Journey's From The Heart

Hope Is a Verb

“Hope is a verb with it’s sleeves rolled up”. — David Orr, ‘Hope Is an Imperative’ Our first week in Uru brought its own reminders of how much cooperative effort is required in a community participation project. ICBD’s role continues to adapt to the project’s needs, but after the start-up investment and efforts, a great deal of the project then relies on the Uru community’s abilities to self organize and contribute wherever possible.   The distribution line from the Grandmother Well at Kimocholo to our initial four villages and sub-areas (10 access points) has been funded through Uru community contributions and subsidized with a loan from ICBD. This allows the communities full ownership and ensures sustainable management of the system. Many well intended projects here in Africa end up failing within 5 years due to poor planning for community participation or limited understanding of the people’s resources. In our ‘pilot program’, a simple system of collecting monies for the pails of water being purchased at the access points, with accountability and a small ‘commission’ paid to the kiosk attendants, has been implemented. ICBD is assisting the community in the formation of a registered company, the Uru Waters Company, that will provide the community with transparent bookkeeping for monies collected. These monies will eventually cover the electricity needed to pump the water from the well and provide monies in reserve for system maintenance and repairs. In the meantime, we are all working together to correct any small problems with the water system that are now appearing with water flowing plentifully along this first line. In fact, the water is flowing so... read more

I Walk the Line

As sure as night is dark and day is light  I keep you on my mind both day and night  And happiness I’ve known proves that it’s right  Because you’re mine,  I walk the line.   — Johnny Cash, “I Walk the line”       Monday was a day spent driving and walking our Uru water system. This included the “Grandmother Well” at Kimocholo, the Unity Path pipeline bringing the water to the Ndshini cistern, and then following the pipe path through 4 villages which include numerous sub-areas. These 4 villages now contain 6 public access points for clean water from the Grandmother Well,with 4 more kiosks in progress. We met and talked with many Uru people throughout our walk, asking questions about the water and the difference it is making in their lives. My favorite conversation was with a young woman carrying a tiny baby on her back, who thanked us “for bringing the water so close to her home”. Her daily walk for water has been dramatically reduced from hours to only minutes. Not only is she and her family enjoying safe clean water now, but she has more time available to her, greatly reducing the stress of her daily life. As we walked and then stopped to look at the public access kiosks, the nearby manifolds with their new meters, and to speak with the people… I could hear Johnny Cash’s song “I Walk the Line” inside my head… over and over. Aside from the obvious correlation, I realized that this song was deeply appropriate for our walk, as it is a beautiful love song. So I... read more

Old Friends

This is my fifth journey to Kilimanjaro and I am delighted to be bringing my dear husband James Zinzow with me, for the first time! James has been serving as an engineer consultant with our project for several years now ‘sight unseen’, so we are both excited to have him actually meet the people and places who have brought such deeply special meaning into our lives. We stepped off the plane at 8:50 pm Thursday evening and commenced the ‘hurry up and wait’ process of obtaining our visas and then collecting our luggage. As we stepped through the doors into the public area we were greeted by almost 2 dozen of our dear friends and partners, smiling and hugging and laughing! Alphonse had orchestrated this wonderful greeting, and arranged 3 large vehicles to escort us, our luggage, and this beautiful greeting committee to our Kitole Homes B&B in Moshi. At Kitole the manager had lit candles throughout the common living area, along with fresh picked flowers from the gardens. We were able to sit and talk with our friends, taking in the faces and changes that a year apart may bring to us all. Before leaving, the lovely women from the Acorn Cooperative sang a quiet ‘good night’ song… and James and I retired for much needed sleep… our hearts full of the joyful sight and sounds of ‘old friends’.... read more

Snapshots of Tanzania Soul

As I prepare to leave for Kilimanjaro airport and return home to America, images of the last 5 weeks come to my mind’s eye: Our group arriving in Africa amidst wind and dust and a night sky heavy with a million stars, all bearing silent witness to life come and gone and come again. Here, the ground and the air and its people reflect our common origins, rooted in ancient times. The many faces of Uru’s children: cautious, curious, smiling, laughing, welcoming, singing. Faces of this earth’s future, we work to leave the world a little better than we found it, for them. The awe inspiring Mt. Kilimanjaro coloring all of life, tempering Africa’s heat, and still offering some glacial melt for water. It is this water that now runs deep, deep underground, that we have tapped for the Grandmother Well at Kimocholo. A celebration of the ‘first water’ from this well, drank and shared with our group and many villagers, all blessing and giving thanks to the good God and for everyone’s fruitful efforts here and in America… for water and friendship. Breathtaking views from Uru’s hillsides, overlooking fields of maze, small homes and huts, and Moshi town far far below. Red clay roads full of rocks and holes and trenches, obstacles to certain movement, that became absolutely impassable with the onset of any steady rain. Boisterous and quiet moments alike in the Ngowi home, full of love and family and gratitude for ‘all that is’. The times of mourning for the loss of Alphonse’s mother, 104 years old and the oldest grandmother in Uru. For me, she... read more

