Friday, July 29, 2011

All Together Again

A lot has happened since the group’s last post, much more than I could ever write between various coffee husk stove tests, bashing clay with pipes, and juggling a soccer ball. Tuesday was a day full of preparation as our incomplete group of seven would reach the maximum number of residents the field station here in Kalinzi could bear. The one and only Kevin Dahms would be returning from his adventures in the lands north of here and finally rejoin the work and people who needed him. And of course, the long anticipated duo, Rita and Tuma, would be coming up from Kigoma to join the ranks among the DHEers. Rita would be our long needed second translator for our expanding needs and her cousin, Tuma, would be the long needed cook for our shrinking stomachs. Both have of course been wonderful additions to our family.
In anticipation of our three travelers, the group sacrificed a morning of ‘science’ and project related work for more crucial matters: cleaning up the field station. I think it would be safe to say that apart from the days the foundation was laid and the walls raised, the field station has never received such dedicated attention. Everything besides the table and beds found higher ground as a water and soap cleaned the ground. Shelving, constructed from an old bed frame and failed metal stoves, quickly filled up with electronics and a communal library. Mats were purchased replacing the dining room table and opening more space in the main room. To say the least, the field station became a home.
Dahms almost immediately jumped right into working on the coffee husk stove with me when he arrived. Rita and Tuma came and after a very warm welcome headed to the market for food and bedding. That night we had pasta and played cards. It was nice to have a full house.
Wednesday was filled with testing, briquetting, and preparing for the ‘rocket stove summit’ that would be held during Thursday lunch. A work day though and through. We had a few side projects that came together: a brick pot skirt and a hay-box we hoped to share with the women the next day.
Thursday morning the group split in three. Kim, Thabo and Stan woke early to meet Revocautus for a hike to the pseudo-wind-tower. Emil and Collen left to investigate available bio-mass in Kigoma Town for future large scale briquetting projects. Kevin M, Kevin D, Rita, Tuma and myself stayed here at the field station, preparing the stoves, the house and lunch. The guests were invited to arrive at noon. We eagerly waited their arrival.
We eagerly waited for anyone’s arrival for an hour and a half. By that time the wind hike had returned and we outnumbered our guest seven to one. We showed her our stoves, the hay box and talked about cooking in the region. We refused to start our lunch without eating with our guests (or guest) but she wanted to wait for her friends. And so we waited and another hour and half for two more. Food was served and a very fruitful discussion about the rocket stove developed. Kevin’s clever idea of offering brick molds to the women in exchange for them constructing four stoves for needy homes was successful. As the afternoon moved one, all the women arrived, and few extra friends as well. Our house really became a center of talking and laughter. It was decided that the women would come back on Monday to learn how to make the clay tray stove. Over all a very successful lunch, but exhausting.
This morning we all woke to the sound of thunder and rain on the metal roofs above. An unheard of storm during the dry season graced us with its presence, causing Kevin and Collen to run out in the early morning to bring the drying briquettes to safety. After a novel breakfast of French toast, Emil, Stan, Dahms and I took a ride to Matiazo to see the German orphanage, the coffee mill, and a very stove oriented secondary teacher named Prosper. We learned that people have been making coffee husk stoves out of clay which has spurred a frenzy of experimentation on the back deck with some extra mud bricks we have. The frenzy was not very successful but both educational and entertaining. Dinner is soon upon us and everyone is working to finish before the plates are out. A final crunch time before munch time.

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