The Build

The Build Site – Day 1. The fundi (foreman) sits waiting for his workers while Leki does a little dance and Nhatebu just shakes his head.

Building a school in Tanzania is a little bit different than building a school in BC. On the other hand, there are some similarities.

As you can tell by looking at the photo, when we arrived a previous group had built the foundation and filled in about 2/3 of the floor. We worked to complete the floor and start the walls.

The floor consists of large rocks – 5″ – 7″ spread out and a cement mixture poured over them. The mixture consists of 7 wheelbarrow loads of a grey black dirt, 4 wheelbarrow loads of 1″ gravel, two bags of cement and water. Here’s the process’

  1. Move the 7 wheelbarrows of dirt approximately 10 metres.
  2. Move the 4 wheelbarrows of gravel approximately 4 metres
  3. Four people using spades mix the dirt and gravel, turning them over and over until well mixed.
  4. Add the 2 bags of cement and mix all over again.
  5. Carry buckets and buckets of water approximately 50 meters, add to the dry mixture and turn over and over and over until it is a decent consistency.
  6. Carry heavy buckets of the mixture to the incomplete floor – approximately 5 metres.
  7. Pour the mixture onto the rocks.
  8. Trowel until reasonably smooth.
  9. Repeat as necessary.

This is not work for the faint of heart. I opted for the troweling since I couldn’t do the mixing. Not an easy task, but much easier than turning over the mixtures. It was amazing to watch how effectively this was done. It was also amazing to watch the work of the other 24 people on the build. I know this may come off as somewhat sexist or stereotyping, but the kind of heavy lifting and manual work which was necessary is not usually done by women.

Each time we started work, water had to poured over all the bricks in the lower rows.

Cathy wets the bricks

Once that was done the mortar was prepared.

Mark and Barb add the water while Anneli and Margaret are at the ready to mix.

After the blocks were put in place, the wet mortar was added.

Missy and Liz mortar them together

You see the big pile of blocks under the green arrow?

See the blocks?

Originally the blocks were just beyond the people filling the wheelbarrows in the photo below. (More on that in a moment.) They had to be passed by hand from their old location to the middle of the classroom. Part way through the passing, the hard-working Ms Trudeau (Disclaimer 3: name changed to protect her true identity) let loose with a “THERE’S A HUGE RAT – I SAW ITS TAIL”. This caused a rapid changing of position as those on the lower level immediately sought refuge on a higher level. After a delay, and as you may imagine, the passing of the blocks slowed down as we waited to see if it reappeared.  After a couple more teasing looks at the tail, the little guy finally showed himself (or herself, I can’t sex these things). Turns out it was just a gecko and apparently one of several who made their home in the pile. Quite amusing – in retrospect of course.

Shovel, shovel, shovel. BTW see the green circle – that’s where the buckets of water had to be carried from.

Now, see the green box? If you look back at the first photo in the post, it is the area just to the right of the fundi, between the 3rd and 4th rows of blocks. This entire area had to be hand dug out and moved elsewhere – fun, huh?

For those of you unfamiliar with masonry, sometimes you have to trim a block or two.

Good use of a machete

One way to get around the job site…

On our final day, Me to We Tanzania 2017, Community Leaders, Fundi and his assistants.

Our group

The Shoe Blog

My “steel-toed” workboots

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