Trip 7 Success: We have a Tank!!
In February, EWB-DC’s Cameroon Team returned from the fifth implementation trip for the Mbokop Water and Health Project. Team members have now visited the Mbokop communities of Cameroon’s English speaking Northwest Region seven times since 2012! The current project is focused on constructing a water conveyance and storage system to provide clean drinking water to the village of Mangi year round. The most dramatic result of the February trip was the construction of a storage tank – so far this has brought a steady supply of clean, spring-fed water closer to the village than it has ever been before.
EWB travelers Kim Fellenz and Gabe Illingworth worked closely with Cameroonian contractor, Divine Kanjo, to procure materials and manage construction of the tank. Community members came out in full force to assist with the excavation, concrete mixing, and many other construction tasks. The water system caretaker Emmanuel was also on the scene to assist with and observe the construction process.
The other two travelers from DC, Aileen Craig and Eric Tilden, held meetings with the Water Committee, Health Committee, and different community leaders and groups. The meetings focused on what was being constructed on this trip, questions and concerns from the community, as well as education about the future water system and how it will operate. Aileen and Eric also inspected the catchment area and the spring box that was constructed during a previous trip.
As second time visitors to Mbokop, Aileen and Gabe viewed this trip as a great opportunity to reconnect with the community members they had met before and see the project through the next phase of construction. For first time visitors Kim and Eric, the trip was full of new experiences and great opportunities to get to know the people they had heard so much about. Over the past five years that EWB-DC has been working on this project in Cameroon, strong relationships have formed between EWB-DC and their Cameroonian partners who make the success of these trips possible. A few of these people include Pa, who has consistently hosted EWB visitors in his home, and Maxeline, who travels to Mbokop with the volunteers and provides delicious breakfasts and dinner. She is now famous for her coffee cake and a myriad of other culinary marvels (such as the spaghetti omelet) that greeted the tired and dusty team.
Having left Mbokop before the walls and roof of the storage tank were complete, the responsibility of finishing this work fell to the in-country contractor Divine. He and his crew stayed behind in Mbokop to finish the work, and he made an additional trip back to the village to inspect the watertightness of the set concrete, install locks on the access points, and take photos. In March, he sent his updates and photos to the EWB team back in DC. After reviewing the photos of the finished work, Gabe and Kim agree that Divine’s construction matched our plans. They both expressed that they were lucky to have a skilled and competent contractor who was able to complete this work independently.
Now that the objectives of the fifth implementation trip have been completed, the EWB-DC Cameroon team is back at work; fundraising, problem solving, and making plans for their next trip – to connect the storage tank to the village and school distribution points.