We have now booked flights for 5 of us to visit the project in October. We're raising funds, getting our jabs... Exciting! Hopefully we'll bring back loads of photos!
We've strengthened our links with Chief Mnukwa which is very important, and now all have a better understanding of how we can work together.
It's great that the water supply is working well, and the cess pit and soakaway have been completed.
There have been encouraging reports about the on-going building of the 3 new teachers houses; the recent shipment of goods obtained through 'Tools for Self Reliance', currently stored in Lusaka, are due to be delivered any time now.
I'm busily collecting things to take out with us too. Our solar powered DVD player and phone charger unit have been delivered, plus some solar desk lights.
Looking forward to reporting in much more detail when we get back!
I spent February in Affame Benin with a group of volunteers mostly working on the orphanage which is being sponsored by HATW.
David Edge (a structural engineer with well drilling experience) and I had already decided to put together a cable drilling rig that could be used to provide a reliable water supply for the orphanage and surrounding houses. We assembled the winch unit and diesel engine before shipping it and a selection of drill tooling, to Benin . The gantry was to be made in Affame using local timber. Unfortunately the ship was delayed which meant that DE and myself had to return at the end of April.
However there was plenty of work to be done at the orphanage. Albert and Dieudonne (who are the local organisers for HATW) are also farmers and enthusiastic about integrating the orphanage and its children with local agriculture. One idea is to use composting toilets which, especially by separation of urine, can provide a valuable fertilizer to increase crop yields. This should be a significant factor on the somewhat “hungry” local soils. The photo shows Guillaume digging out one of the composting toilets.
On our return at the end of April, David and I, with plenty of local help, assembled the drilling rig. Our first borehole was in a patch of ground which can now, with a water supply, be used as a market garden. This will provide vegetables for the orphans and also train them in basic horticulture.
The drill worked well and once we got used to the local soil conditions soon reached 18 metres depth where we found water. There is still some work to be done developing the well but there is a supply of some 12 cubic metres a day available.
The rig was then moved to the orphanage where Albert and Dieudonne had already reached a depth of 6 metres before we left. Latest news from Benin is that a depth of 30 metres has been reached, which is just above water table.
When I was at the New Life Centre School in February, there was a sports day held for our benefit. The visitors from England could hand out the prizes to the winners. Several of the games were entertaining to watch, the biscuit game where the children had to eat a biscuit off a string and then run to the finishing line. It struck me then how inclusive these games were as it wasn’t necessarily about being the fastest or the fittest, everyone had a chance.
The game in the photo was the most intriguing though as the cyclists had to pedal as slowly as possible without falling off. The winner was the last cyclist to cross the line. This was not only amusing to watch, but also extremely skilful, as some of the students were barely advancing with their bikes in an attempt to win.
This game turned the idea of fastness on its head; the slowest won.
In the West, life seems to be always at an increasing pace - unless you fill your days and minutes with activity, you are missing something.
Winning isn’t always about being first and speed does not always produce the best results.
The New Life Centre school will be 10 years old next year, and it has been a long struggle for Alindra Naskar to educate the parents and the children of this poor area, but in establishing the school slowly Alindra has provided a firm foundation for the future of this school.
If you support Alindra you will enable this school to grow at a pace which ensures its continuity, not only for these children, but for their future children as well.