Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Screech the Owl, a Flooded Bridge, and Basic Cook Stoves


Nov, 8th, 2011
           
It was extremely humid and very warm last night. I woke up wet with sweat several times. I look forward to a cool night so I can sleep without sweating. Even though I didn’t sleep well I have been able to work without too much problem.
Feeding time for Screech and Skype time for me with the family
 At 6:00 am I called my family on Skype to have FHE with the family. I fed Screech while I was talking with them. They thought that it was really cool that I had an owl here and wanted me to bring it home. I showed them my safari pictures and told them about our trip. They updated me on what they were doing. I love my family very much and miss being with them but I feel that I am needed here. The conditions are so desperate here for the people. The faster we get our projects going the more people we can help.
The construction crew views the damage by the heavy rains and flooding on the partially constructed dam
 It rained last night and filled the channel with water where we are building the dam up to the top of the wall. We didn't have the clay in yet and it pushed the wall over. The Kenyans didn't believe that there was enough water to push the wall over. They thought that vandals had come in the middle of the night and pushed it over. Later today it rained really hard and flooded over the wall knocking off the top two layers of bricks. When they saw this they started to believe what Kevin had been telling them about the force of the water. The bricks that had the rock wall behind them held perfectly. It will set us back several days especially if it keeps raining. On the bright side it has shown the villagers how important it is that Kevin and Shad designed the dam the way they did. It has been great to learn from them for me as well as the villagers.

With the rain coming down we decided it was a good time to do some planning for what would be planted. Tom and I stepped off the outside boundary of the property then we came back and drew it out on some paper. We will have a model plot with the whole Benson institute plan and then about 100 rotational garden plots for training the local villagers how to grow a rotational garden. The rest of the area will be used for growing different commercial and forage crops. Patrick and Edison have a good idea of what should be done to best utilize the land.

Riley has been working with a lady that has been teaching the village ladies how to build little cooking stoves. They are basically a clay ring about 12 inches tall and 15 inches in diameter. They have a pipe in one side for the smoke to leave by and a hole in the other side to put in wood or charcoal.  They cook much more efficiently and get the smoke out of the house. Currently there is no way for the smoke to leave the homes. This creates lots of respiratory problems.
The simple cooking stoves that cook more efficiently and control the smoke in the homes
 Mark, Mwanzara and the shop crew are helping us put in a solid gate into the chicken area and the garden area. It is really nice to have a shop and skilled laborers to work when you need a project done. We all get together and discuss what we want to accomplish and the best way to do it then they get it done. It is really a pleasure to work with such good people.

Tom led out in digging the fish pond behind the chicken coop. It is two meters square by a meter deep. It should hold up to 100 fish under the right conditions. Once it gets up and going it could provide a significant source of protein and if necessary revenue for the family that utilizes it.

At dusk Mark, Grace and I went down to see the progress on the dam. They had cleared out the fallen wall, bucketed out the water, built the wall back up and were starting to lay out the fence to contain the rocks. It was getting dark and there is a 60% chance of thunder showers tonight so it was decided to keep working until the liner was put in. I jumped in and helped them lay the fence down and stack rocks on top of it. Then we brought the liner in and placed it in the trench. We started piling clay furiously on top of the liner. After we had the bottom covered we piled some bricks inside, folded the liner closed and put everything away for the night. It was amazing how much was done in such a short time. I got my hands cut up a little and my shoes full of mud but it was worth helping make good progress on the dam.

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