Sunday, November 27, 2011

A Fishing Story

I knew that Friday would be an interesting day from the moment I heard chanting voices as I walked down the dirt path on my way to work.
“Do you hear that?” I asked Claire.
“Yeah. Is it coming from the center?”
And sure enough, from our vantage point on the top of the hill we could see a crowd gathering at the fence near the fishpond.
“Looks like they started fishing already.”

We continued down the hill and across the road. Locals had stopped their morning routines to come watch the action. When we came close enough, I could see our boys covered in mud, digging through what appeared to be silt on the ground. When they saw us, they proudly presented their trophies: fish who were still wiggling their tails as they struggled to get free.

Some nice tilapia.

It was organized chaos on the bank of the fishpond. Boys were grabbing fish out of a net that had just been dragged aground, tossing them into barrels, taking them out of the barrels, gutting them and leaving the entrails on the ground, and weighing them. Charles (EDD agronomist, who traveled to Burundi with us) had a book where he was keeping track of the kilograms of fish collected.

Getting ready for round 2

We arrived just in time to see the final pass across the pond with the net. A few boys jumped in the pond to pull the far end of the net across. Once it was fully submerged, the groups of boys on either side of the end began to chant again, pulling the net in unison across the pond. When they reached the bank, other boys helped to pull it ashore. Amongst the muck and grass that had tangled in the net were a few fish flopping around freely.

Claire vs. Mr. Fish. He wriggled free a second later.

Hardy and I. That fishing lesson at summer camp years ago prepared me well.

The fishpond is one of the ways the center generates income. Two or three times a year, they harvest the fish and then sell them to local buyers. The pond contains tilapia and a type of catfish. In all, the boys collected 60 kilograms of fish that day which was a bit less than projected. Projects such as this are very important as the center strives to become self-sufficient. Right now, they rely heavily on donations and in times of economic crisis it’s difficult to obtain donors. 

Too small. Throw them back!

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