a fancy name, right?) Basically we decided to build a dew pond. The cool thing is that due to the dew it should in fact replenish itself even in the dry season. There is some kind of insulation process which should keep the water/ soil at a lower temperature, so that the condensation is less than the dew at night. (Khrissee did the research; it is way too technical for me so I only offered to do the digging.) Now, we thought this was very intriguing indeed, because not only has this never been done in Africa, but in fact it hasn't been done at all since the 1930s. We put this idea to Elias, the person responsible for the farm here, and he told us to go ahead. He offered to give us some kids from the vocational school to help us out. Great, we were ready!