Tuesday, February 26, 2013

"Aund Lai"

Folks keep asking me how we are doing so much, so fast.  It may sound like a recipe for poor craftsmanship, but its because we are doing as much as we possibly can at once.  Dont, fret we have it all, mostly under control ;-).

The main reasons for us working so efficiently is our constant effort to do more than one thing at once. Rather than splitting the project into numerous short phases, like roofing, mud work, doors and windows, ect. We do our very best to tackle as many aspects of the build at once.  Thus the Amhaic phrase aund lai (to the effect of "at one time").  Currently we are finishing up roofing, the first coat of cob, just completed the classrooms rock foundation, all while planting the posts for the covered walk way.  By effectively combining what are usually individual build phases, we greatly shorten the time of the over all project.  Thus enabling us to build two KG's within a single dry season.  

Getch and Matios leveling out the rafters

Interior first layer cob work is complete

From a roofers prespective

Tightening up the leveling strings

Cob water on it way to storage

5 more weeks

Monday, February 25, 2013

3 in 3 years and counting

Been working in central and south western Ethiopia for the majority of the last three years.  Lived as countryside local, put a miles and miles on once dependable work boots, taken thousands of photos, broken my fare share of hand tools and made a few friends along the way.  Azedebo's completion this last Saturday marks the third ER/Tesfa school I have had the privileged to lead. Took just over three and a half months.  

Considering Kololo and Ekodaga's builds were somewhat similar in size, and they each consumed over 5 months of time... well you can say that we are efficiently moving along. 

At request from the local officials, we are going to be postponing the community celebrations for two weeks.  The school's director and some local government bigwigs types, have invited Radio and News agencies to the event, and everyone wants to make sure that the media has plenty of time to squeeze the party into their schedule.   

Now to really get moving in Fundame.

Not bad

Taking care of the door trim

Library after a fresh mopping

Notice the window trim

The ladies helping out with cleaning 

The outdoor reading/meeting area

Finishing the last of the cement work

The rainwater canals

Last  of the touch ups 

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Covered Walkway

Last couple days of work are consumed with cleaning, paint touch ups, and the last of the cement.  Today, 12 of us dedicated our days to either mixing, carrying our applying the top coat of cement in the covered walkways.  The rest beautified the buildings and the grounds they are perched on.

Tafassa and Tashala smoothing out the top coat 

Not what you think of when one says rural african build

All the posts will be cleaned of their cement dust tomorrow afternoon

Proud of our days work

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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Almost there

So close.... 

Finishing touches and lots of tidying up in Azedebo.  

Of course, like with the builds leading up to this one we are running into a few last minute issues, there is new a glass shortage in the surrounding cities, and there in no green paint in all of Durame or Shinshicho. You folks with Home Depot's, Lowe's r neighborhood hardwear stores have no idea how fortunate you really are. We have a couple friends searching out the needed materials in Hoessana and Sodo. Together we will track it all down... in time.   

We are banking on Friday.  That still gives us time to meet or Saturday goal.  If not, no harm done.  Were not going anywhere for another 6 weeks.  When we have the needed materials we'll finish the work.

People ask me what I've learned about myself during my time out here.  Many, many things.  Right now though, that I can be a very patient guy. 

Like I have a choice.  

Cleaning up the windows in prep for the glass 
Bathroom lower surround nearly complete 

Covered walk ways smooth cement finish being prefected

Almost there (we had to re apply plaster this morn on the library's exterior wall). 

Monday, February 18, 2013

5 days left

Pictures of progress

Outdoor reading and meeting space just about finished up

Gypsum and paint
Bathroom super structure complete, and floor poured

Cement coating on the back side of the school

Protective stone work in the front.  It keeps kids from kicking the walls as much

One of the four classrooms, just a little touch up is needed 

ER's Azedebo library almost there 

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Foreman and Teacher

Today during dinner Sigamo, Amarich and I got to talken about one of the aspects of my work.  We touched on the usual things; where we are in the builds, how many of the workers are “lazy” and of course who.. and also touched on some of the less interesting odds and ends.  Sigamo mostly nodded along as I recapped, but as he often does, caught me off guard, asking me to do my best to explain why again we work on a lottery basis rather than just simply hiring the best of the best.  My Amharic still has a ways to go, thus the nuances of discussing the intricacies of employing equal and fair hiring practices in a rural environment is still out of my grasp.  Thankfully, my habasha parents are patient, and we eventually figure it out by the time we finish the chow and move onto the home brew.

Sigamo  asked a few subsequent questions on my opinions on the benefits and drawbacks of creating a “super work force” of sorts.  As he put it, it would probably give me less of a headache to have experienced and competent folks make up the  majority of our temporary workers.  I agreed, and then went into my best Amharic version of the importance of equal opportunity employment… with an emphasis on developing skill sets and the confidence of the community.  It wasn’t Shakespearian, but he got it.  Sigamo paraphrased, and offered some kind feedback.  

 I, along with my management team are more than just foreman, we are astamarioch (teachers). 

To those in the community interested, we share our now refined knowledge of  the art of rural Ethiopian waddle and daub construction.  A task that’s not always easy, especially seeing that a majority of our labor force is made up by woman that rarely, if ever, have the opportunity to assist in the very male dominated Ethiopian domain.  Although our tact to share know-how, and train those that otherwise would not have the opportunity pay immediate dividends for the projects at hand; those woman that are disregarded by the community has simple mothers cooks, and a back to carry things, are by far the most enthusiastic and diligent workers.  The effects of our "not-the easiest-way" management methodologies serve the community for years to come. ER rural management team prides it self in better enabling communities to support themselves, developing stronger leadership in woman, and a bolstering confidence to go out and try.  

We do our best to fairly distribute work opportunities (and it’s salary) to a majority of the community.  That said, our new class of students every Monday demands attention and energy. It can be trying, but the rewards surpass any struggles in the moment.

Our management tactics go along way with Sigamo, because as he sees it, we are perpetually training. There's no point during any of the projects where cruise control management is introduced.  If we did, work would flounder and the quality of our product would greatly diminish.

It can be tiring, but the eventual satisfaction is worth a few extra frustrating sessions stemming from  the ever important rule of think before you do... anything on our job site. 

Fitting the diagonal supports

Notice how many woman are in this photo 

Getch and Deseleng leveling the ventilation boxes during their installation 

Temesgin's cement scaffolding 

Fundame job site from the dirt (soon to be cob) hill

Cob work has begun

Azedebo Blue

Monday, February 11, 2013

Felt and plaster

Azedebo's got a new clean look, and Fundame's walls are starting to take shape.  

Noteworthy accomplishments for the day:

The last of the  felt split this afternoon.  1750 in total.
We re-plumbed the unused school water storage and created a handy staircase to dump thousands of lieters of water into the 7 foot tall bins top hatch.

Plasters almost complete.  Paints next.
The perimeter stone work will be finished in the next couple days.
The cement work will be finished by the end of the week.

1 of 1550 split timbers used o the Fundame build

Ejigu guiding the Fundame crew throw leveling magar as its nailed into place

Sallamnesh showing off some of her hard work in the schools libray

Getch  leading the way in his Roto stairs

Roto stairs complete

Felts almost finished

Desaleng felting away

Another day in Fundame
Two coats of plaster complete