Handing over the reins

As Sari and I prepare to come back to Israel in mid-September, there still remains plenty of work to do. The next 5 weeks will be busy, training the project participants, as well as managers, in how to prepare themselves to run the project without us. For many unforeseen reasons, this transition period is shorter and sooner than we originally planned, but is a necessary step if this work is really ever going to be “sustainable.” I guess this is what they call designing oneself to be obsolete. I think they do that with cell phones and other needful gadgets so you have to keep buying new ones. But here I mean designing MYSELF to be obsolete. This is the hardest part of the work by far.

With that, I am happy to introduce you to the new project leaders:

David M.

David is a carpenter, which really means he knows how to do just about anything, and anything he doesn’t know how to do, he can learn in about 2 minutes. I have been so encouraged by David’s desire to learn and to come alongside me over the past 6 months. He has volunteered to help lay out drip lines, install irrigation pump systems, plant beet root and squash, drill wells by hand, install and design a low-cost hand pump (see earlier post about that) and I have hired him to manage the Sibunimba Village garden.

Jimmy S.

Jimmy is also a carpenter. He has been helping me for as long as I can remember. When we came to Simango last year, he was a part of the surveying team that interviewed over 400 households in about 4 weeks. He will be helping with various project tasks over the coming months, and I hope to train him in the local manufacture of the low-cost hand-drilling equipment developed by Water for All.

Miyanda M.

While not exactly local, Miyanda is a Zambian and in fact a Tonga, so fits in very well here in Simango. He graduated from the University of Zambia last year with a soil science degree. His knowledge of the local climate, soil, pests and crops has been very helpful. He will indeed be the main garden manager, as well as conducting a 3-month irrigation experiment starting later this month. I have gotten to know him well over the past few months, and even met his fiancee, Joyce, who is visiting this week. He hopes to continue his studies in graduate school, possibly with us in Israel.

Mundia S.

Mundia is also a member of the core group that has been with me from the beginning. He and Carol, a teacher in Simango and wife of Kebby, went to a training in late 2010 on how to assemble and operate BioSand Filters. Mundia will manage that aspect of the project in the coming months, and has been a very helpful and enthusiastic partner.


Chrispin has been helping manage the garden project at the Simakalanga Dam. He will be helping to organize the village and the church to participate in the garden, along with Jimmy.

That’s the short list for now. It will probably grow, and hopefully will include some of the female persuasion. For sure, the work ahead of them is not trivial:

1) Manage 3 community gardens cultivating a total of over 12,000 m2 of Tomatoes, Peppers, Squash, Beet Root, Cabbage, Onion, Rape and other vegetables
2) Organize transport and marketing of the harvest, mostly starting in November.
3) Implement the water improvement “store”, which will sell BioSand Filters, Hand-drilled wells, and Treadle Pumps to over 100 interested households.

As for me, it is no small task to prepare this small team for the next few months and even years. 5 weeks is not a lot of time, but I think this is a true test for everyone involved. Will this project really become their own or will it remain another hypothetical study or landmark of unmet potential? I think the trick is to start slow and to set real, tangible goals rather than to get bogged down in a huge, over-ambitious effort. At the beginning of the year, I started speaking with the headmen of the 16 villages in the health clinic’s “catchment area,” but have since narrowed the focus to 5 villages, plus a church. And I still feel overwhelmed.

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