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Lara Kroeker Interactive

Over the years, people have asked me about the two water projects in Tanzania, and, through emails and blog posts, I’ve shared bits and pieces of an incomplete story, but I wanted to collect the whole thing—from the beginning.

Not just for you, but for me—to help understand how I got there—wherever there is. And now that I’ve pieced together my story, I’m not sure what it all means, but maybe that’s the point. Maybe our stories are never finished. You are welcome to READ THE STORY ONLINE or DOWNLOAD AN EBOOK. If you want to have a print version you can pay for the printing costs through Blurb and order a copy for yourself.

Here’s my story.

Part 1

Kalagala High School

Many years ago I traveled to Africa for the first time. Uganda.

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.

Part 2

THE FIRST WATER PROJECT

In the fall of 2007, Zoe went back to Queen Victoria School on Vancouver’s east side. Her teacher, Perry Buchan, heard bits and pieces about our trip from her seven-year-old perspective, which inspired him to integrate a section on water into the school’s curriculum.

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.

Part 3

SAFARI COMPANY

So it feels like this story should end here, right? Wrong. My experiences in Cheku invigorated me to do more and we conjured up a plan to transition Moshi’s cultural tours into a full-on safari company, fully integrating the environmental projects in the process.

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.

Part 4

ANOTHER WATER PROJECT

Today, in a tiny little village in Tanzania—one that isn’t even on the map—there is a 170-meter-deep hole in the Earth that supplies water, using solar technology, to seven distribution points around the village of Iyoli. This is the story of how that happened.

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.

Part 5

THE IYOLI WELL

The Iyoli water project, the second well, had taken two years so far, and we were just now getting ready to start drilling. That’s a lot of time waiting for something to happen, but it had been a similar experience in Cheku, too.

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.