Monday, January 9, 2017

Itonya

Team Itonya trecked through thick jungle to find a water source for the village of Itonya.
Team Itonya: Haley, Aileen, Shree, Ethan B., and Ken, have made it back to Iringa unscathed!

Itonia is simply an amazing village, sitting along a ridge surrounded by mountains and overlooking the Morogoro plains far off into the distance. Our quest the first afternoon was to locate a water source for the village to use, since the current stream they use is only a trickle during the dry season. We hiked hours up and down insanely steep cornfields and forests (they grow corn on hills we could barely climb). Some of the villagers finally led us to the edge of the old growth forest, and a man with a machete led the way, hacking a trail for us. It was the craziest thing; we climbed over huge trees and tried to avoid the ants, which were everywhere, but suddenly, our guide chopped down a few branches, and the most amazing waterfall appeared! I'm nearly certain we were the first westerners to ever see this waterfall, and it was beautiful. It also has a massive flow rate (even now, at the end of a very dry dry season), and is only a few kilometers from much of the village, so we should be able to come up with a design that can serve most of the people.


After we returned to the village, we hiked up to the dispensary, which was quite humbling. Their hospital is nice by Tanzanian village standards, but is not somewhere I'd want to sleep, let alone have a baby. We spent the evening playing frisbee with the children and watching them sing and dance. Shree brought out a speaker, and we had an American dance party to hot line bling and other stellar hits.


We had to spend the next morning talking to all of the town officials and asking them questions, which took quite some time since we had to go through a translator. But we got to go hiking all afternoon again, looking for the source of the waterfall at a higher elevation to give us more head to drive our gravity-fed system. We drove way up to the top of the tallest local mountain, and the view from the top was absolutely amazing—kind of like the Lion King, except a few mountains and trees before the endless African savannah. We gradually (and sometimes not so gradually) made our way down steep hillsides and wound through fields until we heard the water fall. We had to venture through the most intense jungle I've ever been in, but once again we found the mountain source, a whole 150 m higher than last time!


The locals were incredibly agile from a lifetime of daily travel across these hills. We made it the whole way down while scouting out possible sites for our distribution tank. We got back covered in dust and plant stickers, but the children were waiting for us! We played more frisbee, and then they taught me to play their drums, and I got to play while they all sang and danced around us. It was one of the most inspiring things I've seen in a while.

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