Sorry for the delay everyone – we have not been into town for internet in awhile. As you can tell from reading below, we have been very busy. Here are all our recent adventures —-

Okay so its Sunday night at 10:30, we are listening to Sean Kingston from Cliff’s impressively diverse music selection and loving it. Erin F and Misaki are sewing a tree onto the quilt we designed today with the children in the village. We are trying to be productive and take advantage of having electricity for the night. We lost it for about an hour earlier and struggled with the sewing by headlamp/candlelight. The guard dogs are howling but we are excited we just got to meet one of them, named Susie. she was scared of us and we are wondering who decided she is capable of protecting us from intruders. Soon we are going to get ready for bed and then wake up bright and early and get to Shilongo by 8 am to work on tank and bike construction. We are hoping to be done with construction and have the system up and running by Wednesday so we can start on our community health surveys, do another round of water quality testing, and collect some GPS data.
We had a super busy, productive weekend. we spent Saturday morning with John at the borehole then had to say goodbye as he left for the airport. John, we are mourning your loss with lots of Usher on repeat and letting it burn. Please let us know the real lyrics so we can stop making them up! We also want to check and make sure you are okay after eating Cliff’s ant-filled muffin. We havent eaten too many more ants or months since you left, although David offered us some more tonight. Apparently they’re better fried – next time.

Saturday was a full day of construction; we finished smoothing the concrete layer of the tank, periodically stopping for rain, and put the sprocket stand for the bike pump in cement. Saturday night we went into Mbale for market shopping and internet, just in time for the thunderstorms.
Sunday morning Erin F, Misaki, and Erin C went to mass with David and James while Cliff ran. Greg had spent the night in Mbale to use more internet. We came back from mass and prepared for the community health workshop at Prunyende at 3pm. We arrived to at least 100 screaming, excited children with only 36 pairs of socks, 150 googly eyes, and one package of felt to make ears and tongues. We had explained our shortage of materials to Justine and Florence who helped us organize and they had taken an attendance list and decided who would recieve which materials. We were super intimidated by the mad rush of all the kids, but Erin F did a great job explaining to the children (who were surprisingly quiet the whole time) about how the new system works and the importance of collecting drinking water from the borehole. She showed them the coliform and e. coli testing results from our water quality testing of the village’s various water supplies. Erin also matched what appeared to be clear water with the coliform and e.coli tests to show that not only is murky water dirty, but that clear water can also be dirty with bacteria as well.Erin also talked about her favorite pet peeve – when children put the spout of the jerry cans directly in contact with the spigots. She explained that if the jerry can is dirty, that will make the borehole (and all of the water going into the can) dirty as well. Not sure how many of them remember though – as we have already seen that happen again. Erin cringes every time. The children then began to make the puppets as Erin explained to them that they could bring them back to their families and friends to explain what they had learned. Then the craziness (organized choas?) began.We each had a station (Erin C at socks, Cliff at the eyes, Misaki cutting and distributing tongues and ears, and Erin F gluing everything together). When the socks ran out we began making puppets out of construction paper and we estimated that we made about 100 puppets, some cute, some not so cute.By the end, everyones hands had cramped out from so much cutting and gluing. We had a lot of fun doing it and the children all seemed to thoroughly enjoy it as well.The children then had their names written on squares and placed them onto our fabric collage design of a Shilongo landscape. Everyone who came got at least one puppet and got to write their name on a square. While all of this sounds organized – it was not. We almost had to write an incident report when the kids swormed the travel team. After all of that chaos we were left with felt and fabric remnants, but a great feeling of success and lots of sewing ahead of us. We’re tired but excited about all of the work we are doing and will keep you all updated!

Erin C, Erin F, Misaki, Cliff, and Greg

Monday 8/15

While the travel team started the day early at the borehole, the rest of the community (and the tools…) arrived fashionably late around 10:00. Most of the day was spent aligning the bike. Even just one millimeter change to one side would cause the chain to fall off and the whole system to fail. Right before the rain (and just in time for lunch!) Cliff and Greg found the perfect alignment and the concrete was poured. The travel team returned to the house for a relaxing afternoon of sewing and chatting with Samuel about the project.

