I Thought the Bats had Deserted Us

June 19, 2012

In March, after dusk, they swooped in and out of our tukuls, all stealth and speed, eating the bugs before they could get us. It was easy to see they knew what they were doing, their radar never wrong. When I used to stay on the JDF Lost Boys Clinic compound, the bats darted around us as we sat outside the dining room. The wind whistled beneath their wings. 

But now, in June, at the ASAH School, the bats aren’t so prevalent, though we have plenty of flying bugs for them to eat. Last night, my door open, the light out except for my computer screen, a lone bat visited, like old times. I almost hated to close the door.

I’m beginning to like the cocoon. The net over my bed is a filmy pale green with a pale pink tie. Now that I’ve figured out how to drape it so I can sit up and read, or type on this IPad which lights the net in an eerie manner, I’m quite comfy. 

Catching up on business: our 5000 L water tank which arrived from Uganda a year ago with a large puncture – in the shape of a thumb and forefinger sized “7,” was repaired on set up on its platform last fall. The repairs held for a while, then failed. Zablone and his assistant “Toy” (that probably isn’t the correct spelling – they’re both Kenyan – few Sudanese have skills in plumbing, electrical, building, etc.) have repaired it repeatedly with epoxy and pieces of plastic. They empty the tank. Toy climbs inside, Zablone on the outside. 

When I arrived this June, the tank was leaking badly, requiring refilling twice a day instead of every three days with the normal use – twelve girls, five staff, and myself living onsite. They fixed it again. Now we are waiting to see if we can use a loaner – an asset left behind by another NGO. It’s final resting place is in dispute, the county government having “seized,” though not taken possession of these assets. By rights, they should go to the JDF clinic. If all turns out all right, they’ll loan us the tank until we can get a new one after the rainy season, or find a more permanent type of repair.

On the Maintenance To Do list for the compound:
1. Tukul repair: Taking down the lovely fabric lining the walls and ceilings, knocking off the termite soil. Painting the wood with anti-termite solution. Replastering the adobe inside and out where it has been damaged by rain or just plain use. Sometimes it simply falls off in chunks. Replacing the fabric on the walls and ceilings. Touching up the white and blue paint on the outside of the tukuls.
2. Adding a door to the iron sheet storage building that was added to our temporary iron sheet kitchen.
3. Adding a concrete apron around the new two room building, which includes one room for accommodation and one room for the office. Tiling the office floor with the tile leftover from the toilets and showers. Finishing the windows. Staining the mahogany doors.
4. Putting new plumbing parts on some of our fixtures. Some of the  parts we installed originally were procured by an “experienced” logistics guy who worked for IRD, the NGO that is now gone. The parts are low quality and aren’t holding up well. 
5. Continuing to develop our large garden where we are raising greens, ground nuts, maize, watermelon, okra, beans, and other goodies.
6. Our new tailor, just hired, will get our sewing machines running and start teaching the girls to mend, sew, and tailor clothing.
7. Figure a way to keep, Chill, our gazelle, initially raised by Andrew and Miriam Mara, and now devoted to our matron, Daruka, out of the garden. She’s particularly fond of the groundnuts (peanuts).

Stuff I’ve been doing with the girls at night:
1. Showing them ASAH videos on my computer. They love to see themselves.
2. Making and showing slideshows of the pictures I’ve taken of them since I arrived, of my family, and such. There will be more slideshows to come. I’ve pictures from all my visits going back to 2007. I’ve identified some of our girls in those pictures from five years ago, when they were pretty little.
3. Fetching a magnifying makeup mirror so that Martha Ayen could get the bug out of her eye, and being treated to giggles, guffaws, and chortles, as they moved their heads from side to side, and around, drawing the mirror in close and pushing it away. It was a hot potato in their hands and made the trip around the twelve of them five or six times in fifteen minutes. 

It rained during the day, and in the evening, I swear the frogs were calling out “Globe Hold,” not that that means anything, but it sounded very clear, deep and low but enunciated. 

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