(From Lutherhaven Office Manager Anita McCormick and her husband, Cal, in Africa for the summer.)
Danja, Niger, West Africa
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
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
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org