It’s hot here. And when I say hot, I mean reeeeally hot. Like sweat dripping off your face and arms and legs when you’re sitting hot. In the shade. But, fortunately, that’s done little to dissuade our team of masons from the daunting task ahead! To build 60 latrines in just one month, in over 100 degree heat. In fact, since the funds have arrived, they’ve been rather eager to get it all going.
It all started with my early morning wake up call. The one that I didn’t call down to the front desk to request.
“Breejeet! Breejeet!” The anxious voice accompanied anxious rapping on my sheet-metal courtyard door.
Of course, it being hot season, I was sprawled out and sweating in my culturally inappropriate tank top and shorts on my cot outside, just a few feet from my early-bird visitor. I had just sleepy stuffed my earplugs in after the 5:30 a.m. mosque call for a few more minutes of shut-eye. But believe me – this was audible through those spongey orange sanity-savers.
“Breejeet! Get up! Tomorrow has come!” Boureima, my primary action-planner for the project, called to me through the door. A hundred and 90 sacks of cement, plus various other awkwardly and/or large pieces of equipment, were packed in a truck and on their way to the village. And we didn’t have a place to put it all!
Well, we did. But several bumps down the road later, it turned out we didn’t. So I quickly threw my pillow inside and threw some clothes on my sweaty body and went out to face the tomorrow (and sacks of cement) that had come!
First on our list was to go talk to the old man in Bogodogo, another family courtyard about 100 yards away. He had the keys to the “banque de cereale,” or the building where grains are stored. Luckily for us, there’s an extra room on the side with a separate door and lock, that’s filled (still to this day) with dust and dirt and destroyed machinery. But hey, details, details. Luckily for us again, this important old man agreed to let us store the material there. So we dragged him from his lounging mat on the floor to go open the door for us, and we arrived just as the truck began kicking up the dust of our village floor.
As you might imagine, a truck coming to the village, much less one full of fancy new materials for the village’s new latrines, amounted to quite the spectacle. One by one the kids started to wander over, and heads started to turn from the women pumping water nearby. Excitement was building. Change was on it’s way!
And since that morning, change really has been happening before our eyes. The team of masons has met almost every day to learn more about their jobs, plan our work, and practice teaching each family about hygiene and the importance of latrines in disease prevention. (I’ll spare you the other inevitable bumps on the road details.) And just this past Saturday we broke ground on our first latrine for the proud soon-to-be-latrine-owner Ali Sawadogo.
We did the first two latrines together (and when I say “we” I mean they did the work and I attempted to find a slice of shade to shelter me while watching and supervising) to make sure we were all on the same page, and then on Sunday, the team spread out and began to tackle the other 58. In a week, once the cement from those first two latrines has had time to set, we’ll regroup to put all the elements together and finish our very first latrines! Not to worry, pictures will follow. But for now, here’s a few from our first week on the job!