Author: Erin Fleurant
Home safely!
| August 25, 2011 | 8:38 am | Uncategorized | 67 Comments

Hello everyone!

The travel team is exhausted, jet lagged, still a little dusty with the classic Ugandan mud, and home safely. We have already started preparing our 526 post-implementation report (a requirement for national EWB). We can’t wait for hot showers, American food, our own beds, and to share all of our stories with you!

One last farewell (arinde!) from the 2011 travel team,

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

Last week!
| August 19, 2011 | 7:34 am | Uncategorized | 6 Comments

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

One Week!
| August 11, 2011 | 3:20 am | Uncategorized | 18 Comments

The travel team cannot believe we have been here a week already. We are so busy taking in everything, trying to learn, and also construct and gather all of the materials that we need.

We started the day early in the community redoing the concrete layer that had been washed away in last nights downpour. After the cement had been poured the villagers instructed us to buy more tools. Thank goodness Richard had ridden in on his bike, so he was able to take Erin C. right away to Mbale. While she was away, the rest of the group gathered more bricks. When she returned, we began laying the first layers of bricks. The community members worked so quickly – almost too quickly for us. Erin C. and Misaki began to panic when the bricks were put down without spaces for the spigots. However, both the members and John had assured them that the bricks were done that way on purpose.They were worried that the spigots would be stolen before the cement had dried and decided that tomorrow we should instead drill into the bricks and cement tomorrow to place the spigots. During the building process, Erin F. talked to Vincent and Florence about establishing a waterboard. Vincent decided that the waterboard for the tank should be a separate group of people from the already established group that maintains the borehole. The final group is as follows:
Florence: treasurer
Other florence: vice chairperson
Lovanass: secretary
Joyce: member
Patrick: chairperson
Jude: mobilizer/publicity

In the afternoon, Miria and Carol accompanied Erin F. to a women’s meeting while the others continued to build the tank. The women’s meeting was for the “serving” committee, which was a group of women who had established a loan and payment committee so that women could be financially independant from the men. The group started about three years ago, and was initially funded by the Ugandan’s Women’s Efforts to Save Orphans (UWESO). The group had an established loan system and constitution and consisted of about 36 women.

By the time Erin F, Miria, and Carol returned from the meeting, the walls of the tank were all completed! The group had worked so hard, and were rewarded with fresh eggs, corn, and cabbage from Florence. We decided that the next day a few members will travel into Mbale to get hopefully the last parts for the tank (tubes and piping) while Greg and Cliff will stop in at the PONT Mechanic Engineering workship to cut the metal for the pump. The rest of the team will finish digging the lower areas of the tank (where the jerry cans will be placed), as well as drill openings for the spigots and hopefully construct the cement lid for the tank. Once that is completed, the group would like to do a 24-hour water tightness test to check for any leaks so that they can be fixed before John leaves.

We are exhausted, but having so much fun still! Since we did not have electricity, we enjoyed another evening with a candlelit dinner before going off to bed after a exhausting but successful day!

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

(We’re trying to upload a picture of the tank now!)

It rained on our parade…
| August 9, 2011 | 4:23 am | Uncategorized | 11 Comments


We had such a successful day!

Greg headed to Nabumali school for weather station work while the rest of the travel team and John went into Shilongo. We began bright and early, heading into the community around 8:30am. The community members came prepared to work. We had a crew of about 5 or 6 of them helping to dig. It took us awhile to square off the exact dimensions of the tank, and the men helped us by providing string and a carpenter square, and as soon as the measurements were complete, we began digging. Cliff saved the day by bringing a laser level (and snacks!). John says he has earned his supper tonight! The footprint for the tank ended up being larger than we originally planned. While the digging weas happening, Erin C and Erin F helped the women and children gather bricks. It is amazing how much weight the women can carry. Many of the women had 4 bricks on top of their heads, often carrying a child on their backs as well. Even the smallest of the children helped out, with children as small as 2 years being expected to carry a heavy brick.

In addition to gathering bricks, the community showed us where to buy small stones. We ended up purchasing 6 wheelbarrows full of stones for the foundation. It was quite a workout to go up and over the hill plus push a full wheelbarrow full of rocks – thank goodness Rogers took over when our strength (or lack of..) failed.

After breaking for a very late lunch, the sand finally got delivered and we began mixing concrete. The community managed to use just one 50kg bag of concrete for the entire foundation of our tank. We managed to get the concrete layer poured before sunset and before the storm hit. Overall a great day!

