When we began our workday, we knew that by the end of the day the project would be complete. That morning we also found out that during the afternoon the school would present a program to us. After lunch, our group from Stritch sat through the program while the Water Project's professional staff put the final touches on the windmill. The first portion of the program consisted of professional Tanzanian musicians performing for us. These musicians were of the Sukuma tribe of northern Tanzania. They performed the traditional music of their tribe with remarkable enthusiasm- all members of the group played instruments, danced, and sang. After a few songs from this group, student groups sang, danced, and put on a fashion show for us. Then, they had a ceremony focused solely on us. A group of four young women called us up one by one to thank us for the water we provided for them, give us a handmade card that said this, and give us each a hand-carved animal, each of which they described as beautiful. After this, we danced with the students who danced during the program. Once the dance stopped they walked around hugging us and giving thanks to us, calling many of us by name.
Shortly after that we unlashed the windmill so it could make its first revolution, and water poured freely from the faucet. Neema, the woman in charge of the school, was overjoyed, and she laughed and cried while splashing everyone in the vicinity with handfuls of water. By this time all of the students were very excited and running around to our group from Stritch saying "Thank You" again and again.
Then, we painted our names on the back of the water tank where a painter had already painted a beautiful scene of several students using this new water. After that we each planted a tree which would be watered with the help of the windmill we had just completed. I planted a guava tree, and others planted orange, mango, grape, or avocado trees. We were told these trees would produce much fruit in the years to come.
It was amazing to receive this "Thank You" from the students we helped. We could tell that the program they put together for us was very important to them and that they took a lot of time to prepare it. This made it all the more special. We gave them water, and they responded by giving us what they had- a very large amount of gratitude. After the water was turned on, one girl held my hands and said "Thank You" repeatedly, then finally said "I don't know how to thank you enough." I helped build the windmill to honor these children, but they turned around and worked to honor our group for doing so.
The day before we completed the well, we experienced sadness at seeing Tanzanians affected with HIV-AIDS. It was educational, but discouraging, because we witnessed daunting world problems of a large magnitude. I, for one, wished I knew what I could do to help. Completing the water project at the Rhema school did not change the water problem around the world, but it changed the circumstances of an entire school of children.
There are always discouraging moments when you want to solve a problem, but there are victories as well. Service seems to be a delicate balance between knowing that there will always be more work to do and knowing that every small victory counts.