It’s been a jam-packed schedule and we’ve made the most of our time on build day 2! We are all sore and exhausted… it was an amazing day! And I don’t really know where to start… all I can warn is that this will likely be a long entry. (I also suspect I will come back to some of these entries to add details I’ve not captured immediately. The Wifi is spotty and we’re very lucky to have it at all.)
After breakfast at our lodge and a 40 minute ride to the build site in the community of Linda, just outside of Lusaka, we found out we were switching homes to work on. We had split the team up yesterday to work on the two separate houses and to ensure we all have an opportunity to get to know both families. My team worked at the alternate house from yesterday. Today we worked at Brenda Mumba’s home. Brenda’s husband died several years ago and she now cares for their children (2) and grandchildren (3). She has been terminally ill for some time and unemployed. One of her grandchildren is also quite ill. Her 22 year old son, Ophen, started working 4 years ago and supports the family. I met one of her children, Margaret (15), and one of her grandchildren, Aliness (12), today.
We are building brick homes that are less than 250 ft square for each family. The rooms are simple construction of 3 square rooms that measure 9ft x 9ft. Most families with this construction use all 3 rooms for bedrooms and the kitchen is outside, although these homes were designed to have the middle room as the living/kitchen space. A pit latrine will be constructed in the back as part of this build. The family only has access to a neighbour’s pit latrine, three houses down. None of the homes in the community have plumbing and very few have electricity.
All of today was spent laying concrete blocks and all that entails. I earned my blisters mixing mortar today!!! And scratched up my forearms pretty good hauling concrete blocks. But my city-dweller lifestyle shone through when 15 year old Margaret put me to shame when she easily lifted 8 blocks into a wheelbarrow and navigated them across the cluttered build site. I tried and nearly tipped the wheelbarrow! I was only able to move 4 blocks without incident!
Habitat Zambia has hired some tradespeople for the build. Mighty, the supervisor, is quite a character and always has a huge smile on his face. He spent about 10 minutes on our first day explaining what the “primary builder’s tool” is, a trowel, and for what it is used. It was hilarious when he showed us which end was the handle! He’s got a great sense of humour and has had many teams without any building experience. On Brenda’s build site today, we worked with Enock and Amion, who both live in the community. It’s so interesting to speak with the people involved in the build and spend time getting to know about their lives and culture. Amion was pretty interested in Canadian building materials but had a hard time understanding what are insulation and moisture barrier wrap. We’re bringing some photos tomorrow.
There were a couple of times today when we heard singing. Once was when I saw a group of women taking containers to the community water pump to get water. The second time, I heard the singing before I saw anyone and rushed to get my camera out. I managed to get a quick, discreet video of what turned out to be a funeral procession going past our build site.
We’ve had lunch at the Linda Open Community School both days so far. The school cook, Beatrice, makes a delicious and plentiful lunch for us! Nshima (pronounced shee-ma) is the main staple in Zambia, made of cornmeal and water. It’s like a dense porridge and you can roll it into a ball and scoop up vegetables, sauces, or stews with it. It’s soooooo good!!! I spent some time today after lunch speaking with Doreen, the school’s principal, about the importance of education and the struggle she has with families in the community. For instance, Margaret told me she stayed home from school today to collect water for our concrete mixing. Doreen said that happens frequently and the school tries very hard to impress upon parents the consequences of absences, most significantly, that a child cannot be successful in life without an education.
Dinner tonight was at our lodge. We were to meet early to rehearse! One thing our team lead, Tammy, does on builds is choreograph a group dance to perform for our final farewell. We’ve practiced twice so far and Adam, from the team, seems to be picking up the routine the best! His two daughters both dance and he’s totally into it. Tammy has promised not to film any of our rehearsals to ensure none of us sees the routine in advance and then decides to drop out. LOL. Should be fun! Just before we were about to rehearse, the power went off in the lodge. Not surprising and we were prepared with candles and flashlights… oh, and some wine and beer. Until they got the generator working and dinner was ready.
Time for bed. My roommate Diane is already asleep and we have another early day tomorrow.
(And I’ve just noticed that some of the photos are blurry once posted… but I’ll have to fix that later.)