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Swawou Project Week 03 - Out Of The Ground

We finally made it out of the ground this week which always feels like the longest and hardest part of any project, especially as you can’t visually see the result of any of the work you have done. We finished digging down and started building up, and everyone visiting the site can finally begin to see the building emerge. We showed the workers the 3D visuals of how the building should look on completion and they were blown away, it spurred them on knowing what they were working towards.

We built the foundation walls to the kitchen and laid the concrete floor, and we built up a couple of courses of both the Staff & IT block and Classroom’s 1&2. We hired both local masons and sourced masons from another contractor and a few of the younger masons really caught on to what we were doing, the brick bond pattern and the smaller than they’re used to mortar sizes very quickly and blazed through a lot of work. We found that the older more experienced masons struggled to keep up with the younger masons especially as the concrete blocks they were working with were fairly heavy and large. We have a core team of local workers who have been with us since the beginning and they are really helping towards getting the work done when it needs to be. Some of the guys performance on site has been outstanding, learning new skills and taking on greater responsibilities. They really rally together and get a lot of work done, and their hardwork this week ensured we got the concrete floor slab of the kitchen completed, finishing work late into the evening on Saturday even after the sun went down. We had a productive chain line of men and ‘stampede parties’ in the kitchen to compact the earth. Moral was high and workers impressed us no end.

We were a man down this week, as Spencer took ill last weekend, so it was a very busy and very hectic week for Paul and Kirsty, with a lot to be organised and over 30 men onsite to manage, but truly one of the most satisfying weeks. The workers were so pleased to see what they had achieved and even turned up on their day off to help cure the walls and concrete with water. In this heat water needs to be poured onto everything with cement in it to ensure the mortar or concrete doesn’t cure too quickly.

Making some good friends and acquaintances, it definitely feels like we're living here now and not just visiting. We have our local eateries, been to the river beach for an evening, and seen some local musicians in the town field. The girls from the school wave at us whenever we pass in our vehicle and come to site whenever they can. There are locals to the site who bring food at lunchtime and sell us nuts and pineapples. The weather is apparently going to heat up through March and has been unusually cold for this time of the year(!) and it even rained the other night. We are just hoping that the rains keep off until we get the roof on the building!