Today was a good day, but ended with a sad and cruel twist.
Twelve of us headed out from the base shortly after 7am, laden with many buckets, shovels, and bags of cement. We were joined by 14 community members, all with their game faces on. Mixing and placing concrete is like a gear wheel- if one cog is broken, it just doesn’t work. Today we had 26 cogs working in such unison that it was more like a Swiss watch. A steady parade of women carried buckets of water from the distant well, the buckets elegantly balanced on their heads. Two mountains of gravel and of sand were chipped away, loaded into buckets and carried to the mixer. Bag after 50kg bag of cement were torn open and also portioned into buckets. The ingredients were hoisted up to the mixing machine, and water splashed in to provide the finest of concrete. The batches, 180 wheel barrows full by day’s end, were then scooped up into smaller metal pails and steadily handed to a never-ending rotation of soldiers who would scurry across the foundation’s rebar grid and dump their buckets into the deep trench encircling the school-to-be. We filled up all the trenches today- a real feat- and now have left one day’s work to batch and place the 3 inch thick top slab.
After cleaning all our buckets and wheelbarrows, and washing the burning concrete off our aching arms and legs, we proudly marched off into the sunset, feeling wholly satisfied with the day’s work. At this time a great wind storm came about, gusting at about 50 km/h. This quickly pulled apart one of the houses you can see in the back ground of the picture from my September 17th post. The terrified family ran outside, a baby in the crying mother’s arms, and children running about trying to grab the precious tarps that make up their home. The worried father struggled to hold the main tarp in place and a few of us jumped in to help him hold it down while some large stones were gathered. The scene was so chaotic, so saddening. We left in the quickly darkening day, not knowing if this family would manage a wink of sleep after being so shaken to the core.