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As a futur theoretical engineer, we cannot neglect the importance of getting out of our chair and taking a shovel, pickaxe, … and if it’s possible, use it ourself. With that in mind, we rolled up our sleeves, covered ourselves in sunscreen and started digging the tranch for the main pipeline. Rocks and gravel slowed down our work and challenged our tired muscles. But as they say, many hands make light work and with our team of five, borderless enthusiasm and even more energy we travelled fast through the ground. Due to our enthusiasm we continued our work throughout the weekend. Apparently white people working on a Sunday is quite an attraction for the locals, with a friendly “Bon travail” they encouraged us every time to continue our work.

Once the tranch has been made, we could start with our next project. A swimming pool! As we learned that most of the people in our region can’t swim, a public swimming pool seems necessary for educational purposes. By building on the farm, we enhance the farm’s position as a centre of life and place to meet others. The impact cannot be underestimated! Okay, the last few sentences weren’t entirely true, but we made to many jokes about it in our team, to not make a reference about it. The real purpose of our ‘swimming pool’ of 10m by 3,5 is filtration. Because we want to work with drip irrigation, the used water must be very clean. We will be using a natural filtration system employing the groundlayers in between our ‘swimming pool’ and the lake.

With an army of fathers, gardeners and engineering students digging such a large hole advances well. Till the moment the pump dies and you find yourself standing in 70cm of water.

To see if al our theoretical calculations make any sense, it’s alway nice to see working systems comparable to our design. This week we visited one of the largest educational farms in the north of Benin. We saw dripline systems with water towers small and big. And working sprinkler systems with water towers of the same height as ours, hooray!!! After all the doubts people had in Belgium about our calculations it’s nice to see that they are definitely not unreasonable.

There is however also some negative news to share, last week we heroically shared that we ordered our pump. This week the pump arrived at the shop, and it was not what we ordered. Apparently you cannot just read model number, I mean who uses a model number when ordering a pump? However they managed to get the right brand, at least that’s something? After repeatedly explaining the importance of a model nummer, we reordered the pump. A few days later they told they were unable to find it, unless shipped from Europe. Currently we are contacting other vendors and looking for other alternative pumps, but as explained previously this research doesn’t advance as quickly as in Europe.

Last week we made our first steps in discovering in this new world without the help of travel agency frère Pierre. We walked to the city centre of Parakou and went to the international market. Noise, people, smells, colors,… We searched all the necessary ingredients for a typical belgian meal. Beef stew, french fries and beer! And yeah the fathers loved our meal! Our belgian ‘jour de fête’ became the event of the week!

Our second trip was more a tourist adventure. A classic pool-hanging-swimming-time…

To make us even more at home, we bought traditional outfits. This means, you buy the fabric you want and search for a tailor. At the tailor all the clothes had to be redone, because he had taken the wrong measurements. In the end it fitted perfectly and on Sunday we proudly went to the mass in our new outfit!

Well, now you’re up to date.

For more pictures and adventures, have a look at the blog of the other team in Benin (it’s in Dutch however).

A la prochaine

Simon & Ona