The day started out lazy and slow. We arrived at the Pygmy village ready to build the raised beds in order to plant the germinated seeds, and found the women sitting down, saying they did not want to work today because it had rained the night before. After realizing we weren't convinced by their excuse, they eventually gathered their hoes and shovels and met us at the field. After 15 minutes things started looking very promising... almost 30 women were working away, loosening the soil in preparation for building the raised beds!! We hadn't seen this positive energy since the first day when we made compost....
We asked them to take turns helping us dig out trenches and pile the soil on the areas designated for the raised beds, and they got right to it! We were happily surprised.... the good luck ran out quickly though. After one hour of work, one by one they put down their hoes until they were all sitting on the edge of the field watching us work. We thought they were taking a break and continued with our shoveling. After a while, Jeph told us they were going up to the village to have some food. What we didn't know is that this meant they were done for the day. For the next 4 hours, we and Jeph worked on the raised beds, hoeing and shoveling and leveling and strengthening the edges until half the field was ready with 12 beautiful raised beds.
When we went back up to the village, Chizungu, the village chief, told us his wife had Malaria. The procedure with Malaria is simple (get checked by a doctor and prescribed a medicine that cures it in less than a week), but for a Pygmy, with no money or resources, this is out of reach. We took them to the nearest hospital and gave them money for the check up and treatment.
We also told Chizungu, however, that we would no longer work by ourselves. We told him tomorrow we need all the women present again, but working beside us the whole day, not just 1 hour. We are here to work WITH thim, but not FOR them. Working for them would be the same as simply giving them hand-outs, leaving them with no new skills, still depending on outsiders to survive. Chizungu seemed to grasp what we were saying, promising that tomorrow all the women would be working. Convinced, we drove back to Bukavu exhausted and aching, but so happy things are moving along!!