Thursday, June 7, 2007

Tuesday and Wednesday reports

Tuesday

Today was our last shot at resistivity. The entire team was up late last night working, in particular Dr. Steve and Sarah were using their mechanical engineering skills and knowledge of electrical circuits to try and fix the resistivity box. They felt the pressure because today was the last day in the village and we had yet to finish a sounding. This was important because the resistivity measurements at various distances were supposed to give us an indication of depth to the water table. Therefore, when the resistivity wasn’t fixed last night, they decided to stay behind this (Tuesday) morning and try one last time to fix it. The rest of the team and I headed off to the village, with Julie and Barney continuing surveying and Tony and I (Sam) seeking out more water points.
After many shot theories, finally Sarah and Dr. Steve came through. Tony and I were hiking for an hour back to Bamendjou from the village, and were very surprised to be picked up along the way by Mateus (our driver) and the victorious Sarah and Dr. Steve.
We sped through our first sounding (resistivity measurements) close to the town center intersection, and sought out Julie and Barney to help haul the equipment up a huge hill to the school where the village envisions the water tower. After getting all the equipment to the top, and setting up for our sounding, it started to rain (resistivity cannot be done in the rain) and we realized it was far too rocky to do a sounding anyway. Thus, we sought out a few more water points and did a little more surveying to finish out our last day in the village.
Our last post forgot to mention that after the ceremony yesterday (Monday) we presented the chief with the presents (bubbles, coloring books, crayons, and a soccer ball) we had brought for the children. The children were mesmerized by the bubbles and extremely excited to have some new entertainment. (You will have to see our pictures to fully understand) Today, we were very excited to see children playing with the bubbles we had brought and we noticed that after only one day, the soccer ball looked very well used. (It was completely covered in red clay dirt, as are most of our clothes)
At breakfast Olivia walked through looking for our chickens that were later cooked for our dinner tonight. By “our chickens” I mean the chickens that the chief of Bakang gave to us for helping the village. What a present… three live chickens and a bundle of plantains! We felt only slightly guilty for eating them and we were glad that we hadn’t met them personally wandering around the compound with Mr. Mukam’s peacock (the chickens, not the plantains!).
Tomorrow we leave for Douala and will spend the night at the La Falaise hotel once again.


Wednesday

This morning, after checking the coliscan Petri dishes of the water samples from the fixed well/pump, we were extremely happy to see no sign of fecal coliform or any bacteria that the coliscan could possible test for. The water is as clean as we could have hoped!!! We had not actually anticipated implementing anything on this trip and yet we have revived a nonfunctioning well that gives the Bakang villagers some safe potable water.
We left Mr. Mukam’s house and Bamendjou behind this morning, with a promise to return in January with final plans for a water system. We drove to Baffousam to use the internet cafĂ© and buy souvenirs at an authentic handcrafts shop. You all should get really excited…we bought some awesome things!! Handicrafts are one way that these communities might increase their incomes but there are many others that could be explored. For example, we have seen a lot of handmade furniture—from simple benches to elegant upholstered couches—made in local workshops. Sorry, but we are not bringing any furniture back with us!
It was a bumpy ride from Baffousam to Douala and it took an hour more than expected. Fortunately we have an excellent driver who avoids 75% of all potholes. The road descends from a mile above sea level down to the humid coast, with traffic ranching from small, smoky passenger buses (piled plantains and baggage on their roofs) to herded cattle blocking the road (Olivia almost got stabbed by a longhorn). It was a long ride in a tightly packed Toyota Pathfinder, but we finally arrived safely at our hotel in Douala. Tomorrow we will take care of last minute shopping (aka getting a bag to replace the cardboard coffin that now contains surveying equipment and resistivity stakes).
We are all extremely satisfied with the progress we have made and we feel this was an extremely productive and successful trip. We couldn’t have imagined a better first site-assessment. I (Sarah) am very proud of our entire team for the work they have done in downpours of rain and extremely hot sun. And Bakang is a wonderful, welcoming and deserving community eager to work with us on our next visit.
See you all soon!

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