Water tanks and tomato plants

Kajiado_2017_tka_team Posted by Roger Cooke, 16 days ago | 0 comments | Bookmark: digg this Post this to del.icio.us Post this to Facebook

Saturday 18th November

In this place, time is like water. Sometimes it rushes by like a raging torrent. At other times it drips like a leaky tap. Mostly though it flows languidly like a slow deep pool on the river Moy.

Today was supposed to be a rest day. A ‘doddle and sit’ day in which to catch the breath, relax after a welter of travelling and attempt to assimilate all the strange and wondrous experiences which had crowded our senses since we arrived in Kenya. And it started soft enough with a low – toned conversation over a lazy breakfast of coffee and cornflakes and hard-boiled eggs.

Then the pace quickened just a little and we set off down a simple bush track. Our first port of call was the livestock corral where Ronnie told us of plans to breed a pedigree herd of goats. From there we dandered onward to have a look at these water tanks, famous the length and breadth of TKA as a project to which we had contributed over several years.

Under present construction is the water catchment apron. A carpet of reinforced concrete some 100 metres wide and 300 metres long. All the work is being done by hand by a gang of locals labouring with bucket and shovel. I quipped to Ronnie “No cement mixers here.” To which he replied: “Yes there are. Dozens of them.”

Each of the tanks will eventually hold many thousands of litres. The rain will fall on the concrete apron and run down into the tanks. From there it will be piped a short way downhill to a distribution point. But all of this depends on the tanks being capped. Without the caps the tanks are near to pointless. Because the caps keep the water clean. We have seen what water in these currently uncapped tanks looks like. In the central tank, it is black as the ace of spades. Some folk are nonetheless using this water to wash clothes. In a second tank the water is a puddle of scummy green. Along the fringes of this pool are the desiccated bodies of dead frogs, while the water itself is home to myriad live ones. And at a single glance we could appreciate the vital necessity of the caps for the tanks.

We in TKA have already paid for one of the three caps. And it will be in place in short order. But even then that will only be a partial solution. For the system to be optimally effective, all three caps need to be in place. Each cap costs €8000. Peanuts! There is a promise which may or may not bear fruit of €8000 for one of the caps. That leaves the third in order to complete the project. Just €8000 away from a conclusion that would utterly transform the lives of 2000 people.

For what we in TKA have done, given, already the Maasai are profoundly grateful. And the impact, psychologically at any rate, that this project has made on their lives already is unmistakable. For us it is pictures and words. That’s all it can be because it’s happening so far away from our homes and hearths. But for the Maasai it is literally life and death. There are no taps here that deliver water on demand. There are no corner shops that a person can drop into for a bottle of Ballygowan.

Unlike us at home, no one here walks around with the latest designer bottle of low fat H2O as a fashion statement. Here water is literally a matter of staying upright and suckling air. It is quite frankly the most precious commodity around these parts.

After the tanks, we were taken to have a look at small plot planted with tomatoes. The plot was about a dozen metres square and surrounded by a thorn hedge. This and others like it dotted around the settlement represent the local cash crop. No growbags and cane stakes here. These tomatoes grown on low bushes and are harvested twice yearly by hand, mostly by women because they have a gentle harvest touch which the men do not possess. All through the growing season, when the fruit appears on the plant someone is in constant attendance, particularly in the night hours, to keep the wildlife at bay.

The afternoon was given over to relaxation. Most of us sat in the thatched gazebo and chatted or read or just gazed over the open plains below us with Kilimanjaro in the distance. Some adventurous souls, three in number, went on safari and climbed the high steep hill behind the compound. They arrived back tired but in one piece.

Darkness came swiftly as it does in these latitudes and after supper and evening prayers, bed was a welcome refuge to us all.

Kajiado 2017

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