From the scene – week no. 5
And the bricks are still nowhere to be found. But we're not sitting idly by. Look what's going on on the construction site!
Our bricks are still not here and we don't know exactly when they'll arrive. We're trying to find out what's going on. We've been writing and calling all the organizations in charge of transportation, and they either don't answer us at all or only give us very vague responses. Even if we manage to obtain some information, it usually turns out to be unreliable.
The situation had to be addressed with changes to the building plans. We decided to make the structure with a reinforced concrete skeleton system. Once the foundations and the reinforced concrete slab are finished, we can proceed straight to the columns and the roof lintel, which can be covered before the wall infills are finished. The bricks will therefore not be load-bearing and will not delay the progress of other important and interrelated building work. And what is happening on the site now?
On Wednesday, the boys are busy bringing water to the site. Instead of the estimated 300 m, it is over 400 m to the water source, so we still have to go to Kapiri to get more pipes and a few missing connectors. The site is being finished with a base layer of gravel. An excavator and a truck are working side by side in a nearby quarry. The excavator loads the sand and gravel onto the truck, which transports it to the site. In one day the truck made about eight rounds and brought back several tons of material.
A mixer was added to the site on Thursday. The gravel base is finished. The first concrete is being mixed to pour the next base layer for the foundation. We've been tightening and sealing all the pipe joints for several hours now. A drop here, a drop there, and suddenly there would be nothing left in the water tank. By the evening, we can finally celebrate our success. The pump at the community center can easily cover this nearly half-kilometer distance. The water tank is filled and there is hardly any leakage left. Hooray! Now we can wash the mixer and the wheelbarrows. It's all stained with concrete and it needs to be washed twice a day. Especially the mixer, so we can keep it in good condition for as long as possible.
In the evening, the expedition from Lusaka returns and with them a couple of visitors. Our friends ran into David and Dimik in the capital - two travelers who journeyed from South Africa via Mozambique and are continuing on to Tanzania. They met in a café and when they discovered that everyone speaks Czech, David and Dimik took a detour to visit us in Kashitu. Our evening had a friendly atmosphere. We also conducted our first eye test and tried out the DOT Glasses project, which you will hear about later. Our first client was Justin, our chef, for whom we made his first pair of glasses.
On Friday concrete continues to be poured on the site. We showed David and Dimik around the site and the nearby area. We visited the school and a small local shop. Mesi, the owner, invited us behind the house. "Come and see what I'm preparing!" Small doughnuts were frying in a pot. Fritas. We each tried a few and took another twenty home. So yummy! After lunch, we took the boys to Kapiri, where they were supposed to catch the train to Tanzania. Our car got stuck not far from the station, but the boys didn't wait for us to dig it out and walked the rest of the way. Here one never knows when the train will arrive. The next day we got a message from them that the train was more than ten hours late. They might as well have stayed for dinner.
Lukas has been sick for a few days. We chalked it up to a cold. The last few days have been very cold and windy. But today he got much worse and even a walk and fritas didn't cure him. The thermometer reads 38.8 tonight, so it's time for the malaria test. Long wait. Positive. We tried one more time just to be sure. Same result.
Lukas is packing, Petr is looking for the contact details of the insurance company, Matej and Bara are calling the hospitals in Lusaka, Paja is finding out whether to start the treatment immediately and with what dose, Honza is consulting the situation with other friends who are doing development projects in Zambia. We also consult with the locals and with Anita and David from Natwange in Lusaka - about where to take Lukas, whether to the district hospital half an hour away or to Lusaka. He would get the best care in Lusaka, but the journey can take up to six hours. Lusaka won. Before 8pm Matej, Roman and Lukas depart. At that point we are still waiting to hear back from the insurance company, which is supposed to let us know which hospitals they have a contract with, and where would the whole process be easier.
By midnight the boys arrived at the CFB Medical Centre in Lusaka, and at quarter to one Roman texted us that Lukas had just gone to the examination room. Just before 3am a message came that they will keep Lukas there until Sunday. Malaria is confirmed. In the morning Luke calls to say that he is a little worse, his temperature has risen to 40. But the doctor says that such fluctuations are part of it and that everything should be alright.
This serves as a reminder that we are in a high-risk area for malaria.
The whole evening was challenging for all of us, none of us probably expected to encounter malaria so quickly. Moreover, we hadn't even seen any mosquitoes in the immediate vicinity of our house and Lukas wasn't aware that he had been bitten by one. This serves as a reminder that we are in a high-risk area for malaria. Furthermore, the type of Plasmodium falciparum that is the most severe can be found here. Treatment must be started immediately, which we have done, and Lukas will therefore be well soon.
Petr said that he had been planning some team building for this weekend, during which we were to try out a fictitious crisis situation. Turns out we went straight for it. And we did great, I think. We were calm, cool, collected, and at the same time quick and efficient. To distract themselves and relax after such an evening drama, some people go straight to bed, others with a camera around their necks walk under the starry sky, which is really magnificent here. See for yourself.
When Lukas got in the car to Lusaka, the local volunteers were just heading to the construction site, as they had just brought gravel (at 8pm on a Friday). The material we had brought in from the quarry the previous day contained a higher percentage of sand, but we needed less of it for construction than gravel. Since we already had enough sand, it was no longer worthwhile to import everything just for the gravel. Therefore, we ordered it from Ndola, the second largest city in Zambia, which is 90 km further north, near the border with Congo.
Even at 10pm we could still hear shovels in the distance. When they hadn't stopped by 11:30pm, we went to take a look. The longest truck possible was drowned in piles of gravel, the driver was revving the engine as the locals were trying to get it out. All that gravel had been dumped off the back of the truck, right between its wheels. We asked the driver what he thought. Well, this has never happened to him before... The wheels were spinning, the air was full of dust and the shovels continued to make their monotonous sound.
On Saturday morning we went to the construction site, curious to see if we could still find the truck. It was gone. So the night's action was a success after all. Still on the agenda is the pouring of the concrete base layer for the foundations. But after the second round, the mixer broke down and we spent the rest of the morning repairing, adjusting and greasing it. In the process, Honza tore one of the bolts holding together the drum and the toothed wreath around it. We're not sure if he has abnormal strength or if it was because of the bolts. The mixer, by the way, has a label on it that says it is not to be used in most of the world. Seems like there is a reason for that.
On Sunday, the site is quiet, we are not working. We only have to water the concrete from time to time. Everybody uses their free time in different ways. Bara and Honza are going to see the bees with Mr. Thomas, Petr and Roman are going to Sunday mass. After the mass there is a rehearsal of the local choir, to which Bara went straight from the last hive. She was late - in Africa, imagine that - a European, and she was late.
What does a local choir rehearsal look like?
As far as internal matters go, Mufasa scores! First he practiced his skills on two lizards, then he quickly moved on to mice - he's caught two of those already! Paja takes care of dividing papers and crayons among the painting-hungry kids. We started calling Honza E. Jeník. Because our team is filled with Honzas.