It’s been a few days. We’ve been out in the rural areas, and right now I can’t even remember half the things we’ve done. They days go really fast, but really slow. We have had such busy and long days that it’s hard to keep track or even remember which day it is today. We haven’t had internet where we stayed, and every now and then we also didn’t have any power. There have power cuts in all places we have stayed lately, so unfortunately writing here has been on the way bottom of my priority list.
During the days of field visits, there isn’t much time for anything else. We get up at six when the sun rises, have breakfast (lately we’ve been eating fresh fruit we have gotten or bought!) and get in the car. We have been driving so much, my ears still have the sound of the wind ringing when I go to sleep. As there were no accommodation possibilities any closer, it has taken us between 1,5 and 2 hours to get to the villages. Here we have our meetings, and then this, then that, then a little more of this, and oh also that, and time flies and we’re home after dark.
I have to admit, some of the days have been quite challenging. Sometimes it’s hard to cope with the heat, the language, the constant changes in our schedule, and not knowing when the day is going to be over. We had one really long day in the lowest part of Honde Valley, and it was the hardest day so far. All day it was hothothot, and we kept squeezing as many people into all the places we were – offices, benches, the car, which made every part of the day more sweaty. The warmth really strikes you, and the wind feels like when you open the oven and let the heat straight in your face. It’s sometimes hard to handle, or know how to handle, and I’ve had a few moments where I was ready to give up. But somehow you manage to push through, and find motivation in the things and the people around you. And the next day you’re off to see the most beautiful mountain scenery with tea plantations covering the earth with a bright green carpet as far as you can possibly see, and everything is forgotten.
Regarding the projects I would say we are making great progress. We are meeting some highly motivated people, and structured and functioning groups which will be able to implement things easily. We have visited communities, district councils, village chiefs, schools, school leaders, counselors, project groups, and more. The need for water definitely stands out as the most urgent and highly important issue, as this is the starting point for so many other things. Access to water will allow firstly domestic use, but otherwise it provides opportunities. Everything starts with access to water, and from there on there are possibilities for better living conditions, increased incomes and hope for the future. People are grateful, happy and excited to meet us, but at the same time they show motivation, commitment and skills. We have been met with entertainment as much as well-preparedness, and have had interesting discussion revealing that the proposals have been taken seriously and undergone thorough examination. I think we’ll be able to start some good projects in the areas we’ve seen.
Today we have been driving all day and are now halfway to Bulawayo, where the second (or perhaps third) part of this mission will start. The roads are not amazing, and travelling takes time. But we’ll get there tomorrow, and all of sudden there aren’t that many days left! As slow as I felt the days we’re going in the beginning, as fast are they going now. At the same time, when I look back on everything we’ve done the last 9 days, it’s actually hard to believe we haven’t been here longer.
One of many beautiful views in the Honde Valley tea area.
The communities have given us bananas at the end of each day, let’s just say we’re not short on fruit!
The soil in this area is rich, and just as red as it looks!
One of the primary schools we have visited. The little tap on the left side was the only water point available, but the source has dried up and there is no more water coming out.
One of the project committees.