Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Construction begins

Yesterday we began construction on the enclosure. The cement blocks made last week were now finally dry enough to be used to build the foundation, and so on the day after Christmas, work began. The first step, of course, was to pour libations to ask the ancestors for their blessing and on-going engagement in the project. Reuben Agbeli, senior member of the Agbeli family, presided over the ceremony, and all of the staff of the Dagbe Center participated. During the ceremony, Joss and I read out the names of the major donors to the project so far, and they were thanked by Reuben and the staff for their vital participation in the project.

After libations, the hard work began. We marked out the lines for the foundation, which will create an enclosure that is 100 x 100 feet. With machetes, we cleared the vegetation along the lines, and then Moses, the primary mason directing this part of the project, marked out the dimensions for the trenches that need to be cut for the cement blocks: about 14 inches wide. With picks and shovels, the Dagbe staff, Joss, and I began the task of cutting the trenches to a depth of about 18 inches. I cannot possibly describe completely how hard the ground is, baked by the sun and bone dry in this season of no rain. All of the work here is done manually (which is a subject I want to explore on this blog at a future time); while in the States we would be looking to rent mechanical devices to do the trenching and stump removal, here in Ghana, such devices are unavailable or priced out of the reach of projects such as this. We do the work by hand, or it doesn't get done at all.

By the end of the day yesterday we had one side completely trenched, and today we completed two more sides. I anticipate that we'll complete the trenching by tomorrow if we can get an early enough start. (Today we began at about 7:30 in the morning, but by 11:00 it was way too hot to continue; by the time we stopped, my clothes were completely drenched and I was beginning to feel a little light-headed.) Then we have a few stumps to remove, after which I think we'll be ready for the cement blocks.

As soon as I can, I will upload photos of this process, but right now I am not able to establish a secure enough link to the 'net to handle the upload. But trust me, the photos make clear that the people involved in the project here at the Dagbe Center are totally committed to bringing this to life ... as are Joss and I.

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