Sunday, January 12, 2020

Day 6: Team Mibikimitali

Our team arrived on a bumpy road to the Mibikimitali village center. Upon arrival we were enthusiastically greeted by village officials and members of the water committee, many shikamoo’s were thrown around. Shikamoo is a sign of respect that children or younger people give to elders by placing their hands on their head.
We arrived on a bumpy road to the Mibikimitali village center. Upon arrival we were enthusiastically greeted by village officials and members of the water committee, many shikamoo’s were thrown around. Shikamoo is a sign of respect that children or younger people give to elders by placing their hands on their head.

We discussed the village layout and current conditions regarding the wells, water sources, schools, and population. We were able to locate a village map that gave a fairly abstract view of the village. The provided map was helpful in locating the general location of key points in the village, however the relative distances didn’t seem to quite add up.

Upon departing the first meeting with the village officials we arrived at our weekends’ accommodations. Unlike the typical village experience, our group enjoyed a stay in the “Italian House” which was part of the Catholic secondary school compound and featured amenities such as multiple bedrooms, a toilet, a shower, and delicious food curtesy of the nuns (sisters Florence and Christabel in particular) that ran the secondary school. Needless to say, our team had everything we needed to work hard to develop a solution for this village.

Saturday began with early morning hikes to some river sources in order to test water quality and obtain data points for our working map of the village. As the morning progressed on into the afternoon, more of the hand pumps were mapped. Each of the four students naturally fell into their roles, Will was the designated water tester and back up scribe, Mia incubated each of our water samples for 24 hours and documented our adventures via pictures, Sam was our scribe (undoubtable our most important role), and Catie was the designated GPS coordinator navigating the village and sub-villages.

While these points were helpful, the group lacked vital information about the community’s resources and priorities. Luckily, afternoon rains provided a perfect setting for the water committee meeting. In this setting, students were able to ask questions directly to the village executive officer, the village chairman, the primary school headmaster and other important community members. It was determined that the highest priorities of Mibikimitali reside with the sub-village of Masimike. Specifically, the dispensary and primary school were mentioned as optimal locations for distribution points.

When asked about the funds that the water committee possessed for building and maintaining a serious water system, the village community members reported that they had little to nothing in terms of a bank account. However, Mibikimitali is unique in that it most probably possesses a considerable amount of wealth relative to similar Tanzanian villages in the form of plentiful livestock and extensive access to grid power. Mibikimitali has a relatively large livestock population and substantial infrastructure to support it, including a cow wash and veterinarian chorales for cattle vaccinations.

The meals provided to the Mibikimitali team were stellar, including but not limited to rice, tomato sauce, pork, chicken, samosas, kale, avocado, eggs, and bread with peanut butter. All of which were happily served by our good friends Sisters Jane, Florence, Christabella.

Day three was dedicated to a very enthusiastic church service at the Lutheran church, prefaced by some last-minute water samples and flowrates at a few of the 24 some wells around the area. After finishing the measurements and scientific needs of the project we made our way to the Lutheran Pastors house. We met the pastor’s daughter, “Happy”, and got shikamoo’d which was a sure highlight for all.

A group prayer in the pastor’s house occurred prior to the two-hour service that was interpreted by our University of Iringa student and Peter of St. Paul Partners. During the service the group was asked to sing a song which we had previously prepared in which was all in Swahili. Not to brag but the group ROCKED the performance in front of the congregation. The group was able to present our gifts to the community during the service, some of which included UMN t-shirts, kitchen utensils, toys for the kids, a cross for the pastor, and treats and candy for the community.

Following service, an auction was help for some goods produced in the congregation and Catie was the winner of two fresh eggs for a whopping 4,000 tish, around the equivalent of $2 in the U.S. (a little steeper than U.S. grocery stores but worth it). Paul had asked our group to try and return to Iringa with either a chicken or goat so we felt that two eggs would somewhat suffice if he properly incubated and raised the two eggs.

After church we were treated with one last meal at the guest house at the secondary school. We got our last pressing questions answered as well as a goodbye that surpasses any Minnesota goodbye any of us had ever seen. On our way out of town the students got to give out candy which was a sure hit for all ages all over town.

Driving back to the Lutheran Center, our land cruiser got a flat tire when we were about 10 minutes from home. We pulled over to the side of the road and our driver swiftly changed the tire in about 15 minutes. We hopped back into the car and continued our journey back to the Lutheran Center to see the rest of our group.

Matt A.


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