Just when you think there’s been a communication breakthrough….
Driving to the work site with the promise of a new dawn of Liberian volunteerism now that funds to feed these workers had passed into the right hands, I reached the crest of the embankment leading to the warehouse and my dawn turned to dusk. I didn’t see any volunteers happily brushing the land as we had discussed yesterday. Trying to stay positive I thought, perhaps they were meeting to strategize how best to divide and conquer given the large turnout of eager community do-gooders. Not quite….in fact, no one showed up all day. Deja vu all over again! (I hope Leon, Corvah, Joe, and the others back in Providence make those calls we discussed!)
Sam and I went about doing our usual material sourcing including finding more pickup truck drivers to haul the previously purchased sand. We had to lead the haulers back into the bush to indicate which sand piles we owned and estimate how many trips it would take. While they filled the first truck load, I walked down the path a bit farther to look at the foliage…and I encountered my first snake. It was a very long green snake up in a tree and it looked very vine-like. Sam told me it was harmless…but to be careful of any yellow or black snakes
The masons were hard at work making good progress on both block laying and block making. We laid out the size and shape for a ramp leading into the main warehouse door so baby FOTON has a secure and cozy place to stay when we’re not around. Sam has a good grasp of structural requirements so I’ve been letting him run with some of the details of rebar, roof pitch and truss design, etc. since I haven’t had much objection to what he’s suggested from his past experiences. They started cutting and assembling the wawa forms so they could cast a concrete “ring beam” around the entire building. With measurements in hand, we left to find a steel door fabricator down the road towards Gbarnga.
We met with Papa Mawah who fabricates anything welded. He had a couple of large garage-sized doors out front of his shop and we discussed our needs. Sam wanted some very specific sizes for the welded channels and steel thickness to ensure a solid door. I was pleasantly surprised at the price…$600 for a 12’W x 9’H double warehouse door and $200 for a 48″W x 82″H single entry door with a 1 week turnaround. We did a sketch in Papa’s notebook denoting quantity and positions of hinges, lock hasps, and deadbolt sliders then handed over a deposit to get the work started. The most simple process of anything we’ve sourced so far.
We continued to Gbarnga and purchased some more wawa, another mattress for the “rock crushers” who were sleeping near by during their stint here, and more water (can’t have enough water…just standing the sweat seeps from the pores on my arms and hands). When we got back to the site, it was nearly lunchtime and the village women started appearing with tubs of rice, cassava greens, and fish on their heads. Here was the communal meal I was expecting, but this was just for the paid workers. Other locals have been coming around to sell various treats during the day, too…I guess we’re starting to have a small impact on the local economy!
I spent some time on the phone following up with the FOTON registration and confirming it would be ready for pickup on Wednesday. Last night I had called Dr. Henry Konuwa (the president of the Gbarnga Rotary Club) and said, “I know we haven’t met in person yet, but I was wondering if you could do me a favor?” He had mentioned last week when I spoke with him that he would be traveling back and forth to Monrovia during this week. I took a chance and asked if I could bum a ride on Tuesday. He called this morning and confirmed that he could pick me up at Phebe and deliver me to Monrovia. Fantastic! Now let’s hope there are no hitches with the FOTON registration. The goal is to pick it up Wednesday morning, go shopping for more supplies, and head back Thursday morning. This gets materials back to Sam in a timely fashion while getting me back in time for attending the midday Rotary Club gathering with Dr. Konuwa.