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By Olly, a MBP Kianjavato Volunteer

The rainy season proper has now begun. Each night it rains – sometimes lightly in bursts, sometimes lightly all night, sometimes in breathtakingly heavily in bursts, and sometimes breathtakingly heavily all night. This latter combination happened last weekend, with the result that the large river flowing all through this area was engorged to the point of being 10 or 12 foot higher than normal. Thus swollen, it swallowed up the bridge we use to get to work each day. When we arrived at the site on Monday morning, we found the river now lower and a little calmer, but the bridge had disappeared. The two metal cages filled with stones, placed in an obviously unsuccessful attempt to protect the bridge when it was originally built, and each weighing at least a tonne, had been moved several meters downstream.




Returning the next day, this time armed with planks, we made a makeshift bridge and wobbled our way across. Crossing a bridge one plank wide above water filled with faeces isn’t, at the best of times, all that easy. Complicating matters further was the fact that Mary and I have to cycle home from work, and that our bikes needed to be on the far side of the river. Further, the bridge itself needed to be on the far side of the river, to avoid our precious planks being washed away.

This meant that…


…We first had to cross…


…then carry the bikes over the planks…


…before carrying the first plank and dragging that one across too..

All terribly exciting, as I’m sure you’ll agree. Nothing more exhilarating than the threat of cholera at 6 in the morning…

Within a few days, a more substantial replacement had been built. However, just after it was completed, a more substantial rain cloud appeared, releasing over 7 inches of rain in less than 10 hours. Once again the bridge was washed away; though this time some enterprising FOFIFA worker had tied it to the concrete section with metal wire, meaning it didn’t go too far. Combined with some bamboo poles and a couple of felled trees, another make-shift bridge was formed.




Across this we all tottered, as nothing trivial as hundreds of tons of torrenting water could stop us getting to our lemurs…

The waters have now receded, and the bridge repositioned to the position a bridge should be in, with both sides attached more thoroughly. This new set-up has yet to be tested by heavy rain; we have our fingers crossed it will survive!


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