We’ve been building for about nine days and we can proudly say that we’ve come a long way. Four solar dryers are standing and the only thing they need are the last metal sheet installed and all of the wiring put in place. All of the drying boxes are also close to being finished. We’ve shipped some computer fans in a box from the Netherlands, but unfortunately, the ship was delayed and these fans and the wiring haven’t arrived yet in the Gambia. We’ve managed to finish the solar dryer as much as possible and once the last parts arrive, they need only be installed.
Building takes place at the compound of a local family in Ndokey, all including three wives and over a dozen children. It all starts with a long bike ride to the village, where each day we are welcomed with a lot of enthusiasm. After the warm welcome, we continue with drilling, sawing, gluing, screwing or any other job that needs to be done that day. During the work, we often get offered a glass of green tea – a sweet concoction of bitter Chinese green tea, a bit of water and an amount of sugar that will make your dentist turn in his grave – to help us through the day. A lot of kids that come to watch us do our job, are sitting all around us and sometimes help us with some of the chores. During lunch we get invited to eat with the family, Gambian style, and after filling our stomachs we finish up with the last tasks before we depart and make our bike ride home in the blazing African sun.
A few days back we discussed the future of the solar dryer with the people of Ndokey. We gave them the assignment to think about a committee who will be responsible for the solar dryer and they will start to devise a set of rules regarding the maintenance and usage. We’ve also let them taste a few pieces of dried mango to demonstrate to them what good things await. The villagers reacted enthusiastically and we hope this will promise progress for the next few weeks.