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May 10, 2001 Akha Weekly Journal

Heat and Fish Heads

Dear Friends:

My normal email system has been off line for a month but back on line now.

The weather is hot here, some rain, but very hot this year, more than any of the ten years I have been here. Many wells are dry. None of the ones I built.

The Thai Burma border war rattles on, all using it to some end. Nothing here in Maesai of late but the bridge we consider permamently closed.

A large truck is a purchase project here. Dreams and help here run on money, not vapor, you know the story will say no more.

The large truck is for hauling by 4 wheel drive, gravel, sand, cement, fruit trees, coffee and tea plants, and any other items we need into the most remote villages year around. Might even include rice for some villages.

By the way, that reminds me. I finally got the cement trailer here finished and took it out to the first job, which was to lay some concrete at a project that is the core of a coffee and tea plantation effort for a village in danger of forestry, those people with the yellow teeth.

Anyway, it goes like this. I start the puppy up and with a pile of gravel and sand and concrete waiting nearby it takes 15 men to keep up with the machine as I load the materials in bucket by bucket that they rapidly feed me. Five men loading to me, ten men hauling away the fresh cement. Not bad. We laid down some real concrete. Of these men I will take several with me to villages to do water pads and water resevoirs, hauling in the trailer, the sand, gravel and cement that we need, plus rebar, for each project.

The fish well project is in the wrap up stage I hope, still much digging to do, rather a big hole in the ground.

I can not completely communicate the poverty in the villages.

Well, let me put it this way. I took up a bunch of dried fish for the house where I was staying. We ate, ten of us, two six inch fish per meal.

They didn't want to eat any more than that as there would be not to eat after I left.

I saw one of the girls carrying out a banana leaf.

I asked the mother where she was going.

She said that she was taking the fish heads to the neighbors who had been eating them all for the last year.

The fish heads are an inch and a half long.

Matthew


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