In Swahili, they say, “You have the watch, but we have the time.” This is meant to convey that while the western world runs around frantically trying to keep up with their schedule and perception of time, the East Africans don’t worry that it’s 3:23 p.m. and they have to get to a meeting in 7 minutes. We’ve somewhat fallen into this schedule of having time, but no watch: we wake up a little after the sun; we eat when we’re hungry, and we get tired when the sun sets. This is how it is outside of the large cities.
In the cities, there has been an increased trend to follow the western lifestyle from clothes to business to architecture. However, this model is not always best for everyone.
In reading Jeffrey Sachs, “The End of Poverty,” while he is not 100% correct, he did hit the nail on the head with one thing. In his book, he said that economic reforms need to be tailored to every individual country, and large international organizations and western governments cannot force a one-size-fits-all solution. Likewise, development and culture are not a one-size-fits all. Examples that thrive of the deviation from the western norm include the musical styles that you hear around the world. While Lady Gaga beats permeate the radio waves from sea to sea, there are local artists who would be on a level higher than her, as for popularity.
This mentality of tailoring modernity to local customs is something that SANA has taken into account. SANA is a the non-profit company we mentioned in the last post, which stands for Saving Africa’s NAture. In Swahili, the word “sana” roughly means “very.” If you throw it on the end of any word or phrase it intensifies it’s meaning, in the sense that “Karibu” means “welcome” but “Karibu sana” means that you are “very welcome.” When you’re expressing your sorrow for someone if they stubbed their toe, you say “pole” (pronounce poh-lay), however, if a goat pooped on their foot while you were talking, you would say, “pole sana.”
Yesterday, we were able to see some of the work that SANA is doing. In the park, between 20 and 30 km away (about an hour driving on the dirt roads, some of which are very washed out), they have acquired some land from the local village. With hopes of opening in September, the lodge will be a retreat with the idea of being a very (or sana) spiritual place connected with nature. The entire place is being built with local materials, the only non-local material is the bolts which hold up the roofs. The water will be collected from the rain, the waste from the bathroom will be turned into manure to fertilize the area around it, the soap will all be environmentally friendly and biodegradable, and more. Visitors will be required to pay a small fee to use the land (maybe a couple dollars), and that money will go back to the village that has leased the land to the lodge/retreat.
This is just one of the many projects that this organization is working on to support and preserve nature. Thankfully, they are not only working to save the forests, but they are also working with villagers to improve their livelihood and help them to understand the importance of their forests. They are also working on agricultural projects that would work to both feed families and provide a small income for the women who are growing the produce. I think this is very important, because there are so many times that we see large environmental organizations coming into an area they know very little about to save nature and whatnot, only to harm the livelihood of the people who live there. This has happened in Alaska several times and is very disappointing and disheartening. While I do love the environment, I do not like it when it comes at the cost of human lives. There is always a middle ground that can be found, but often times it gets lost in some injunction or another. SANA has successfully found this middle ground.
We were brought to this project because of our water project that works to conserve water. Our project harvests a natural supply of water without impeding on water available to plants and animals around. The ground that would have taken this water has a school built on top of it, so no worries (or omna shida) there. As for the project update, today is the last day of construction, the pipes will be connected from the gutters to the tanks, and small platforms to fill the water buckets will be made. We’re having a party tomorrow, and then leaving the village on Saturday morning.
Asante sana for reading!