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Swawou Project Week 02 - Muddled bricks

This week has seen a few challenges but has been thoroughly satisfying at the same time. Our brick supplier majorly let us down. He failed to deliver the first order on time and the quality of the bricks were not up to standard in the slightest. We were very disappointed with him and work has been delayed as we try to work around the situation. Fortunately as the week came to a close he came through, sourcing another 10,000 bricks from another supplier to make up the numbers. They are of slightly different shape and size but it’s a good solution to a major problem and we can work with it. So we have nearly a thousand on site that we can work with, a further 4,000 from second supplier and another 20,000 in production. 

We were intending on using these mud fired bricks for foundations which is not the norm in Sierra Leone so we – contractors and suppliers - were looking forward to implementing a new method and teaching that to local masons. Now that will not happen as we have to change to concrete blocks just to get the work started as we await the next batch of fired mud bricks. The walls will still be built with the mud fired blocks so we look forward to starting that stage and getting the masons on board with our unique designs.

Elsewhere on site the foundations have all been dug out and concrete poured into Block A to level the trenches and prepare them for concrete block foundations. We have had large orders of sand and stones delivered, loan of a canopy from a new friend who works in Kenema, we have a cracking team of workers who work well and we are making the most of the military storage facilities. We have been teaching the locals how to use a water level, with a clear tube and marker pen onto stakes in the ground. It’s a very accurate method for determining level heights and they have been fascinated by how it works. At the end of the week as concrete was being prepared and poured into Block A, we taught the locals how to mix and prepare the concrete and how to build small walls for level changes in the foundation design. Trying to cut down on the amount of concrete used as it is very expensive; the cost of one bag of cement is the same price as in the UK!

We have sourced our sand and stones for the concrete mix from the local quarry, a mile down the road which is all hand cut by women! It’s been a good week to celebrate women on site, as on Saturday we celebrated International Women’s Day with the girls from the school and it also happened to be Kirsty’s birthday so a double celebration of women in the workplace, and great to see these local women involved in the supply of materials for the site.