Tag Archives: water project

Water, water everywhere (well almost!)

Last year I attended the inauguration of one of the water supplies successfully developed by Testigo Africa in Oltapesi, Tanzania. It was a privilege and pleasure to be part of the celebration, having seen for myself the impact of the drought three years earlier.  I travelled with Tracey Sawyer (the Director of the charity), her soon-to-be husband Emanuel plus her family from Australia. We stayed at the simple but very hospitable Tembo Guesthouse in Longido and it was a fantastic opportunity to see the changes Testigo Africa had helped implement since my previous visit.

Impact of the drought in 2009

Impact of the drought in 2009

We travelled to the site in a four-wheel drive, packed to the gunnels with Masai villagers of all shapes, sizes and ages – I wasn’t sure we’d manage to navigate the rutted, dusty route loaded down as we were, but Tracey’s latest acquisition “Old Red” was more than equal to the task. As we drew up near the water tank, and what seemed like dozens of villagers piled out of the jeep, we realised that a group of warriors had gathered to dance (the Adumu) in celebration. It’s awe inspiring to watch these tall, slim and extremely fit men jump so high – each taking turns as the others chant, laugh and joke with each other. Everyone has a go – even Tracey’s dad, who gamely tries to emulate the height of the warriors. The women watch too, then later perform their own dance – equally energetic – full of giggles and shy glances to the audience.

There follows many (many!) speeches, each translated into English, Swahili and Masai to ensure that everyone understands. It’s mainly (of course) the men who talk … yet both charities involved in this project are led by women and one of the main drivers for providing the water supply is to help the women here. It is they who walk miles every day to ensure their families have water – they bear the brunt of drought and the lack of clean, fresh water – so I’m delighted to see two of the women come forward and express their gratitude to Testigo Africa. Namnyak speaks of the close friendship she has with Tracey, developed during her years of involvement with Longido, and explains how much the water supply means to her and the other women. It’s very moving.

Then, as no Masai celebration would be complete without the ritual slaughter and roasting of a goat or two, we follow the men to a clearing where various parts of goat are being roasted over open fires. Soft drinks are shared round and everyone tucks in, although the Masai women are not invited to this part of the ceremony. I manage to politely nibble at some of the offerings but freshly slaughtered meat is fairly tough and I’m not that sure what the pieces of offal are …!

As foreigners, we don’t count as women and are allowed to eat with the men. It’s a very different experience being a woman in this part of the world and not one I’d care for. The women however are strong and determined, the backbone of their families and it’s good to know that the fundraising efforts of charities like Testigo can ease their load, even a little.

Celebrations at Oltapesi, Tanzania.

Celebrations at Oltapesi, Tanzania. Clockwise from top: the women sit near the tank during the speeches; the warriors perform the Adumu, soft drinks all round; a view of the speeches; Tracey and Emanuel in front of the pump house.

Exhibiting …

Busy week!  Been framing images for an exhibition in December at The Hawth in Crawley – printing photos, cutting mounts and designing posters.  Mainly fun travel images that people might want to buy as Christmas gifts or even for themselves …. here’s hoping!  😉

Steve McDonald Photography will also be exhibiting  …. see his work on Flickr here.

But I’m also taking the opportunity to exhibit some of the images associated with Testigo Africa’s water project.  It’s a chance to encourage people to support the project or to think about how easy life is for us in terms of our access to water or to just enjoy looking at the work as they wander about the foyer before or after the show they have come to see.

Photography can be so many things.  It may be a personal record …. perhaps documentary or photojournalism trying to make a change …. stunning art for pure pleasure …. just fun to share on Facebook or Twitter; it’s whatever you want it to be.  There’s no need for snobbery about the proliferation of images in our world; we should see it as a privilege that everyone (virtually) has access to equipment that makes a picture.  There is such joy in having images of our lives easily accessible – not in a dusty box hidden in the attic.  I love it!

Do come along to The Hawth if you’re in the area … we have very reasonable prices!]

Tracey Sawyer of Testigo Africa

Tracey Sawyer, Director of Testigo Africa.

“My love and passion for travel has meant that my CV is full of gaps between jobs!  Over 80 countries later, the gaps became longer and longer as my idea of adventurous travel started to include lengthy stays in places where the people touched my heart. One of those places is Longido village in Tanzania. I first visited Tanzania in 2004 when I was on safari, and I discovered that much as I loved seeing the African animals, it was the Masai who really captured my imagination. Four months later I returned to Tanzania to witness a coming of age ceremony in Longido, and that’s when Namnyak and I became great friends. I now have my own mud hut next to Namnyaks, and it’s my friendship with her that has inspired me to respond to their request for help in a water project by giving up my career as a lawyer to make the project happen for the village so I can give back to these amazing people.”

Testigo Projects Inc, a not-for-profit incorporated association works at a grass roots level on long-term sustainable development projects that empower the communities in which they’re undertaken and educate the world about their culture through project involvement, publications and documentary films.

Find out more: www.testigoafrica.org