Tomorrow we hope to travel into Mbale early in the morning and buy all of the remaining parts, more cement, and groceries (coffee!!!!).

Tuesday 8-9
our wonderful day yesterday was slightly downgraded when a sudden downpour rained on our freshly poured concrete. It continued to rain all through the night, with the power going out as well. Today we went straight into Mbale to buy parts and more food. Hopefully we will buy all of the parts we need today, possibly pour another foundation layer of cement, and begin to lay the bricks tomorrow. We are still very busy!!!

Soon john will arrive!
| August 7, 2011 | 4:50 am | Uncategorized | 11 Comments


Hello everyone!

Today is a more relaxing day for us, as most of the community members take this day to go to church. Erin C. went to Nyondo Parish in the morning for mass while Misaki and Erin F. dissected ants out of the bread for breakfast. The group traveled again on Boda Bodas to Mbale to see the town, use internet, go grocery shopping, and eventually meet John and Greg when they arrive from Kampala. David and James help us get the Boda Bodas and negociate fair prices. The whole group is very excited to get John’s input and advice on contruction when he comes. He arrived early this morning in Entebbe at 4am and will hopefully meet us today by 2pm. The biggest change from the construction plan so far has been a change in materials from flexible tubing to connect the borehole pump to the storage tank to PVC pipe.This change is due to the supplies found in Mbale. While John is not a huge fan of the PVC piping, as it can be chemically degraded in the sun and damage water, we have plans to bury most of the pipes in the ground. We also found out (through an old report) the the original borehole contains PVC piping.

Yesterday the group attending the first community meeting. Vincent, the chairman of Shilongo, and Pat, the chairman of a neighboring village Fuumu, were both there. The design of the tank and pump were explained to the community. The travel team was very impressed with the community’s questions, as they were very concerned about theft, stagnant water, and availability of spare parts. Richard, Miria, and Carol were all there to help translate for us, and they made sure that the community knew we wanted their input on everything. We decided to start excavating and laying the bricks on Monday so that Vincent could get the community ready.

After the meeting we met Florence, the chairwomen of the community. She was very welcoming, inviting us to her home and explaining to Erin C, Erin F, and Misaki that we were all daughters to her. She helped us figure out how many crushed rocks and sand we would need for the tank, as the community is providing us with those. It is a great sign that they are prepared to take ownership of the project.

We also were able to see how many bricks had been prepared for us, and Misaki worked with the community members to lay down a plan of the first layer of bricks. Since the bricks are larger than expected, our outer dimensions have changed slightly. It now appears that the tank will be 234x167cm due to the increased size of the bricks and the amount of concrete used in between them. the kids loved the tape measure, and helped measure borehole dimensions, and how tall each other and Erin F. were.

After lunch, the group went with Carol and Roger to do water quality tests for all of Shilongo’s water sources. Everything went great, until the group saw a baby goat that had just been born with its mother (umbilical cord and everything). The group took a picture of it, and all was well until a man walked towards them, appearing very upset. Carol explained that the man was already drunk, but tried to claim that the goat was his, and we broke the law by taking a picture of it. He wanted to take us to LC (the American equivalent of court we think), unless we gave him money. Carol explained that the goat wasn’t even his, and that he just wanted money from the Muzungos (white people) for drinking later, but the group gave him 2000UGX shillings (less than $1) to avoid a sticky situation. Lesson learned: don’t take pictures of the goats. Walking to all of the water sources around the village ended up taking 3.5 hours. Although the views were great (we could see the mountains and beyond to Kenya), the group was exhausted by the end.

Samuel stopped by to check in on us at the Parish house, and we spent another night without power doing calculations, community health work, and reading information from FDNC.

New Vocab we learned since last time: Watchenyala (watch-een-yall-ah) which means “well done”

Arinde (goodbye) for now!
Erin F, Erin C, Cliff, Misaki (and soon to be met by Greg and John!)

Friday in Mbale
| August 5, 2011 | 9:05 am | Uncategorized | 11 Comments

Blog for 8/4 (Thursday)


As we write this, at Pastor John’s house in Nyondo, we have just complete our first 48 hours on  our trip. Since last writing, we have experienced

many markets, city traffic, power outages, and many new friends. We have realized that everything is much more expensive than the group

experienced last summer, as Samuel explained that the recent Libyan Crisis almost doubled the price of food, fuel, and electricity (hence all of

the city blackouts). Stretching our budget is just one of the many tasks that lie ahead.

