Saah and I returned to the work site this morning to find baby FOTON already moved from her muddy resting place by Sam and his work crew so the sand hauling began immediately. I opted to stay back and enjoy watching the masons construct wooden forms for pouring concrete at the “garage” and entry door locations plus install the steel security bars in the window forms to have them solidly cast in place. Sam constructed saw horses from the rough-cut wawa to aid in truss assembly.
While hanging out with the workers, Sam wanted to share something special with me. Last night the traps were set and they caught a possum which they put over the fire (full body) to burn the hair off and cook it through. He was excited to eat it later today and asked if I wanted some. When the lunch cook showed up with her rice and potato greens, he had his possum treat added for that extra rodent redolence. I stuck with my crackers and canned tuna.
After lunch I received a call from Dr. Henry Konuwa (our Rotary guy in Gbarnga) to arrange a brief meeting today to sign the “Memorandum of Understanding” (MOU) between the US Rotary, the Gbarnga Rotary, and us (Gbarnga Lutheran Mission Project). It seems to be one of the final steps in getting the grant money transferred to Liberia so we can start using it on the water wells, sanitation, school furnishings, and vocational training. On my way to meet him (he works on the United Nations Mission in Liberia “UNMIL” campus south of Phebe), I stopped at Cuttington University’s Ecobank branch to pick up funds that were sent via Western Union. As is Africa, the “network was down” so no one could use the ATM or receive Western Union funds…”please come back tomorrow.” One of my Liberian friends told me “the network is down” is code word for “we’re out of money”.
Carpentry work began on the trusses as they pieced together 2×4’s to create framing members long enough to span the 30 foot wide building. Since some of the wood wasn’t available yesterday, we opted to buy larger width boards to cut to size ourselves. A gentleman has been visiting our site frequently hawking his chainsaw skills, hoping to get a gig cutting something large. Instead of cutting the length of these 14 foot boards with the generator-powered circular saw ourselves, we hired him to use his 36″ Stihl chainsaw to do the job of cutting 2×8’s into a 2×2 plus a 2×6. He did all the cutting by eye, without wearing eye protection, ear plugs, a shirt, or SHOES! This barefoot beaver was paid $30LD per cut (that’s about 35₵ per cut) for a total of $5. I’m sure he carries both liability and medical insurance from the Liberian National Association for Barefoot Sawyers! Or was it the Association for Bare & Footless Sawyers?
The end of the work day was punctuated by dark clouds and brisk winds ushering in a heavy downpour as everyone scattered to collect tools and seek shelter in the temporary tin warehouse. Being in a small completely corrugated metal building is deafening from the repetitive rounds of raindrop mortars. It lasted about 5 minutes then I bolted for the FOTON to head back to Phebe with Saah. A dinner of Chef Boyardee lasagna from a can was accompanied by a chocolate pudding “snack pack” to top off the evening’s gourmet fare.