Rob Pfeiffer Blog 12/16/2015
I just came down off the mountain and I am still high from the experience 16 of us created up there. At home, the work would have been handled by the public works department with their machinery. Here, there is a water committee and since we have been talking a great deal about clean water and its effects on children and health in general, the committee scheduled a work day and invited me. The district water commissioner showed up to give advice. So, everyone piled into his pickup truck (except me as I chose to bike up) and off we went.
The mountain has deep ravines which serve to direct the water through narrow passages. The water intake is up one of these ravines. It was pretty thoroughly plugged with leaves and other debris so the water was not able to flow into the pipe. There was also evidence of cows (now outlawed by the chiefs for a week) and a great deal of silt. We soon had bucket lines up the sides of the ravine depositing debris in low spots where it would be unlikely to wash back into the intake. The harmony was very exciting to be a part of. We had at least a 50 year age spread and both men and women (one with baby in tow). Then sand, cement, and gravel had to be toted up the ravine and mixed on the only flat spot available. Everyone took turns at all the jobs so it went quickly. Then we had to rearrange all the rocks and create a wall to prevent the erosion problem and cement everything in place. By the time we left, we had a nice clear stream directed right into the pipe and gurgling happily.
The ravine itself was a spectacular place to be, with old growth triple canopy jungle shading us from the blistering sun which has shone every day I have been here — that’s seven weeks now without rain. We did not see any monkeys or baboons this trip but that is where I have seen them on previous trips. All the happy chatter and a few whistled Christmas carols probably scared them off. I am so programmed to this time of year that I am full of seasonal ditties and they leak out at odd moments. The feeling of cooperation and accomplishment was wonderful. Go!Malawi was well represented with Estan, the village elder I have often referred to, who is an assistant director and myself as a volunteer.
This effort followed hard on the heels of a week of very spotty water. As a matter of fact, this was a the first morning at the water station where there was a bit of pushiness borne of absolute desperation. I was there early with my array of containers, and as women arrived needing water to cook after a day, yesterday with no water available, I just bailed on a significant percentage of my containers. With no rain, no one can plant, so food is really in short supply, and then to have this water crisis on top of everything else, it sure felt good to be able to do something to make a difference. Water was flowing well and forcefully just now down in the village and people are back to their pretty much irrepressible joyous outlook.
So, from the center of all holiday activity, that’s the news from Malawi.