Week 3 Oltulelei Community Bridge: Hard Work Indeed!

This week the Oltulelei team finished digging the hole for the bridge anchor on the south side of the river. There was much joy when the last bit of soil was dug out from the bottom of the hole. However, the smiles only lasted a short time—because now the same task waited on the other side of the river. Believe us, digging by hand using pickaxes, hoes, and shovels is no joke. It is tough, laborious work. It’s a good thing we had what we call the “A” team with us.

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The local Oltulelei team pressed on with the excavation while the BtGA team prepared to set up the anchor section for a large concrete pour.

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As Debora spent more time at the bridge site, checking out the riverbank and the bridge surroundings, she realized there were some areas of severe soil erosion. From her new office
she is developing an action plan to counter the problem and prevent future erosion. She also noticed something else-- on average about 1,000 livestock (cows, goats, and sheep) travel daily
through the new bridge site location to graze. That could affect the ground surrounding the bridge. The Maasai people are pastoralist, and their livelihoods depend on their livestock. So,
Debora and the team are working toward a solution to divert the livestock traffic around the bridge site while also maintaining the Maasai’s connection to their herds.

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Cows, goats, and sheep weren’t the only company at the bridge site. We spent a good amount of time chasing monkeys away—that is, when we weren’t negotiating kuku (chicken in Swahili) prices. And when word spread through the community that we loved to eat chicken, most days we had more than one Mama wanting to sell us kukus. Matthew thought we ought to build a chicken coop. So, he turned a workbench into one!

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It is now the end of our third week at the Oltulelei bridge site. The excavation is well underway on the other side of the river, and concrete has been poured for the first anchor. Everyone is tired at the end of every day. But we are rewarded with a good meal to enjoy under a beautiful sunset. Somehow, the memory of the day’s hard work seems softer under that light.