“Relax and enjoy the view” were the wisw words of advice from our team leader as we drove away from the airport. Instantly several giraffes appear about 50 yards away from the road, and the sights didn’t cease to amaze for the rest of the journey – they still haven’t. From baboons scampering along the roadside to piles of cement bags numbering over 800, every step along the way has contained twists, turns and laughs.
With the work as hard as it is, team spirit [and great leaders!] has been a key factor since day one, when we had to pull and push as a unit to free the minibus from the sand behind a dam we were visiting. Jokes, puns and some “incredible” plays on words are being shared to maintain the positive mood and get everyone motivated; “Let’s go cemental!” being a memorable one.
Other things that have been motivational for us are the good work done by previous Quest teams and other groups. This is left in plain sight, in the form of lush greenery and supplies of water behind the dams, and clean filtered water appearing on the other side. Also, seeing the effort that the local community is putting in on this new dam site has been inspiring. Working barefoot and gloveless is a risky business and their willingness to get stuck in and their gratitude towards us for helping them is top-class encouragement to get the job done, and done well.
As well as that, we feel as though we are now becoming part of the community. We have all been given a Kamba lesson and re-christened with Kamba names (Kamba being the local dialect) by members of the community working on the site. Also, playing with the children in Mtito has been a highlight for many of us, and them as they discovered frisbee and went wild over their new found game.
It’s difficult to describe everything that has happened since we’ve been here – and it’s only been a week! But Thursday in particular was a ‘ce-mental’ day and deserves a special mention:
A challenge was set of 250 bags of simiti to be mixed and added to the sand dam. The Quest team was up for the challenge and set out on the rollercoatser ride of a bus ride. On arrival at the site four communities had already accumulated, totalling roughly 110 people, and so began out attempt to smash the previous record. The day was definitely tough both with the heat and hard work. But despite this everyone pulled together with singing and dancing to complete the work.
We are now all experts at the simiti mixing process…
– Three wheel barrows of sand;
– One bag of simiti;
– Lots of shovels; and
– Man power.
– Layer the simiti and the sand;
– Mixy mixy the simiti and transfer to the next pile;
– More mixy mixy and transfer to the next pile;
– Continue this until you reach a nice dark grey smooth simiti mix pile;
– Dig a whole in the pile to resemble a volcano;
– Now shout very loudly for Kiw’u (water);
– Pour Kiw’u into the voclano and mixy mixy;
– Continue mixing until you reach a good simiti consistency; and
– Lob the mixed simiti over the shuttering and into the dam.
Then the guns come out for mavia manene (big rocks), or for the macho men (and women) mavia manene muno (very big rocks).
By the end of the day we had filled over half of the shutters, but didn’t know if we had broken the record or not. Cornelius had counted up all the empty simiti bags to see whether we had beaten the record… 237 bags! Just 11 bags off the record. However, we smashed the Quest record of 150 bags! Woop! We are now all expert fundis (builders).
The bus ride home was a quiet sleepy journey, everyone knackered but satisfied with the work we had done during the day. We were welcomed back to the compund with Tindi and Mwende’s excellent cooking to refuel us after the days work. We then ended the day sharing our highs and lows of the day before heading to bed ready for the following day at work. Friday was much the same, and the relentless work will continue next week, but for now it’s time for a well earned break! If you want to part of 2012 team then click here for more details