My trip from the US to the village had its bumps, but I'm finally here! It's been a busy week and a lot of progress was made on our classroom. My time here so far has been a very humbling experience and it put things into perspective about what are actual necessities that we need in our day to day, and how some things back home are just in excess. The nights here - when there aren't movies playing, soccer games on, village parties, or roosters crowing at the wrong time - are incredibly quiet and dark. I couldn't help but keep looking up at how visible the stars are.
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It was raining in the morning on the day I arrived, so the group couldn't start work as early as usual. But the weather cleared up shortly after - and I joined the group on site to get to work. This week we were able to use the concrete mixer for a day, which our team did not have beforehand, so that helped our process speed up. I got to meet our volunteers from Germany and France, and it was great seeing how various members develop systems with each other to maximize efficiency depending on the tasks given.
This week was a blend of cutting foundation formwork to fit, setting them in place and bracing them, then the local workers on our team would mix and pour the concrete in. While they were doing this, us and our volunteers would then do one of the following tasks: prepare the next pieces of formwork to fit and place them if possible, dig and move dirt on site to slowly level out the ground in preparation for the floor slab, or infill dirt into the gaps left by the formwork that was already removed.
Aside from the foundation, we started preparing the formwork for the columns. The team separated - some cut and piece together the wood needed for the formwork, some cut rebar for the column reinforcement, and some stayed on site to continue digging. We also tested out two different mixes for poured earth which we did on site near the classroom, and the test pours can act as seats for future use. The team then began to place the rebar and column formwork on the foundation walls that were already set and dry.
I walked around the village with two of our volunteers Izzy and Christina, and we got to meet several locals (particularly children) and looked at projects that were built by other teams. Izzy is doing a side picture project of her own where she takes polaroid photos of people and gives the copies to them, and the people in the village appreciated being able to keep their photos.
The village puts together a bonfire for volunteers who are leaving, and a group of volunteers for one of the other teams (including Marc from ours) left on my first week - so I was able to witness their set up. They played music, everyone gathered around the fire, and children danced around. It was a good way to cap off my first week, and I'm sure a great send off for those leaving.
That's it for now!
Word of the day:
Mehoye (I am fine)