(In case you missed part one, click here.)
Now that the design and fundraising aspects of the project were complete, we were ready to start construction. Shaun and I met with the school’s founder, Blaesius, and head teacher, Germine, to schedule and plan out the construction timeline in the project. As it turns out, the meeting was more for them to inform Shaun and I of the plans they had already established and to make sure we were all on the same page. Let me just say, it is incredibly refreshing to work with people so dedicated, hardworking, and efficient!
The first steps were to get truck loads of large stones, gravel and cement, and to arrange the digging of the foundations for both the catchment and the tank. Blaesius and Germine began organizing the purchasing of materials, and we were told that the builders would come on the 15th of August to start work. Sounds good to us.
As it turns out, all of the builders are from the North West region of Cameroon. The North West is about 4 or so hours from us, and is one of the Anglophone regions of the country. The Anglophones have a reputation for working harder and more efficiently than the Francophones, for being truly bilingual in French and English, and for being a little more polite. While volunteers will fall on either side of the debate, Shaun and I do find some of these reputations of the Anglophone population to be incredibly true.
We happened to be in Yaounde when construction started, and returned to a week of solid rain at the end of August. When it finally cleared up for a few hours, we figured we better get down to the water site to make sure the sands, stone, etc, were all ready to go for the builders when the weather cleared up. How we underestimated the progress! When we showed up around the 25th, about 10 days after the builders arrived, the water catchment was already completely finished, and the storage tank was already 75% completed! These guys work hard and fast!
The water site is located downhill, behind a few farms, accessible by a small footpath. All of the stones, sand, cement, everything, had to be carried down the path to the site. This alone would have taken us weeks! With the heavy rains, the water engineer was able to determine exactly where the tank should be located, as to avoid any runoff and mini-creeks that pop up all over during rainy season. Trenches were dug out to redirect some of this runoff, and the inside of the tank was almost nearly finished being plastered. We were so impressed.
Now, we just have to implement the 5 hand washing stations around the school campus and organize a day for sanitation training to be held once all of the students are back at the school. We have been continually impressed with the amount of work the school staff has done to see this project be completed before all 500 students come back for the school year.
Stay tuned next week to see what the community has come together to do, and to see just how much the project has expanded and grown!
The finished water catchment. One pipe will connect to the storage tank, the other is for ease of access for community members to access water. The catchment holds a natural filter of stones, gravel, and sand to filter the water before it comes out.
The catchment after the ground had been dug out some so that storage containers (like a bucket) could fit under the pipe.
The tank under construction.
Plastering the inside of the tank.
Blaesius, myself, and Shaun on the top of the tank.
The completed tank. It will take about 3 weeks for the tank to fully dry and the cement to set; the plastic cover is keeping rain off of the top while it dries.