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Lara Kroeker Interactive

Chapter 42: Onward

Moshi, Juma, and I were at the site every day to make sure that things were getting done, and little by little, they were slowly finishing. Today, a small team was here to take pillar measurements, and tomorrow they were going to install the solar panels and get everything ready for pump hookups, the final piece of this project-puzzle. I was helping to manage the project because I knew that if there wasn’t a push, it would go on forever. In reality, Lerian was gone, and maybe trying to get all this done, as quickly as I hoped, was being a bit unrealistic, but we kept going.

I asked Innovation: Africa to forward part of the final payment to the engineer because he did not have enough money for the pump, so I drafted a new contract and inserted that the project had to be completed within three weeks or the other part of the final payment would be forfeit.

One day, on the way back to Kondoa, Moshi and I had a big blow out (about nothing in particular) because the stress was so high. Nothing was ever Moshi’s fault, but he was always the one who got yelled at by people in Iyoli and the on-site workers. That evening, Juma came by and calmed me down, but nevertheless, I asked him to help me get back to Dar so I could leave. I’m grateful for Juma—he was the peacemaker and my one link to understanding what was going on. What I really wanted to do was get on a bus to Dar, and then sit in a hotel with a pool.

I went to sleep upset and mad and scared that I was stuck, but the next morning, Moshi and I had a little heart-to-heart. We acknowledged that we were doing all the work on this project with no credit or money but all the stress and expectations. We decided that our friendship after all these years was more important.

And then I started laughing.

I laughed because on our way to the village, we had to pick up the village chairman from jail. On market day, he had gone to help reconcile a fight between a husband and wife, and then they turned around and accused him of something (not clear on what), and the police never bothered to ask questions, so they took him in. I sat in the car laughing (while trying to be invisible) while Moshi and Juma went to the police station and negotiated with their friends for the chairman.

Then I found out that one of the guys working on the site (who I adore because he was the hardest worker) was named Ejuma, which means Friday. Why? He was born on Friday. Another guy was named Week. Why? Because he was born during the week. I asked Moshi that if a baby were born tomorrow, if they could they name it Water Project. He said sure yes, and then I continued laughing.

Moshi and Juma were having this crazy competition to kill birds (don’t worry—they all get eaten), and so we were stopping the car every few feet so they could aim out the window with a slingshot and shoot. Juma had given me three birds. And Moshi? None. He was so aggravated, but I was laughing and teasing him about it, and then—at the project site—I got ahold of the slingshot and accidentally shot a goat. For a brief moment, it was serious, as though I’d committed some heinous act, but then it was funny.

After that, Mbula’s fourteen-year-old daughter (who was hanging out with me and Nasma) took Juma’s slingshot and ran into the bush and shot a bird.

And then, the water pump started working and pumping water to the sim tank, which would take about a day to fill, and I continued to laugh and laugh and laugh. On the way home, Moshi jumped out of the car and shot and missed a dove by a few inches, which made me laugh even more.

Amidst all this laughter—running water.

All those videos with people jumping up and down singing and dancing when the water is turned on are lies. When the water started working, it was just the team and me and Moshi and Juma and a few other people. We just shook hands and went home to wait for the sim tanks to fill. I thought the entire scene was kind of odd but mostly funny—and that maybe I was going crazy.