Tonight signifies the end of my role as “Acting Project Manager.”
Over the past three-and-a-half weeks while our project manager has been having meetings around the country and ordering parts for our cassava processing center, I’ve been running things from Kisangani. In this short period of time the project has been going through its largest expansion since the initial construction of the farm.
On the day I took over, we broke ground on nineteen expansion fish ponds. Using three men to dig each pond and create the dikes around them, six of the ponds have been completed with the remaining ones to be done in the next day or so.
A few days after that we began clearing 7-9 hectares of land (1 hectare = 100X100 square meters). This land is to be used for growing rice. Our workers have been cutting trees, vines, and bushes six days a week to get the land we need, and yesterday it looks like we finished the initial removal. Next week we’ll burn the field and begin clearing the wood and turn it all into seed beds.
Two weeks ago we began preparations for our initial fish harvest. This included getting a large net – and I mean LARGE! 80 meters long – a dugout canoe, and some fishermen to teach us how to harvest the fish. Yesterday we brought the fishermen out to the base to check out the fish ponds and to test out the net. We discovered that we have a few too many branches in the ponds right now, but we have a strategy in place for our actual tests next week. One of the fishermen said, after getting out of the pond, “It was like swimming through fish!”
Tonight, as a bit of a celebration, Didier and I went over to Palm Beach, a local hotel / restaurant, and we had some drinks and a decent dinner. I had some delicious pork chops and fried plantains.
Oh, and yesterday I met some kids who liked using our fish ponds a swimming pools!
So, that was my past three weeks. Development work is a lot of work, but there is some to be had as well.