Monday, 8 July 2013

Project Dora

A lot has happened since I last posted. I'll fill you in as much as I can. The most important thing is that I have finally started to build Mama Dora's new house.

I had initially planned to start building on Monday, but unfortunately my builder wasn't available until Thursday. To be honest, the whole situation wound me up a bit, and my start to the week didn't go too well. I had spent the whole of Sunday with Bonge, and we had agreed to start building the next day. I woke up to a message from Adam informing me that Bonge wasn't available and that he had gone to another job. I was understandably not very happy, so I spoke to Bonge and explained that I was taking off money from his labour charge and that if something similar happened again, I'd find another builder. The next day, the same happened again. I text Bonge to explain that I was looking for another builder, but I didn't hear back from him and I couldn't find another builder quickly enough. Later that day, I spoke to Adam who had spoken to Bonge. Bonge had said that he sent three builders there to find somewhere to stay for the project, and that they would be starting on Thursday. I didn't really have a choice but to keep on with Bonge, and to be honest, I think it was a good idea in the end not to find another builder, him and his team have been working extremely hard, the progress has been fantastic. 

After having a rough day on Wednesday I had a bit of a heavy night, and struggled to get up in the morning, but I got there eventually. I met some volunteers the night before, Tyler and Scott, who are from Virginia. I told them about what I was doing and invited them along the next day to help with digging the foundations. We all got stuck in that morning, and got pretty far very quickly. Bonge said that it would be a good idea to buy some bricks that day so that the following morning they could start laying them straight away. We needed three hundred bricks, and could only fit fifty in the car at a time so we ended up having to do six trips. We spread them out whilst doing other things, and got there eventually. Before I knew it, it had started to get dark so we headed back in to town. Adam drove us to the clock tower, as Scott, Tyler and I had decided that we wanted a burger before heading home. We had a laugh, as we had done all day, and then Adam drove them both home before heading back to Moshono. I was so tired, and was asleep within an hour or so. I knew I had to get up early in the morning to be out there again.

Unfortunately the next day we didn't have a vehicle, so we had to use public transport. It wasn't that bad to be honest, just a little inconvenient. When I arrived the builders had already started laying bricks and I could see the shape of the house already. Initially we had planned to build two rooms to house Mama Dora and the children she looks after. However, doing it that way would have cost too much money so we decided to do the three rooms together. Giving her two rooms to live in and one for rent, except it would be attached. There's a dividing wall and a separate door though! Before the bricks were all used up, we decided it would be a good idea to buy the remaining 850. It costs me a fair bit, and due to not having a car, I had to pay for a truck to deliver the bricks but it wasn't too bad in the end. Originally, the quote stated that each brick would cost 800tsh but we managed to find some for 700tsh, so the extra money for delivery wasn't too much of a problem. By the end of the day, the builders had finished laying three bricks high from the foundations all around the house, and started installing the iron rods used to secure the foundations below.

On the following day, Saturday, it was more of the same. The cement around the iron bars had dried up so the builders were able to start building up the walls. They work so quickly it's astonishing, and with only one break a day for lunch I really appreciate how hard they are working for this project. I bought them all a soda each and we sat and had a laugh on Saturday. I want to keep them happy and I think doing small things like that is really effective from a management point of view. A friend of mine, Ashley, who is a volunteer, came along with me that day to see the projects. She enjoyed herself and I was glad she got stuck in with the work. We had a short driving lesson too, as she'd never driven manual before. I was impressed, I think if I tried to drive a land rover straight off I would definitely stall it! We both left the site early as I had promised Ashley that we would go and see Mama Mary too so that she could see the first house which I built. She had seen the video of me surprising Mama Mary, and had wanted to meet her ever since. Unfortunately, Mama Mary was far from her bubbly self as she is in that video. Instead, she was extremely drowzy and complaining about back, neck, and leg ache. I asked her if she had been vomiting or had any stomach problems but she said that she had been fine in that sense. I thought it a good idea anyway to go and get her blood checked and she was showing very common signs of Malaria. We found a local hospital where they checked her blood and had the results just after a few minutes. Not to my surprise, she did indeed have Malaria. I bought her the medication she needed and the doctor and I explained how she needed to take it. I walked back with her, and for the whole way I was very sad. I couldn't wrap my head around the fact that a single mother, looking after seven children, couldn't afford the medication for the most fatal disease in the world just because pharmacutical companies make a fortune off of them. It really made me feel sick. I don't often get down here anymore, I guess I have seen a lot so it takes a lot to make me feel down about it, but it really affected me. All I know now is that she is on the mend, and she'll be back to her normal self within a week or so. Bonge and the builders wanted to work on Sunday but I explained to them that I wanted them to have a day off, so that they could rest before working the next week. I don't think it's fair to expect the guys to work seven days a week. We're not in any particular rush with the project so there isn't much point in working for seven days a week. Also, secretly, I wanted a day off too, so that I could play football in the morning and relax for the rest of the day.

Football the next day however didn't happen. I was told to be there around ten, so I got there about 10.15. I warmed up a little bit and kicked the ball around with the other boys but after an hour, there was no sign of the other team. The last thing I wanted to do was wait around until 2pm when it is too hot to play, like I did last week, so I just went home back to bed. I didn't do much yesterday apart from hang around at home. I did meet up with a friend of mine called Lauchie though. He's an awesome dude from Australia who's work here is all based around getting kids from poor backgrounds and from not so good schools into better education. He sponsors all of his children into a school called Haradali. It's got a great reputation, it's extremely legit, and all in all is a wonderful school. It's not the cheapest, but definitely worth the money if you really want a child to get a good education. I'm thinking at the moment of trying to get Vicky and Agripina sponsored into that school so that I know when they are older they have a much better opportunity of succeeding. My aunty Gabriella has been interested in sponsoring a child for a long time, so I will be speaking to her soon about that!

Today there was even more progress with the house. By the time I arrived on site, around 10am, they walls were already right up to the top, they had started to dig the toilet behind, and were just waiting for me to pay for lenter wood so they good start the upper level foundations. These are similar to those above the foundations underneath the house. They secure the area around the top of the bricks with old bits of wood, and then place 10mm iron rods on top and cover them with cement. This is to ensure that the building can withstand the weight of the roof once we start to put it up! I've noticed that Bonge and his team are much more professional with the way they go about building than the builders I used for Mama Mary's house. It's pretty nice having the feeling that you have somebody reliable and trustworthy now that you can work with for all of your future projects. It benefits Bonge too, a constant source of income is always a good thing! I left today just before they finished as our second delivery of sand didn't turn up. Which meant they couldn't quite finish cementing the lenter foundations. It's not a problem though, like I said, we are in no rush, so we will just continue tomorrow and see how it goes!

Other than that I really haven't been doing much, twelve hour days most of the time sorting stuff out for the house, the car, and also keeping my books right is taking up all of my time. I'll post again soon once we've made some more progress! 

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