On the Ground In Zambia

Posted by Katherine McKenna on Wednesday, August 1, 2012 at 9:21 AM PDT

Cal Ihler shares his experiences in Zambia as they happen...

 June 30    

Mike and I have made it to the Chikuni Mission in was a long journey, but all is well. From the airport it was a three hour car ride to get here; we left Seattle on Thursday at 1pm and arrived at Chikuni on Saturday at 7:30pm. There is a nine hour time advance here, so at home it would be Saturday at.... Oh, you figure it out, I'm too tired! We will be adding photos over the next few days and are very glad to be here. 


 July 1    

Anyway, my first day here was really nice and I am appreciating everyone’s efforts. The locals do quite a bit of dancing to drum music and you know you are really in Africa. The weather is good and we got right into two plumbing projects, and we made some headway on both. First project: The hospital tanks project may work well (we want to re-utilize two abandoned large water tanks for the local hospital so they can have water throughout the day and open up a neo-natal unit but there are no parts available (it is holiday here) until Wednesday, and it is a 1 1/2 hour drive on really rough roads to the nearest plumbing supplier. It is amazing when thinking about the rarity of materials and the scarcity of them. Second project: We also dug up some piping for the Chikuni Mission compound and are looking for a cross connection that is contaminating the water to the houses here. We do have a plan that may work but it will depend on available materials and the time we are staying here. There are several other projects that are going on that I am not involved with. We are staying at the Jesuit compound, every morning we get a good breakfast and then have lunch and dinner at the Mukanzubo Cultural Center. The Jesuit compound is very clean and we have toilets and showers... and our own bedrooms!! These are really very nice facilities when compared to the PWOB Belize trip. The best part is I am not a leader and do not have to organize anything...hurray!!! 

Thank you all for your support of our PWOB efforts.


July 5 

Today went well, the hospital tank’s water supply line is connected and some water went into the tanks before we stopped work for the day. Tomorrow we will need to flush the two tanks we are bringing online and install a 2" valve to isolate the old tank. Materials here have been the toughest challenge but all here have a great attitude and it is nice to work with the Zambian people, they are so polite and friendly. (Mike is still looking for the "darkside" of the culture but hasn't been able to find anything... he keeps trying in his own socially gregarious ways :).) Another project we are working on is the water line cross connection for Mukanzubo; the water supply for the community is fed from an underground well (safe to drink water) and a local lake (bad to drink water). We are separating the two sources so the drinking and food water will be from the well and the irrigation water will be from the lake. There is another water tank that we are connecting a float to for automatic start/stop of the pump so it will not run all day. There are some humorous things that happen each day but I am probably too focused on the work to notice. At the end of each day we are very tired and appreciative for the team’s camaraderie and the good Zambian (cooked over a fire) food. 
We all are very grateful for everyone’s support of PWOBs efforts to help others.
Thank you all so much.


July 6 

 Hello Friends
 Another very productive day!!! Mike and I brought the two new hospital water storage tanks online…it took us  till 9pm and it was dark but we were successful! We also replaced a tub/shower fixture at the Jesuit house and repaired two water lines. All piping is very old here so you touch one thing and it leads into several other repairs along the way, and the challenge is to find parts! Several times I have gone to the “scrapyard” that has old parts and piping and searched for pieces of pipe or fittings… there are two local sources that may have old rusty parts that we can recondition to use, one is Father Gabriel’s work yard and the other is the hospital’s shipping storage container, some of these parts are buried under brush and haven’t been used for years but we are very glad to have access to them, it may take awhile to find the part but most of the time we have been lucky. We also have a Zambian plumber friend named Killian, he has been a great help to us, and he is tireless and very motivated. Steve and Byron went into town today and had to go to at least three stores to get simple plumbing parts, and electrical wire. By the way we also installed a start/stop float for the Mukanzubo community water tank and Byron did an excellent job of figuring out how to wire it without any diagrams! All is well. Thanks to all of you for your support!
Cal Ihler