The season is starting to change and the things that were once green are starting to turn brown. Sunflowers have turned their heads to the ground, grass is falling back into the earth and people are starting to harvest their crops and leave them out to dry in front of their houses.
The rain has stopped completely and I can see the holes getting deeper in the river that we pass everyday.
Msimu wa njaa means the hunger season – when the harvest is finished and the sun is hot and relentless and there is not any food that grows. On the turnoff to Iyoli we passed some fruit scattered on the dirt road called Matikiti Pori (direct translation is hunger lemon) and it was discarded because they are not edible, except in the season of hunger. The fruit was a subtle reminder that the season of hunger is fast approaching.
One of my favourite people here is Mbula and her name means the rainy season. The older people in Iyoli all have names that reference seasons. Ilala means honey harvesting season, Lujii means the season that the rivers flow and Mwasu is the sunny season. So if there were 100 babies born in the rainy season, in the past, they would all be named Mbula. This tradition is disappearing but it shows how much that seasons matter.
Mbula comes to the project site each day bringing gifts of food for us like pumpkins and corn and millet and milk. We accept these precious gifts with gratitude, even though I know that each time I take them it means less for her. I want to say keep them so she has more but I can’t.
Today as I was watching the structure for the solar panels grow I thought about how the sun, an enemy in the dry season, will become the solution to power up a pump that will bring water to the 7 taps scattered around the village.
I also thought about how easy it is to judge how long it takes for work to happen but imagine having to build this infrastructure without electricity or water onsite and use mostly hand tools because you have no choice WHILE the sun beats down on your head. This tower went up, brick by brick, truckload by truckload of supplies with the experience of people who who have done this all before – many times over. Only we will ever know the secret story of sweat behind the solid walls of this beautiful structure.
Things have to happen the way that they happen and the experience that IA brings is how these projects stay alive. I am inspired by the work in this tiny little village. It’s not an easy place and the experience and knowledge and ability to build like this is almost magic. People should know.
In addition these walls would never have been built without people who care. I know that Innovation: Africa’s donors want to stay anonymous but in the village of Iyoli we say their names because the in the fast approaching season of hunger the people here will not suffer because of this water project. Someday, if ever they visit, they will welcomed as friends. Just like I am.
Perhaps this year the season of hunger in Iyoli village will pass quickly.