Even October has passed. Monday 31.11 we talked with the plumber about the water system, all the kitchen and bathroom facilities, the watertank and the rainwater collecting system from the gutters. Hopefully he is going to finish his job in three days.
After that we went to Juaben to buy few things left to complete the doors and the mosquito screens.
Gutters work is still in progress. Without using any fascia board, which is very popular here, it is becoming a bit complicated to set the slope properly, due to uneven roof overhang. The gutters are supported by hand made hook out of metal quarter rods. The thinness of the metal sheets makes us troubles when precision is needed, like between joints, stoppers and connections with water pipes. The gutter placed above the corridor will collect a great quantity of rainwater. On one hand it is very useful to fill up the watertank in a very short time during dry season, on the other hand, the setting process needs to be carefully handled to prevent from any dropping through the joints, overlapped one foot.
Opoku’s house is still rising until the fourth level this week. We won’t be able to complete the roof structure though Lara is constantly helping us understanding perfectly how the project is and collaborating with us and Opoku towards main decisions. We are really thankful for her crucial support, right now being so close to the end of our time in Abetenim.
On Tuesday 1.11 and the day after we made the kitchen table with sink and the toilet basin furniture, using 2by2 antitermite treated profiles. In this way, Ata the plumber is able to connect all the water pipes to the facilities soon.
Between Tuesday and Wednesday the carpenters prepared the 4 doors, out of 1by9 boards, with a very simple structure. Short wide horizontal boards to the outside and two vertical supports behind.
The plywood panels for the kitchen and bathroom walls were measured and cutted, then varnished and nailed up.
The panels won’t touch the floor since founding around the site few metal L-section profile, we tought they would exactly fit to make an interval between the plywood and the ground.
From Thursday to Friday 4.11 we asked the carpenters to set up the water tank tower. The structure needs to be enought tall to allow the water flowing at high pressure. Unfortunately, the gutter which is suppose to collect the rainwater cannot reach the right level, because of the roof dimension ad the slope of the pipes from the gutter to the watertank inlet opening. In fact, when the plumber came to check up if everything was ready before start, he noticed that problem and ask us to shorten the structure. In this way, the connection of the tank to the water system will work, though the shower might have some lack of pressure when the tank is not full.
Furthermore, Abu the mason came to cast the concrete chambers for the four joints waste water to the septic tank.
He is going to make more concrete works, like the windowsill, the kitchen and bathroom floors. Abu is an expert and young mason but we haven’t asked him to join us so far because he is also the security guard here at the site, working everyday all night long. By the way, even if we didn’t complain about the work from the first foundations on, we have sometimes noticed certain lack of skills or precision regarding the workers. Indeed, Odas, which is supposed to be the expert mason often seemed to misunderstand the technical reason of certain solutions and how to achieve specific results, such as the importance of laying the stones properly to have the correct load bearing and strenght, which is not given by the concrete mortar itself. Same for the patio concrete floor, the corridor and the bathroom. For instance, he asked us between rough and smooth surfaces. Smooth was the decision but he didn’t use any metal trowel or special tool but wood board, eventually making rough aspect everywhere. Another relevant issue was about the floor slopes, in which he didn’t get the point at all. Of course, the language plays a very important role mistaking the fluent communication, but to make a proper slope to keep the water away from walls must be understood without any explanation. This concern didn’t of course allow us to be too much disappointed since many factors like cultural mindset, volunteering purposes, our young professional background and the respect for people of different context request more complex analysis before any judgments.
More troubles came out between us and the carpenters sometimes. Especially Adyengo whodidn’t want to follow project instructions, prefering his own way of building. In this case the professional lack was more about open-minded dialoque with them, and the importance of achieving a correct result with time and precision instead of a immediate but well thought out result.
Anyway, when we decided to call Abu, he did a great job, understanding perfectly his task.
For the earth kitchen floor he managed to make it smooth using water sponge and metal trowel. Same for the bathroom one, but with only cement mix.
He also made a small step on the backside where to place the staircase going to the corridor and included within the water tank structure.
On Friday 4.11 the eletrician and his assistant visited the project in order to calculate the material, which we will buy next week end, before he can start the work on Monday.
This week we also met the oldest of Abetenim, more than hundred years. However none knows his age, neither the man himself. He still very active to make rafia basket and we took the possibility to greet him and buy some as very special local souvenirs.