Thursday, April 9, 2009

Progess and Praises

Yeabo! The grader came yesterday and graded the land where the latrines and teacher's house will be built. This morning John (the builder) and I met to go over the drawings and determine the quantity of various materials he will need for the two latrines. It is a process that always thoroughly amazes me. The architect drawings left something to be desired in some ways. One big issue is that they didn't have a good means of support for the slab on top of the pit. These plans were drawn in 1982 and the government doesn't have anything more current. At almost every school I have visited the slabs on top of the pits have collapsed into the pit. John and I wanted to improve the plan so that won't happen. We actually both had the same idea and once again I was so grateful that we could both share our ideas and discuss the situation and come to a mutual understanding. Then as he figures out in his head the quantity of what he will need to do the job I sit there in silent amazement. I'm not sure if this guy has any formal training in this profession. He may not hit all the quantities right on the nose, but my experience so far is he comes darn close. I certainly couldn't do what he does with all the calculators in the world. So that's why we make a good team. We negotiated the labor rate, which seemed fair to me. There are only three things I wish could have been done differently. One, that Bethuel, the volunteer general contractor who knows building and actually orders the materials for me was there to double check what we decided on. Two, that we had a better estimate of the materials before we start, but I have a rough figure in my head. We'll see how close I come to guesstimating the cost. And three, I wish he and his guys weren't digging the pit (by hand) over the Easter weekend, but I understand their wish to earn money and I am glad that John is as concerned as I am to have the pit dug before our first team comes in May. To quote John, digging the pit is too much hard work to expect volunteers to do, and I would have to agree with him. I offer up praises to God for this success. This whole process is such a transformation from when I first came and he was working on the first set of buildings which was a two-seat latrine. I can't judge them based on their religious affiliation or dedication. I don't really know if John is a Christian or not, but I know that he occasionally attends church and that though he may have many faults, he is a trustworthy person with a good heart who cares for his community and the children.

Another praise is that yesterday about six women, parents of children attending Lomngeletjane, harvested the first crop of maize at the school! It will now dry for a about 3 or 4 weeks on the veranda of the food storage/office building that was finished in February before it can be ground into mealie meal. The teacher and John are eager to plant some vegetables before the children go on holiday for three weeks beginning April 24th. The concern is watering the plants during the holiday. The teacher and I and John and I have talked about hiring one of the children who can't afford a uniform or to pay school fees to water the garden and take care of the trees over the course of the school year and earn that money. Thoko is my adviser on matters such as these (of course) and she also thinks it is a great idea that is very doable especially since John will be on site building the latrines during the holiday so he can keep an eye on him to make sure the child does what he/she is supposed to do.

Today is also the start of the Easter services. Many people from the different societies (congregations) will be coming and basically camping out in the primary and high school classrooms until Sunday morning. The time leading up to this has been emotionally and spiritually hard for me on multiple levels, but God is showing me in so many ways that He is always with me and will continue to bless me because I hold firm to my faith and hope in Him. I thank all of you that have sent me Easter cards and notes of encouragement. They have truly been a blessing and a precious gift.

One more thing...please keep praying that the school gets registered the first of May. There seems to be a bit of hope in that direction. Evidently the government's fiscal year begins May 1st and the directive has been given to sort out the problem and give the school a registration number which means we will get four teachers and a head teacher, desks, chairs, blackboards, etc. Not exactly sure how long that will take, but as the saying goes, "the check will be in the mail!"

No comments: