C.H.U.D. pt.3

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Backed by popular request, today’s general blog post is brought to you by EWB Columbia, Team Uganda, the team that just pretty much completed their implementation trip. Word up. The MFP team undertook their final field assessment trip last Thursday, and the Rain Water Harvesting portion of the project had it’s last rubber reducer tightened Saturday. Was it epic? In my mind, it was awesome, but the scene was just like the whole team sitting on some concrete, watching Joey on a ladder with the screwdriver, doing his thing. We then just dug a little pit, with the help of the community, and let it be. There was some lackluster congratulations to all involved, some genuine smiles under weary eyes, and we went to eat a pretty amazing meal.

Still need to do some sealing of the gutters, because they are kinda leaky. Sigh… That’s what we did today. The team is not hoping for rain – the sealant/gutter glue thing is supposed to be applied in a dry environment. Before I came, the prospect of exercise every day was like not on my mind, because I’ve traveled before, and it’s just hard to stay active other than walking or running to something. Our project is probably as labor intensive as it gets. We have 3 wood ladders. One of them weighs heavy. We have to carry it every day around the school.

On the way back from the restaurant, it was pitch dark except for our little torches lighting the handful of square meters around us. We were on a field. Suddenly, we happened upon the biggest pile of writhing ants I’ve ever seen, especially because the little dudes are like 2.5 cm long, CRAZZY. We then realized that it wasn’t a pile, it was just a blob in a continuation of them. This line was thick as half of my arm, and it just stretched out from the as far as we could illuminate our lights. I was wearing sandals. My foot got bit by one. It hurt like really really bad. Army ants man, they eat elephants stuff. Can you imagine just sleeping on a field at night if you were a mighty elephant, and waking up to ants all over your, trying to eat you? It seriously feels like lava, like a lava stream that’s alive, and has a hive mind. Seriously awesome. We also saw a frog jump around. Hella paranoid after I got bit, so the rest of the trip back I was jumpy.

Am I allowed to say that one of us got malaria? Took a while to get to a clinic with a doctor, but the blood tests came back. Malarone, whack. 1) Misquitos- can someone tell me a ecological justification for them. I need one because I feel bad when I think/say/do “mosquito genocide.” 2) It showed me how much this team is a team, we really take care of each other. I look back on these past few weeks, it’s clear that we did something here that’s more than some reports or a manifesto/mission statement/w/e or a summer volunteer thing. This is some serious, coming of age stuffs. Could just be speaking for myself.

David, hope all is well in NYC. Hot over there huh~~~? Haha.

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3 ladders.

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Today,  rain water harvesting team started early, and made it to school around 8:35am. We got a system down of measuring brackets, placing gutters, testing water flow, and finished laying down gutters that don’t leak a great deal for the middle building. All this in one day, so the prospect of completing this project seems not so impossible yet.

Julius, again, was a beast today. Always exhibiting a positive vibe, he was a great ally when it came to building our third ladder, which increased productivity because now we could have three people, each performing a task specialized for that ladder placement (not for the person, almost everyone on the team can carry out all the motions required to complete the system). The last building that has to be fitted with gutters is going to be the toughest yet, because of its ridiculous long length, and unforgiving facia board placement that leaves little room for the gutters to catch water… whack.

Personally, I find it kind of hilarious that our current implementations are nothing like what we originally planned, and I’m extremely grateful for all the painstaking preparations we did do while in school – it prepared us with thinking processes and information that enabled us to think fast.Because we didn’t consider the building slope when we were planning, we found out after much hammering and back breaking labor that the reason why water was flowing in the non-useful direction was that the whole building was essentially an optical illusion. Now, it looks like we’ll have all these extra pipings and wall mounts and taps and calculations which will make our construction much more steam-punk and lively. It just goes to show that the future belongs to not the ones that have book smarts, but the ones who can adapt. Word~

After all that hard work, we hung out with the kids again, which usually make our best part of the day. Harrison again taught breakdancing/rapping and David showed let others play around with this camera, which they loved and just kept taking pictures. Kids were posing in front of the camera and we got some pretty funny/ridiculous pictures. David also met up with this kid Baker who wanted our help in fixing up his village hit by the insurgency, and this conversation led to that and they ended up talking about development in general. Baker’s brother Emmanuel, the prefect of the school, was the main one taking pictures or “snaps” with his camera. This was one interesting thing to call pictures snaps…although I do like the word snap, being a bit more classy of a word. Anyhow, some of the pictures from the snap-fun are up below. Enjoy!

It’s over 2,

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So today was the second day that our team split up in two: the water team & the MFP team.

