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I leave my house for work and get called over by two village women awaiting their chance to do business with the chief. The first smiles...

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Chicken Coop Construction: Weeks 5 and 6

Construction Completed!!
Week Five: We have completion! Well, construction completion anyway. Although the house is not yet ready for chickens to arrive, the roof is completed and well secured for its windy locale. Although I missed watching the team finish the house, I learned of their accomplishment before boarding my taxi to come home. Multiple people in town stopped me in my tracks; thrilled me to tell me that the chicken house was done and beautiful.

As my taxi crested the hill before our building site, I caught me breath eager to see the completed project. It looks wonderful!

Week Six: When week five started, a friend helped me schedule someone to install burglar bars in the house on Sunday of week six. In my head, with burglar proofing happening Sunday, the cages would also get installed this week.

Clearly I should not develop expectations, even when things are scheduled and we have asked a million clarifying questions in two languages.

When the man building and installing our burglar proofing arrived, we were all stunned. He was shocked to learn we do not have electricity in our village. Bo-‘M’e and I were equally blown away that he never mentioned needing electricity to complete his work.

As PCVs, we are supposed to work with host country nationals in all things. This is to build their capacity to do the work after we return home. In this case, I am grateful to have worked alongside women in my organization as otherwise I would have feared my language skills caused the confusion and delay.

Still waiting for burglar bars on these windows, but wow,
that roof is pretty!
One of the leaders in my organization and I had spoken to this man twice in person. The first time was when we were getting a quote for building supplies and pricing. He looked at the printed list of supplies and said we had everything we needed listed and priced his work. The second time we spoke was on the day that we bought the building supplies. Again, we checked to ensure we had everything as we did not want to have to hire a vehicle for later deliveries of building supplies. Again, he confirmed we had everything and he gave us his contact information.

I have an incredibly hard time understanding this man’s Sesotho, so it is possible that I would have missed any mention of electricity despite knowing the word. I was, however, working alongside ‘M’e ‘Majustice and a woman from the building supply store. ‘M’e ‘Majustice knows that we do not have electricity in our villages. She would have quickly jumped in had he suggested anything connected to moltakasa or use of a generator. I do understand her Sesotho. The woman from the store translated many of his words into English for me and I am certain this important fact would not have been ignored as much of our district does not have electricity.

As a result of this miscommunication, we spent two hours trying to find a generator for the following week. His job at the building supply store makes him only available to do the work on Sundays. He made it clear that we needed a large generator. When he looked at the first one we found, it was too small. We went to another family’s home to see their larger generator. Although larger than the first, it too was too small. Then he clarified the power of the generator we needed-double the first one we had looked at. As we walked back to my supervisor’s, I expressed concern that we may be unable to find one that large as our village does not have people rich enough to have such large generators and we do not have the money to rent one from somewhere else.

Before he departed for the day, I asked him to take a look at our supplies again, just to be sure that if and when he returns we actually have everything needed to do the job in one day. It turns out that we are missing square “tubing” to serve as the outside of the burglar door frame. We need to buy two sections. Apparently, checking the list when we were at the building supply store on two separate occasions did not highlight this important missing piece. Buying these now will require hiring a truck as they are too long to strap to the top of our taxis.
One of the women in my organization poses with the
completed chicken house before our meeting.

So now we have to figure out how to find a huge generator, buy oil and petrol for it, buy the two sections of square tubing, and hire a vehicle to deliver the tubing or we have to find a new person to do the work; one who can arrive with and by his own power. This lack of clarity looks to more than double the anticipated cost of burglar proofing the chicken house in addition to slowing us down.

Despite my frustrations with the man who was to do the work, I am surprisingly unfazed by the situation. Obviously, my expectations are shifting and I am becoming more accepting of the twists and turns in the project.

Bo-‘M’e and I visit numerous houses in multiple villages trying to secure a generator large enough for the project. We are unsuccessful, however, my visit to town to get new quotes from people with larger shops gets us a few reasonable quotes that come complete with transport, installation (including bringing their own generator), and the supplies. As predicted things will be twice what we estimated, but a careful look over the budget and remaining funds reassures me we can still afford this vital step in our project. 

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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