Hello my name is Kathleen Gerber and I am excited to share with you highlights about my recent journey to Mozambique where I assisted African Millennium Foundation (AMF) and their partner Reencontro to install a fresh drinking water well. This well was installed outside the small town of Maluana at the future site of a sustainable village designed to expand and enrich the children’s lives who have been orphaned by the AIDS pandemic in Mozambique. This project is known as “A Nossa Casa” or “A Home for US.” This well also has an immediate and positive impact of enhancing the local villagers’ lives by lessening the women and children’s efforts and struggles to gathering water.
In the words of the late great Nelson Mandela “Water is central in the social, economic and political affairs of the African continent, and of the world.” While water is finally receiving it’s recognition in the US as an invaluable limited commodity, it is indescribable how linked to the wellness and welfare of a community it is throughout Africa.
I have provided hundreds of hours of volunteer support evaluating the hydrologic conditions in Mozambique along with specifying the drilling requirements with local drillers to successfully construct this well. Even with all this preparation, it is a whole different world drilling a well overseas on the African continent. The equipment for this project was old, run down, and quite small by US standards to install a well over 200 feet deep. Other considerations I did not account for included that there are local customs associated with installing a well in that a ceremony or blessing is required. So before we could start the drilling we were off to the local market to get the requested supplies of a couple of live chickens, porridge, wine, sodas, and money. Other impacts to the project included political factors – for instance November 20th was Election Day and all businesses were required to shut down and not work so that their workers were ensured an opportunity to go to the poles and vote.
After multiple breakdowns and repairs, unplanned delays, and even weather I am ecstatic to share that we were successful with installing a fresh drinking water well that is screened within a sandy interval to a depth of 68 meters or 223 feet. During this phase of the project we installed a hand pump, which is easy to use and maintain. At a future stage of the project this pump can be changed out when the water needs of the community expand.
Most of my preparations for this project and going to Mozambique focused on the well, drilling conditions, photography, etc. I also paid a lot of attention to general travel arrangements as my mother came to share this adventure with me. What I did not think about too much on the onset was the rest of our experiences in Mozambique. The people I met along this journey were simply amazing. Everyone I met contributed greatly to our overall experience. There is something about hanging out under a shade tree for hours on end with Olinda Mugabe, founder of Reencontro, discussing topics ranging from the children that are positively affected by the efforts of her organization, to the native plants and fruits growing on the property, to politics, community, and family. She is an inspiring woman and when I asked her how she can keep up with all the projects she is involved with – she answered “children are there...and they need our help…somebody has to do this very hard work!” She also proved to be the link with the local community for my mom and I. The local community assisted by reaching out to us and was truly appreciative of the well going in. In addition to checking in on us when we were at the jobsite, they often brought us local vegetables and fruit found on the property. I learned to enjoy and appreciate the sweet yet tart refreshing taste of the local Masala fruit. And one day we were surprised by having lunch prepared and brought to us which consisted of a local plant called cacana, which is high in iron content, mixed with peanut powder – both grown in Evelina’s field.
My mom and I have so many wonderful memories, experiences and friendships created from this trip – it will truly take us a while to describe to others what a powerful experience giving back to the community is. We are so thankful and appreciative to everyone that welcomed us and encouraged us along the way.
If you are interested in learning more about this project follow us at “The Gathering” on Facebook
or donations are welcomed at http://www.1amf.org/projects/projects_artafterdark.php