Monday, November 15, 2010

My Mozambique Email Update #2

(I wrote this update email and sent it to a bunch of you, then it occurred to me that I don't have everyone's email address. So I copied it here. If you have already seen this, I'm sorry for not having new things to write about.)

Dear Family and Friends,

November marks the start of the rainy season here in Tete. Unlike the winter rains we normally experience in the States which are caused by falling temperatures, rains here accompany soaring heat. Here, the hot air rises into the atmosphere causing a rush of cooler air to be convected in from the Indian Ocean along the famous Zambezi River. Then it pours for days.

So far we have only been seeing hints of this rain. For months already, the old time Mozambicans have been forecasting that the first two weeks of November will bring the rains. Families of hippos have already begun migrating upstream along the river in anticipation of the flash floods. And the thunder clouds so far have been busy trying to bring rain in from the coast.

Still, Tete held the record this week as the hottest place in all of Africa. The thunder clouds only bring light showers that mostly evaporate before hitting the ground.

For me though, it is hard to be upset about this, because we still have much work to do before it rains. In the past few weeks we've found six potential communities that appear to have conditions that are suitable to sand dams. The challenge ahead is to to work with these communities to find right conditions, to collect river measurements, and to build community involvement and ownership of this project. The work is hard and exhausting, so I am glad for the extra time.

Mozambique when it rains (even just a bit), more than anything, feels like coming home to Hawaii. Maybe not quite the Hawaii of my youth, but perhaps it reminds me of the one of my grandfather; of the time when the morning dew still hung fresh on the leaves just as the promise that Hawaii is the land of opportunity still hung from the mouths of my ancestors. Sadly, that place exists no longer. And I have mostly experienced it only in stories. The sugarcane fields of my youth decades abandoned have all silently turned to weeds without notice. The sole remaining plantation on Kauai, Gay & Robinson, closed their sugar mill last year on Kauai to never be reopened. My grandfather too is now gone, having passed silently and bravely, surrounded by family in February this year.

The rains though always bring about the promise of growth and new life. The Mozambican desert for a few months transforms into a garden. The subsistence farmers already hard at work are now planting their fields. In a few weeks the mangoes, as if on command, will all at once become ripe and drop from their branches. And for a few months there will be food enough, I pray, for a hungry nation.

Who knows, maybe this season will also bring some part of this growth inside of me as well. As the child Christopher Robin once said in that book about a stuffed bear, “Tut tut, it looks like rain.” Thank you for sharing this with me.

Your brother,
Stephen Esaki

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