Clearing the Jungle

Jungle is thick. I had an image of jungle in my mind; it was something like the scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark when Indy is running from the natives. But that’s not jungle. Jungle is like a wall of life that surrounds on all sides and above. If you cut a path through it, the strange thing is how it’s more of a tunnel, as the jungle still comes together above your head.

Today, walking through a ‘path’ I was amazed at the heat and humidity. Unlike shade, which you go into the jungle the temperature rises. Moisture comes out of the ground and the leaves and humidifies the area to a point where it’s almost suffocating.

For $3.00, a Congolese man must cut a line two meters wide and fifty meters long. The more men, walk into that line and they are paid $3.00 to cut out their own 100sq meter chunk of jungle. The work takes them from early in the morning until two or three in the afternoon, all this time hacking away with machetes in the hot, humid cave of jungle.

What’s unbelievable is that with a hundred men or so, we’re able to clear vast amounts of land in just a few days (4-5 Hectares in two days). But it will still require some extra days for cutting trees, burning, and then clearing out the leftover wood. All-in-all, an impressive feat when you compare what was once there with what is left, and all by the power of human labor, not machines.

Here is a recently cut line in the jungle where we’re checking the land to see if it’ll be good for growing vegetables:

Here’s what the land will look like after clearing, burning, and removing sticks but before all the stumps are taken out:

Here’s a woman removing some of the stick from the recently burned area to take them home and use them for firewood (We allow that as it’s free labor):

The final goal is more vegetable gardens like these:

And here I am coming out of a line that was cut:


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