Saturday, October 17, 2009

Umuganda (Cleaning Day)

Every last Saturday of the month is fixed as the nationwide cleaning day, normally from morning till noon. People are encouraged to participate in this communal activity though not compulsory. I have not contributed any effort so far.

Our client had a fantastic thought and organized an Umuganda today to help a school expansion construction. All the contractors were “invited” (“summoned”) to participate this special occasion. We, a crowd of approx. 200 persons gathered at 7am at their office, but departed an hour later… Every participant prepared their own tools – shovel, hoe, digger. No one organized the works at site but we carried out the works spontaneously where necessary. We were digging and plowing the soil, transferring heap of stones. I had not touched the shovel for more than 10 years, this “hard” work exhausted me after ½ hr. The thought of a casual labour’s daily salary of EUR 1.80 flashed over my mind… tough life for them!!

The atmosphere was light, we made some harmless stupid jokes. It provided me a platform to meet new friends and acquaintances. A videocam recorded the hard effort of the Ministers and VIP, though they joined us much later.

At 11am, the activities stopped and we were directed to a restaurant. Ministers gave some short speeches. An anthem of Umuganda was sung (nice song). No food was prepared but just a bottle of soft drink.

I really appreciate the effort they are contributing on their land.

Am tired now… muscles sore…