Sunday, January 7, 2024

Days 7-9: Our intrepid engineers return!

For the last three days our class split into three smaller design teams and spent the weekend in their individual remote villages.  While there they collected data in order to be used to guide their water system designs.

For the last three days our class split into three smaller design teams and spent the weekend in their individual remote villages. While they were there they collected data in order to be used to guide their water system designs. Asking each team to write just a short recap and only include two pictures from thousands is quite the task. Based on the dinner conversations this evening these recaps just scratch the surface of the wonderful, challenging, eye-opening experience of remote Tanzanian villages.


After another delicious breakfast at the Lutheran Center, we headed off on our three-hour drive to Makungu. We were greeted warmly with a lot of singing and dancing upon arrival before meeting the Pastor and the Village Chairman. After assessing our "To Do" list, we headed off for a tour of the village with notable stopping points including each sub village, the primary school, the village center, and the dispensary. We certainly made this trek into an adventure because it had rained recently so every path down to a current water source was very steep and very muddy. Pretty much everyone with us fell down at least once which got many laughs.

Everyone was all very tired so after a very tasty dinner served at the Pastor’s house, we all headed to bed. Saturday started off bright and early with a 6 a.m. church service. The view from the church was amazing as the clouds weaved through the mountains. After church we talked with the village water committee who told us about a potential source that was roughly six km away from Makungu but at a higher elevation. This was probably the most exhausting day of this trip as we were not only hiking through mountains, but on occasion, we even had to follow someone with a machete cutting through thick greenery. We finally found the water source after about three hours of hiking and could head back to the village to relax for the rest of the day. 

When we returned, there were many children waiting around hoping to play so we spent another three hours playing soccer and Frisbee and doing our best to talk in Swahili. Even when the rain hit the kids followed us inside to continue playing including dancing to some American songs. We took another early night given how exhausted we all were. 

Everyone was up in time for another church service on Sunday morning. This service ran a little bit long, going over three hours, and it was a very packed but amazing experience. There was a lot of singing and though the entire service was in Swahili, it was still lovely. During the service we were given many gifts including clothes and many, many bananas. We had one final lunch where we could return the gift giving before having to say goodbye to all of the kids that we had so much fun with. 


We started our long trek to Mahenge by returning to the Lutheran Centre approximately five minutes after we left. Unfortunately, due to unforeseen circumstances, we had to drop off one of our teammates who was sick and would not be able to join us for the rest of the journey.

During our two-hour journey to the village we got nicknames: Kristy was Twiga (giraffe), Emma was Kuku (chicken), and Andrew was Mbuzi (goat). From now on everyone will be going by their Swahili nickname. Mbuzi, Kuku, and Twiga were supposed to stay in the pastor's house; however, it is still under construction. Instead, we stayed in an apartment nearby. The first day we were able to get a feel for the village and walk around. We saw their current water source, the dispensary source, and met with the officials of Mahenge. 

On the second day, Twiga, Kuku, and Mbuzi set off on a long hike. Sadly, another soldier fell ill during the journey, prompting our dear leader Caroline to turn back shortly after the start. Twiga, Kuku, and Mbuzi continued with a team that was three strong, led by a bushman and his machete. The idea was to go to the top of the Malawi River to find the source. However, after two and a half hours of hiking, we were informed that the source was, in fact, 18 km further up the mountain. We took sample tests and went back down the mountain. 

Next, we went to the neighboring town, Irindi, and went to visit their water distribution tank. There we met with the head of the village and we were able to ask them many questions about their water system. The village of Mahenge is along the side of a highway and due to the Lutheran church being rather new, the church is towards the outskirts of the village. 

After all of our tasks were done for the day, Mbuzi and Kuku went for a walk to get a feel of the village. There, we handed out candies to some kids in the village and got an opportunity to meet more of the community. 

The following day Mbuzi, Kuku, and Twiga got ready to go back to Iringa. First we attended the church service where we were greeted with the whole Lutheran Community in the area and got to attend an auction. There we were able to check off the last item off of our list—Buy Goat. Thanks to some of the villagers we were able to bring the goat back to Iringa. We named the goat, Andrew. Andrew behaved the entire car ride, and we were able to rejoin our group member and surprise him with our goat!


Masisiwe was a very welcoming village with many wonderful people. On Friday, We had dinner at the pastor's house, which is where we stayed for two days. We walked to the primary school and took two water samples at Mkarasi River, which served most of Masisiwe and a nearby hand pump. The night was finished off with a special treat—popcorn picked straight from the stock!

On Saturday, we had breakfast which consisted of potatoes, rice, uguali, and chapati (carb load). This indulgence of fresh foods helped us hike over eight miles full of treacherous terrain. We took seven water samples from open sources, hand pumps, and sources we could only get to via machete and venturing through the forest. Sunday morning, Anna earned the title of “Mama Chapati” after the group spent an hour in the steamy kitchen room, learning how to make chapati from the cooks. We went to church service where we saw a wedding and baptism! After church, we finally got our hands on the fabled Masisiwe village map and had the chance to ask more questions about populations of the sub villages and water needs.