Thursday, May 24, 2007

Developing the Land

Life is not dull for us here in Africa. As ground support staff to Kathy, we get very busy when there is a team of Americans here. We will often attend the daily activities which is a field trip to a rural village, a visit to the hospital or orphanage or a day at the MWB farm…now known as the Children’s Resource Center. At least 3 of those days are spent at the new land helping to ready it for the major job of brick-making and development. We are currently enjoying a month between teams when supposedly it settles down a bit. Not a chance…

Here is what needs to go on to develop the land. We need electricity and water. In order to get electricity we had to prepare a way for the electric company to put poles in. So that means blazing a road for a big truck to come onto the land. Now our land is what we call the “bush”… lots of trees and bushes and really tall grass. It isn’t like a Tarzan jungle area, but more like a plain or plateau with quite a bit of foliage. So this particular task was a very large one. Once this was done we needed to get the electric company to come out and inspect the land and see if it was clear enough for them to work on. They did and it was. THEN they could prepare an estimate of how much it would cost to put in the electricity. That alone took a couple of weeks. We just got the estimate and as soon as it is paid they will put us on the list to have the work done. Then we wait up to 9 months for them to get around to us on their work schedule.

The next thing we need is water. We have to contract with a well-digger to have one or two wells dug. There are some wells there now but we need better and deeper ones. In order to make bricks for all the construction, we need water. We bought some used 55 gallon drums to hold the water for the brickmaking. We dug holes and sunk 5 of these drums into the ground. This is to make them lower and easier to access and to prevent thieves from stealing them. In order to fill the drums one needs to go to the well and drop the bucket to the bottom and then haul it up. That means you haul a 5 gallon bucket that weighs 40 pounds up out of the well 11 times making 5 to 6 trips with the wheelbarrow to fill each drum. Multiply that by 5 and you get all the drums full. By the way, the well is about a quarter of a mile from the drums.

When the April group was here they really helped clear the land and level it off in spots where things were going to be built. They also planted some banana trees. 25 people working hard for a day accomplishes a lot.

One thing we try not to tell too many people is that there are some snakes in the bush. Noone has been hurt so far, but many have been seen. The snakes are mostly cobras and some are spitting cobras. If you wear glasses you protect your eyes. They say the venom makes you go blind if they spit at you, and they always aim for your eyes. Mike found a cool snake skin. The biggest snake he has seen was about 8 feet long. They usually just slither away if they see humans, so no need to worry!

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