Chapter 16: Ending before it Began

Moshi and I headed out early in the morning to buy trees for both Cheku and the village of Kolo. 

It was a particularly sweltering day, but I wanted to revisit Cheku to check in on the trees we planted last year, as well as plant a few more. Kolo would also be a good spot for the tours with its close proximity to some historical rock paintings, so we wanted to forge some stronger relationships there.

We stopped at a nursery to buy the trees. Since negotiations were beyond me here, I just watched the proceedings. In the end, we bought $30 worth of seeds and trees. We would be dividing them between Kolo and the women’s collective in Cheku. 

Once we got to Cheku, I visited the guest book again, and went back to see Zoe’s and my signature from our trip last year. The village had only received a handful of visitors since then, so our names didn’t take long to find. Next, we stopped at the well and then walked to the field to see the trees that we planted last year. About 64 of the 100 trees that we planted last year had survived and were scattered around. The village had made a fence out of thorns to keep the animals out and had begun to cultivate the land in bits and pieces. The sun was strong and there were so few places to stand in the shade. At one point, I was so overwhelmed by the heat that I went to sit underneath the small avocado tree that Zoe had planted last year. 

And I thought about the situation with Ikaji as the sun beat down on my head.

I realized that Ikaji was not a good fit for the company because I could not talk to him honestly, and—since he was really nothing more than an investor—he wasn’t willing to provide much help while we were working hard on building the company programs. I felt uncomfortable with him, like I was being pulled in too many directions. I realized that the only way any of this was going to work was if I moved to Tanzania to help run the day-to-day business and website. That wasn’t going to happen.

It was under that hot sun that I realized our company was not going to work.

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.