Repairing Our Well

In my last post about the rainy season, I told you that the support over our well had fallen down. I’m not much of a physicist, but I think I’m right in saying that every pulley you have on a rope system halves the effort need to pull an object. (If I’m wrong, I’m sure someone will correct me! So when the pulley isn’t working, it’s much harder to pull the bucket up from our well, which is around 16 feet deep! And when all your water for drinking, washing, cooking, laundry, and watering comes from the well, it’s surprising how much water you need to pull! (If you want to read about how I got my drinking water clean last year, check out my post about it.)

So on Lamin’s return, one of the first jobs on his very long list of maintenance tasks was to repair the well. And it wasn’t just a case of the sticks falling down – the termites had munched through them, leaving them looking like powdery honeycomb.

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An Alternative to the Throwaway Culture

About 25 years ago I read a book called ‘Future Shock’. The author argued that the pace of change was accelerating so much throughout the 20thCentury, compared with all the previous centuries, that we could not cope with it very well, and that this was made worse by what he called a ‘disposable society’. In other words, we had lost sense of the importance of looking after things, and we threw things away far too easily. The week I read it, I saw the first disposable razors on sale, which seemed to confirm his view.
I have been thinking about this a lot in the Gambia, because I am constantly amazed by Gambian ingenuity and the way in which they solve problems and recycle things, rather than throw them away and start again. So I though I would share a few examples with you – I have managed to photograph a few things, but sadly not all.
I first started thinking about this when we visited the car mechanics in Brikama, to have a roof rack made. It was fascinating to watch it being built from scratch, although a bit scary when they started drilling holes in the roof of the car to attach it! But I also wondered why Lamin put an old wheel hub in the car before we left, but all was revealed when we arrived. The mechanics added some lengths of metal, and hey presto – we had a barbeque, which has been very useful when we grill fish.
The welder attaching metal legs to the inner wheel

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