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The problem, the solution, what’s next

The problem:

Kigoma villagers use wood from surrounding forests to build huts and make charcoal to fuel the fires that cook food and boil drinking water. In the case of the bleedwood tree, sap is even used for medicinal purposes; it is believed to cure numerous ailments, including headaches in people and mastitis in cows.

As trees are cut down, no new crop of trees is being planted to replace them. With no trees to hold the soil in place, each rainfall washes tons of topsoil into Lake Tanganyika, muddying the water so badly that fishing, the area’s second largest industry, has suffered greatly.

Its port, the largest on Lake Tanganyika, is often closed to large boats because of severe silting.

“It’s a shame,” Caldwell said. “Water – being the most precious commodity – where there may not be any for several months, is sometimes treated like some sort of a disease.”

In addition to the dams, Landon Young and Peter Caldwell helped build a fellowship ring next to a church in Kigoma, Tanzania.

Photo by Paul Zdroik

In addition to the dams, Landon Young and Peter Caldwell helped build a fellowship ring next to a church in Kigoma, Tanzania.

The solution:

Peter Caldwell and Landon Young joined forces with Trees for Tanzania, a nonprofit organization based at Purdue with the goal of helping to alleviate poverty through forestation.

“Our project was to design a public space that would serve as an example for methods of erosion control and demonstrate the value of trees in an urban infrastructure,” Young said.

Along two drainage ditches, a series of dammed rain gardens was built of stone, gravel and soil. Two of the dams were built as pedestrian walkways for villagers to move easily from one side to the other.

With the help of local labor, Caldwell and Young also built a “fellowship ring” adjacent to a Kigoma church to be used for sermons, weddings, community gatherings or educational sessions.

On their final day in Kigoma, Lowell Wertz, the director of Joy in the Harvest, invited about 50 locals to the site. Some were workers and some were just passersby.

“He explained what it was we did and what it meant to the long-term future of the people who lived there,” Caldwell said. “That’s when it hit me, that what we did meant a lot to a lot of people.”

What's next:

After one completed project, the only question seems how big will World Help Solutions become?

When it came time to test one of the dams, Landon Young (far right) had plenty of youthful support.

When it came time to test one of the dams, Landon Young (far right) had plenty of youthful support.

“I have an ever-growing stack of business cards from people who want to collaborate with us,” Caldwell said.

Added Young: “But what is really important to sustaining our project is that we find people who are willing to provide funding for whatever project we choose to pursue.”

Caldwell said their immediate goal is to complete another project next summer. “We may go back to Tanzania. That really makes sense since we now know the territory.”

Wherever they go, it will be the second step in a project they hope will be the beginnings of a lifetime commitment to service learning.

“In 10 years, I’d like to be coordinating 20 different university projects around the world,” said Caldwell.

But Young has bigger plans.

“I’d like to do the same thing, not for 20 universities but for 200 universities.”

Contact Caldwell at pcaldwel@purdue.edu
Contact Young at lgyoung@purdue.edu


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