Monday, June 11, 2012

Niger Report 2

(From Lutherhaven Office Manager Anita McCormick and her husband, Cal, in Africa for the summer.)

Danja, Niger, West Africa

June 11

Dear All,

It sure has been a week of new experiences for us!

Cal and his crew had a full week of construction on the foundation for the new house. We are amazed everyday with the amount of work completed and how it's done totally by manual labor, every part of it: if a dump truck brings gravel, it was loaded by hand with shovels!

Cal staked out the location of the house and got the strings in place for where the footings would eventually be set. After a lot of negotiation (via translators) with a local contractor for the correct materials, truck loads of sand and gravel began arriving.

Three men started making the solid concrete blocks by hand. Two of them mixed the sand, gravel and concrete with water until it was the right consistency for the blocks. The third was the master block maker who packed the mixture into the forms. He would pack-pack-pack, then dump it out and start again. The first day they made 356 blocks, the next day 250 more. Remember, the temperature is around 105-110 every day!

They have a man that comes around a couple of times a day to water the bricks so they dry right and don't get crumbly later on.

Next a crew came and dug the foundation. They used hand tools, and the reddish sand was easy to dig through. The re-bar was laid and today the concrete blocks for the foundation are being put into place by the masons. Every bit of concrete is mixed by hand and delivered by wheelbarrow. Cal's excited how well it's gone so far.

We've had two big storms since we've been here. I kind of look forward to them! They are much bigger than others I've ever experienced and we feel pretty safe as long as our tin roof doesn't fly off! We saw the lightening far off in the distance and it just kept getting closer and closer until it was  flashing one right after the other, but I didn't hear any thunder. They also have really strong winds and rain. This is the rainy season here and the farmers have planted their crops, so they need the moisture.

Cal and I rode camels the other day with a group from the compound. Fun, a little scary, but definitely fun! They had the camels kneel down so we could climb on. Of course, I nearly fell off my camel because my saddle wasn't cinched down tight and it started to slide! I just hung on and didn't fall off or scream, so I consider it a victory for me. After they tightened the saddle properly we were good to go. FYI: camels are really tall!

Hauwa, the Fistual Hospital Administrator, arrived this week and it has been good having her here. She is in charge of decision making regarding the house and can communicate with the locals to get supplies and workers here. She is also working to get the hospital up and running again in the next few weeks.

I've gone into Miradi a couple of times, to the airport and shopping. It is a city of around 250,000 and is just complete chaos: a lot of congestion with people and traffic, cars, motorcycles, and yesterday we were backing up and had to wait for camels to pass by. We bought flour from a man in a shelter made of sticks with bags of flour on the ground. There are thousands of vendors like this. We buy mangoes from women with trays on their heads who walk around and sell them. There is a different vendor for everything.

Church was again a pleasure.

Hope all is well with you, thanks for the prayers, and we would love to hear from you. We love you all.

Cal and Anita

Contact Anita & Cal at 

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