Frustration, Frames, & Flour – Sunday, August 25th, 2013
Today we made an early departure in the hopes that everything at Okidi could be assembled and tested. Upon arrival at site we found ourselves in a familiar situation, waiting on Richard the contractor, or as the locals call him “Rich Man.” He did show up soon enough, and he brought a large generator as promised so that his power tools could be used to make the necessary modifications to the frame.
Apparently the miller and the huller that we commissioned to be fabricated in Kampala had been snatched up another buyer who paid in cash – the fabricator believing they could bang out a few extra machines before Richard showed up to pick up the machines. Unfortunately Richard had measured the dimensions of the old machines and the new machines were a little different, thus the base frame having to be modified on-site. So the frame modification took a couple hours.
Once the miller was positioned there was belt-fitting. There was some initial confusion as the measurement Julius and Richard had taken was in centimeters but the belt was purchased with specified dimension of inches, thus the belt was way too large. Some community members went back to get different belts, which took about an hour.
After belts were fitted, the crank was turned but loud metal-on-metal clashing sounded from the inside of the miller, so we took it apart to find most of the milling hammers were too long. This resulted in more hours of grinding work.
As the gasoline generator chugged away, many locals confused the engine sound for the sound of the changfa engine, and about 20 or 30 women showed up with big bags of cassava and maize to be milled. Though we were not ready to process any of the crops, everybody was very eager to wait for the miller to be finished to participate in the inaugural milling. After a few hours of work (and a couple of card games between the team and some locals) it was late in the afternoon, and we were ready to test the miller with cassava. Aside from small leaks in the machine where flour was escaping, the milling was a success. At this point it was 6pm and everybody from EWB and pilgrim headed back to Soroti while the community continued milling, and Richard continued to work on base frames.
Eric, Gab, and Shal