Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Building Construction Redux

One of the most rewarding aspects of this short volunteer project was that we had the opportunity to use a variety of skills and experiences.

We spent most of the time teaching the kids geography, math and English, as well as playing sports and using our collective social work, communication and organizational skills.  We functioned as an advocate for KSEDO, and liaised with the Projects Abroad staff to get funding for some needed repairs and other site improvements.

Rey provided transportation and approval for the wood purchase

We worked on two special projects that helped Ms. Sophorn and the KSEDO kids adapt to their new physical location.  We were direct donors for another KSEDO need.

On our second full day at the placement, Ms. Sophorn asked us if we could ask the Projects Abroad staff to pay for some materials (wood and nails) to build out the rest of the boys' sleeping area.  When we arrived at KSEDO, this area was largely open air, with some areas covered by blankets and other makeshift items.

This is the wood we needed for the project

In the photo below, Ms. Sophorn is standing in front of the side of the building that is OK for now, since there is an awning above held up by long wooden poles.  The other three sides are exposed to the elements, except for some green cloth borrowed from the neighbors.

Ms. Sophorn stands on the most well-protected side of the building

This arrangement is fine during the dry season, which is just winding down now.  But during the rainy season from June to October, when the rainfall averages 6 - 10" per month, this would make it almost impossible for the boys to sleep well.

Only a small portion of our considerable fee to Projects Abroad goes directly to the individual placements such as KSEDO.  Mostly what KSEDO gets is the free services of the volunteers.  However, if KSEDO or another organization asks for something specific and can put together a budget request, Projects Abroad may fund additional items after looking at its overall budget.

To put together a budget, we used the limited resources available to us.  We estimated the number, length and width of wooden planks required to better enclose the structure.  We had no tape measure, so John used an 8.5" x 11" sheet of paper to roughly measure the requirements.  Based on this data, we put together the following crude drawing for each of the 4 sides of the building.  Blue is what we already had, and red is what we needed.

These won't win any draftsmen's awards, but they were useful

We gave a copy of the 4 drawings to both Ms. Sophorn and Bunroen ("Bryan") of Projects Abroad.  We suggested that they talk to each other to figure out how much the needed wood planks and nails would cost.  Ms. Sophorn did this.  Bryan and Rey looked at the Projects Abroad discretionary funds available, and decided that they could fund part of the requirement now and the rest in another week or two.  Without our advocacy and the drawings, this might have taken much longer to happen.

On Friday morning, Rey and I went to a lumber shop to buy the wooden planks.  Rey is friends with the owner, with whom he attended Grades 8 and 9.  We dropped off the lumber before heading back to the villa for lunch.

Most lumber shops sell planks, poles and bamboo
The lumber shop workers unload the wood planks at KSEDO

Soon after lunch, the KSEDO boys started to nail down the new boards on three walls of their sleeping room, under the direction of Ms. Sophorn's husband.  He has good carpentry and other handy-man skills.  John helped out a bit, but the kids were working in unison at warp speed and would have been fine without further assistance.

The first new board is put up on the classroom-facing side

Kimpo, Pren and Sokly admire Mesa's yeoman's work

Mesa uses the same force to strike a nail, soccer ball or volleyball

Samet hands a board up to the rest of the crew

The scene inside, with Da as the monkey in the middle

Da, the ultimate utility man, is everywhere

Mesa nails it down, with support from Kimpo and Kakada

With the rhythm of a finely tuned NFL offense, the team proceeded to add the wooden planks to the neighbor-facing (back) and kitchen-facing (side) walls.  Ms. Sophorn's husband called the plays, and Mesa quarterbacked the boys to a successful finish.

Sovann, Kakada, Kimpo and Da get ready for the 2nd wall

Player/coach Mr. Sophorn was MVP and Coach of the Day

Sokly collapses in a pile of clothes at game's end

The previous day, the boys and Ms. Sophorn's husband built a wall to be used as a reservoir for water pumped from the well.  This reminded us of our work in South Africa.

 Lots of simultaneous activity as the kids work together

Mixing sand and concrete looks familiar from Lavender Hill

 Samorn and Saruon behind the finished wall

I wonder what Sarah's been up to this afternoon?  Stay tuned.

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