Sunday, January 29, 2012
So our team managed to navigate all of the layovers and terminal changes to make it back the the US safe and sound. Below are just a few more pictures for everyone to look at. We are so happy to be home, but had an amazing time over there finishing up the system since we know that the community has been benefiting greatly.
The pics are of the team with Olivia Mukam, one of the solar panals being installed by Kim and Anthony, the team installing the wet well pump, Kim surrounded by kids as she passes out airplanes, and Dr Steve at Market Day in Bamendjou. We think he had one of the best buys of the day with that awesome hat!
Friday, January 27, 2012
Here are a few pictures. Kim and Erica took tons more and will probably post some soon.
To the right: our ditch across the road for the new feed line, which now takes water pumped from the tanks to the right all the way up the hill to the ferro-cement reservoir. From the left: Taryn, Erica, Marcel (from the Hydrosanté NGO), Dr. Steve (in ditch), Felix (our plumbing expert), Julianne (kneeling), Anthony, Cyrille (our new "chauffeur"). The dirt under the road is really tough to dig because it's extremely packed. Marcel loosened it with a pick so the rest of us could shovel it out.
Here's a video (large file!) of our team members packing the soil back in the ditch as Cyrille and Felix continue to shovel. To the left you can see our new team members helping out. I am sure the woman approaching from the distance (carrying firewood on her head) was really wondering what was going on!
Here is the support base for the wet well, which will contain the pump. Pascale, the local mason, is going the blockwork.
Here's the rack being built for the solar panels, with the water tanks and wet well construction to the rear. EWB mechanical engineers: please inspect the rack elements carefully and determine the structural flaws in compression resistance for diagonal supports. We will go over this upcoming meetings!
A familiar site and experience for EWB veterans: repairs to the vehicle. This is welding work being done to the exhaust system. About an hour and a half of work for 13,000 CFA ($26). This was a lot cheaper than in the U.S.! The most expensive repair was two tire replacements (not new ones, but less used). I will not post a picture of the tread (or absence thereof) on the old ones.
And below is a site we visited in Bandjoun which needs water. The farmland is only usable for half of the year when there is enough rain. The chief of Bandjoun has asked for our help.
Finally, this if the Bandjoun Chefferie. With us is Mr. Mukam, the mayor of Bamendjou and a great help to us on our project.
I think other team members will get you some more pictures when they are settledd back in the U.S. Bye for now! And once again, thanks for ALL your support!
Thursday, January 26, 2012
A lot of stories to tell! We will get them posted along with pictures...I promise w/in 24 hours!!!
Wednesday, January 25, 2012
The next day we mounted the solar panels on the rack. The rack shifted upon settling in the concrete and our bolt holes no longer lined up. With a bit of retrofitting we were able to successfully mount each solar module and they looked beautiful in the end, shimmering in the late afternoon African sun. During some of the down time, Kim gave a group of children toy styrofoam airplanes and they absolutely loved them. We also got a chance to see Felix's famous plumbing skills.
Monday (Sal's Birthday!) we wired the control box for the solar array, installed the float switch and realized that all of our wiring connections going up to the reservoir were faulty =(. We redid half for the remainder of the day and had to push back our return to Yaunde for another day. Then (bum bum bummm) when we came back tomorrow we found that all but on of the remaining connections were good! Everything seemed to turn from there and started working. Mission Complete. It was such a joyous occasion that all the kids that amassed by our station tried to keep us from leaving by holding the doors to the car open.
We traveled back to Yaunde on Wednesday morning and are currently finishing up some last minute errands before out flight departs late tonight. Hopefully, some pictures will be posted in the meantime. Can't wait to be back in the good ol' USA!
Saturday, January 21, 2012
We had a great meeting with the water committees, chiefs, and others yesterday. The Mayor gave a long talk about how the water committees have to step up to the maintenance and administration needs now that the system will be totally theirs. I gave a little speech too, and thanks to google translator, it was apparently comprehensible.
Below is a pic of all our stuff set out at the Mayor's house for inventory. Although I am in the picture, this is not meant to imply I did any of the inventory work. in fact, I was busy trying to get Verizon to get my phone working. They say I owe them $500 for data roaming although I paid them for a $79 huge data plan. Apparently Cameroon doesn't honor that plan. Big fight when I get back home!
We have installed the wet well and pump, repositioned three tanks, laid all the poly pipe and conduit (except a short section we just bought here in Bafoussam), and fixed the sediment-blocked system in Balatsit. Their cleanouts were built with the valves in the wrong places, so we're getting that fixed to avoid future clogging. The ditches are dug for almost all of the PVC line out to far Bakang II. We are on it!!
No more pictures right now, sorry. BUT here's the new issue of the sporadically released Cameroon EWB quiz!!! Answers might be at the bottom of the blog.
