On April 20th the Kololo community and Ethiopia Reads celebrated the completion of the Kololo school. After nearly six months of swinging, lifting, mixing and slathering mud, painting and cleaning, the school's construction was finished. The school's furniture for each the structure's eight rooms was delivered by the end of June. Teacher and librarian training began this summer, and with full support from the local government, so school could begin this fall.
For the last week of March and the first of April we lacked sufficient funding to pay workers their weekly salary. This was not an issue. The community trusted Ijigu and me at this point, and had no problem continuing work under an I.O.U. program. Hours were carefully noted, and when the final installment arrived we paid all of the workers in a lump sum. A really beautiful moment occurred when five of the workers told Ijigu and me that they were working as volunteers, because they cared about their community's future, not in hopes of being paid. Five workers felt so strong that they declined payment for their hard work. (It took some doing, but we found a way to get each of the five to accept.)
On April 20th the school was complete. There were a few unfinished projects (the bridges needed to dry and be hoisted into position, window putty was not fully complete, and the bathroom needed a small bit of work. The same five workers told Ijigu and I that they would relish the opportunity to finish the build in the next couple days on their own). That evening we held a sizable party to celebrate the community's hard work. Approximately 150 or so people showed up and we had a wonderful time. Community members shared funny stories and told jokes of their new ferenji family. The evening finished with a gift giving ceremony for the five standout workers, and drinks of local brew with village elders. The night's activities made for very pleasant last sleep over in Kololo.
The last month of work was an excellent showing on the part of project management, particularly regarding personnel management. Salamnesh, Gazan, and Temesgin assisted Ijigu and me in managing the workers as they put the finishing touches on the school. The final pours went well, the doors and window glass fit perfectly in all but 2 of the 43pieces (those have since been re-sized and installed), the last pit of touch up paint went well, as well as a variety of other tasks. The school came together beautifully, the community is very proud of themselves, as they should be for completing such a monumental task.
I will be visiting Kololo in the two weeks. I will be able to take up-to-date photos of the school, learning in action, and of course many shots of the schools beneficiaries. Should be posted in the next 2 weeks.