Saturday, February 23, 2013

Can YOU Dig It?

An airstrip here in Mibu is something that the people here have dreamt of for many years now. About a year ago, the Mibu people decided they wanted to set out to finish the airstrip project they'd started so many years ago. The length of the airstrip was cleared, we measured it out, checked to see if the little strip of land allocated to the project has the appropriate length and grade and laid out the centerline. From there a map was made depicting areas that needed to be dug down and areas that need building up. It's a HUGE task requiring much labor. But the people want this airstrip, and to be honest, so do we.

The biggest and most obvious benefits of this airstrip for the Mibu community is a more consistent means of selling their coffee, and at a much fairer price. Currently the Mibus work all year on their coffee, only to be faced with the question after harvest of whether or not they'll even get paid. And if they do get paid, it's often not even half of what coffee is normally sold for. It's a rather hopeless situation, especially when faced with whether or not you want to hike over 11,000 kilograms of coffee on your backs, two days down the mountain! Other benefits include the possibility of selling their oranges (domestically available oranges are a rare find in this country and the Mibus have a huge harvest of them) and also increased ability to get seriously ill people to a hospital in town. There's no doubt an airstrip is a huge asset to the community. It's only a matter of actually building it. Again, it's a huge task.

Just the other day, we calculated that the people here have managed to move 300-400 tons of dirt in the last couple months! An astounding amount of work done with just 5 shovels, some bush knives, two heavy iron bars for digging out rock, and a whole lot of water. That's right... water! The Mibu people built two dams near the top of the area they're working right now. Each dam fills with around 3000 gallons of water or more. While it's filling with the runoff from the rain we get almost every day, people are digging and filling a ditch with loose dirt and stones. When full, the dammed up water is released, powerfully coursing it's ditched path down the mountain taking maybe 10-15 tons of dirt at a time and depositing it at the bottom, in a retaining wall. This method builds up areas quickly and with much less effort than manually lugging the stuff down.

While this airstrip, and the responsibility of building it, is entirely the Mibu people's, we support it as members of the community ourselves and are committed to providing some help while being sure not to overstep our bounds and making it our project. As part of this commitment Sun Valley Community Church has agreed to send a small team of people here to Mibu to work alongside the folks here in Mibu for about 10 days, helping carry out the plan that the Mibus have devised. It's a great chance to support their efforts, and also to be an encouragement to them. The details of the trip are still being ironed out. But so far it's looking like the trip is going to happen the last couple weeks of July.

While we may not be certain of all the details yet, there is one detail we are certain of... We need volunteers! We need people like you who want to invest some of their time and labor helping the community and the church in Mibu. Would you consider being a part of this team? It would be a great opportunity, say for a father and his capable son(s) to work together, or a single person, or a married couple. Whether you're younger, or older, maybe God has something here for you! It's a great chance not only to help with a real material need, but also to interact with the believers here with whom the people of Sun Valley Community Church have a long and fruitful partnership history. Can YOU dig it?

If you're even remotely interested be sure to take advantage of the chance this Sunday (tomorrow) to ask more questions about the trip. Look for Theresa Board and Lori Bastian out on the courtyard at the Sun Valley Community Church, Tempe campus sometime Sunday morning and get all your questions answered. Or if you're unable to make it Sunday morning, you can call Theresa at 480-299-8864.

(In the bigger picture, up toward the top of the hill is the double dam. Leading down from that is the ditch where excavated dirt is thrown. Toward the bottom are the retaining walls which fill with the dirt. In the other picture, a closer view of the retaining walls filling with dirt.)

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