Saturday, June 7, 2008

Day 2 in Bakang and Bamendjou (by Dr. Steve)

Yesterday, our first full day in Bamendjou, the solar team and the sand filter team both needed to take inventory of materials and people in Bakang, and also obtain materials in the nearby city of Bafoussam. Since Nura knows the local people and politics, that meant, for me, two expeditions to Bafoussam in one day (once with each team).

The road is active with all kinds of foot and motorized traffic, even though it’s little more than a series of parallel ruts in the dirt. I haven’t kept track of the trip’s distance or the time to avoid getting impatient. The sad thing is that, except for the stretch in front of the brewery, the roads are no better once you arrive in the downtown area. The third largest city in Cameroon, it’s quite vibrant with small businesses and traffic congestion, and yet there’s simply no infrastructure.

We were able to find most of what we wanted, though. Plywood cut to order for a small fee…a gas generator at a reasonable price…PVC pipes…and some laundry detergent in envelopes so I can wash my socks. Also a butane torch and a crowbar, since these were not things we could take on an airplane, and bottled water since water is life. We also went to the water ministry and they helped us locate the well technician, who headed to Bakang on his moped. In the mean time, Nura helped the teams meet crucial people who were going to make cement blocks, move sand and gravel, supply and cut lumber. And later, we were all on site to see the hand pump get pulled out, and all the pipes that come up with it.

Today we started out with the Water Committee meeting. We had to walk there, doubletime, since the land cruiser wouldn’t start. Guy, the driver, later got someone from Bamendjou to help fix it (we met them going the other way on the mechanic’s moto). So we managed to get all our equipment to the sites after the Water Committee meeting.

Which was cool. Sarah and Sam wrote about it. I will just say that (1) the chief is eloquent and thoughtful, (2) explaining the concept of an election to the villagers took some doing; and (3) we now have an elected set of committee officers. They’ll have two orientation sessions next week, which we arranged for with the director of HydroSantĂ©, a local NGO. The committee has also made arrangements for saving up funds for system maintenance already.

Later today, we had problems with the filter mold construction (a wrong measurement that meant a bit of deconstruction and reconstruction) but completed the mold at last, including steel reinforcement throughout, ready for the pouring. The solar team had problems because the pump tech had told us the well needed cleaning out, a big and expensive job. Thanks to Nura’s negotiating skills, we got them to do that today, but they gave up with the claim that the well wasn’t as deep as it was supposed to be … not true, according to our measurements. So the solar team will continue with a pump test tomorrow, while the filter team builds another filter box mold. Also, tomorrow is *Market Day* in Bamendjou, so we’ll do some shopping. We want to look for locally made crafts that might be sold in Delaware.


Anonymous said...

Dr. Steve,
Thank you so much for taking the time to share the details and experiences of the team. We can only imagine the beauty of the land the wonderful people you are meeting. You are all so far away but hearing about your progress and setbacks brings you closer in some way. We are very proud of the Dream Team and can't wait to hear more stories. Be safe and thank you for your good work and providing this opportunity to our students.

Jim said...

UDee says, "Plus vous donner, plus vous obtenez." EWB UDee Chapter rocks the 'Roon.

Cameroon has decided to transfer heat(MEEG 342 Course) to the US East Coast for the next week, it is/will be H cubed --hazy, hot and humid(mid to upper 90's). Record setting heat wave.

Solar team, "Make way, take in sails and tilt your panels to 5 degrees." Aye Cap'n!

krissy said...

sam a card shark????? hahahaha im glad you guys are having fun while making such a big difference!

Anonymous said...

Hello to everyone, it's great following your progress with the water and solar. Quick Canadian update, Doug: Kub,Hei,Cou,Glo,Mas Tru. Take care, looking forward to hearing more about your work and accomplishments. JD