From the scene – week no. 9
On Monday morning Bára and Lukáš say goodbye to us. Tomorrow they fly home. They didn't have time to meet the brick machines. Before noon, they sit in the car with Matěj, thinking that only a peaceful journey home awaits them. Halfway to Lusaka, Peter calls, "Could you meet the Foreign Minister tomorrow morning?"
And so, the next morning at 7am, our large expedition was tap dancing in the parking lot in front of the ministry. Barča, Lukáš and Matěj from the Czech team and Bornface and Mr. Thomas from the local non-profit organization. At 8:30 we are admitted to the office of Minister Hon. Stanley K. Kakuba. It is an extremely nice and friendly meeting. The Minister thanks us for our activities, promises to help us in our case with the brick machines and assigns a gentleman to go through the necessary paperwork with us. With him we proceed to the Ministry of Finance where we should get the documents for the ZRA (Zambia Revenue Authority) on the basis of which we should be granted remission of tax and duty. The amount of these had been calculated for us the week before at 71,000 kwacha (approx. 80,000 CZK), even though the nature of our shipment is non-profit and therefore entitled to be exempted from these charges. Of course, we had not counted on such expenses and so we are doing everything we can to avoid them. And the clock is ticking. Both because of the construction and because of the rule that we have 14 days to pay or the shipment will be confiscated. So we have two options: pay up or get the full amount waived.
From the Ministry of Finance we return to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, where we get a stamp on the letter of recommendation from the Czech Embassy, which we have been using for some time. This will be enough. Okay. Matěj takes Lukáš to the airport and Bára continues with the locals to the tax office. But there we soon get into a never-ending loop of wandering from one door to another. We do not find anyone who is able or willing to see the exceptional nature of the situation, and they try to apply the classic rules and procedures to us. So we give up and head back to the Ministry.
"We don't need white now, leave it to us," Bornface says outside, and so Barca goes off to enjoy her last hour in Lusaka in her own way. "I believe they know what they're doing. Sometimes the presence of white faces here is an advantage - like when visiting the minister, for example - but at other times it can be a liability - as may have been shown when dealing with ordinary official. White people have money, so why shouldn't they pay for what we want them to pay for..." says Barča.
Meanwhile, Vasek arrives in Kashit, followed a few days later by Lucka, Terka and Katka. So the team has rotated and we are now in the second half of our stay in Kashitu. A new group, full of strength, ready for concrete operation. Concrete is being poured from Thursday to Saturday. At the end of the week we say goodbye to Honza, who has already done his time in Zambia.
The first part of the concreting is successfully completed!
You may remember that a month ago we started digging the foundation. We had these dug after only three days of work, but it took us much longer to fill them with concrete. The gravel and sand had to first be sourced together from a local quarry and then separated by sieving. Then we started the actual pouring. The lower part of the foundation is made up of a reinforced concrete structure, which forms a stable base for the whole building. We then started to compact the soil between the strips so that the reinforced concrete slab forming the floor of the whole building also had a solid foundation. This was followed by the construction of the slab formwork and the addition of reinforcing mesh to ensure that the resulting structure would not crack under load.We had to spread the actual pouring of the concrete over several days, because in rural Zambia it is not possible to order a concrete truck that will use a pump to fill the entire slab area in a matter of hours.
We completed the concreting with wheelbarrows, shovels and two 400l mixers. Unfortunately, one of them was constantly on strike, so we had no choice but to mix by hand using shovels on a wooden slab. We didn't manage to finish the concrete mixing in one day, but we divided it into 4 consecutive days. You can see the difference in the way the reinforced concrete slab was mixed, poured, compacted and smoothed compared to the commonly used European methods from our pictures. After pouring the slab, the coarse concrete surface was further treated with trowels for a final smooth finish.
Despite all these complications, we managed the entire concreting process with our Czech and Zambian volunteers and ten workers from a local construction company. In the next few days we will have to sprinkle it so that it will not crack and we can enjoy the finished one third of the whole construction.
And a little bit of life in Kashitu...