Tower construction began on market day, which happened once a month.

Since the project site was right next to the market, the area was ripe with activity. While workers were busy with the construction, people from the neighbouring villages were right beside them buying and selling cows, clothes, and wares. Baraka was with us for the day and spent her time watching the tower being built, listening to music on my phone, and taking pictures like a burgeoning photographer.

The next day, the market had come and gone, but construction continued while the engineers conducted pump tests that would help to determine how much water the borehole would yield. They connected a hose to a pump a few meters from the truck, and then ran the well for six hours while they measured and recorded the water’s drawdown time.

When the tests started, only the team was present, but as news of running water travelled throughout the village, women and children came to fill their buckets. The water was running at full pressure all day, and for six hours, people came and went, transporting their buckets of water by bike and by foot to their homes. Instead of a useless borehole teasing the villages for a couple years while our community scrounged for money for a pump, like in Cheku, the Iyoli villagers were able to benefit from the water almost immediately.

Chapter 33: Infrastructure

The tower that would hold the two water tanks and solar panels went up as handmade bricks were handed one-by-one up a ladder. While the men worked, young boys who were tending to their goats passed by, ladies offered us fresh hot milk from their cows with a spoonful of sugar, and children—on their way home after school—stood with us watching the structure go up.

Each day, the tower grew a little bit bigger.

Pipes also needed to be laid inside trenches that would bring water to seven distribution points across Iyoli village, which meant that 10km of trenches, 90cm high and 50cm wide, needed to be dug. People from all over Iyoli volunteered to help dig.

Multiple teams of five were dispersed around Iyoli village and together they dug. Young and old. Men and women—all were digging. From the primary and secondary school, to the village center, the market, and the medical center—teams dug. Through fields of corn and bush and trees—teams dug. Through homes and streets—teams dug. While children played and people watched, the teams continued to dig.

As the sun glared down on us, people grew more and more tired, and by the end of the day, there were still many kilometres, as well as weeks of work, left to go.

The tower for the water tank was still under construction, too, but once it was completed, gravity and pressure was going to be pushing water through the pipes hidden in these trenches, and eventually—once the ground had settled—no one would even know that they were there. Running water was going to feel like magic, but these teams that were currently tossing aside shovel after shovel full of earth would know that it was their hard work that made it all possible.