I watch from my hidden vantage point as my 13 year old son walks casually towards a project in the works, carrying two shovels with him. He is joining the other 13 year old on the team, Charlie, and Kevin. Those guys are now digging a ditch where piping for a water system will be installed. Hard work, for sure, on this dreary, freezing day and Kevin makes reference to Milan’s “I Will Make a Man Out if You” song.
I really should be helping, but my arms are grateful that there aren’t enough tools for me, as we started the work this morning with scythes, cutting a path through tall grass to make way for the digging. For the first time in four days, I warm up, needing to remove my jacket once I catch the rhythm of cutting and pushing the cut grass aside. With the swath cut, we take a tea break, after which the boys return to the water project to start digging while I am sent to fill 30 cement bags with sand. Now, my right arm is letting me know that it has been a long time since I did this type of work, hence my gratitude for being one-too-many on waterworks crew.
As I sit here, wearing my pajamas under my pants, a pair of socks thanks to Bob, Noah’s fleece, my ridículous wet sneakers, and a jacket (my winter clothes are all sitting in the airport, two hours away, as the suitcase was left there by mistake), I can’t think of a single time it has been this miserably cold and wet for this long at this time of the year. It is truly miserable but the team is amazing and everyone is taking everything in stride. They are thankful for the warm delicious food, they love all the teas that are always available, they don’t complain when daily showers become a dream due to the lack of solar power to heat up water. They work hard, laugh hard, and are grateful to be in the middle of this adventure.
Bob manages to fix an old broiler and with Eric feeding the fire through the afternoon, half the team takes hot showers while the other half use bucket baths with water heated on the wood stove. The joy we all share at being clean again! The “that was the BEST shower ever” exclaimed by various team members…that makes my heart so happy to hear and I love each of these people even more.
So far, as a group, we have:
1. Fixed a broiler
2. Cut large swaths of tall grass
3. Helped two local ladies fix an old traditional hut
4. Put up fencing
5. Planned the set up for a new water tank/system
6. Discussed and planned four new projects to benefit the community
7. Move loads of bricks to clear an area needed for a new project
8. Fill sandbags, setting things up for the new water talk
9. Finished 1300 small paper bags, as part of a community project that provides work to women
10. Spent a day at an orphanage, playing with children
11. Cut a long ditch and laid pipe, making sure water flows well
This all has been done under relentless mist and rain and incredible cold. And it has been done with zero complaints and with so much love from every single team member.