Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Lutendele -- A Water Project

Lutendele is a group of villages on the top of small hillsides on the outskirts of Kinshasa. The access to Lutendele is around the river road, a beautiful, scenic area, with terrible road construction. We climbed back up into the foothills and came to the road to Lutendele. After we went through these "mud puddles," someone met us and told us the bridge to the village we were going to was out and we should go around -- back through the puddles. We went back to the main road and took a scenic drive along the river -- past the rapids. The main road was blocked by a cement plant. So we went back through the mud puddles to the place where the bridge was out.

After about 30 minutes of walking on a very hot day, we came to a beautiful village, with homes that have larger yards and lots of tress and shops spaced along the main street. The village is bordered by a Belgian palm oil plantation, so the vistas are beautiful and unsettled. What was most exciting for us was the number of men digging the ditches for the water to flow to the various water stations. Participation is one of the requirements of LDSHS projects, and Lutendele is a shining star of participation.

An ADIR engineer ensures that the digging has reached the appropriate depth. ADIR is a very competent group and we see them so much that we have become great friends.

This is the village primary school. It is a realitively nice school for a small village, where schools are generally run by an interested party. The campus is clean and the buildings are neat. As with most of the older schools, the rooms are fairly dark and equipment includes a rudimentary chalkboard and chalk.

The homes in Lutendele have these wonderful address boards. Each house has a number and a street. These are very difficult for foreigners to understand because there are no street signs and it is hard for us to think of the dirt path in front of the house as a street. People here are proud of their addresses and give their addresses readily, even though it would be very difficult for a stranger to use an address to find a home in the villages.

The Lutendele well will have an electric pump and a water tank to provide storage and water pressure. The electricity will come from a fairly stable substation at a local Catholic monastery. this structure has the forms for the cement base of the water tank.

Creating the forms for the cement is a tedious process with hand tools.
The ADIR crew is busy at the drill-- this is a water driven process. The water is circulated through retaining ponds where a silicone treatment is added. This treatment helps to stabilize the sand in the hole so that it doesn't collapse back into the hole. Kinshasa is like a large sand pile. At 24 meters, the drill hit a large rock and drilling slowed considerably.

The man in the pink shirt standing by the police officer is the Chief of the village. He is a very smart man, who calls this well the "Jewel of the Village." Without this well, they have no water. He is watching carefully the process and has ensured the support of the village.

The police are an ever present force in village life. Here the village policeman has shown up for the action and to show his support.

Local women walk past the drill site on their way home from market.

The ADIR team, Eric Kahunda our site monitor, Elder Moody, Brino (one of our ADIR friends) and the Chief stand in front of the Chief's home. He has vacated his home in order to store the pipe for the project -- to keep it safe. He is really committed to this project, which will help it be more successful.

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Thursday, May 21, 2009

Camp Luca

When we started towards Camp Luca we were on roads with fewer pot holes and it seemed as if we had found a little bit of heaven. Then our site monitor, Eric Kahunda, ask us to turn left and at that moment the world changed from a better road (a very bad road by Utah standards) to a very narrow road. Many fewer vehicles but many more taxis, always we weave through the pot holes or we slow way down to keep from destroying tires, shocks, rods, axel and every thing else that keep the tires on and in place. You strain to not hit the many pedestrians who weave in and out amongst the cars and trucks. And then we were by a very large cemetary with high grass covering the 3 and 4 foot tall head stones. Suddenly there are no cars and trucks, and then there it is a bog, a fifty yard or so stretch of very scary looking mud with very deep ruts with buildings on both sides. There are three or four young men shoveling the mud around and they converge on the truck. There is this fierce discussion in Lingala between Eric and the young men, it seems to go on and on. As best we could make out the conversation, it was a warning to "not try this place." We were surprised to hear Eric say, "continue." A little speed and four wheel drive should take us well into the middle, then sliding and moving we are through it. We were so greatful that we did not have pedestrians to worry about hitting as we got through. The next few holes were shorter but just as deep but through these there were pedestrians that we hoped to not slide into. We are absolutely struck by the fact that there were no other vehicles on the road or even parked. We start the "dart and weave," which means fifty feet turn right and 100 feet turn left and on through a path between houses and small dirt yards. So very narrow, that Eric has to get out and move the small vendor tables so that we can pass. The umbrellas, like a larger golf umbrella, hang in the air, just an inch of clearance on one side and two inches on the other. We pass the electrical substation, no power in this area for the past month. Then on until we are asked to stop. Eric gets out and walks to a small house, he comes back and tells us that they will watch the truck. We walk along a small narrow road and we see a picture, something surreal, a very, very thin beautiful woman in a beautiful dress sewing in the out doors and with some dresses hanging from the tree. We walk another 100 yards or so and we are at the well sight and at the home of Edmund, head of the water committee. People in the yard go and find Edmund, he is small about 5 feet tall and some what portly. He looks 65 even 70 but probable is 50. He rehearses to us the history of the well. No water for the past month because there is no electricity. Maybe, there will be electricity in two weeks. The well has worked well. Edmund has money to make repairs, the water committee has functioned.

