October 13, 2011
Bukavu, Eastern DRC
Today's first task: building seedling flats so the villagers can germinate and tend to their seedlings before they're strong enough to transplant to the field.
We bought wooden planks and saws and began measuring and cutting the necessary pieces to build the seedling flats. We realized we needed smaller nails, so we went to the village to buy some while Jeff and Ciprian supervized the cutting. When we returned, as we walked down the path through the tea plantation enveloped in green wherever we could see, the air was suddenly filled with the sound of angels chanting.... it was breathtaking. We simply had to stop and let it all soak in... the Pygmies were having choir practice. So for the next few hours we nailed our seedling flats together in the resplendent atmosphere of women singing. The children were very interested in the process, surrounding us with curiosity in a tight circle full of giggles. While the men were busy nailing, the women and I took flats down to the field to fill them with soil. Tomorrow we'll plant the season's first seeds!
Second task: rain capture system
Yesterday we made compost beds. One thing compost beds really need is water. It was so painful to ask the pygmies to bring containers of water for the compost when we knew they were probably thirsty. In order to have water, the women have to walk up the mountain, quite far, to the nearest stream and carry back the heavy containers various times a day. We had to provide a solution. We realized the roof of their church is a great way to capture rain, so we've made it one of our priorities to set up a rain capture system in order for them to have at least enough water for their crops and maybe some left over for bathing. We talked to Chisongo and Cipriano about capturing rain and they loved the idea.
Tomorrow the women will work on the seedling flats while the men prepare a simple rain capture system. It will be our last day before heading to Ethiopia for the 2-week permaculture course specialized in rural African communities, so we need to leave them with seeds planted and accessible water... tomorrow's going to be a very productive day!