1. A machete can be used for:
a) digging a hole
b) opening a soda bottle
c) opening a package of crackers
d) fine surgical operations
e) all of the above except one
2. On market day in Ndang, you can find
a) manioc (dried or freshly dug)
b) machetes (must be sharpened before use)
c) used shoes
d) a cute piglet on a rope
e) a basket of Guinea pigs or peeping chicks
e) all of the above
3. A typical dinner for the EWB team includes
a) a green salad
b) choice of a hamburger or veggie burger
c) platter of burrito, enchilada, and taco with extra cheese
d) a warm brownie with Ben and Jerry’s on the side
e) a rotation of 3 items from 5 basic sources of carbohydrates
4. To greet someone, you can say
a) oh-leh-ah, but oht-soh-ka after noon
b) bonjour, but bonsoir after noon
d) Bonne Année (Happy New Year) during the month of January, and somewhat into February
e) any of the above, at least in Bamendjou
5. To join two pieces of pipe, you can use
a) compression fittings for poly-pipe
b) Teflon tape and a pipe wrench for galvanized pipe
c) solvent or threaded joints for PVC pipe
d) a machete
e) all of the above except one
6. What do you do when there’s no water in Bamendjou?
a) don’t shower
b) shower in the rain
c) stop producing any waste products
d) because “water is life,” you totally lose hope
e) you go out to the village and get water from the EWB wells
7. What can you be ticketed for while driving to Bamendjou?
a) no seat belt for the front passenger (Dr. Steve)
b) no county registration
c) failure to pass on a blind curve
d) sufficient volume in the vehicle to fit an additional person or plantain
e) nothing, if you have the special placard on your dash
8. Alarm clocks for the EWB team include
a) a “Kamikaze” bird attacking your window
b) strange noises from the Mayor’s peacock
c) Taryn sitting up, yelling “Where’s the water? There’s something on me!!!” then going back to sleep
d) our new driver (Cyrille) gunning the Land Cruiser engine to “warm it up”
e) all of the above on the same morning
9. Duct tape can be used in a Toyota Landcruiser for
a) repairing a flat tire (temporarily)
b) repairing a shock absorber (temporarily)
c) repairing a roof liner (temporarily)
d) providing Dr. Steve with a seat belt (temporarily)
e) all of the above, but these would be considered *permanent* repairs
10. The people of Bakang and Balatsit
a) have dug over 4 miles of pipe trenches by hand for the water system
b) have a lower rate of student absence where the new water system is in use
c) have anointed Dr. Steve as a “village notable”
d) have perfected the logistics of system maintenance for the long term
e) all of the above but one
Sorry, but there are often no answers to questions such as the above. Mainly the last answer is the correct one, but it depends on whether it was properly translated and many other factors.
Tuesday, January 17, 2012
We had some coordination problems on Day 1 in the field - Hydrosanté was our only help - so Julianne and Taryn did an incredible job of ditch digging. The chief of Bakang 2 is having a meeting today to get things going, so we will have the usual team of locals on hand starting this afternoon. I'm not sure we need them with the EWB pick & shovel prowess I witnessed today...and you should see Taryn with a machete!
Also ... I did a bit of digging too...but was simply outclassed.
Below is the tapstand at Balatsit. Lots of kids come down from the school for water during recess. The Water Committee took the handles off the valves and you get one from the lady at the little "store" across the road. That way, nobody abuses the system. Seems to work great, and there's plenty of water there!
We are currently in Baffousam and left all of the men of Bakang and Balatsit do do the heavy lifting. Tommorow we are planning to start construction on the wet well and solar panels. The entire system should be completed by Sunday. (More pictures to come.)
So many people have donated their time and money to this project and we would like to thank everyone that has contributed in any way. We know that the people of the community appreciate the gift that EWB-UD has given them, but I would also like to thank the community for all the gifts they have given us. This has been a learning experience for all directly or indirectly involved and whether the EWB-UD plans to continue in Bamendjou or not, our time here has taught us lessons that we will never forget.
Monday, January 16, 2012
We are SO busy and have had not internet, sporadic electricity, and even one evening with no water, but the team is UP. The system is dusty but working…Mr. Mukam sent us our favorite plumber, Felix, to help out and he found a blockage on the Balatsit side so that tapstand will be up and running tomorrow. We’re digging ditches, giving out pineapples, conferring with chiefs, and putting together solar panel rack with 8 inch extensions.
Check out this picture!!! I had to post this over my phone in spite of cruel and unusual phone charges. And stay tuned! We’ll post soon with more stuff!
Hi to our Guatemala team!
Friday, January 13, 2012
So after a few crazy days in Yaounde, we will be heading for Bamendjou in the morning! We had a tire blow out on a taxi the other day, but, Anthony managed to patch it up with some duct tape and we got back to the hotel from dinner safe and sound. The past two days we have been out in the city shopping for supplies. Even though we had some trouble converting units at one point, (this must be an effect of jet lag) we successfully found and bought all of our materials. Later, we went to go check on the solar panals to make sure we did not need to buy more wire to connect them, and got to hear this amazing church choir practice for an hour while we waited for someone to show up and unlock the door. Then we went to dinner with Olivia, and she took us to a place where we could get some authentic Cameroonian food. We had what was something like doughnuts, beans, and this milk porridge that were all really good. We can't wait to head to Bamendjou tomorrow so we can start the real work on the system. Hopefully we will be able to blog more while there!
And we all wanted to wish Taylor a Happy Birthday!
Thursday, January 12, 2012