We headed out early in the morning to buy fruit trees for Cheku. Negotiations are beyond me here and I just watch the proceedings that go back and forth for a long time. In the end we bought $30 worth of trees (mango, avocado, a species that helps malaria, guava, orange) that we would divide between the school and the woman’s collective in Cheku . Then we went to Moshi’s neighbour to buy spinach and other seeds that would be planted in the sac gardens Yasinta was going to show them how to do. We also went to see the carpenter to buy the bee box for the Kolo office.
We arrived in Cheku near the well and the women’s collective was waiting for us. The woman surrounded the car as we got out and splattered a chalky liquid on us which is meant to be a kind of blessing for travellers visiting the village (they do it for everyone) and then they rubbed my face with it as well. We walked from the well to the nursery to see the trees that we planted last year. If you were to pass by the space it looks like nothing but there are 64 trees (out of 100) that we planted last year that survived and are scattered around They made a fence out of thorns to keep the animals out and have cultivated the land in bits and pieces.
Then we headed to the school while the woman collected rocks that would be used in the sac gardens. We arrived at the school and met the head teacher who told us that the sac gardens were unsuccessful from last year. All the teachers came into the office and we spent an hour discussing what the problem was and discovered that it was because fetching the water became too big of an issue. They discussed this and figured out that instead of morning exercises they could have 5 of the older children run to the well (they have a morning run program) and each bring back a small amount of water which could be rotated between children. So they are going to try it again. Afterwards we gave the teachers some trees to plant and brought out the soccer ball. The kids went nuts, like I mean really nuts, jumping and screaming and running but I almost started crying feeling so incredibly overwhelmed and saddened that this one tiny itty bitty little thing was such a big deal. It’s so unfair.
Afterwards Yasinta showed the woman’s collective how to make a sac garden which is very easy and affordable. We stood in the hot sun for over an hour crushing rocks and mixing the dirt. I couldn’t handle it at one point and went to sit underneath the small avocado tree that Zoe planted last year. We ended the day at Mrufu’s house and the woman made a lunch for us before we returned to Kondoa.
I feel as though the people of Cheku will always hold a special place in my heart. They are welcoming and kind and are so keen to help me learn swahili and we have the history of the well together. Tomorrow we will do that same thing in Kolo, paint the office and have a party. It’s going to be another long day but I have to say I am happy and loving it all.