Saturday, March 2, 2013

Building Up the New Wall

After we completed the foundation under the new wall, the next step was to start building up the wall above ground.

Building the wall involves placing alternating layers of sandbags and cement.  We left a space open for the door at the corner, and Sarah and Deen worked on building a pillar adjacent to the door for support.

The sandbags provide good structural support, use abundant natural resources available in the area, and allow the building to stay much cooler in the warm summer months.  The wood frame library on the site is noticeably hotter than the classroom built with sandbags.

The photos and captions below are again self-explanatory, and are in sequence.

Tom and Estelle fill sandbags

Sarah and Estelle carry sandbags to the wall

The sandbag prep area

The above-ground wall work begins

Pounding down the sandbags to level them

The sandbags have been placed and watered down

Another layer of cement is placed on top

Sarah and Ethan water the back garden

Sarah gets to use her spackling skills again

Berny signs the completed first above ground wall layer
Not too bad for a bunch of amateurs

After building the frame, Sarah starts to build a pillar

The team has found its rhythm

Matteo does walls and squats at the same time

Estelle helps Sarah build the pillar

This was our best team effort to date.  All five of our team members (Sarah, Matteo, Estelle, Tom and John) worked together very well, under Deen's expert direction.  Deen has previously run his own construction business, so he is the one person on the site who really knows what he is doing.

When we were spackling during our first week on the job, we were pretty much all working on our own wall areas.  We have always coordinated to collect the sand and mix the cement, but the foundation and wall buildup took the teamwork to a whole new level.  Too bad we are leaving soon!  It's a great team.

It was also enjoyable to do something that was all of our own work, rather than build on previous work that was done by dozens (hundreds?) of different people.  It is easier and a little more rewarding to work on a project this way.  But all of the work days have been great.  This is an experience we will never forget.


  1. From Matteo's mum: thank you so much for having shared all of this !
    It was great for us to learn so much about the project, your life there and the accomodation despite the his teenage reticence. Thank you also for taking care of him when he wasn't feeling well !
    All the best,

  2. Looks like you are getting proficient. I like how you mark your territory by inscribing your names in the concrete. Tell me, is there any notion of Benny getting a round of Benny and the Jets in there? Did you bring any Tebow jerseys along with the RGIII ones to use as primers? Perhaps you could have found a few dozen of them at the Capetown thrift store for a few rand?

  3. Just to keep you up with current events, and to get in a Most Interesting Man in the World reference. We are between popes, and the cardinals are all set to convene in a few days, cloistering themselves in the Sistine Chapel until one cardinal successfully schmoozes the others into donning the little beanie.

    "The white smoke from the Sistine Chapel announcing the selection of the new pope comes from his cigar".

    Looking forward to more pictures and posts.

  4. @ Ilaria - Matteo is such a hard worker and also has such a great sense of humor. We are so glad we got to work alongside of him.