We started our day with a wonderful breakfast at the entebbe hotel and immediately met Samuel and went to the FDNC office, where we were

introduced to Joshua, Richard, and Miria who accompanied us and helped us navigate the market. Our main goal was to find as many parts for the

pump and the tank as possible. The good news was that multiple parts were available in Mbale, but the bad news was that all parts were simply

steele, not stainless steele. We had ideally wanted to stainless steele so that the parts would last as long as possible without corroding.

However, after all of our searches, we decided the best option would be to buy the steele parts in Mbale (easily accessible to the community) and

incorporate some type of shelter to protect the construction against rain and corrosion. The only part we are planning on ordering from Kampala

(an estimated delivery time of one week) will be stainless steele rod ends. We finished up at the market with a stop for lunch and food shopping.

Our travels continued as Joshua, Richard, and Samuel drove us to a previously active FDNC site, a local school, which had been stopped due to a

funding shortage. We gathered mattresses and drove, with a very full van, to Paster John’s house in Nyondo. The distance from the city to the

house is short, but the drive took ahile due to the poor road conditions. When we finally reached the house, we were introduced to our translator,

a FDNC intern named Carol, and James and David who helped us with cooking and watching the house. The house has a beautiful view of Mt. Eldon,

which we will hopefully hike once the projects are completed.

After finally catching our breath, our travel team was able to discuss the progress of our trip together. Greg has been working very hard at

establishing a location for the weather station, and was able to not only schedule a dinner with a local engineer in Kampala, but also meet the

administration of Nabumali High School, where we hope to place the weather station. Cliff and Greg also made many contacts at Pont Machine Shop, a

great place with ties to FDNC. There they were able to see many machines that we will need to cut the pipes and the metal. Everyone was so

helpful. Misaki is also hopefully about the development of the tank. We have heard that the village has pre-made the bricks, and hopefully when we

go into the village tomorrow we will will have all of the materials we need. After checking with John, we confirmed that the new materials found

in Mbale (such as galvanized iron) will be okay to use for the tank.

After we have had a chance to digest everything that has happened, we have gotten over some of our initally worries about the project. Samuel,

everyone at FDNC, our our team and all on the same page as far as a sustainable project goes. It is so nice to hear that we all agree that the

community should have ownership of the project. That is something that Erin F. will focus on tomorrow, as she approaches the community about a

water board and financial and monetary contributions to the project. The team will be present at the community meeting at 10am, and will hopefully

meet with Vincent, the chairmen of the town.

We now leave you with a farewell (arinde) and a few more liguisu words for practice…

Mulembe: hello!
Kamahoa: What’s the news? (what’s up?)
Kasila: No news (a response to kamahoa)
Oreyana: How are you?
Milie: I’m fine
Kametz: water

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

8/5 Friday

Today we went into the Shilongo village for the first time. We expected to partake in a community meeting, only to find out that it has been moved

to tomorrow. We met the chairman of the village, Vincent, who was very excited and receptive of our design. We met and played with the children at

the borehole, who especially loved having their picture taken. We got new measurements and measured the flow rate of the borehole. Vincent

explained that there was something broken inside the borehole, and we found that the flow rate was down to 5.6 sec/liter. Hopefully this will not

impact our plans. We are now in Mbale looking for more parts, and taking advantage of the (slow) internet while we have it! Greg is planning on

meeting JOhn tomorrow in Entebbe, and the rest of the team will travel back to Mbale when he arrives to ask his advice on more parts.

Arinde! (Goodbye)

Erin C, Erin F, Cliff, Greg, Misaki

We arrived!
| August 3, 2011 | 5:19 am | Uncategorized | Comments closed

Mulembe (Hello!)

After many airplanes, long travels, and a few pieces of lost luggage, we have met up with Samuel from FDNC (Foundation for Development of Needy Communities). We spent the night (or we hours of the morning) at an Entebbe travel motel, and have now begun to explore the capital, Kampala. Hopefully we will head back to Entebbe to claim lost luggage later this afternoon, then on to Mbale. We will hopefully arrive in Mbale later this evening, spend the night, and explore the city in the morning. Then, off to our final destination of the Shilongo village.

Everyone has been so nice and we are so excited to meet the rest of the community members.

Scenes from Kampala include Malibu storks (a bird mixture between a turkey, vulture, and eagle) and lots of Coca-cola signs (a welcome site from home).

More details to come – when we reach Mbale. Internet is expensive here!

Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter, where we have more recent updates. Our twitter name is Tuftsinshilongo.

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