The water tank at Camp Luca, now empty because there is no power available to power the pump.

The water station would work well, if there were power!

Then we start one of those surprising walks, down paths, this way and that way down to a small stream. People, friendly people and children walk along with us, all of the children looking at these two strange people.

Edmund talks to us about the pipes that washed away in the rain, leaving stations permanently dry.

We find a way down a ravine to see another water station. The children lead us. Then we cross the small stream and up the other side to another would-be functioning water station, except for the fact that during a particularly fierce storm, the pipe was damaged that crossed the stream.

We start back down into the stream bottom, taking the risk that we can get across at this new location. We find that we can manage and suddenly we are close to a group of women and children at little spring next to the stream getting water.

This is currently the only water source for drinking and washing.

Beautifully dressed women in the village.

We come to locations where there are other functioning water stations. We climb out of the stream bed and begin an hour of wandering along small revines into neighborhoods, all of them desperate for water. Many of these neighborhoods walk a kilometer to get water. As we wander, we come across women with their small booths selling manioc, corn flour, a deep fried scone looking bisquit (a very attractive brown and golden color) and some clothes and other items.

We find one latrine that the Church has sponsored next to a school. The school is in session, here are eighty children in school, we have been walking with another eighty or so who should be in school but are not because they can not afford it. All this time we are learning about the neighborhoods from Edmund, Eric and a few others, there is no water except that which you carry. The suggested plan for another water project is to use the very high outflow from the current well, put on a bigger pumps and move that water tintact maybe that is not so bad because there is the advantage that money would be gathered to make future repairs. We started out talking about feelings in each place that we visit. First, there was the need to have someone watch over the truck, this is a negative sensation, then the woman sewing a positive feeling. Many, many people later, we find joy in being there, being with people that you can love and people who you feel are fun and good. This was a trip that felt good.o these other neighborhoods. The plan would serve many many people who need potable water, it involves moving the water up another 70 or 80 meters and as much as 2 kilometers and make all the desired connections.

The view of Kinshasa downtown in the distance.

Edmund and his family

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Pascal pays the dot

The dot, or the bride price, is the amount the family charges a man for marrying their daughter. There is some theory that they have spent a lot of money raising her and educating her, so the man should pay an amount equal to her worth. All members of the family can request their part of the action, the aunts and uncles, grandparents. It can take a while for the money and goods to be earned.
Our friend Pascal completed earning the dot for his fiance, Gloria. The ceremony of the dot is the family's acceptance of his offering and their marriage. They also had a civil marriage and a ceremony in the LDS church.

Gloria's Grandmother awaits the appearance of her granddaughter. The yard is ready for a party with huge speakers, lights and decorations.

Pascal works with the missionaries so they have permission to come to the party!

Gloria's female relatives begin the festivities, with a traditional tribal dance. Everything is perfectly choregraphed

Grandpa shows the fabric that Pascal gave to Gloria's mother. Grandpa got a new suit. He reports that the dot has been fully paid.

Where is the bride? Pascal is lucky. Because the missionaries are in attendance and can't stay late, the family forgoes the usual attempt to get more money from him and brings out the bride.

The dancers lead the procession. All the women of the family join in.

Pascal awaits his bride with the escort couple -- not his parents or her parents, a couple chosen as a guide for the marriage ceremonies.

The feast begins!

The dancing continues!

Finally the bride and groom dance.

A very happy mother watches on (on the left.)

The missionaries get involved too! Not quite so colorful!