Hard work bears fruit: it’s starting to look like a school!

While the rest of the world partied over Xmas and New Year, Alan, Albert, Dave and all the rest of the builders worked flat out building the school. As they say, a picture = a thousand words, so here comes, like, a million words! The Grade R (foundation phase/pre-school) was ready for its roof, so we headed off to the forest to get roof poles… We went to the local Ntlonyana forest to saw down our own roof poles as it is much cheaper this way (just R8/$1 per tree!). These are alien Gum trees so no problematic environmental implications.

Some BIG poles on a not-so-big car

Some BIG poles on a not-so-big car

Joining the poles together to make the roof frame

Joining the poles together to make the roof frame

Roof poles installed and ready for thatching

Roof poles installed and ready for thatching

To thatch this classroom requires 20 truck loads of thatch!

To thatch this classroom requires 20 truck loads of thatch!

Thatching the Grade R classroom

Thatching the Grade R classroom

Half way finished thatching the Grade R classroom

Half way finished thatching the Grade R classroom

Grade R classroom viewed from behind the school

Grade R classroom viewed from behind the school

The Grade R classroom above was funded by Shayne Brandel through auctioning a painting of a Bulungula scene which raised $10,000. Thanks again Shayne for your fantatstic support for this project. The 2nd structure we’re building is the huge Percy Fox Hall funded by the Percy Fox Foundation as well as lots of smaller donors. This Hall is one of the biggest rondavels in the Transkei and has been quite an expensive,  structural challenge. We’re busy now with the huge steel and concrete ring beam which will support the huge roof poles.

reinforced steel rods which will be encased in concrete

Hall: reinforced steel rods being installed on top of the wall - they will be encased in concrete

With the above Hall as well as the other buildings, we need lots of water to mix with the mud and the cement. This has to be fetched from the river in 25L jerry cans (often with the help of the local kids) and transported by our pickup/bakkie on site where it is stored in a large tank:

filling the 25L jerry cans from the river

Fetching water: filling the 25L jerry cans from the river

loading water in the truck with custom "leaf" lids

Fetching water: loading water in the truck with custom "leaf" lids

We’re waiting for the special stone to be delivered which will be mixed into the concrete – hopefully it will arrive tomorrow, if it doesn’t rain. The roof for this giant rondavel will be very challenging to install so we’ll be bringing in some professionals from Chintsa Thatching to help. We will be using special rust proof Onduline roof sheets which will also allow us to capture rain water for drinking. The great thing about this Hall is that the entire community will be able to gather inside for community meetings on rainy days and it will double as 3 classrooms using artifical wall dividers while we’re waiting/hoping for funding for the rest of the classrooms. Here’s a view of the Hall with steel re-inforcing in place, ready for the concrete to be poured.

Hall as viewed from the top of the Grade R classroom

Hall as viewed from the top of the Grade R classroom

Great news was that MetAM and MetCI (Metropolitan) donated R100,000 for the building of the Grade 1 classroom which is the 3rd structure to receive funding. As this building was started during the middle of the rainy season we decided to use more conventional cement blocks which presented their own fun and games…

Digging the foundations for the Grade 1 Classroom

Digging the foundations for the Grade 1 Classroom

cement and stone foundations complete

Grade 1 Classroom: cement and stone foundations complete

Of course we didn’t tell the poor truck driver below exactly how bad the road here is…

This truck is transporting 25 tons of cement blocks!

This truck is transporting 25 tons of cement blocks! A lightening storm arrived at this point which made things a little exciting, especially since that steel crane is on top of the highest hill!

blocks laid and ready for the roof trusses

Grade 1 classroom: blocks laid and ready for the roof trusses

verandah overlooking the Food Forest

Grade 1 Classroom: verandah overlooking the Food Forest

making a roof truss from rafter planks

Grade 1 Classroom: making a roof truss from rafter planks

roof trusses being installed

Grade 1 classroom: roof trusses being installed

roof trusses done

Grade 1 classoom: roof trusses done

A view of the school building and garden as it is now

A view of the school buildings and garden as they are now

A huge thank you to Alan, Albert and the community builders for their hard work. A special thank you to our generous donors too. We’re still desperately seeking more funds to build a further four classrooms to complete the arc encircling the garden. At current prices it costs us just under R100,000 (US$10,000) to build one large classroom. So if anyone is feeling rich amidst the financial gloom, then they can have their very own classroom named after them! Of course, donations of any size are welcome, appreciated and needed!

  1. jolly `yessah` thornton

    it would be great to see some more photo’s of the progress made. But just keep the good work going. It’s a wonderful thing you are doing…
    Yessahh

  2. Lindsey R-T

    So Exciting to see the roof go up! Nice work guys. The latest pics are great and what a pleasure to see progress in the midst of such adversity – one bakkie and a few workers on top of a mammoth hill without any water! I had no idea that you got the gum poles onto the roof by hand cutting them – please keep the pictures coming……

  3. jolly "yessahh"

    Damn it’s hot up there! But Alan and the guys are doing such a fantastic job, it was and is a pleasure to see the progress. Yessahh!!!

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