Until next time,
Erin C, Erin F, Misaki, Cliff, and Greg

Tuesday 8/16

Another successful day! We were overjoyed to show up to the borehole and find that the bike was still aligned correctly – a huge concern of ours knowing how much the Shilongo kids like to climb on it and play with it. After seeing how many travel team members we could fit in the tank at once (Misaki, Cliff, and Erin F all managed to cram in there together!) we spent most of the morning laying the bricks and cement for the area underneath the taps. We also were able to permanently fix the pipe leading from the borehole into the tank. In the afternoon Cliff, Misaki, Erin C, and Erin F dodged the downpours and attempted to start the community health surveys. The first few took awhile, as we had to make sure that Justine, Carol, and Miria were translating and asking exactly what we wanted to. After a few we had a great system going. We ended up learning a few new things in the process. Many people expressed an unusual concern about the borehole and bike pump. It turns out that it is extremely inappropriate and a huge cultural taboo for a woman to pedal the bike right after her father in law did. Not sure if we can fix this problem, but we sure provided some amusement along the way as Carol and Miria tried to explain the issue to us (in fits of laughter).

We hope that by the end of tomorrow we can flush the tank, do a brief water tightness test, and then attached the final pieces of the bike pump.We will also split up to do more surveys and water quality testing.

Wednesday 8/17

EVERYTHING WORKS! Today was great – we arrived at the borehole and started hand pumping water into the tank. Once the community members arrived with more cement (that they finally provided after we explained we were not an endless supplier) we strengthened the bike supports. Kids were finally able to ride the bike in the afternoon, and although we cringed and worried like protective parents everytime the bike creaked or the chain clicked, it held up! The afternoon was also successful as we were able to hold a meeting with the waterboard. It turns out that the original committee was determined in secrecy, and Michael (who had been working on the tank everyday) was not on the board. After a heated discussion (which was only partially translated for us), the community decided that Michael would be on the board as vice chairperson, and one of the women (the other Florence) would be removed.

The meeting went really well. Cliff was able to describe the operation and maintenance of the bike and field any questions that the community had. They were mainly concerned about the strength of the bike, and they also decided that one of their future responsibilities would be to build some sort of enclosure to prevent rust and damage. When Misaki explained the O&M of the tank however, more doubts and questions were raised. The community was very concerned about how easily the cover could be removed so that children could get in. This was very frustrating for us, especially since the community had preferred to design the tank in that way instead of our original design (which would have been too heavy for one person to move alone, therefore preventing any damage). The waterboard eventually decided that they would be responsible for drilling holes in the lid and setting up a chain and padlock. Another huge topic, that was lost in translation thanks to Carol, was the removability of the elbow joint connected to the borehole. Carol started to say that the pipe should be removed frequently to ensure that the tank didn’t overflow, and that once the tank was filled the elbow could be removed for a fifth person to get water directly from the borehole. While its true that the elbow can be removed, it is intended for emergency repair only.

Once all of the information had been given, translated, and understood, we drafted a set of responsibilities for the waterboard with them and the community that was involved in the meeting. They had already mentioned that they were prepared to take responsibility of future security, as well as obtain replacement parts and do repairs if necessary. We also suggested that they be responsible for holding meetings and educating and informing the rest of the community about the new system. We offered to put all of this information in a binder for them, and they requested that the list of responsbilities and waterboard member names be included as a formality. It was great to hear that they are taking these responsibilities so seriously.

Until next time,

Erin C, Erin F, Misaki, Cliff, and Greg

Friday 8/19
So we spoke too soon about everything working. Yesterday, Erin F and Misaki tried to do community health surveys while Cliff, Greg, and Erin C went to a weather station meeting at Nabumali High school, only to discover that the the chain and clamp on the bike were broken. When Cliff and Greg got back, they realiized a more serious problem — the threaded rod had almost been burned by friction coming from the rod end, and both rod ends had stopped moving. They immediately went to Mbale, and were luckily able to find different clamps to put together.

On Friday the team is finishing up flow rate data from the various water sources as well as printing operation and maintenance manuels for the community. Saturday they hope to have a final good-bye and thank you meeting with the community where they wil present thank you letters and the finalized quilt that the children helped to make on Sunday. Sunday afternoon the team will be off to Kampala to being the journey home!

Until next time,

Erin C, Erin F, Misaki, Cliff, and Greg