Thursday, July 21, 2016

Chicken Coop Construction: Day Four

“E felile” (aye fay-dee-lay) the grandfather of half the work crew says after lunch. Throughout the afternoon, as building continues, various people walk by repeating that same statement: “E felile,” or “It is finished.”

As Day Four closes, two sides and all four corners are completed. The walls will be done on Day 5. It is nearing completion, but it is not finished.

The morning and early afternoon were centered on the front face of the building. The guys’ fast pacing slowed due to the transitions to scaffolding and windows.

With only two men able to build at a time, the guys on the ground had more idle time to distract themselves. This gave me even more opportunity to jump in; lifting bricks above my head to my friend on the scaffolding.

The laid back attitude of the builders surprised me. Just as they finished the brick layer before the windows began, I asked how many bricks high the window openings would be.

Apparently in all our planning discussions, this never came up. I had been assuming they would be three bricks high while my friend was envisioning them as two bricks tall. He promptly removed bricks he had just cemented with no sarcasm or irritation. I expected at least a trace of annoyance but there was none to be had, reminding me how Basotho culture is incredibly accepting of things happening differently than planned or expected, especially compared to American culture.

The windows really slowed things down as nearly every brick surrounding them had to be cut just so in order to fit. While Abuti Sama trusted the other guys to split the half bricks by the door, he clearly did not have the same level of faith for the specific ones needed by the windows. He carefully measured and split bricks in half horizontally and took out perfect corners, all without wasting a single brick. His experience is obvious in all his efforts, as is that of his cousin (the other primary builder).

I cannot help but laugh at the expectations I awoke with on Monday. Day Four is done and we still need one more full day to do the walls, another two for the roof and floor. My expectations were not of my own making. I was told a week at most including the roof and floor. But, when Abuti Sama built his house, which is larger, they had the walls done in 1.5 days. Why did this “simpler” house take longer?
                1) It is winter. Abuti Sama built his house six months ago when the community and sun are awake at four am and dusk is at nine. Right now, the sun rises at seven and sets at six; making the workday five to six hours shorter.

The guys bring bricks uphill from the community building
to the building site, 5-7 at a time.
                2) The team…It was a team of five to seven experienced friends who were all home for the holidays who helped with his house. The process, with such experiences guys who are used to working together, is understandable faster than two experienced guys with five helpers to assist with moving bricks and mixing cement. Our team has been great, willing to work long and hard for their breakfast and lunch, but they are slower than the well-greased team he built his own house with.


Bo-'M'e watch the men working, thrilled to see the chicken house "finished".

MCCC’s Egg Laying Chicken Project has been in development since March 2015. After many delays, MCCC and I were able to write a successful grant proposal for a VAST grant through Peace Corps. VAST grants are funded by PEPFAR to help with HIV-related work and OVC (Orphan and Vulnerable Children) care. It is due to MCCC’s work with OCVs that qualified us for the VAST grant. Otherwise, we would have applied for a PCPP [Peace Corps Partnership Program] grant and would have been asking for assistance in funding this grant proposal. I encourage you to consider supporting other PCPP projects.

Posts about this project include:

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