Should I tell you only the good things about this project and make it sound like a fairytale or should I tell you the real story, about how people in Iyoli village are just human beings just like everyone else – in every corner of the world, in any sector – working on big and complicated projects. I debated whether to omit this part of the story but to me it just proves how resilient and strong communities can be when they find their answers though communication and peace.
I chose the later.
In the past few days we’ve had some very small issues in the community but we had to stop the project send a message to the community and take some time to educate them about how to care for the pipes. We met with the Water Committee and discussed the issue and then called a full village meeting the next day.
The word spread throughout the village and the next day a meeting was called with the entire community. Our strategy before the meeting was to unify the village so that we could all move forward with a fresh start, energized and without anger, to help the engineer complete his job.
We told the community that mistakes can happen and went on to talk about water pressure and gravity and how important it is to keep the distribution points to only the 7 as determined by the engineer. This mistake can never happen again though because it puts the sustainability of this well in jeopardy and a process was put in place by the village chief to deal with it properly. The people in the village agreed and I am very confident that it is all good.
Someday if you take me out for a drink I will tell you the whole story but to me this just shows how complicated these projects can be but also how issues can be easily solved when you are peaceful, compassionate and understanding.
When I returned to my hotel after the village meeting I was greeted by Baraka, Miriam, Sadia and a group of neighbourhood kids with letters and pictures for me to hang up in my room. I think that maybe it’s the children who know how to handle things the best – with messages of love and pretty pictures.
Today we returned to the site and work has resumed full force. The door was put on the tower and the borehole covered. The pillar that will hold the solar panels are near completion and the engineer is doing a final check of the trenches before they are covered tomorrow.
As I was watching the work being completed I looked up in the tree and saw an animal hide and asked why it was there. The entire village had come out the day before the village meeting and performed a ceremony called a Tomoke. They slaughtered a lamb and then threw the remains on the almost finished structures to bless it and pray for peace. Looks like their ceremony worked but I asked that they could perform it again to make it Double double sure that this project stays good and strong (and also so I can be a part of it).
In the past few days I have been a little sick (no biggy) and last night I had a little (ok BIG) breakdown because I had changed my ticket to leave earlier because things had been going so smoothly but with this delay I won’t see the water flowing. You know that feeling when you are so tired and unsure of things and then just focus on one thing and miss the big picture. Moshi and Juma had a long talk with me and helped me to realize that I have missed the big picture.
As we passed of the river bed for what seems like the 100th time I saw all of the school kids but the holes this time were about double the depth that they were last week. The rain has stopped and Moshi said that in a few more weeks the holes will be so deep that you have to climb in and scoop up the water and pass it to your friend to put in your bucket. I tried to fill a bucket for one of the kids and although I was just having fun I felt in my body how hard this is to do. Everyday.
In the next few weeks the people of Iyoli will have water and that is the big picture – whether I see it happen or not.