Alive & Well in Uru

Every day in Africa is a day lived close to the elements, close to the earth, and close to its’ people. Here there is no insulation from any aspect of life or death, from the food eaten or from the effects of weather. On Kilimanjaro, people partake of food that is harvested and then eaten on that same day. There is no refrigeration, so good food management is vital to well being. Grain is ground, chickens are kept, eggs collected, fruit picked from the trees and if meat is eaten, it is butchered, prepared and consumed within hours. One of the days that our group spent at Kishumundu Secondary School, brought a delay in lunch and the school schedule, because the farmer was late with the just butchered cow… and it had to be inspected by the local doctor… before it was consumed by the children. As a vegetarian I have no problem being nutritionally satisfied for protein, with local legumes/beans as well as eggs, being abundant in Uru. And I am reminded of a bit of wisdom once said to me: “if you cannot be personally involved or even watch or handle your meat as it is prepared from ‘hoof to table’… you probably should not be eating meat”. It seems a practical concept that draws attention to our innate body/mind wisdom. Is it really advisable to be so far removed from our food sources that we have no idea of… or are not part of… their beginnings, their nutritional value or their safe handling? The mountain here also has great influence on the weather, and I have... read more

Hail & High Water

There is a torrential rain pouring down on Uru bringing hail from the top of Kilimanjaro. The tin roof of the Ngowi home reflects every pinging of ice, and the banana trees bend around us, their great leaves swirling under water and wind. The seasonal ‘big rains’ do not come usually until late March, April or even May, so this is an untimely but welcome rain for those who live here. Small roads and dry creek beds will become living rivers, with water rushing down the mountain side, gaining great momentum as it flows. Unexpected rain relieves the long droughts, dampening the ever present red dust and reviving plants, animals and people alike, all of whom yearn for water. But as fast as these ‘roads turned to rivers’ swell, they will just as quickly dry up tomorrow, and the earth will crack open again under the heat of the African sun. Our work progresses on the water project after Tuesday’s Uru East Water Board Meeting of 22 people including village representatives, 7 village chairpersons, our cooperating NGO and the assistant district water engineer. Four villages were selected to receive the water from the Grandmother Well at Kimocholo. This decision was based on topography, placement of existing and future cisterns, and to provide relief for those suffering the most from lack of clean water. Five thousand people will be served by this sweet water, a water so good… it requires no addition of chemicals or purifiers. The Board also made the very courageous decision to pull out any and all very old pipes from these four villages, decaying remnants of... read more

On Wisdom & Junebugs

SATURDAY morning meant another drive back down the mountain into Moshi town. Alphonse and I first visited an advocate (attorney) then contacted his attorney daughter Upendo in Dar es Saalam for further guidance, regarding the legal registration of the Uru East Water Board. A quick stop at TANESCO electric company also provided some additional information about cost estimations and regular readings on the electricity required to run our water pump, which is a primary budgetary concern for this Uru community. SUNDAY began with 7am Mass at the Roman Catholic Church in Kishumundu. Ninety percent of the Uru East residents attend this church, so it is a community center, a means of dispensing important communications within the community, and a source of spiritual inspiration for the residents, as well. Father Jumatano is new to this parish but has been a strong advocate for community support of our water project already. I have enjoyed his messages (once interpreted to me from Swahili) because of their strong advocacy for self initiative and self empowerment through individual and community participation. Our cooperative project is really a model for global community initiative, at a grass roots level. And I am continually gratified at how the Uru people step up to the challenges inherent in working with our water project (distance, language and cultural challenges, communication issues (internet, electricity, lack of basic resources etc.). We in the USA have much to learn from these people regarding community organization and participation. MONDAY was spent preparing for the 22 member Uru East Water Board Meeting, with suggestions for legal registering as either a Trust or Water Association... read more

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