Well we have finally started building stuff. It has been going great. I got most of the materials ordered and we are starting by building a gazebo. It will be a great place for parents to hang out while their kids play. It also serves as a good location to store all the timber (a.k.a. wood or lumber) as we build. I have felt kinda worthless though so far because most of what we have done I have little to no experience with. For the footings we actually used bricks and built up a level platform that we will then poor the concrete slab on. I have no masonry experience so I learning as much as the boys are. Praise God that Sam (the foreman we hired) has lots of experience and is a pretty decent teacher. Here almost every building is made from bricks so it was great for the boys to learn the process since most of the rest of the playground won’t involve any brick work.
And finally a short discussion on manual labor. Sit down and think of 10 things that you do at your job or that you have witnessed being done that take some sort of large machine. I promise that if you have enough Ugandans and enough time they can accomplish the same thing. Katie’s father is here this week (by the way he is a really great guy and I’ll probably mention him again in my next post). He was at the site and we were discussing different construction processes. Everything we talked about seemed to end with the statement “well back in the States you use a big machine to do that.” The boys, Sam, and myself were filling in an area that is 20’ x 24’ and needed about 12-24 inches of dirt. Back home you get a big loader tractor or skidsteer and in about twenty minutes you have it filled. Here you have 3 guys with hoes breaking up the soil, 4 guys with shovels scooping the soil into wheelbarrows, 2 guys pushing the wheelbarrows, and 1 guy spreading the soil as it is dumped. The other issue with moving dirt like this is that if you are going to pour a concrete slab on top the earth has to be compacted somehow. Back home they have vibrating machines that tamp the dirt to make is solid. Here we dumped about 150 gallons of water on it over the course of the afternoon and had 10 of us on our hands and knees pounding the ground with bricks in our hands. I’m grateful that I grew up in a place that has all the machines and heavy equipment and was able to learn how to use all of it, but it has been awesome learning that none of that stuff is vital. It is another example of how many things in our lives that we consider essential are not. The obvious ones are entertainment type stuff like T.V. or internet, but here I have learned that even work-related things fit into the category of nonessentials. There is beauty in simplicity.