Its been two months since my last report. Then, the situation was not all very positive. ll kinds of problems loomed at the horizon. Luckily I have been able to solve all and at present the garden is operational.
The Chef-de-village has signed the contract stating that the grounds are for the garden and the garden alone for a minimum period of ten years, of course with extension of again ten years.
I have placed the fence but came short about 40 meters so had to buy two roles of expensive fence in Manantali. The water connection is finished. I placed 8 water tabs. Had to have the plumber come back 8 times before I was happy with it, but now its all functional and there is water in all of the garden.
Placed the gate in the fence. Placed it so that the gate itself will close automatically so no sheep, cows or donkeys can sneak in. They will eat the whole garden in a matter of a few hours.
After this it was hard to divide the area into 45 patches, but solved the jigsaw puzzle. Some are bigger then others because these are huge rocks underneath a few, so gave them more space to cultivate. Marked every patch with four stakes and some rope and gave them all a number. Then thought of a good plan to give the numbers to the different family, without favouritism and arguments. But this is Mali, and corruption is everywhere. So could not escape the giving of a good place for the village chief, and also gave Boly the place he wanted.
The rest of the numbers I deveided under the other families at random. Also gave every family some garins to plant. Tomato, cucumber, carrot, cabage , aubergine, union and ocra, so they could all have a flying start. And then, when all numbers had been distributed, I was one patch short.
I was working from a list of families provided to me buy the village themselves but apparently the village chief had taken up two places instead of one, and one lady was without a place to cultivate. By coincidence (or was it) this was the mother of a boy with who I had a row about stealing something from me a few weeks before so I let her be for a while.
The day after distributing many women where enthusiastically working on their patch, watering it to make the soil soft and cleaning the weeds and small stones . I saw that they had brought big buckets to fill at the tap, to carry it to their patch and throw it with force. Not really an ideal solution so I bought 50 meter of garden hose and attached a few meter on every tap so they could spray the water
At the end of January most patches look good. Many have planted okra, some beans and cassava, all looks healthy.
Some work remains. I have to attach the fence to the ground in between the posts, so no animals can push the fence up to slip underneath. The material is there and ready, just need to find the time to do it.
Also I had reserved a place in a corner to start an organic waste place to create compost, need to put a small piece of fence there. Shall finish these small items in the next few weeks, Ins Allah of course.
Then the garden is finished for 100% and we can be proud we accomplished this.
There is some money left over, about 400.000 CFA (590 euro). This money keep to create a small shed in the future, when needed. If not needed, the money goes to the next project.
For the lady who was left without a patch, I found a solution. Gave her the place reserved for the shed, since the shed can be built just outside the fence as well.
All in all I am very happy with the result. I expect the women to cultivate enthusiastically until the rainy season starts in juli-august. Then attention will diminish since all hands are needed to plant the crop. After the rainy season some women will drop out. At least, that is the experience from other garden builders. In the contract it states that if somebody leaves there patch empty for two months, I have the right to give it to another.
Also in the contract it states that all women will have to pay 100 francs every month for maintenance and for paying the water bill. This is not a lot of money, but I have told they would not need to pay for this in the first few months. If this money accumulates, we can consider increasing the garden, buying seeds or doing other useful things with the money.
Again, I am very happy with the result so far, as those people should be who have contributed. You have made a difference in the life of some very poor families and hopefully we have increased the health of all.
If you have questions or want to say something, please do not hesitate to drop me a line. In a few months I shall give you an update about the state of the garden.
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