Saturday, December 17, 2011

Its all coming together

Retaining wall construction is nearing completion.  We are off to digging post holes.

Retaining wall update

We are almost there.  Work is almost finished on the third and final tier.
Ermius extending the retaining walls foundation.  The foundation is comprised of
35 centimeters of compacted gravel and medium sized stone. All of which is perched
on a bed of compacted sand. We take our wall building seriously.

Monday, December 12, 2011

The art of mixing cement

Ijigu supervises, as Gazan and Debebe prepare aan aggregate and cement blend for portland cement.  Depending on where the concrete is being used, cement to aggregate ratios are anywhere between 6 to 1 to 8 to 1.  Everything is mixed by hand. So far we have gone through over 130 bags of cement and more than 4 dump trucks of aggregate.
Mixing cement for the second tier


The retaining walls are finished and we are well on our way to finishing the primary framing. 

A proud Kololo work crew

Monday, December 5, 2011


Hello, my name is Daniel.

This is the story of a trip Cien, Ejigu and I took to a rural, southern Ethiopianmedical clinic.

The other day we're at the school site and I say, "Yeah man, I'm gonna hit the head. I'll be back in a few minutes." Cien replys, "Alright. I'll be moving some logs forexercise."

Fast forward 10 minutes.

Walking down from the house I see Cien. He says,"Dude, help me, I just dislocated my shoulder."

The moral of the story: exercise is stupid.

There are about 25 people on the site so we walked behind a house so we could try and get this undercontrol, without an audience. I figured that bathing together in the riverdaily didn't raise enough eyebrows, the next logical step was to just take off Cien's shirt and start massaging his shoulder. Obviously.

They found that amusing. It didn't fix his shoulder.

Next attempt: plenty of Ouzo and my memory of helping a friend, once, a long time ago relocate his shoulder.

I found that amusing. It didn't fix his shoulder.

Luckily we live about a 20 minute walk from a government sponsored clinic.  We'd never been there so we didn't know what to expect. Surprises are fun, right? Maybe they had a unicorn petting zoo there.

We're walking up this big road-hill-thing and all Cien is doing is complaining about his shoulder's nerves being squashed. GOD! Shut up already. Then we pass a couple people on the road and they look at us like we're freaks. They may as well have seen two polar bears on a trampoline.

We arrive and there are probably 30 people around the clinic waiting for various services, I think, I don't read minds. That quickly balloons to 300 because we're so awesome--or maybe they're just the 99%, pissed off at the banks and sick and tired of being sick and tired.  Get it? That was an Occupy WallStreet joke. Even though I live in a house made of mud and sticks, with floorsmade of cow poo I can still deliver the topical jokes. Whooo-ahhhh!

We stepped inside, and right then it became painfully obvious (more-so for Cien--PUN INTENDED) that this was going to be one toremember. There were some giant bug-wasp-things flying around a wooden desk that had an unplugged microscope on it, surrounded by two wooden chairs (not the microscope, the desk).  There were also some posters. I don'tremember what was on them.  Use your imagination, sorry.

Cien is trying to explain what's wrong with his shoulder.They thought it was a headache. After a few minutes of "explanations" they understood. Syke... they did not understand, because they started to manipulate his other shoulder.

And I quote almost-drunk Cien here: "Dude... we'regoing to have to go get on a bus for 10 hours and go to Addis, they don't understand and I can't sit here and let them practice their caveman doctoring on me." Then they inject him with some kind of "pain medicine,"and then the guy in the pink shirt goes to work.  We think he was the doctor, or medic... but who knows, he could have just been there hanging out, or the unicorn trainer.

The rest of the incident I captured on video. Watch it below. It's so tight. 

Friday, December 2, 2011

Shots in the dark

A few photos of Kololo and I under a full moon with my point and shoot.

Another day in...

Folks are probably wondering what all we do in Kololo when we are not swinging pickaxes or bashing boulders.  

 Well the day I wrote this, Phill would sweetly sing, “…another day in paradise”. I am swinging away, though presently in my hammock, reading In the Defense of Food (on my new kindle, a gift from Liz) enjoying my day off for the week. Our Sundays are usually split between basking  in the sun and shade on the mouth of our waterfall infinity pool, and relaxed in our hammocks.  Yes, Daniel and I both brought one.  The rest of our schedules, well it's fairly repetitive.

 Monday through Saturday wake up at 6:45.  Eat bananas, bread, and peanut butter, and wash it down with a large tea.  All the while, going over wacky Larium (our anti-malarial meds) induced dreams, and discuss the days work plans. I then do a my calisthenics and stretches to get the muscles.  Once the boots are laced up, we grab the solar equipment, a few hand tools and head down the hill.

Daniel working with Tamesgen leveling the first row
Our house is a 3 minute walk to the jobsite, it's also next to one of the local church (with a boisterous and song happy congregation), a slightly annoying highlight of our Sunday swinging.

