Once again, the explanation coming to us of the missing truck, driver, and bridge materials has changed—not for the last time, I hope, since the latest explanation has deflated the morale of the Karimu volunteers. The previous explanation had the driver stealing the truck, while dumping our thousands of dollars’ worth of materials in a place where we could retrieve them. But we hear now that the driver has also stolen the materials.
The previous story was passed on to us by Harmon Parker, founder of Bridging the Gap Africa, only because he had been lied to by the owner of the trucking company. This man, whose name is Charles, was in on the theft, as Harmon realized when he tried to visit the company’s offices to talk to Charles. Harmon found the building empty because the company no longer exists.
Here is what happened: Harmon hired the company on the basis of a recommendation from a big multinational company with which he had done business in the past. What the multinational didn’t know, however, was that the trucking company had recently gone under, although its phone had not been disconnected. When Charles happened to answer Harmon’s call, he saw an opportunity.
Harmon is thinking about going to the police for help, but the case is complicated because it involves Kenyans committing a crime in Tanzania. I’m not sure that the record of cooperation between Kenyan and Tanzanian authorities gives us reason to be confident. So Harmon has already sent his two right-hand men, a Wisconsinite named Nate Bloss and a Kenyan named Sylvester Ouko, into Tanzania to hunt for the bridge materials. This sounds like looking for a needle in a haystack. But I have formed one wrong impression after another about this case, so I’ll try to remain optimistic.
I also need to remind myself that the setback is temporary. Harmon will replace the stolen materials if he must, and Bridging the Gap Africa’s engineers, along with the people of Dareda Kati, will complete the bridge that the village needs so desperately long before the rainy season of next March and April.
And villagers who cross the new bridge to get to Ufani Primary School will see a school that looks better than ever: throughout this period of frustration concerning the bridge, our volunteers and the villagers have never let up on the new teachers’ house that Karimu is funding.