The population of Crimize are some of our favourite people and my “fans” (who also know I’m being sarcastic) will remember that they were one of the first communities that inspired me here, in my first few weeks as they were building a school for their kids from their own money.
Instead of the bamboo temporary shelter they were valiantly constructing, Nema, in conjunction with our lovely partners at Maninga are now building a 3 room brick building with a tin roof and run-off rainwater tank. Not only did the amazing Gig at Maninga raise half of the money but she also applied to the Waterloo Foundation on our behalf, not an easy application form, for the other half.
The most important part of a development project is before any activities begin, not only in securing funding but we had extensive meetings with district government education officials, the traditional chiefs and government chiefs, the school committee, the school director and the local population. After all this was done we had signed memoranda from the district education department and the chief and head of the school committee in Crimize: ready to start.
Communities here hear many promises from their own government and foreign agencies, so they were pretty sceptical at the beginning, but after the first pieces of equipment started arriving (we delivered the brick machines very early as a statement of intent) the energy in the village rose quickly as they realised we were serious.
So, after moving the block making machines, 150 bags of cement, mud, equipment and our very own Abacar to Crimize we began construction on 2 Feb.
Concurrent activity being important to our ability to get this project done on time, micro management is required. For this reason, lodge manager Rita volunteered to help us in her free time and she rapidly became “chefe de obras”, the chief of the construction.
Of course this is Africa, and rainy season Africa at that so nothing is anticipated to go smoothly, but so far we have not found anything we could not overcome, though we often come home to the need for a whiskey (and in Rita’s case burn cream after a small incident with Abacar’s motorbike) it’s all been worth it.
Indeed we are now very much into getting the foundations done and have already made over 700 bricks, for some this may seem slow in 2 weeks but for us, when we see progress every day, it’s small victories that count. Even better we are making new friends along the way: yesterday Abacar was telling me that his “servente” had got up early and had prepared all of the tools and the equipment ready for work, and on his own initiative had been making bricks on Sunday. This attitude will win him paid work with us for a while and a call-back when we have more work, we like to reward this attitude.