Ijigu usually gets to the jobsite 20 minutes early and barks out the days work plans; how many people and of course who's working. I arrive, set up the solar, and Ijigu and I finalize these work orders, and off we all go.  The first 20 minutes is all quality control. Checking in with the 12 to 35 people working, making sure they understand their specific tasks, and more importantly why the tasks are there in the first place. A lot o times I need to pull in Ijigu to help with the explanations of why, but the extra energy expelled is worth it, when you see in the workers now understand why "we do not want air pockets in the retaining walls cement back fill." I then join the ranks.

Usually Daniel, myself, and any highly experienced villager, take the most skill based position for the first couple days of the activity.  In effort to share knowledge,  we work with interested members of the workforce to educate them on, cement work, framing, ect. This week was the final week of retaining wall work.  At this point two assistant managers have been trained in and have fully taken over the stone breaking and laying.  They are doing a excellent job… its always great watching the community fish.

The rock perimeter sits 35 centimeters in the soil.  When compacted, it acts
as a foundation for the retaining wall.
We have yet to have any morning rains, so outside of material deliveries (lots of wood, rock, and sand), morning work goes on unimpeded until 12 o’clock lunch. We count the tools and a few materials, gather up the solar and head off. The remainder of my hour is then split in to 20 minutes of chowing down on avocados bread and peanut butter while trouble shooting the days work with Ijigu, and 20 minutes of hammock and reading. The hammocks are a very important facet of daily routines.

With solar panels and one fresh battery in hand, we then head back down for a blistering afternoon. Because of the heat, we take a 10 minute break at 3pm and a few scheduled water breaks. We have had a couple sun showers that have stopped labor for upwards of 20 minutes, other than those deliveries, we rarely have any other type of work stoppage. At 5 I hell out Sat Goffe (times finished in Hidea), folks gather, Ijigu and I say our thank yous, the community helps collect tools and solar, count materials. When everything is accounted for, we all head up to the house to store everything for the night.

Then, the highlight of my day. Bathing time.

Ijigu, Daniel and I promptly change into shorts and for about 10 minutes follow along jungle paths through backyards, farm field shortcuts, and over the large hill to our infinity pool perched at the top of the two large waterfalls in the community. For 30 or so minutes we relax in the cool rushing waters, take in the view, and do our best to make light the numerous onlookers.  Fresh and clean with the sun setting over our right shoulders, we saunter back with dinner on our minds. It's dark by 7, so by the time we return and change we are relegated to our mud hut for the evening. Every night is roughly the same. Chat for a bit, discussing the following workday long term project plans, and a few absurdities.  We eat, and then retire to our bug nets. The 9 or so hours on our feet and in the equatorial sun really suck it out of you.   In a depleated haze, I manage 20 or so minutes of reading before easing off into a slumber littered with building go-carts with ex landlords.  

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Kololo Health Projects

Many of you may remember the story of Daguma.  A young boy suffering from severe scoliosis that assisted on much of the Ekodaga school build.  Through chance, I met Dr. Rick Hodes (he perfers Dr. Rick) and described Daguma's ailments, soon after Daguma traveled into Addis for his first of many visits.  Thanks to Dr. Rick's phenomenal work, Daguma received two life changing, and potentially saving operations (currently he is back in Ghana rehabbing from his second and hopefully final surgery).  Well... Dr. Rick and Tesfa are back at it again.  

With the assistance of Liz Mcgovern from Madula Water, a current construction employee, Berhanu Lamma of the Kololo build, has been sent to Addis.  Starting last week, Berhanu met with Dr. Rick and his staff to have his ameloblastoma reviewed.  Dr. Rick and his support staff are in the process of planning strategies for short term and long term intervention.  Berhanu, his family, and all of us at Tesfa and Ethiopia Reads are ecstatic about the great news.  

Of course word got out that the ferengies were sending locals into Addis for surgery.  Soon after Berhanu left, a father brought in his young boy.  His child is suffering from a congenital deformity known as club foot.  So we took a couple photos and got the word up to Dr. Rick.  A few days later we heard back, the young boy should report to Addis ASAP.  It seems that the boy is an excellent candidate for surgery.  Amazing news once again.   The father and son should be traveling to Addis by early next week.  I will keep everyone updated on any progress in the upcoming weeks.

The travel and living allowances of patients and their families are not expenses currently fully covered.  While Dr. Rick is working tirelessly to fund-raise for his numerous patients, he needs support as well. Our project budget does not have additional funding built in for such costs.  However, there is a facebook group headed by Liz and friends, that  functions to help with fundraising for all Kololo related medical cases.  Please visit the page to donate or learn more.

Just got into Hawassa.  I will be here through the weekend posting away on the blog.  Believe me, there is plenty of juice to share.  Including potential surgeries for Kololo residents, Thanksgiving feasts, project updates, and even a somewhat gruesome trip to the local ER, video and all.  The last by yours truly.  On a brighter note. The weather has been great, and we finally got a handle on those bedbugs.

Sunday Funday... well more like relaxing in the sun day.
Be sure to check in over the next few days, or plan on a good chunk of reading on Monday morning.