After our second meeting with Pilgrim, the water team hitched a ride on the van to Beacon of Hope school and rendezvoused with Julius, the grounds keeper, engine runner, all around beast man of the place. We found some lumber, and Julius, who has a perpetual friendly smile and can-do attitude, proceeded to build ladders like a boss. Rohan, Bethany, and I for the most part tried to help where we could, but it was pretty beautiful to see an artist at work. We needed to build ladders from wood because we need to inspect and eventually install gutters for catching the rain. After we made completed 2 ladders, we also went around and visited the tank foundation construction that we had contracted the previous day. It seems that the process is going smoothly so far. There is around a team of 6 people laying brick, digging, and just being merry. Hopefully we can lay concrete tomorrow, and have pass the first major milestone in our project. As I mention a lot before, it gets hot after 10:30 in Soroti, so we went to grab some lunch, and I proceeded to pass out.

Today the MFP team visited the Usuk site where we met about 7 villagers and they told us how the MFP has been helping them. On the drive there I couldn’t help but smile at these long-stretching fields of green pastures that met the blue sky with these batches of clouds. One thing that I noticed about the clouds in Uganda is that they are always in little batches in the fluffy formation, and they all kind of hover above this invisible table and clouds’ bottoms rest just at that level. We also saw a marketplace on the way that stretched for maybe half a mile to a mile, and there was everything from bikes to clothing and it was quite a sight. As for MFP issues, there were some major problems with the MFP, mostly concerning the speed of the engine, the high fuel costs, and the lack of an oil press which could greatly help the profitability of the MFP. Despite all of these shortcomings, the villagers were still positive about the future and thanked Pilgrim a lot for various reasons. One of the most striking things that they thanked Pilgrim for was helping the village be on a map. Apparently Pilgrim did some mapping work for Usuk and they were finally on the map for Uganda, and to see that they were thankful for that, when we have so many other luxuries and benefits that we just take for granted, I guess I could say I was humbled by these villagers.

A few other things I’ve been noticing about Uganda: people talk very differently from in the US, where people are loud. We always joke that we can point out Americans by their loudness in foreign countries. In Uganda, people talk in this soothing, calm tone and it’s sometimes a bit difficult to hear since we Americans are so loud and we’re just not used to it, but it’s a very gentle way of conversation between people. Also, Ugandan roads have MAD speed bumps. These are these fatty, high speed bumps that drivers always have to almost come to a complete stop for, and they’re quite prevalent throughout the roads. It’s probably a good thing since a lot of the roads don’t have speed limits. One more thing: people are VERY friendly and chill. One aspect is that whenever we pass by on the roads, we see a lot of people just chilling under the shades just talking and often just staring at the cars and the people inside like a hobby. Also, whenever we wave, people almost always wave back, and as people coming from such different backgrounds, to just establish that instant connection by waving I think speaks to the common humanity we share, and although this might seem obvious it shows how chill Uganda is because if we did this in New York or even just America in general, people would often think we’re weirdos.

Pictures will be up tomorrow, because the internet is acting maxx weak sauce. Orange~ Seriously……………………………………….

It’s over~~

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One life lesson I have learned from 2 days ago: Having past about 4 bikes and a handful of motorcycles that have blinding headlights that alert us to their presence and direction, I began to feel confident with my ability to gauge my distance, and therefore my safety, from the moving vehicles. So it was a nasty surprise when David, in between me and the road, and I felt that uncomfortable swoosh of air, the indication that we had been just missed being blunt-forced-trauma-ed KIA by a pick up truck with one light working on the far side so we thought it was a motorcycle. Life felt so real as we laughed hard immediately afterwards.

I really like this peanut paste they make here, Eboo. Anyone who enjoys peanut things will probably like it too. Another worthy mention are the beans. Word. Ordering food here takes a bit more forethought than I’m accustomed to, because everything takes 40 mins to prepare if they say 10 mins, and 3 hours if the power goes out.

Going to teach the second class tomorrow, going over global climate change and catchment area and other things. The students are so bright, but the communication barrier is daunting. Bethany and I are adapting though. I like it that the class laughs a lot, in unison, but they are no disruptive.

We have come to the consensus that in the future we will wake up earlier, something like at 6, so we can begin construction of the rainwater harvesting system at 7. At 11, we will begin to make our way back to the hotel, in order to beat the heat. After a siesta, we will reemerge to hopefully a cooler climate to recommence building. The past few days have been like clockwork in the weather department. Cool agreeable mornings, a steady rise in temperature until it crescendos at around 13:30, then a slow descent back down to a cool night time. Thunder storms lull you to sleep. Pretty awesome that I have no homework.

I miss my bike.