Benin: Day 1 and 2
Near the end of our 2021 Cycling 4 Water ride, the thought surfaced, “Wouldn’t it be great to go to Benin, West Africa and see some of what our cross-country rides in 2014 and 2021 accomplished.” Through the generosity of so many, funds were raised for over 100 wells.
That thought has turned in to reality! After 35 hours of travel, our crew of 11 arrived in Benin on February 3. Our group includes Lyndon and Monique representing GAiN, Rob and I from our Cycling 4 Water team plus 7 others who support the work of GAiN.
After what felt like a very short night of sleep, breakfast and orientation, we joined the Benin GAiN team to build the well pad in a village outside the city of Cotonou. Leaving the highway, we turned onto a dirt road which became progressively more path like along the way. It almost seemed impossible that this village of mostly thatched roofed huts could exist so close to the modern city of Cotonou. Our task was outlined by the well pad forms positioned around the well casing.
Our GAiN crew quickly divided us into groups with specific assignments which included preparing the rebar, mixing the sand, gravel and cement and setting the forms into position. The cement was prepared with nothing other than shovels, on the ground!
This was hard work especially since the temperature had passed the 30 degree mark and at least half of our Canadian team are 65 plus. As the final touches were being added to the pump pad, some of the villagers assembled.
Singing, led by the pastor’s wife, created a joyful atmosphere filled with anticipation of clean water this well would soon deliver to the village of approximately 400.
Yes, this was hard work but you may remember early on in the preparation for cycling we said the same thing… “Wow this will be hard but it would be a lot harder to watch your children die because they do not have clear water.”