Monday, February 17, 2014

People and Snacks

One of the great things about community development projects is that they give you a chance to work with men who you might not see otherwise.  Maybe they live far from you or maybe they are not interested in what you are teaching, but because there is an opportunity to earn money they come and you have a chance to build relationships.

Most days I had between 30 and 50 workers.  It was a great time to strengthen old relationships and build new ones.  These guys worked hard and needed a good solid morning and afternoon snack.  In the village we can’t order pizza, so Heidi took on the responsibility of providing food.

Fortunately Heidi had help.  Arcely really uses her head when it comes to feeding people and with her help everything came together. 

She sent men to get coconuts to make coconut oil

Coconut oil and sticky rice were used to make a variety of sticky rice treats.

Once the snacks arrived on the work site, they didn't last long.

The afternoon snack was usually served under our house

Thank you Heidi for all the hard work you and Arcely did!  It was appreciated by all.

Cement, Sand, and Gravel

There is a lady in town who has a hardware store.  When I am in town I can deposit money in her bank account and she will get boats to haul cement to the village for me.  When I arrived in the village I found 81 bags of cement waiting for me.  That was great, but I needed 15 cubic meters of sand and gravel to mix with it.

In the village, sand and gravel come from the river.  Getting the gravel and hauling it to the school is a lot of work.  As you can see, the work site is much higher than the river.

First the workers had to find a good spot to get a bucket or a sack of gravel that didn't have rocks that were too large.

Then they had to carry it up the steep path to the school.

It took a lot of strength and it was amazing how much gravel was carried.

Once the gravel was at the top of the hill, each carrier made his or her own pile.  Every afternoon we shoveled the piles into a large cracker can which is the standard unit of measure for gravel here.  Heidi kept a tally and when all the piles were counted the haulers followed her home for a snack and their pay.

The sand was then measured again into a volcano shaped pile, cement was added, and mixed by shovel.  It is backbreaking work.

Finally buckets of cement are poured onto the forms and the experts put on the finishing touches.

On our last full day in the village, the workers had completed not just the pads for the posts, but all the flooring, stairs from the school to the playground, and a rock path.  I couldn't believe it.  What a blessing to see so much progress!

If you want to see the final product, check out the Iron blog: 


Getting a concrete pad on the ground is an amazing feat, but it is just the start.  When I asked Bob Hall, an Australian contractor with experience building in the Philippines if he could help me design the covered play area, I asked him to make it as typhoon proof as possible.  He did and this translated into tons of iron.  Iron in the concrete bolted to iron posts. Bolted to iron trusses.

20 foot long pieces of re-bar don’t fit in the helicopter very well, so the workers in town had a clever way of using a barrel to roll the re-bar into coils.

Of course, the concrete workers didn't want to use rolled pieces of re bar, so I had to pay 4 guys to hammer it straight again.  Rolling re-bar and straightening it out again turns out to be a good way to create jobs.

The helicopter tried flying posts into the village last January and decided it wasn't a good idea so the rest of the materials were loaded on a truck and sent to a town downstream from our village. This happened after we were already in the village.

One day when we were in the village we were told that boats were coming with our building materials.  What a surprise.  The boats are small, but can carry around 300 pounds of cargo.  The boat guys push them up the stream to our village because the water is so shallow.

The boat guys unloaded the cargo at the bottom of the hill near the school.  All the posts were there and most of the trusses.

On our last full day in the village, a crew of men carried the rest of the iron to the top of the hill.  Either the guys have a lot of faith in the wooden bridge planks or they didn't think about how much weight they were putting in one place.

The team worked all morning.

By noon, everything was stacked neatly on the work site and by late afternoon, all the concrete work was finished.  Heidi and I arrived home on Saturday afternoon and on Monday I heard that the last pieces of the structure had been sent upstream.  I talked to Bob Hall this morning and he is planning to come and construct the building this spring.  What an answer to prayer it is to be able to tell him, “Come any time, the concrete is down and all the materials are on site.” 

Thank you for your prayers! Thank God for his provision!!