17/8/14 I will try to make use of a very hot late afternoon to set down some impressions from this year’s Planting Together Campaign. In a word: challenging.
First, it was a fall-off of attendance with several teams that were for sure in April becoming no-shows in August. A tragedy knocked the wind out of our Mali team, and instead of 40 people, only four were able to come. A Chilean girl, full of faith and dreams for Africa, after 40 hours of flight, had visa problems at the Dakar airport only to be returned without even setting foot on Senegalese soil. Then the weather took over and decided not to rain, which delayed our team’s departure to the planting zone by 4 days, generating extra housing and food expenses of 1200€, breaking the back of our already stretched budget. With no rain to plant, we decided to send only the medical team for the first three days, with myself as driver and Kindra as food coordinator (thank God!) and translator for our Spanish nurse We rented what seemed to be a reasonable 4×4 vehicle from a friend in Thiés. Lessee… the back door doesn´t open, instead of a/c there seems to be a hole in the firewall which pours engine heat into the front seats adding an extra 10 degrees to the 36-38ºC afternoon swelter. The right passenger window is held up by a rope, the driver doorlock has disappeared into the door frame, and halfway up from Thiés, we discovered a leak in the gas tank which left about 30 liters of gas along the highway. We got it fixed but it pushed our arrival back late into the wee hours of the morning. Adrenaline was high as I peered through the cracked windshield, eating the dust of Dr. Soh’s air-conditioned rig as he followed GPS through the wilderness, dodging thorny Acacias and trying not to pulverize 2 meter high anthills along the way. (read entire article…)