We are just past the half way point, and time seems to be moving faster and faster. We are steadily knocking off to-dos for this trip. Since we are only able to come to Uganda once a year, it is critical that we gather every bit of information, have every crucial conversation, take every picture, and build everything that needs to be built in the short time we are here. Not to mention, we also need to spend time building strong relationships with community members. This last task is often the most fun and rewarding part of being a part of the travel team.
So the big task for today was to begin construction on the protective fencing around the well site. This fence will be about 12 by 18 meters and will be used to protect the well from animals that could potentially contaminate the water source. Yesterday, the community dug fourteen 2-feet-deep holes in places designated by the EWB-GT team for the future fence posts. This digging was done under the supervision of Patrick, who is George’s right hand man at A River Blue. Patrick is an agreeable and enthusiastic guy with a desire to be as helpful as possible. His English is also very strong, which makes him an effective mobilizer in the community. Since the holes were already dug, it was up to us to line up the fence posts, make sure they were level, and secure them into the ground. In order to accomplish this, we needed to gather large rocks to provide stability to the posts and mix our own concrete to pour around said rocks. Fortunately, there was extra sand and gravel left over from Ebowa’s construction that we could use and we were able to buy cheep cement in Aloi. The rocks were a bit more challenging to obtain. Thankfully, George was back in town and showed us what you may call a “rock shop”. As we pulled up along a dirt road that we don’t normally take, we saw a few people sitting on the side of the hill banging rocks with larger rocks and organizing them into piles based on sizes. After gathering a few piles of appropriately sized rocks and negotiating with the woman in charge of the operation, we made a chain and passed the rocks from one person to the next and into the floorboard of our resilient 12-passenger van. By the way, the five piles of rocks came to a whopping total of 2 US dollars.
After stopping at the local sub-county government office to shake hands and receive a warm Ugandan welcome, we proceeded to the well site in Aloi. We quickly got started cutting the wooden beams to have water-shedding triangular tops. We got a ton of help from Dennis, who is a technician for the well and active member in the community. He has been by our side throughout the construction process and is always the first to lend a helping hand. His work ethic is truly unmatched by anybody else we’ve encountered and he is genuinely a great guy. Once the beams had been cut, the four of us aligned the wooden posts into each of the 14 holes one at a time. We took care to make sure that all of the posts aligned perfectly and that they were as level as possible. In order to secure the post into the ground, we inserted the posts into the pre-dug holes and used alternating layers of concrete and rocks to hold them in place. Emmanuel Ekora (aka. Little Emanuel), a longtime friend of the project was a huge help in this process. He works in the nearby city of Lira as a roofer and construction foreman, so he is quite knowledgeable about construction techniques. Emmanuel also volunteered to construct the fence gate tomorrow, which will be a huge help considering we were previously planning on purchasing a pre-made gate, which would have been quite expensive and cumbersome to transport.
After all the fence posts were lined up and plum in their respective concrete/rock filled holes, the tired team took a short lunch break of fried chicken and french fries. After this much needed break, Meghan and Colin began to take GPS points of our newly built facility while Jessie and Emmanuel took measurements of the fence, well platform and drainage channel in order to complete as-built drawings once back back in the states. Additionally GPS points were taken of nearby trees in order to determine the optimal placement of the future solar panels that will power a submersible pump during the future phases of our project. With that, we called it a day at about 5:30pm. Throughout the working day, we played contemporary American music out of portable iHome speakers we brought Needless to say, the community members loved the new music just as much as they loved seeing some members of the EWB-GT team sing and dance to it while they worked.
So, tomorrow the plan is to completely finish the protective fence by attaching the chain link around the posts we installed today. Once this is complete we will officially be done with our implementation tasks. All that will be left to complete is executing couple education sessions, gathering a few more GPS points and celebrating our accomplishment on “Launch Day”, which Is scheduled for this Saturday. George tells us that they expect over 500 people this Saturday… No pressure huh??