Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Full Steam Ahead

Site Preparations
By Jodi Holzman

An example of water sources used by the community.

We have been working with three new self-help groups this year building sand dams. Two of the groups are from the sub-villages of Zuzu; Kawawa and Soweto. Their group names are Umoja which means unity and Vumilia which means to be patient. The third group is a sub-village of Chididimo and their group name is Chijendelele na Mlimo which means 'to continue to work' and is downstream from the two sand dams we built last year.

I have been away at language school for the last seven weeks near Iringa. When I left, the self-help groups were just signing their MOU's and had not started any work on the sites yet. The sites were selected however as Ben from SASOL was here the week before I left to conduct the surveying of the sites.

The women of Soweto.
When I returned from Iringa I was in for quite a surprise! The three groups had completed most of the terracing and planted over 1,100 between them . Some of the terracing cannot be completed until the sand dam and well have been completed. They had also collected large piles of rocks (but still need to collect more) and completed most of the trench digging for the sand dam! I was amazed at how quickly they could get all this hard, laborious work done. And it is all done by hand with pick axes and shovels.

This week the cement and rebar will be delivered to the sites and the self-help groups will start the actual construction of the sand dam. Eliude arrived from Kenya late last week and is here from SASOL to teach the local masons (each group must have at least one mason) and our mason, Shomari on the sand dam construction.

I have spent a lot of time the last few weeks taking pictures so here is a selection of them for you. They will give you a much better idea of what has been accomplished in the last two months.

Photos courtesy of Jodi Holzman and Matt Kaeb.

A long, deep trench at Kawawa.
Collecting more rock for sand dam.
Women collecting rocks.
Trench at Soweto.

Terraces with vetiver grass.

Banana trees and garden.
Bringing sand up from river to mix with cement.
Making cement blocks.
Masons at work.

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