Construction projects work very differently here in Togo. Have to tear down a wall? Get six guys to push it over. Have a foundation to make? Buy a couple truckloads of sand and cement and start mixing. People here are very strong and work very fast.
On Monday, we were completely overwhelmed when over 100 people showed up to help clean up our site. With machetes and pickaxes, they chopped down trees and uprooted stumps. The old cement is still mostly intact, but there’s no foundation. As a result, we’re working with a mason to help us figure out how to build up the renovated algae pond. Later, we met with a couple Farandé leaders who decided that they wanted our work to be a community project. So they told us everyone helping out will be volunteers and instead of paying a few workers like planned, we’re just buying a round of salom, the locally brewed beer, every so often as thanks.
We’ve also run into a couple setbacks in inspecting our system. We learned that the pipes for the toilets aren’t sloped enough so we’ll have to redo the piping. We can’t open up the old anaerobic digester so we’re using a different structure and designed a top consisting of a tarp, wire, and PVC piping. Finally, we bought a couple oil drums to take care of some toxic material that had caught fire a while back. Apparently, it was used to line the digester but is now just sitting in the half-dug fishpond.
Meanwhile, I’m proud to say that a lot of kids around my homestay have learned my name. They’re all really shy and only know a little bit of French, but it’s okay because they’re super cute! Yesterday, they asked us if we wanted to help weed the fields and were so excited when we actually took a hoe and started going down the row. They’ve also taught us how to play games similar to Mancala and Jacks, but much harder. In their version, you make a hole and put around 20 pebbles in it. Then you have to take a handful out and put all but one back into the hole in the same amount of time it takes you to toss and catch a rock. It sounds simple, but I was throwing my rock all over the place! The kids were pretty nice though; they let me cheat.