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Is There a Seminar for That?

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One of my new jobs in N’Zao is community development. I have never done this before, so all is new and exciting. The excitement reached a new level when we were trying to create—from pig manure—methane gas for cooking. I have read about this for years and attended a seminar on how to do it. During this seminar I was told to mix manure with water and fill the drum to about five inches from the top. The gas goes into an inner tube hung outside, which then feeds a small stove inside the house when it is full.

We did this at my friend Emmanuel’s house and waited for the gas to fill the tube. This happened in record time. However, we had been told to that be safe, we should bleed the first two inner tubes off before burning the fuel. I went back to Emmanuel’s house when he told me the tube was full. I noticed that the drum had taken on a very pregnant look. We bled the inner tube and opened the valve, expecting the drum’s swelling to decrease and the inner tube to fill. Neither of these things happened. I did not have tools and returned the next morning, hoping something would have changed. I had dressed up because I was going to town and thought this would be a quick fix.

My first job was to slowly release the pressure from the drum. I thought I was going slowly, but the lid blew off and spewed at least five gallons of poop and water all over Emmanuel’s front yard. The drum continued to ooze its contents for what seemed like minutes but was probably only 30 seconds. Blessed we were that all of my spectators were behind me. The drum was tilted away from me—another blessing. I have learned several things: 1. African pig poop and American pig poop smell the same. 2. Gas is powerful. 3. Community development is not for sissies or the faint of heart.

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