Thursday, January 5, 2017

Candy, Swedes, and a Pig: Surveying in Kidilo

One group of students traveled to Kidilo to take on the task of improving a well in the village.
A troupe consisting of four students, Hannel from St. Paul Partners, Sophia (a student at the University of Iringa), Prof. Cathy French, and our fearless driver Michael waited around to leave the Lutheran Centre on Friday. Out of the blue, an adorable piglet sauntered into the front entry of the facility. We took a minute to photograph and watch delightedly as our new friend snorted around the yard, pondering our good fortune and optimistic for the rest of the day. The piglet, having done whatever it needed to, left out the way it came, and we took that as our cue to begin our trek to Ifuwa.

The village we actually stayed in and designed for was Kidilo, a subvillage of Ifuwa proper. The village had a well already, but the hand pump that was installed at the well was woefully inadequate for how deep the well was and could not be operated by anyone but Superman. Fortunately, after the Swedish folks drilled the bore years ago, a somewhat detailed record of the well's properties had been obtained. Our task was to optimize this previous work, with the intent to add a solar powered pump, water tank at a high elevation, and gravity mains leading to numerous spigots around Kidilo and neighboring Ikovelo.

Upon meeting with the water committee and several other members of the community of Ifuwa and its subvillages, we experienced what one of our leaders, Ken Smith, refers to as "scale creep." We were designing for one subvillage. The citizens asked, "Why are you not designing for the larger village, which also has a medical facility?" The citizens of Ifuwa walk up to 7 km for their water, and their water is not clean. We did some survey work there, but given the state of the old wells in Ifuwa, we will do what we can and know that this is only one of an overwhelming number of opportunities for future large-scale projects. It is through the work of future iterations of our program an organizations such as St. Paul Partners in cooperation with the people of Tanzania that they may all have clean, safe water someday.

In non-engineering news, once the kids of Kidilo figured out we brought candy, we had ourselves a posse. These kids are tough, too. Some can carry a bucket of water on their head that fearless Steph tried and could hardly manage, and one little girl we befriended began catching and eating large insects we'd been so squeamish about moments before. She offered one to Noah, who declined.

We were hosted by the local pastor, Gervas, and his wife, Shukuru, both of whom were gracious hosts intent on making their wazungu comfortable. Gervas had our group sing with the congregation the last morning while we observed the local worship service. The decor in the small church house was sparse, but the villagers filled the room with boisterous harmonies and exuberant responses to Prof. French's speech. After the congregation exited the church, it was apparent that our last act in the village was to feed the multitudes (of children) with the gifts of candy we had brought. Our mission is water for life, but our delight today was a throng of curious, ecstatic, sweet-toothed kids.