Thursday, July 5, 2012

Pumping Water

Today's picture was taken in 1939 near Mashall, Texas. It shows a man drawing water from a newly installed hand pumps. The hand pumps are much more efficient, and safer than the old open wells where water was drawn with a bucket.

Well, I had hoped to show you pictures today of the well being finished, but things always take longer than you would like in Africa. A project with ten men can come to a standstill for want of a single nail or board. The men will stop and disassemble something else to scavenge a nail, and then later go back and replace the nail from the structure they had borrowed it from. Being in the US, it is easy to mock  or criticize, but when you are over here, you begin to understand. Wages run about ten cents an hour. No one has anything, and the cost of securing transport back to town and then back to the job site, and the cost of nails, does not warrant a trip. It is more economic to scavenge the nail. So, another way to look at things is  that they are incredibly resourceful here to  get things built with no equipment, no resources and no materials.

Anyway, we have completed the concrete work at the top of the well. The slab to the right, when dry, will be lifted up and put on the top of the well head. Then the hand pump will be installed. I have already secured the pump head, rods, pipes and fittings, so we should be ready to install as soon as the concrete is in place.

The man standing by the well is Charles and he started the orphanage and is in charge of it. The orphanage has no supporters, and the children survive by poor farmers in the area periodically giving a bag of maze or a few cabbages. Charles wife has a small shop in town, and she supports them. They probably make $100 per month from her shop in town. I think much of that goes towards feeding the kids when locals in the area do not come through. So my hope and prayer is that this well will make their burdens lighter in caring for the kids. Also, I had not mentioned this but I am putting in a "Chickie Town, Africa Edition". They will have a chicken coup and 75 chickens when I leave. Hopefully they can sell some eggs, and perhaps some garden produce to help support themselves.

While I was hear, my daughter's best friend, Lisa Dees, was also out visiting. She has become very excited about these children. She has now returned to the US, but she hopes to organize a team that will come  out here in December for a "Christmas in Kenya", with the goal being to  have the team spruce the place up, and provide each child at this facility with a mattress, mosquito nets, water filters, clothes, and other  essential necessities.

As I mentioned, Charles receives no compensation for his full time work running the orphanage. In addition, the "Nanny" who cares for the children is herself a widow with two children. She receives no money, but does get to live and eat at the orphanage. The man that tends the garden is paid $10 per month.

I say all this to just suggest we should all periodically self-reflect. I think it  is easy to lose sight  of how much we have, and what a struggle it is  in some places for people to simply keep children alive.


  1. Do you suppose that they will have to give the gardener a raise when he starts to water the garden?

  2. PJM, you make me cry --- a chickie town, too.

    If you had not done all the "stuff" at your house, you may not have had all these ideas for Africa. Perhaps, you have been in training all along!!

  3. What YOU and your helpers have done there is remarkable. May God bless you all.
    I remember growing up with two pumps like you've been posting. A big one outside and a smaller version in the house on our sink. We left the handle on the one outside in the up position so we didn't have to "prime" it every time we wanted to use it.

  4. We need more people like you and the lovely EAM there to help in the massive process of bringing this country into the modern age. Many good things can result from your efforts and hopefully more will take up the challenge. You both represent what most Americans would like to be. Thank you.

  5. ...all for want of a nail – how poetic. I've enjoyed reading your grand African adventure as it unfolds and I'm looking forward to the next installment. It'll almost be disappointing when you return to Texas.

  6. I have also been enjoying reading about both you and the lovely Miss EAM in Africa. At the moment, many parts of the East Coast are still without power because of the dreadful storms last weekend. Obviously, I have electricity, but a lot of us could do well to sit back and consider how life would be - how we would cope - if we had to live this way all the time.

  7. I especially appreciate and admire that you are supporting a local orphanage, not just the one where your daughter is. It shows a generosity of spirit that touches my heart. Jan

  8. I agree with Rollie's first comment above.