As you can tell from my lack of blog posting, I’ve been busy. The days have been full and I haven’t gotten back to the guesthouse until around 7:00pm, then a cold bucket bath, cooking dinner, chatting with my housemate Bruce who likes to chat, recording the day’s expense receipts…by that time it’s 9:00 and I’m wiped out. I’m writing this at 5:30am just to give an update because the progress has been fantastic.
Thursday the truss building was finished and a coat of “carbolene” applied (I think the US equivalent would be “creosote”…dark brown, very smelly, and a skin irritant so they put their hands in empty discarded cement bags as “gloves” when moving the trusses around). The masons kept going with the gable end wall up to the peak. I wanted some high ventilation to let the heat out that would inevitably be trapped inside so I asked Sam to mold some decorative blocks for which I bought a mold in Monrovia on my last trip. I laid out a cross pattern on the ground to show him the design I wanted and they went to work. So we now have Christian ventilation!
I continue to hire my band of little followers to clean the grounds, pick up brush, and dig out tree stumps. They were particularly proud of this very large one. They have begun to goof around more with me and here they are showing off their boyishness with cassava sticking out of their mouths. All of these boys are enrolled in school in Gbarnga which means they walk 40 minutes each way by themselves every day. They were very excited to hear we were building a school because they live in a nearby village. I hope to visit their homes next week to see more about their home lives.
One boy, Moses, age 12 or 13 years old (he’s not quite sure) is enrolled but not attending school because his mom can’t afford the school fee balance they owe for him and his 3 siblings. The yearly fee is $1,500LD (about $17US) and he owes $1,000LD plus money for a uniform and books. The money he’s been making digging stumps is going towards his school fees.
I had visitors on Thursday including various pastors and, most importantly for the week, from the Gbarnga Rotary Club. They walked the site with me and I explained the specifics of how their Rotary grant funds would be used, where the wells would be drilled, our ideas for self-sustainability, and future projects we hope the Rotary would be involved with. From left to right in the photos next to me is Dr. Henry Konuwa (current Club president who works at the UN Mission in Liberia about 3 miles away), Anthony Siakor (incoming club president and a head staff person at Cuttington University), and Barbara Kennedy (club treasurer and a teacher at Cuttington University). I mentioned to Barbara the possibility of her helping us find teachers so she might be a resource for us.
Yesterday was a long day as the crew worked overtime to get the concrete floor finished in the warehouse. They mix large batches of concrete in a “ring” formation then fill nonstop wheel barrows and “head pans” that are run up planks into the waiting masons. Sam would stand at the doorway constantly yelling “mawta, mawta, mawta” to keep them moving quickly. He created a tool using a stick with a nail to hook the front frame of the wheel barrow to assist getting up the ramp with the heavy load. Check out this YouTube clip: https://youtu.be/N25wnsE6g6I By 7:00pm they had finished the entire 4″ thick 1,200 square feet floor. At Sam’s suggestion, I gave each of the 19 workers that stayed late some overtime pay for the extra effort on a Friday night.
Today (Saturday) should be a big day of brushing. I’ve been told that 7 parishes are coming with volunteers. I bought 50 kilos of rice in addition to the funds I distributed to the cook for purchasing food so I expect a large turnout (if not just for the meal!).