Today our plan was to plant trees near the water so site so at 9 in the morning we headed off to buy some trees. Richard, who had come down to meet us was coming as our environmental advisor. If you remember he had a few projects that he started in Mbo Tu. He is also volunteering for this project because he is passionate about trees and gardens. Abu, our friend and wildlife specialist also joined us because although he focuses on wildlife he knows alot about plants and trees. I had $60.00 in my budget and we bought 120 trees like mango, guava, and a whole bunch of others that I am too fried to remember right now.
We headed off the the village and pulled into a cluster of huts where the new women’s collective was meeting us for lunch. This is where, again, where I felt like I was inside a living history book. The women came out yelling and throwing a substance on our faces and car. They greeted us. Moshi told me that they were so happy to be given the solar chargers as a means for making money on their own. There was tradition dancing and they kept reaching up to stroke our faces and arms and holding our hands.
After the dancing and yelling they pulled us into a hut and served us lunch. The lunch food that they had from their meagre crops so it was a real honor to be eating this together.
Afterwards we sat in a circle with the women (and men joined us after) and Moshi was talking about the importance of trees and how these trees will take time to grow but in the future it will be a way to make money and feed their children and be a source of medicine for the sick. A singer from the village came down and sang a song as a way for us to get ready for the hard work that lay ahead of us. The women got up and danced and we started walking to the water source. At one point I turned around and looked behind me and there were hundreds of people following us. When we got there the singer did another song while women filled up buckets of water preparing for the planting of the trees.
I really did not realized how insanely dry and hard the land is and when Moshi said it was hard work that lay ahead of us he wash’t kidding. The dirt is almost like rock and when you shovel the dirt behind you dust fills the air. Richard had a way to plant where the hole is very very big and you have cow dung (which they had collected the day before) and straw that lines the hole. The plant is put in below the hole so that it sits in a basin to retain every last drop of water. I put in a mango tree and Zoe planted and avocado tree. After words we put in two buckets of water that the women carried in on their heads.
During this time the primary (elementary) students were brought over from the school where Zoe asked them to draw pictures of their environment to take back home (and to use in a project at school). There were over a hundred kids which I think shocked her but she managed, with Yasinta, to organize them into groups where she gave them crayons and paper. Zoe continues to amaze me here with the strength that she finds to talk and interact with so many children without knowing the language and culture. We do alot of laughing and using the few swahili words that we know.
We finally ended the day after planting 5 of the trees. Yup it took 20 guys digging to get only 5 proper holes done. We will do more tomorrow.