"I'm what the world considers to be a phenomenally successful man. And I've failed much more than I've succeeded. And each time I fail, I get my people together, and I say, "Where are we going?" And it starts to get better." - Calvin Trager
During our stay in Lui, we stayed in "the compound" ... a grouping of "tukals" or small mud/thatch huts that also included a latrine/shower. People who had been previously told us that we were not encouraged to leave the compound and that we would always be followed (for our own safety) if we did.
I think this is one of the big outward signs of what a difference the peace makes. It didn't take long for us to realize that there was no problem leaving the compound and going "into town" (which is pretty much just walking along the road to the collection of buildings immediately adjacent to the Cathedral and compound.) But from the stories people told, you could also tell that, during the war, it was incredibly important to have an enclosed (by fencing) place where visitors could be kept relatively safe.
Tukals are what the Moru live in (the vast majority of people in Lui and Mundri diocese are Moru. There are also Dinka, and there is some conflict between the two tribes over Dinka cattle grazing on Moru land. But just about everyone we saw was Moru and spoke the Moru language ... which is spoken throughout southern Sudan and in parts of northern Zaire and Uganda). Because the compound was experiencing a growth spurt, we were able to see tukals at various stages of construction. Emily wants to put together a "how to build a tukal" children's book! So ... for the uninitiated, here are the various stages of tukal construction:
The walls are made from clay bricks that are fired in Lui. You can also see the big bundles of the grass that grows everywhere that have been collected for the roof.
Once the walls are built and the doors and windows are framed, the construction of the roof begins. The framework is long bamboo poles that are lashed together .
The grass is then placed on and lashed to the bamboo in layers, which creates an amazingly watertight roof.
Then you have the finished product. This one was the central meeting place of the compound.
A couple other things about the tukals. First of all, the Moru people are not a tall people (especially when compared with the Dinka, who are very tall ... but even compared to what we in the West consider average height). It didn't take us long to notice that the tukals ... particularly the entrances ... were built at Moru height. It also didn't take me long to develop "tukal back" ... a condition occuring when you don't bend down far enough when entering or exiting a tukal and the end of the grass roof exfoliates your back!
At night, you learn something else ... that termites love the tukals, too. Not so much in ours, but in Emily and Lisa's tukal they reported both a crunching sound at night and then were continually covered in sawdust as the termites ate away at the bamboo framing. Ventilation in the tukals was a problem (again, by Western standards). The clay brick walls hold in heat really well (kind of like a clay oven), and the windows were small.
That said, these are great places to take shelter from the intense sun and are (we were told) almost total protection from the heavy downpours during the rainy season ... and they are literally made from what the surrounding environment provides.
Here is Reynolds and me in front of our tukal.
Inside each tukal were 2-3 beds. Even though there were no mosquitos the whole time we were there, I still kept the mosquito netting up -- mostly for the feeling of security. Also because what we did see at night were large spiders (harmless, we were told) that were attracted to the latern light. It also kept off some of the dust from munching termites.
The other building in the compound was the shower/latrine.
This building didn't have a thatched roof but one made of sheets of zinc that were brought in from Uganda, and the building had a poured concrete foundation with holes in the floor of the two latrine stalls (the two stalls in the middle).
Using the shower involved filling a pail with water and then using a cup to pour it over your body. The water drained out the back of the shower stall.
The water was brought from the borewell in big barrels using the diocesan truck and heated in a barrel over a fire. So ... if you caught it at the right time, you could have a hot shower. Mostly, though, it was so hot you didn't want one and waited until the water cooled down some.
Again, it was all very practical and worked incredibly well. But you had to change your mindset. And not just in terms of going to the bathroom in a latrine or taking a shower with a cup. You had to adjust to the reality that water was precious. The average American family uses 6000 gallons of water a month. We're used to having it come out of faucets at will and treat it like an infinite resource (which, even for us, it's not).
This is another area where growing up in Tucson really helped. One of the things I love about Tucson is that it's a community that realizes it's in the desert and tries to live that way. Growing up, I learned to take really short showers. You weren't served water in a restaurant unless you asked for it. You were asked not to water your yard during peak hours and were encouraged to use desert landscaping.
As we saw flying in, water in this area is literally life. People carry it from miles around to do their cooking and cleaning. And yet water is also the breeding ground for the insects that carry malaria and sleeping sickness (which is why they didn't want us going near the river). We knew we had to drink at least 3-4 liters of water a day just to replace what we were sweating out and avoid dehydration.
When I arrived in Ghana the first night James Sarpei greeted me with the traditional greeting ... a glass of water, because, he said, "water is life". Our time in Lui drove that home in powerful ways. It wasn't so much getting used to not having indoor plumbing ... it was developing gratitude for the water that we had, and living in a way where stewardship of water was an important part of our lives ... because we recognized that water came from a well that would one day run dry, and that even getting it to us involved much more labor than just turning on a faucet.
Next, we head out into the bush for confirmation services! Thanks for reading.
| Mike at 4/10/2005 06:51:00 AM
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