Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Back to Luputa - Much progress is being made!

Well, everyone in the world now knows that Luputa is large village in the Kasi Oriental Province of the DR Congo, well at least several more know about it than did a month ago thanks to the great coverage of the LDS Church News.

As the country directors we are responsible to make sure that the humanitarian projects go according to the contracted plan. That requires us to visit these projects on a regular basis. We returned to Luputa for our second visit to check on the large water project and also on the Cassava Food Production project that have been started there.

We were better prepared this time as we knew what we were in for but this trip was made easier as we are now in the dry seson and what were great ponds and rivers that we had to traverse on our first visit were now dried up and we just had these caverns we drove down into and back out again. It is a good thing we didn't know how deep some of those holes were when we went through them when they were filled with water or for sure we would have turned around and gone home.
Luputa was all a buzz with the excitment of work getting started on both projects. We stopped at the church on our way into the village to meet the District President and let him know we had arrived. As soon as we pulled into the church the children came running and wouldn't allow us to ignore them so of course we had them line up and let us take one great picture of the group.The couselor in the district presidency, Bro. Sewil Bakasa,was waiting to greet us. We had brought with us a copy of the church news for them to see. They were so excited to see their little village in print but wondered how come they didn't show a picture of the church or congregation. We wish we would have had a good answer for him but reminded him that this was an article about the water project not about the church.
Distict President, Pres. Benini was so happy to get a copy of the church news and was very pleased to see the article getting a three page spread. He asked us tenatively if we had brought the paper for him and was thrilled when we told him it was indeed for him.
The children didn't want to be left out so they laid in the door way of the Pres. office and listened. They probably didn't understand much of the French being spoken as their main language is Chalupa. they are so beautiful and always happy.

After settling into the Catholic mission which we call our home away from home we met with the site monitors for the projects and planned our site evaluation for the next day.

We were old hands at settling into our room at the mission and it didn't take us long to pull out our sheets and make the bed and spread our things around the two rooms. We even appreciated the bucket shower that night.
We started the next day by going to the Cassava fields to see what progress had been made.
They had brought in a very old tractor to plow about 5 hectures of land and then cleared out stumps and weeds by hand. They then planted cuttings of manock (just sticks from the plant) and prayed they would germinate. The planting was late in the season and may well cause some problem with the germination as the dry season has already started before the plants got a good start. The dry season came three weeks early this year. Never the less we found many new plants and the fields look hopeful.It is a trek out to the fields and families oftten come together riding their family bicycle.
We next headed up to the water source to see the progress on the water project. There was much activity at the site with many community members digging trenches and laying pipe. The contractor had originally identified 3 sources of water (springs) but once they got started they found three more and have been able to divert them all to the system which will be more than enough water for the communites and leave room for growth. This brought the production of water to 25 liters/sec rather than 18 liters/sec. That is alot of water.
The workers had cleared a path down to the first village and beyond marking the way that the pipe would be laid. This pathway was cleared by hand with machets and sickles The pathway is about 15 - 20 feet wide.They then marked the pathway with log poles that they painted red at the top. This path seemed to go on for miles. The project is planned for three phases and the first phase will take water to the first village only. At the rate they are going the first phase won't take too long to complete.While we were walking the path a young girl, carrying her baby on her back, came by and was very curious about what we were doing. She had her panne draped over her head. We asked her if we could take her picture and she then became very shy but I snapped her picture anyway and then the panne started moving and we could hear a noise coming from under the panne.
Now we were the curious ones and asked what was under that panne on her head. She didn't seem to understand our question but then the panne fell off her head and . . .

there was a chicken sitting on her head. We don't know if she was going to sell the chicken or if she had just purchased or traded for it but a live chicken it was. We missed the picture of the wings flapping in the breeze and had to settle for the chicken just sittng on her head.Well the progress of the projects was confirmed and we headed back to the mission and a meeting with the site monitors. Both of the site monitors for the projects needed some training and help in solving some problems so Farrell had to spend some time with each of them.

