Today was another fruitful and magical day with the Pygmies! We arrived to find the boys had built soccer goals with sticks and were having a match.
After watching and cheering a while, Xavi got started with the men, installing gutters on Chizungu’s roof in order to capture rainwater in the 1000L tank we bought yesterday thanks to our kind donors. Meanwhile, Mel went up to the second field with Jeph and a team of more than 30 men and women, to prepare another set of beds to plant in.
Language is less of a barrier every day. We start out each morning explaining the activities for the day to Chizungu (through Jeph), and while working, simple French and hand signals are more than enough. Everyone works very well and they pick up on every task with just one demonstration.
A factor that’s greatly influencing the general mood are the children. They have opened their hearts to us. Today, I (Mel) officially gained a small army of toddlers who followed me like magnets wherever I went; together, we improvised ways of having fun on the paths to and from the village, playing hopscotch and “Tarzan”, which consisted in them taking turns swinging from my arms. I’ve learned many of their names and recognize them as individuals, and they in turn now only call me Melanie. Jacques, Ishara, Bienda, Colondua, Safari, Bisimua, Tilonge and many others followed me to the upper field, and when they saw me working with the women, they decided to join in!! They were actually a great help, and we had fun during the activity, taking photos (their new favorite pastime), chasing each other (until they fell down laughing time and time again) and finding insects (which we would then release back to the field). When I thanked them for their excellent work and said I would bring them a prize on Monday, they were thrilled. They asked if it could be “bisquits”, and bisquits they shall get :)
I (Xavi) worked with pretty much the same group of guys that has been working with us in the last few days. We are getting to know each other, and smiles and laughs are heard while we work. It’s nice to create bonds and break cultural barriers!!
We first cut 3 corrugated iron sheets into 30cm x 3m slabs to make the gutters and proceeded to fold them onto a V shape. We then assembled the pieces with wire and attached them below the roof where we would be collecting rainwater. This was quiet a challenge as the roof is slanted; it took a while to figure out the proper inclination needed to make the water run to one side only. Usually, the inclination is 1 inch per 8 feet of roof, but this was not the case here, because of the slanted roof.
After a while, we managed to fix the gutters, through signs and laughs and the little French the Pygmies and I speak. We placed the tank under the V-shape gutter, and now all we have to do on Monday is connect the gutter properly to the tank with either recycled water bottles or a PVC T-junction.
By the end of the day, the rainwater capture system was almost fully installed and 12 very big raised beds were made. On Monday we’ll finish both tasks in order to start planting the rest of the seedlings from the flats…
We only have 4 days left with the Pygmies, just when we’re starting to bond… As always, time has passed by too quickly and we’re sad it’s almost over… :(