Monday, 18 May 2015

Day 5 – Allocation of roles (12-May-2015)

Today was the second day on site, and this post is really going to be focused on the building.

But before I start, let me introduce Chucu a bit more to understand the Open Arms methods a little more. The extract above is taken from Chucu's file at the orphanage in Mangochi. It's part of his admission paperwork and it does nicely summarise what the people at the orphanage do. They provide good nutrition and love!

Chucu was admitted on 17-May-2011. He was 4 months old, and severely malnourished. He weighed just 2.7kg.

When he was admitted, his mother was terminally ill with HIV/AIDs. She died a few days later.

With children like Chucu, the aim is always to return them to their family, if they have family alive. Chucu does still have a grandmother, so this is who he lives with now.

Anyway, we were all up bright and early and on site by eight. The crew had finished the foundation layer of red brick and were just moving onto the main walls (with the large grey bricks).

We'd all started to establish roles on site. This is Peter helping George with the brick laying (with only one arm, Peter was unable to easily lift the large bricks, but proved to be a bit of a whizz with the trowel.

Meanwhile, Pierre took over cement duties from Michael. Mixing the cement was extremely hard work, and as you'll see, Pierre is not wearing any gloves. By the end of day two, his hands had callouses that had burst on both hands. He “doesn't like” to wear gloves.... the folly of youth!


Here is Françoise moving blocks. This was my job too. I do not think there is a single block in this house that wasn't touched at least once by either myself or Françoise!

The blocks are damn heavy (we estimate they are over 5kg – so about twice the weight of Chucu when he was admitted to the orphanage!) and very awkward to carry. I now have muscles that I really didn't think existed!

Here's a photo of Hadj being precise. I told you, I formed a bit of a crush! Getting these first corners right is crucial to the integrity of the building (that is my excuse for including this photo, anyway!)

Michael did have a go at bricklaying, but honestly this was not where Fred saw Michael's talents... whenever there was something heavy to lift, we would hear Fred shout “Michael, where is Michael?”

As you can see, the walls went up fast, and it soon became apparent that there would be some serious lifting to do once the walls got above waist height!


This is one of my favourite photos from the day. The bricks on the right of the picture are in the way of the work on the house, so Françoise is chucking them at Fred (the foreman) and he is stacking them – the reason I took this photo was that they were in total sync with each other... they were in flow!

At around 10am each morning, the crew all stopped for morning break – which was a cup of tea and a sweet potato each.

This little patch of shade behind the neighbours' house was invaluable in the early days of the build (until we'd started to generate our own shade). The family who lived in this house were very generous in sharing their space with us.


We knocked off as usual at about 12:30 and went to the orphanage for lunch – still forgetting to take a photo of the amazing lunch spread! Around the same time, one of the crew is assigned cooking tasks, and prepares their lunch of sima (white mush) and tomato “soup” which they eat at the site. Here is William cooking for the whole crew.

It was a blustery afternoon, so Neville proposed to take anyone who wanted out on the lake for a sail.

I was happy chilling on shore (and given my propensity for accidents, thought I might have fallen in!) Everyone except Peter wanted to go, which made the sailing boat quite busy. (Peter had been at the site this afternoon, and only arrived back as the expedition was underway).

This meant Peter and I were comfortably seated on the shore watching Neville fail to start the motor on the dinghy. We could hear the conversation between Charlie (who was already on the boat) “Pull the choke out” and Neville (in the dinghy) “I've pulled the bloody choke out” being yelled across the water. Luckily Michael and Françoise know how to paddle!

Here are a couple of shots that Michael took on the boat.

Françoise and Charlie hoisting the mainsail (or something like that!) and Pierre smoking a fag in the background.


Neville driving and Tessa trying to be out of the way of manning the mainsail (or something like it)


 Charlie in silhouette against the sunset.

Once they got back (the motor on the dinghy mysteriously fixed when Charlie touched it!) we had dinner of cottage pie. Because Michael cannot eat mashed potatoes, Frank had made him a special portion of his own with sliced potatoes. We really should have taken a picture.... but forgot!

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