near the end

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Nearing the End

We are nearing the end of the program. I will leave for Lusaka on Monday and fly back to the US on Tuesday. It is always a bit sad for me to leave. But, it will be good to be home and see everyone again.

Today we will do at least 2 more wells. There is a third but I do not know what is needed. It is likely that we will not get to that one but we will see…

Well the day is over now. It was a long difficult day on these two wells. Likely it should have taken us 4 or 5 hours to do both. They were both at a school about 100 yards from one another. One well belongs to the school and the other to the community

I did not learn until we arrived that the school’s well produces salty water. That is not necessarily bad, especially since there is another well close by. During hard times people can drink the water. But it is useful for washing dishes, clothing and bathing. The animals will drink it. It is also good for gardens. It seems that the school in the past had a garden where it grew vegetables for the students. The vice-head teacher said the students were looking forward to a new garden. I later learned that this well had been down for nearly 4 years.

As we began on the community well we immediately encountered the problem of removing the bolts that hold it together. It seems to have been some time since they were removed and there is some kind of corrosion on them. A couple come off only with difficulty. One twists and breaks and two of them we can only loosen to a certain point and then they have to be cut off with the hacksaw.

Right off the bat a process that should have taken about 20 minutes or so takes over an hour. We have questions about the maintenance of the well. It should be fenced off to keep the animals off of the apron. Instead of letting the water run off and form a large mud area and the end of the spillway a “basin” needs to be made for the animals to drink from. In each area where there is a borehole a committee is appointed whose responsibility it is to keep the well maintained. Charles engages the head man in conversation about maintenance. We have decided that if a village does not keep the well maintained and puts up the requisite fencing etc. we will refuse to help in the future. Often people are quite happy to have the well repaired but afterward they forget and just come to draw water.

If the well is not properly maintained it can become useless for humans to drink from. It is possible for the well to become polluted by animal waste due to allowing them to mill around the pump head and not keep the apron in good repair. In addition if water is allowed to pool in the soil the animals will churn it into a mudhole. It will also become a breeding ground for mosquitoes. So we strongly emphasize the need for proper maintenance and up keep. There is also a chain in the pump handle section. It needs to be greased at least every 3 months or so. If not it becomes dry and then will wear out. Without the chain the well will not work. So the committee is reformed and we talk about what is needed to keep the well in proper working order. They ask questions of Charles and begin to make some notes about what they need to do. It is a positive sign.

At the end we have problems with the die cutter in threading the end of the rod. It does not seem to be working well. Without the threads we cannot attach the chain and the well does not work. It takes an hour or so to finally get it done.

Eventually everything is together and the water is coming out more plentifully that before. We have also added 2 pipes to make certain it will continue to produce water through the dry spell. But with only 8 pipes it should have been finished a couple of hours earlier. Oh well…

It isn’t long before the ladies return to pump their water.

There are 503 children at the school. They depend on the well for drinking water as well as the village.

Next we shift to the other well. This one belongs to the school. The water is salty so there is significant rust involved. We also learn that the well has been down for over 3 years. It is difficult to get the cylinder apart to repair it. What pipes are there are quite useless. We will use old pipes for this well due to the salinity of the water.

This well only requires 5 pipes so it goes quickly until we have to thread the rod on the end for the chair. It is very hard and as we are removing the die it breaks. Fortunately we were finished and soon the water was flowing at last.

As we said before the water is useful but not really for drinking. We head back to Siavonga much later than I had wanted to. It is dark by the time we arrive back.

Tomorrow we will visit the church in Chirundu for services. Chitanga, Kanegumbo and the church at the Junction are also invited.

More to come…


Siavonga Zambia