After he finished we went to the marche (the market) to get some fruit and pass out some pictures we had printed from our first trip. I had taken a picture of a young woman sewing and when we visited her and gave her picture she was delighted. We asked her if she would sew me a dress and if she could do it by the next day before we left. She said she would make the dress if I would go purchase some fabric.
Her machine is a very old Singer treadle sewing machine and it was set on a table that was cracked and had many rough places This picture is looking down at the top of her machine.
Nestor, our site manager for the Casssava farm, was with us and said he would show us where we could buy some fabric. He took us to his wife's shop. We didn't realize she was also a seamstress or we might have asked her to make the dress.
When we looked in her little fabris stall. there was their new little baby asleep on the lengths of fabric. They woke him up so we could get a picture.

We returned to the mission to have our dinner and we took a walk through the village. This woman was returning from working in the Marche and we couldn't resist getting her picture with her sewing machine balanced on her head for the walk home.

The next day we returned to the Marche before leaving Luputa so we could pick up the dress. She had finished the dress and was so afraid I wouldn't like it. We made a big fuss and asked her to let us take a picture of her holding the dress. She was so very shy. She had a large scar on her face and we wondered if this was one reason she was so shy as most all of the people are so out going and friendly.
The dress was rather big but it is true Congolese fabric and it was made in 1/2 a day and the seamstress was delighted that I wanted her to sew it for me. It is a treasure.
(This is a picture of the dress amongst the flowers on our balcony back in Kinshasa. The design has fish of many colors and is a great fabric.)

We started back to Mbuji Mayi with both of us sitting in the front seat with Omer, our driver. The front seat is much easier on the back, the hips and even the head.

Omer was shopping along the way back. We stopped for a bag of beans and a bag of corn. They are much cheaper out in the country than in the city.

We were flying down the road pretty fast and all of a sudden Omer put on the breaks and came to a screeching halt. He backed up and got out of the car and bought a muskrat, rodent looking thing. I asked him what he was going to do with it and he said it was for his Saturday dinner. He was kind enough to hang it on the outside of the car not in the car. So we drove all the way back to Mbuji Mayi with a muskrat thing hanging from the side mirror.
Oh and we also stopped and bought a bag of oranges from a very beautiful Congolese woman. who had such a beautiful smile we captured her picture for our "beautiful faces" file.

It was a great trip with great success confirming good progress on the projects and another experience to remember from our mission. We are getting to love Luputa. The life pace is slow and comfortable, the people are busy and working hard, and the people are very gracious and friendly. We will get to go back at least once more before we leave to come home.


Matthew said...

That's my parents!!! God bless you for the great work you are doing.

Tiffany said...

You both look so happy! We are very glad for that! Mom, your dress looks great and just the type of fabric that you would pick (minus the daisies of coarse). We love reading about your adventures. We pray for you always!

Angela said...

I just love reading your stories and look forward to them all of the time! It's such a wonderful thing you are helping with. We were just talking that we can't believe you will be coming home in only a short time. The photos are amazing and has really made this place seem so real to me rather than just some place across the world. Thank you for that.

Scarehaircare said...

This has been great to watch this particular project progress. Of course, it has also been very cool to show everyone I know my copy of The Church News and say "Those are MY parents!"

Yakimama said...

Hey, Farrell and Marilyn--great blog! I miss you both and our movie nights and wish you good luck on your last few months in Kinshasa. Great pictures, too, and I like the dress fabric, Marilyn. No one else in Utah will have that fish fabric. Take care!

Kafunyi Mwamba said...

You are doing a great work in my country, the Congo, and especially in my village of Luputa where my family members live. I need to connect with you and get involved to some extent.

Kafunyi Mwamba said...

You are doing a great work in my country, the Congo, and especially in my village of Luputa where my family members live. I need to connect with you and get involved to some extent.