On my return to South Africa, my first trip was to Northern Limpopo, back to the community of Bergnek. I arrived in Johannesburg at 6:30 am and after getting a rental car, I headed to find Keith whom I have been working with. We met at the hotel Keith works at and started our journey north.
We arrived in Polokwane on Friday and set about making sure we had everything prepared for our work for the next few days. The well was in place but we had to get the pump installed and secured. We also had to make sure we had working lines to the storage tanks we had in place. I was excited and couldn’t wait to get to Bergnek. After getting everything arranged, we headed out to Bergnek at around 10 pm that evening.
Early Saturday morning we headed down to the new pump house. The pump had arrived and getting the pump installed seemed to happen so quickly. We were all very focused on seeing WATER! At around 11:00 am, we had all the connections set up and fired the motor for the very first time. Turning that crack was so exciting! We had the main line disconnected so we could see the water start to flow. As the pump started to run, we watched the pipes shake and shudder and then the water appeared just bursting out of the open end of the connectors. Lots of cheering and clapping! Wow! It was really there. The village headman was just beaming and clapping his hands together. It had taken so long he wasn’t totally sure it would really happen.
After connecting the main lines again, we headed to the village meeting space where a huge number of people had gathered for a meeting with a local councilor. When we announced the water had started to flow, people just looked at us and me as if I had lost my mind. A few ladies were talking about buying water from a local farmer who was coming around that day with his water truck. I asked them not to as they now had water. They shook their heads.
I asked them to follow me as I took them to the water tanks. As they watched, I climbed the towers and started banging the sides. As they heard a ‘thud’ instead of the ‘echo’ they had become used to from empty tanks, all I heard was a shout of “There’s Water!”
People went off to get buckets and containers and started lining up at all the water points in the village. In just over 40 minutes, the tanks were completely filled and we opened the main valves to the feeder lines. A group of children gathered and started dancing around and playing. We then walked the community and visited each water point to ensure we had no problems. People were laughing and smiling as they filled their containers and carried them home. I splashed a few children with the water. At first they were shocked and then they started to laugh and dance around. This was a REALLY GOOD day.
We met the townspeople the following day and discussed how they would maintain and get diesel for the pump. We took up a collection and got enough money to run it for the next six weeks at least. The Councilor who was there on an election campaign asked me if I was there to get votes. I smiled and said no; I was just there to help completing a promise I had made six months earlier. She asked me how she could get the townspeople to vote for her. I responded by saying that the best way was to stop talking and to actually do something. She asked if I would help her if she did something for the town. I agreed that I would as long as what she did actually happened and was not just words. She left, undertaking to get the region to supply the diesel for the pump going forward. A week later, she called me to say that she had a firm commitment in writing that the region would provide the diesel and would I tell the headman she had done it. I agreed and went to talk to the headman. He smiled and laughed saying, “You have taught our Councilor something new. This is the first time she has delivered something to us in 13 years!”
Our next steps in Bergnek take place in September and October. This is when we will run the first Iziko Labahlali program to start work on opportunities in the community and to build a healthcare center.
Please support our Cause by opening your heart to the people of the little community of Bergnek with your donations.
It is February 16th and today I kissed and hugged my three girls goodbye as I left for the next adventure in South Africa. I am grateful for their support and love as I travel to fulfill my personal vision and mission. Amazing how it is always so exciting!
On this trip we will be visiting and working with three communities. First stop after touching down in Johannesburg will be a drive up to the Limpopo region to spend 4 days in Bergnek getting a new pump up and running. Making this well active will provide all the water to meet the communities needs. They will not longer have to wonder and wait for the weekly water supply to arrive if it does at all. I am working with a trusted friend and partner Keith Mosumane. I first met Keith in February of 2010. We talked about what we could do in his birth community to help and support them back a year ago and we have since grown to trust and support each other. Our first step in Bergnek is to get the well running and functional. Second we are exploring the opportunity to establish a community business to produce food grade escargot. Yes snails! Our objective is to create enough revenue to sustainably fund a healthcare centre in the Bergnek community to support the community and surrounding communities. The healthcare centre will have a large focus on children and mothers.
Next stop on the trip will be to fly to Port Elizabeth and then drive up to Mthatha and out to Malungeni to meet with an enthusiastic group of you people to talk about their ideas and how we can collaborate to facilitate as many Iziko Labahlali sessions as we can in the rural communities of the Eastern Cape Province.
After the meetings and sessions in Malungeni I will be off to Cradock to work alongside our community members in the factory, explore some new opportunities and to facilitate the next Iziko Labahlali session with 25 new participants. The course will be co-facilitated by Nini and Lionel, graduates of our first session in August 2010.
Towards the end of this adventure I will be in Cape Town for 3 days for some exciting meetings! More about those later.
Take a look at our latest video on the right and help to support our work and the communities of South Africa. You can support us by clicking here.
Watch for updates as the adventure unfolds!