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Slippery Slopes

January 14, 2010

La Chica and Simon, a civil engineer, successfully visited the Lukumahi water source, however it was not the best fashion moment for La Chica as a tropical downpour a third of the way up to the water source created slippery muddy slopes which dirtied La Chica’s Joseph pants and tested her ability to mud ski while remaining upright. Their Masai protectors – Keke and David – led the way, carrying spears in case they encountered angry buffalo en route and Carly, Namnyak’s dog, also accompanied the group on their six hour trek. The unseasonal heavy rains, and the first rains in Longido for three years, have transformed the district. Instead of red dust and dry arid ground, there is an abundance of red mud and green foliage. There are even mushrooms emerging through the huge elephant dung droppings (or thunderings!) decorating the path up Mt Longido. The Lukumahi water source could be heard well before it could be seen, with the abundance of rain water creating a small but impressive waterfall. David waded into the pool of water collecting a sample in a plastic water bottle, to be taken for analysis in the laboratory in Arusha to ensure it meets the legislative minimum standards for drinking water.

On the way down the slopes Keke and David chopped down large branches of different trees. One tree is boiled in water to make a medicine for sick children, another is to make the Masai men strong, and another is used to clean the gourds in which they store milk and sometimes cow’s blood. Keke said that they know the uses of every tree and bush on the mountain, and that the mountain is effectively a pharmacy or chemistry laboratory.

Simon has been working for the Italian NGO OIKOS for three years. They recently won an international industry award for one of their community water projects, for which Simon travelled to Prague to present on the project and receive a huge prize cup and 10,000 euros in prize money. La Chica is thrilled she has the help of such an experienced and successful engineer! Simon is helping La Chica in a voluntary capacity at the moment, as he is grateful that she’s helping his country and his people.

The next step in the water project is for Olengunin to hold a general meeting in Altapesi – the sub-village of Longido village of which he is chairman and which will be the first to benefit from the Lukumahi water project. La Chica and Simon are preparing the agenda. There are 900 people in Altapesi and they will all be invited to attend the meeting. One of the agenda items is to form a water committee that will be responsible for the project on behalf of the sub-village. The committee will need to ensure that any materials purchased for the project are protected from damage or theft, and that the requisite volunteer labour is provided as needed. Down the track they will also be responsible for a system of accessing the water and monitoring its usage. La Chica is determined that the committee will have equal representation of men and women, particularly as it is the women who are tasked with accessing water for their husbands and children.

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