POST 10: A Party in the Village

Today we drove to Iyoli with Moshi, his wife and 2 children, Sajidah and Samia, Habiba, the sister of the girl who works at the hotel, Evelyn and Baraka, Issa and me.  We packed the car full of rice and veggies from the market we were going to have later that day for our big party.  We invited all the kids from the story telling club at the school, the water committee, the teachers, officials from the surrounding area, the village chief and people from the village.

I bought 2 goats from one of the neighbours in the village that were slaughtered at the back of the house (sorry vegetarians). The women were cleaning the rice and cutting bananas, cabbage and garlic on the side of the house which was pretty much in a cornfield.  This is where I really got to know woman of Iyoli and I spent the afternoon taking pictures, dancing and singing.

Late in the afternoon everyone started to arrive and fill the space.  It was raining so the tarps were up to keep us dry.  Everyone said a few words, including me in my broken swahili and Moshi told the story of how we first met, that I had come with my family, Zoe and Loc, after my mom had tragically died in the pacific ocean. Everyone stood up in silence for her (they do that for those who have passed on). I felt her presence in that moment and thought about how messed up I was during that time (even now sometimes) and here we are 12 years later, in a remote village eating goat and thinking of her.  It’s a perfect way to remember.

On the way home we stopped in the Kalemba, the neighbouring village, to visit Moshi’s sister.  We walked in pitch blackness to her home off the road and sat, the kids laughing and the adults chatting with only a small flashlight. On the way home issa, the driver, stopped suddenly and backed the car up.  I wasn’t sure what happened but it turned out that we ran over a black mamba snake.  He saw it looking at us from the highway and had no choice but to hit it head on.  If I had the brain power I might try to think of what it meant in a deeper way but maybe it was just plain old bad luck for the snake.

I told Moshi on the way home that most of the time I have no idea what is going on and and he said “Lara, I must be honest and truthful with you, either do I.”

We arrived back in Kondoa and said goodbye to Baraka’s mother and grandmother.  We dropped Evelyn and Habiba off and then went to Ngassi’s house (Moshi’s friend) for dinner.  Now I am back in my hotel room and exhausted but content.

We are leaving to meet Jafari in Dodoma tomorrow to get the results of the water survey and I am sad to be leaving Evelyn, Habiba and Baraka.

Lala Salama rafiki yangu (Goodnight my friends)

We can pick and choose the memories that define our life and piece them together like a puzzle.

Many years ago, in the wake of my mother’s death, I traveled to Africa for the first time. Uganda.

Our time to leave Kalagala eventually came, and my family embarked upon a classic Kenyan safari.

The three of us headed for Tanzania where I met Moshi Changai, a pivotal piece to this story.

From Tanzania, we made our way to the island of Zanzibar, a place to pause and reflect, and to write.

We left Zanzibar for Marrakesh, where the sound of Muslim prayers echoed from the speakers.

Life returned to normal—for just a little while. We returned home, and Zoe went back to School.

Fast-forward six years, and once again, Tanzania stood before my daughter and me.

Our destination was Kondoa, but to get there, we had to board a cramped bus like a bunch of sardines.

Before making our way to Cheku, we visited many of the surrounding Irangi villages first.

We drove up the long road dirt road to Cheku village and finally saw the well that had taken so many years.

With the Cheku well confirmed to be real, the time had come to return to Vancouver.

I finally landed in Tanzania, excited to meet Moshi again and the rest of the safari team.

I spent the days before meeting our potential business partner, Ikaji, at the hotel, practicing my Swahili.

By spending so much time at the hotel, I grew close with the girls who worked there.

On our way to snap some shots at Ntomoko falls, we got stuck in the mud, much like how I felt about Ikaji.

One morning, Moshi and I headed to buy trees and I sat and reflected on the situation with Ikaji.

Ikaji was simply not a good fit for this project and we had to decide how to proceed.

To help foster a community around the tours we decided to have a party for the people of Kolo.

The dry season had been especially brutal for the village of Iyoli and water was scarce.

This trip was winding to a close, but before I left, Moshi and took a final, bumpy motorcycle ride.

Once again, Perry Buchan leapt at the opportunity to be part of another water project.

I was back in Kondoa once again, at the same hotel (or at least the one next door).

To help determine how deeply the hole needed to be dug for the Iyoli well, the team conducted a survey.

We went back to Iyoli with a car full of computer equipment, a generator, and people.

With a car full of just about everyone, we headed to Iyoli one last time before leaving, but this time it was for a party.

The time had come to leave. I knew this because I had used my last square of toilet paper.

It took two and a half minutes to walk off the plane into the Turkish airport and breathe the unfamiliar smells.

It was like a fade-in into a movie, one that started with a reunion between two friends.

The next two weeks went by slowly as the drillers dug inch-by-inch toward the depth of 100m.

Initial digging had concluded, but we still had to test the water, build the tower, and dig trenches.

Tower construction began on market day, and led to a lot of people stopping by to watch the work.

Brick-by-handmade-brick, the tower went up. Soon, it would hold two water tanks and solar panels.

One morning in Kondoa town invited me over to play music at his house behind the hotel.

My worst fear, and I’m embarrassed to say but I will anyway, was having to go pee in the bush.

Today, I met Bar from Innovation: Africa - the woman who helped bring this project on.

I debated whether I even wanted to share this part of this story, but I will.

A few days later, work resumed at the project site.

Despite the recent setback, life continued—progress continued.

Things that were once green were starting to turn brown.

In many ways, our engineer was crazy and messed up.

Moshi, Juma, and I were at the site every day to make sure that things were getting done.

Water began flowing to the different distribution points throughout Iyoli.

This is my story. The stories I tell are the ones that hold me up, that keep me going, that feed me hope.

Each night when I drink a glass of water, I often think of Moshi, and the memories wash over me.