Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The End of Phase One. Kili, here we come!

Yesterday was a chocker block full day.  We started the day with briefing by KANAPA, one of WaterCan's local partners.  Then we were off into the wilds to meet with a Massai (sp?) village to learn about their water challenges.  WaterCan and others had helped to provide a Health Centre as well as a school.  Unfortunately, their water source is drying up.  The lack of water has deterred teachers and health officials from coming to the community.  We trekked the 15-20 minutes to go see the water source.  It's a well, about 60 feet down a very steep hole.  Women and children have to climb down to the well and fill up jerry can's that then have to be hauled up and back to the village. But since the well is drying up, they often have to walk as much as 30 Kms to find water.  That often means being away overnight.  In the last year, the Village has lost 12 women and children who were attacked by lions, leopards and hyenas while trying find water.

Making Our Way To The Well In Ngobolo
In Canada, there would be a relatively simple solution to the well problem.  You would drill a bore hole into the aquifer below (in this case you might have to go down as much as 90 metres). Then you would use electric pumps to bring the water up to the surface.  In Ngobolo Village, there is no electricity. Even if there was, the village wouldn't have the means to pay for the electricity, or the maintenance. Solar energy is completely not economical for the community.  We thought we could provide easier access to the well  and add rain harvesting to reduce the dependence on the well.  However, the Massai in Ngobolo aren't the only one's in the area in need of water.  There is already conflict over water. Improving access might cause further conflict.  But we are determined to work with everyone here to find a solution.

The people of Ngobolo were, however, incredibly gracious hosts.  They greet us song and dance.  For many in the community, particularly the children, they had never seen a white person.  After a little early apprehension, the kids all wanted to have their pictures taken and started to point out how pasty white we are, which provide a lot of laughter.

In the afternoon, we drove to another community to visit a primary school.  The school had been slated for closure due to a lack of access to clean water and sanitation.  Because of Watercan's intervention, the school is thriving. It has a student population of just under 900.  I think every single kid, parent, teacher, administrator and public official in the area came to greet us.  We were welcomed by song and dance.  Ben Mulroney and about 10 of the kids did a Skype chat with students from Kanata, Ontario.  It was wonderful to see the kids finding what they had in common (primarily a disdain for homework and chores) and also how different their lives are.  Afterwards Team Watercan members Kevin and Rynette presented the Principal with several soccer balls as gifts from Canada.  Then another climber, Devin Publicover pulled his guitar and performed a song for the kids that he wrote the day before.  They lyrics consisted of some funny Swahili idioms.  Devin was a total rock star and had the kids in stitches.  Afterwards he donated his guitar to the school.  Then it was time to meet the kids close up.  They wanted to dance, sing and high five with us. It was incredibly incredibly joyous and moving occasion.

High Fives At The School
We finished the day with Team WaterCan playing a soccer match with the teachers and staff.  It ended in a draw 0-0.  I think, however, the Tanzanians planned that.  They could have clobbered us if they wanted to.

In the evening, there was a special dinner held in our honour at Kabaya's community centre, where we treated to more Massai song and dance and presentation of gifts.  I got a personalized hand beaded bracelet! It totally rocks! WaterCan's ED, George Yap and Program Director, Kyla Smith were made honorary Massai and presented with traditional dress, which they wore for the evening. We headed back to our lodgings at midnight and were able to grab 4 hours of sleep before jumping in the Land Cruisers and making the long journey back to Arashu.

Once we arrived, we checked into a our hotel for a little R&R and pampering. Most us spent time by the pool trying to get some rest.  Then it was time for a briefing by our guides about tomorrow's Kili climb. After a quick dinner, it was time to prepare our packs. Everyone got to bed early tonight. Everyone, but me that is.  Lol.

We've managed to overcome our phone casting challenges.  You can catch my audio updates with the team at www.watercan.com/kilimanjaro.

Next posts and phone casts will be coming from the mountain folks!

Night, night.


  1. Whenever I read on blogs that says climbing kilimanjaro is really awesome, I am more inspired to pursue my dreams in climbing it myself.

  2. It really is awesome. Pursue that dream! It's completely doable. Just train, take your time when you're up there, and eat and drink as much as you can.