One of the many things I have come to enjoy being on the jobsite is seeing how much progress we make each week. It's sometimes hard to believe that only a few weeks earlier we were finishing the foundation. It's especially cool to see the other team projects progress along side ours. As all the teams collectively work on their respective projects, it's been pleasant to walk over to neighboring jobsites to talk to project leaders and volunteers of other teams about their own successes, struggles, and overall experiences building. It's also helpful to be able to swap ideas, tools, and construction materials. However, as the projects get taller, scaffolding is easily the most valued piece of equipment and if you're not careful someone may take your ladder while you are standing on top of your 15ft high wall! True story.
At the start of our 12th week, our goal was to put up wood formwork for the concrete cap and start building the window louvers. I enjoy carpentry, so the opportunity to saw, nail, and sand was a nice change of pace. With the help of one of our volunteers, Fanny, we were able to make our own wood shop near our jobsite. The days have been getting hotter and hotter as we move through the dry season here in Ghana, so we decided to make our wood shop inside a newly finished project that was 100 times cooler than working out in the sun. Fanny and I began assembling the swinging window shutters but quickly learned that each window frame was tilting. This meant each shutter had to be made custom to fit in each window frame condition. With a few trial and error builds, the two of us figured out a good building system to make our window shutters open/close within the window frame.
Although I've enjoyed most of the local meals that we are served here in the Arts Village, after 12 weeks of eating the same food every week its not hard to believe that the main topic of discussion between volunteers is food. About 4 weeks ago the idea of a having our own BBQ had been mentioned. At first it was just ambitious daydreaming, but as the days passed the local chickens and goats began to look more and more appetizing. The discussions soon turned into planning as we realized we could make our own grill out of construction material. We thought it would attract less attention if we had the BBQ at the jobsite. Once the date and location for the BBQ was chosen, the final part left to plan was what would be on the menu. For two weeks we debated if we should buy live chickens and prepare them ourselves or go to the mall in Kumasi and buy packaged meat. In the end we decided that we wanted the full Abetenim experience and buy the chickens to prepare ourselves. The day of the BBQ finally arrived and I had the pleasure of going to the market in Ejisu to buy the chickens and other food we would have later. After walking through several stands we reached an area of the market where the chickens are sold. For 280 cedi ($65) we bought 8 live chickens. We put the chickens in the back of the Volkswagen Golf, bought the other food, headed back to Abetenim. I must admit driving with live chickens in the trunk of the car knowing I would eat them later was a new experience for me.
Once we got back to the Arts Village two local men killed and cleaned the chickens. I won't describe how the chickens were killed but I will say I forced myself to watch to see if I had the stomach to eat something I had seen killed right in front of me. I had absolutely no issues eating those chickens. While the food was being prepared, a few of us assembled our grill. We found large chicken wire mesh in the village to use as the grill on top of Earth blocks left over from the German team's project (thanks Maria!) Once the grill was built we started a fire to heat up the coals and begin cooking. We grilled the chicken, potatoes, and pineapple slices. Steve was appointed chef for the day in charge of grilling and did a good job making sure that the chicken was fully cooked. We invited those locals who helped us with the meal as well as some other workers to come join us. All of the food was delicious and really hit the spot after 12 weeks of the same food. From what started as hungry conversations for weeks to going to the market to buy chickens, I would say our BBQ was a big success.
Remember, teamwork makes the dream work!