2019: Days 9-12

Hi all,

Our last two days in community, Thursday and Friday, passed very quickly. On Thursday, both the cart team and the water team headed into the community.

The cart team started the day by monitoring the old cart and asking interview questions, including what the community has been using it for, and how frequently they’ve used it over the course of the past year. After the interviews, Garrett and David took the new cart up the street to a nearby “water bar,” where water is available for purchase. We discovered that four jerry cans fit perfectly in the new cart, and encouraged the community to continue using both carts not just to get clay, but to get water, carry firewood, or move construction materials.

The water team spent the day down at the borehole, where we first finished surveying the rest of the trench, which proved to be a very messy task. After surveying, we measured how much the water level had changed overnight, using our strategically placed horizontal sticks as reference points. Though the team had hoped to get a flow rate by emptying the borehole using a pump and then evaluating how long the hole took to refill, we were unable to do so because the pump Innocent brought was electric, and as the community does not have electricity, it’s safe to say there was nowhere to plug it in. Instead, we took measurements of the roof of the tile house for a potential rainwater catchment system that may be used to supplement the pumped water.

Midway between the community and Don Bosco, our bus broke down, leaving us briefly stranded in the middle of the highway. Thankfully, between Garrett, our translator, Noella, who has an electrical engineering degree, the bus driver, and several kind passersby who offered to help, we were able to create a temporary fix for the broken fuse and get home safely.

On Friday, our last day in community, both teams worked to ensure that the projects were finished. The water team performed some water quality tests, including one using a homemade secchi disk to evaluate the turbidity of the water. Throughout the week, we took water samples from the borehole each day and returned to Don Bosco to test them for bacteria, arsenic, and nitrates. However, on our last day, we performed these tests in community, while Blandine, one of our translators, explained what we were doing so that some of the community members could help. The water team also took some measurements of the kiln roof, as another potential source for rainwater catchment.

The cart team entered community with the goal of running the cart until the batteries were completely drained, so they could then be recharged. However, after several hours of running with the cart to various locations, we found that the batteries were still fully charged. It seems the larger batteries in the new cart are more than a match for the EWB team. After this, the team decided instead to get some good photos and videos of the community using the cart to send to our friends at Safintra, who welded the body of the cart.

To end our week in community, the CO-OP members held a final community meeting, in which they asked us questions about ourselves and our lives (we spend so much time interviewing them–it seemed only fair!). We showed them photos of our families and pets, and they told us about their families and any animals they have. At the end of the meeting, Megan performed a very impressive Irish dance which earned her a marriage proposal, and in return, the members of the CO-OP danced and sang for us to say goodbye. We exchanged gifts– they gave us a dozen pineapples, and we gave them a stack of notebooks and pens, and then it was time to go. After our final goodbyes, we headed back to Don Bosco to pack and get ready to head back to Kigali.

On Saturday morning, the team returned to Centre Christus after a few quick stops at the markets to get snacks and souvenirs. We piled the majority of our luggage into one room, and then met up with Moses, our Akagera guide. Moses took us to Notre Dame, where we stayed the night so that we could get an early start on Sunday and spend a full day in the national park. Notre Dame is a convent where women hold silent retreats. Certain members (mostly Katie) of the team struggled with keeping their voices down so as to avoid disturbing the nuns.

Early Sunday morning, we set out for Akagera, where we spent 8 or 9 hours exploring the 1,120 square kilometer park and spotting various animals, including giraffes, zebras, warthogs, baboons, hippos, and a herd of the rarely-sighted African elephants.

We returned to Centre Christus Sunday night, tired, but ready to make the most of our last two days in Rwanda.

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Murakoze (Thank you),

The EWB 2019 Travel Team