Monday, January 16, 2012

Yes, this is the third blog today... It is a holiday here - Martyr Day - and we are home, so I am catching up. Saturday, we were invited to attend a grand opening for a Humanitarian Project. This one was one we had visited earlier in its formation stages. The project consisted of 7 clean water wells, a bathroom and wash area at a school, and a rain water capture project to provide water for the bathrooms and washing area at the school.
I snapped some pictures out of the side window of the moving car. They are scenes along the way to the project.
SORRY, SOME ARE BLURRY BECAUSE THE ROAD WAS ALMOST NON-EXISTENT AND WE BUMPED ALONG A LOT. This project is located outside of Kinshasa in a village area. To get there we went with the mission president in his four-wheel drive rig. We all drive four-wheel drive pick-ups or wagons. The road to this site is made for a four-wheel adventure. Many of you would like to spend your week-ends four-wheeling in this area. The trails we followed were narrow, sand-filled paths and trails mostly. At one spot, you must slide the tires along an old pipe that may have once been used for water, then drop down a steep run into a big hole. That when it rains is a small lake. Eventually, you end up at the site. We of course were the only car there. The Stake President arrived after us, he may have hitched a ride on one of the many motor cycles used as taxis. They typically load the driver and up to three passengers onto the cycle.
THE BLUE CHAIRS AWAIT. The man in the suit is the director of the NGO (non-governmental organization) who managed the project. His organization was contracted by the Church to do the construction work. The name of his organization is Congo-Kazi.
We arrived and were greeted by hundreds of children. They were dressed in their school best - white shirts and blue skirts/pants/shorts. They had been waiting along the road for us. They sang on our way in and were excited when we got out of the car and would shake their hands. I am sure that it is the first time many of them had seen a "mondele" (white person) up close and personal.
This is the first part of the project. Two tanks to catch rain water and run the water into the latrine and hand washing station. There is also a run-off pipe that when the tanks are full, the village can get water here from the flow. The children sang a song about how they can now wash their hands before eating, and after using the bathroom and therefore prevent disease. We don't think about disease much at home, but here typhoid, cholera, and any number of amoeba are a constant threat. Bad water also attracts mosquitoes which bring malaria, yellow fever, dinge fever, etc. This year in the DRC thousands of children died in the worst cholera epidemic in 50 years. The two most deadly animals in Africa are Rhinos and mosquitoes.
The rain is captured in these "gutters" and runs into the tanks. School is generally in session during the rainy season, so there will be sufficient water for the school year.
The second piece of the project is this bathroom. Written over the door it says "A gift from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints." The Village Chief did the ceremonial cutting of the ribbon. I was concerned that I might be asked to take the ceremonial first "leak" in the new toilet, but fortunately, they skipped that part.
The village chief is a very important person. He is elected by the village to be their leader. He was very happy about the project. The village area chief of police and the senior military officer were also there.
The entire school turned out for the ceremony. The children sang and danced and thanked us.
As usual, all the Mondeles and dignitaries had front row blue plastic chairs.
We then went to one of the well sites and had the ceremonial cutting of the ribbon and drinking the ceremonial first glass of clean water.
Sister Bingham drinking the clean water. The Binghams are the Humanitarian Service Couple who have accomplished all of this amazing work. If one visits the simple grave sight of Robert F. Kennedy, in Arlington Nation Cemetery, these words are on the wall next to his grave site. Spoken in South Africa in 1966 "It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope. And, crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest wall of oppression and resistance."
A village women climbs the hill with containers for clean water on her head.

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