After a month of digging and after the pump was installed, I’m ready to call this project finished. I hoped to take photos and tell all my facebook friends of what has been accomplished. But something is strangely missing. As projects go, in Uganda this one seemed relatively drama free! …and I would like to keep it that way. I don’t take photos. I refrain from telling anyone because generally, that is the Pandora’s box for inviting trouble and drama of the worst sort. I do not want to revisit that village gathering (of 15 years ago) on our property again.
Before the project is completely complete. I make Stephen sleep in the car that is parked next to the well. I booby trap the well trap door and put an motion sensor near it. We cover the well with a slight mound of dirt. We hide it.
I hold my breath.
Oooop. Wait! Glad I didn’t hold my breath too long. Here comes the drama.
Two short weeks after the completion of the well. My husband goes to pump water and no water comes out of the well. He makes his phone calls. The well guys point fingers at the pump guy and the pump guys point fingers at the well guys. Ultimately, it is decided that the well guys need to come out and figure out if there is water in the well. After some heated discussion, the well guys discover that their well diggers didn’t dig as far as they were supposed to.
A week later, I get a knock on my gate one Sunday afternoon while Stephen is not home. I go out to the gate and I tell Gracie and Glory to bring the gate key. Three men on a motorcycle are there. They say they are from the well company. Somehow they know the well hasn’t served us well. That there is a problem with it. Gracie brings the key. I insert it into the lock and realize it is the wrong key and that it won’t open the lock.
I have a second thought, “Don’t open the gate! Letting these guys in is not a good idea!”
Gratefully. I tell my daughter she has brought the wrong key. I return to the house to call Stephen. I call him and tell him that there are 3 well guys waiting to get into the gate. Meanwhile I see him returning from where he has been. He allows them to enter and in 2 minutes flat they have rushed to where the well is and in 3 more minutes they have opened the well and have pulled out the pump.
There is a lot of talking. There is a lot of blaming as stories are told and promises are made. Later the men leave, as I ask Stephen what is going on. He tells me that these men were here to discuss repairing the well. They said that they had broken away from their boss and were willing to dig the well the right way for us. They had separated from their boss because they had fought about payment and because they were not being fed which was part of the arrangement for working for 3-4 weeks.
Later, Stephen called the company owner who he had signed the original contract with. He reached him after some time by phone. Again there was a lot of animated talking. There was a lot of blaming, more promises made. Later, I ask Stephen what is going on. He tells me that the men who came are thieves. He recognized the two workers as those who had been working on digging the well but the third man was not someone we knew but registered with the local police as someone who steals well pumps.
My heart sinks. My mind goes into overdrive. I begin to think of all the ways in which we can engineer booby traps and other ways to prohibit someone from stealing the pump and compromising the well. It isn’t helpful that Stephen is also rattled. He hides the pump under lock and key. (I’m not telling where!) He frets as he recounts the many stories of stolen pumps in the immediate neighborhood. The national forestry place across the road–it has a secure perimeter fence and hired security and they had a secure locked structure built on top of their well. Yet they had their pump stolen. The relative who owns the local well in Kabembe lost her pump a second time in a theft attempt. Both thieves botched their attempted heist but in the process of stealing the pump, they dropped it into the well.
By the next morning I am exhausted. I have in my brain 5 schematic options for securing the well. They are all more expensive and more trouble than I’d like to pay. I won’t tell you what the plans are but they require my own engineering and building abilities and they would require dismissing any workers present for a day or two.