I’m a bit unclear on the next steps for the blockmaking business. Sumo seems slightly stymied about who among the trained block makers that’s still in the community has sufficient leadership ability to be manager of this enterprise. Unfortunately, my main candidate has moved to Monrovia. Perhaps I need to stand in line at the bank again so I can bump into the right person for this job, like I did with Tumamee! It may require a combination of someone trained in block making and another individual with the management/customer relations skills to get this off the ground. I keep hearing that many people have come showing interest in the blocks. There’s also quite a few new construction projects right near us including a house foundation just going in and a church of some sort, all along the access road we take to the school…all potential customers.
I had an electrical issue to attend to in preparing the guesthouse so I had Edwin Suah come over (he wired the guesthouse) and give me a hand. He was involved in a motorbike accident a few days ago so his lip was swollen and stitched along with a bandage on his cheekbone. Most fortunate since I’ve never witnessed him wearing a helmet (as many Liberians don’t ). I haven’t had electricity since I arrived, which doesn’t bother me, however, paying guests may not appreciate pitch black from 7pm. I’ve been concerned about voltage drop having the generator about 350′ from the house because I felt the wire gauge used was smaller than it should be for that distance and last trip one of my more sensitive cordless power tool chargers died (a possible side effect of low voltage). We ran the generator and tested at both ends of the run and there was barely any difference. Looks like the generator is the culprit since it wasn’t performing to the correct voltage capacity and will need a new part.
As I’m still without the truck, I moved on to more guesthouse work. Curtain rods for the windows were cut from 1/2″ galvanized steel pipe and placed into the wooden brackets I made and mounted back in March. I began tiling the bathroom floors, leaving all the perimeter cuts in one bathroom for when I have electricity and can use the diamond blade on the angle grinder. I left most of the second bathroom un-tiled so I could still access the necessities of a bathroom and not resort to the bush (or “norZOO” as it sounds phonetically in Kpelle). I had three assistants – one that watched, Titus (school janitor) who mixed thinset and hauled water for me, and Annie (the woman that cleans and does my laundry) who handed me tiles and practiced laying a few.
While preparing dinner, I noticed the school cooks were tending their new campus squash garden right out my kitchen window. I was very happy to see them mulching each plant, something I hadn’t seen them do before. I ran out and captured the Kodak moment and they happily gathered together so I could show my friends in the US…note they’re still wearing their official GLTC cooks uniforms/aprons of which they are very proud.Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed a couple of small children waiting for the women under a quince sapling planted 2 years ago. This little girl is just gorgeous! A quince tree princess (perhaps a “quincess”! …for added pleasure, say it in the voice of the priest performing the marriage ceremony in “A Princess Bride”).
On the subject of trees…I found out that the over 30 banana trees and 32 palm trees I see growing all over campus were planted by Sumo. All for the future benefit of our children who will soon enjoy these self contained golden treats. As the palms mature later, oil will be extracted from the nuts for cooking school meals. I’m impressed with his continued self initiative.