My Tanzanian summer has come to an end. Before I (Emelie) speak about the building process, I have to speak of the place. Inevitable, my heart has made space for new images, experiences. The Econef land is one of the most beautiful sites I have ever visited, been invited to. Everything regarding life there is as local as it gets and everything regarding life there contributes, as a unit part of the whole, working together for development. This is a place where one feel completely aware of what it means to be part of the processes that modern day life demands, what it takes from the world for a single persons continuance. Here you live remote, you eat what you can grow, you use the water that the sky is releasing, the electricity that the sun provides you with; limited and with the same uncertainty as the weather.
The Baobab house and the Econef Children’s center lies softly in the hard and compact landscape, the bricks are as copper-red like the dusty grounds. Behind us the ground pushes up, forming a mount and we on the foot of the hill. In front us the ground pushes up even further, forming a mountain there in our backyard; Mt Kilimanjaro purple in the afternoon light. This is a enigmatic place, a serene place and the home to all magical skies.
When Maxi, Emil and Felix picked me up with the van on the airport early this july I remembered that I felt as if we drove straight out in the middle of no mans land through cornfields reaching up ready to be harvested. It was in the middle of the night and when I woke up that first morning all of the Econef land was in full lush flourish; bougainvillea bright magenta, white blue red hibiscus, banana palm trees, heavy green stones of watermelons hiding in the bushes, sweet red mini tomatoes green crispy tomatoes, a pineapple tree about the come up, a passion fruit tree, beans left out to dry on the ground, avocado trees. If one is persistent and understanding and passionate, driven. Hard working. This project can in the future statute an example for a permaculture; the fertile clay ground together with the farm animals, the solar electricity and rain water collecting. And us, humans, together in harmony as a self-sufficient unit of nature, animals and us. On equal premises.
When Emil and Felix left the site to go back to Sweden I together with the builders continued the work with the roof. I was invited to stay with Caroline and the kids over at the old orphanage, and every work day we travelled to the site by car and picked up the building crew on the way. People we work with are specialized on a particular kind of handicraft. Hussein and I drilled holes in the finished trusses to connect them with metal bolts while Lucas building team then lifted the heavy trusses on its right place on the roofs, individually numbered and fitted to adjust the previous differences with the uneven reinforcement bars in the ring beam. Then to make them rest evenly in the steel shoes a wood chisel was used to fit the bolts of the steel shoes into the trusses. Maxi, Maxi and Valerian where working together to soak the final pieces of wood in termite pesticide, wood that after drying was used for longitudinal beams, fisher boards and gutter plank. These the builders mounted symmetrically by using their own tricks, simple things such as strings.
Econef stands for much more than a being a orphanage, I and the kids was during this time shareing space with a group of american teenagers. They where part of Carolines project in what the ”C” in Econef stands for; community. They lived with Econef for almost a month, and their schedule was carefully arranged by Caroline as to make sure that they got to experience and understand true Tanzanian culture, and Caroline on the other hand was strengthening her own community. They lived with the Masaai’s, they visited people working with permaculture, they helped out on Econef site, spent time with the kids, went to see the nationalparks and together we all celebrated 4th of july. In some ways this was a two-way share of culture, backgrounds and stories.
In the second week of july Linda and David arrived and I moved back together with my fellow volunteer mates in the Baobab house. And by the time of their arrival the pace of the building process slowed down leaving only two things left in order to do to fully complete the task of ”let there be roof”; mounting the gutter and lifting the corrugated steel sheets on its places. To be able to use government electricity we had to use long extension cords running across the fields to fuel the drill with power, with which the gutter team was drilling holes in the already bent sheets of gutter metal. The bent sheets, about a meter long, was being pieced together with waterproof glue and bolts. Each piece was individually bent to create an inclination for the rain water to flow. However one of the pieces of gutter metal was by mistake bent in the mirrored way and we had to rearrange them in order to keep the inclination. Working against the darkness that hit us like a light switch at seven fifteen, the final test of pouring water to make sure there was no leakage was left for the following day.
Linda, David and I together with the gutter team poured water in the gutters to stage a downfall and while it was not leaking on one of the houses, the other one was. And meanwhile the leakage was being sealed the roof team was back at site, carrying up the red corrugated steel sheets from the storage, preparing for the final work. With the 6 meter long steel sheets lying in a pile next to us, we sat together in a ring threading seals on the nails. The long side of the roof was being used as a lever to get the sheets up. As smoothly as something can go the two houses was quickly being covered with red lids and I was honored to put the final nail in place. There are now roof!
What amazes me after a summer here is how many different professions that fit in here; that can contribute, give and learn. Architects, engineers, agronomists, farmers, gardeners, teachers and all you who share interest in working towards a sustainable future. Wow, imagine that! What a project to be welcomed into with open arms.
Emelie, Linda and David