Saturday, April 19, 2014

Chicken Coop Update No. 2 from Senegal: Falling down and getting back up again

Here is Joyce's Chicken Coop Update No. 2 from Senegal.

Hello from Senegal--

It is with mild dread that I write this update. 

It was smooth sailing until about two weeks ago: the chicken coop was essentially finished, yet one fateful day, the construction workers were taking a post-lunch siesta inside, and the building collapsed without any warning. Nearly all 300 villagers ran to the field and many a woman was wailing about the young men they collectively assumed were dead. Thank the stars that just one guy broke his leg and another strained his arm. The rest were fine. The cause? Termites was the conclusion. 

Just the week before, the organization had hosted an event prosthelytizing about why their mud buildings with vaulted roofs were better than typical cement ones with sheet-metal roofing, winning many hearts in the act. So to save face, they are paying the masons to return all the sand to where it came from and try again with new, different sand brought in from somewhere else. If this sounds like the most ridiculous thing you've ever heard, well, you haven't worked in international development. I'm not convinced this is the best idea, clearly, but I'll soon be leaving. So it's up to the main local counterpart to call the shots, and he has decided to give it another go.

It's incredibly disheartening to have something you've put so much into literally fall in on you, especially when people have to go to the hospital firstly, and secondly, when you let all the people supporting you down. I'm so sorry. Over here though, as E.B. White once wrote, we are continuing to wind the clock, for tomorrow is another day. 

I hope to write with better news next month.

Until then,

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Building the vaulted roof.

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The village chief peruses the organization's promotional material as they spread the good word.

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But not so fast!

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Shoveling the fallen bricks into a wheelbarrow...

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...and returning them to the land from whence they came.

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Making mud, take two.

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Found feathers mixed into the manure on some green pepper plants.

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A chick spotted on the farm. I was pretty chuffed to walk into a store this month and say "We'd like 200 chicks please," but alas. Maybe one day.

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