I’ve sat on this blog for much to long. I promised I would put it up the week I got back from Thanksgiving but here we are and I still haven’t done it. Mostly it’s been because I felt I couldn’t post about any of it until it was officially complete but I just can’t wait any longer, I think this project may be the death of me and I feel like maybe if I write the blog it will take some of the stress of its incompleteness off of me?
We build another bathroom.
This project has been very trying for me. You would think after building the first bathroom this one would be no problem, any issues that may come up we’d automatically have a solution; wrong. While the project did start off very strong and at a speed I didn’t know possible it quickly took a turn and what could have been a 3-4 week project has now been dragged out much much to long.
In the beginning we seemed to be having very good consistent meetings, with constant communication, and a go getter contractor, but that soon changed. Although the committee did follow though on all of their contribution commitments it was difficult at times to get people motivated to help with the project as it is currently farming season and farming comes first. While the committee was largely absent during the vast majority of the project I was able to accomplish many of the task needed to keep us progressing at a steady pace and I have to say I’m extremely proud of myself and my ability to do the things I did without help. I think back to a year ago and laugh because I would have never had the confidence to say or do the things that I said and did during the duration of this project.
Early on in the project an assistant to the contractor brought to my attention the fact that no one on the project had been paid, not even a small portion, and for the previous few day (around 3 day) they had eaten no more then one meal a day, mean while these men were building a large concrete brick structure in the northern Tanzania heat. The assistants then proceeded to tell me that the contractor had told them that he himself had not been paid and that was why there was no money for food; this however being a lie as the contractor had been paid a quarter of his total payment up front. The next morning in front of everyone I asked the contractor why people weren’t eating and where the money he had been paid went. He squirmed and writhed and avoid my questions and in the end although the never could tell me where the money went he at least didn’t deny the fact that he had been paid and the issue of who was lying to who was cleared up with the assistants. From then on any time it came to paying the contractor I denied the request to pay him at the office and instead made a point of paying him at the work site in front of everyone that was assisting with the work.
After this issue it was safe to say I didn’t have a lot of respect for the contractor himself but instead I became very close with the guys working for him. I would get to the site in the morning have some laughs with the them and they would fill me in on anything that was going on, whether that be with them personally or with the project.
Along with the issues of the thieving contractor we have been battling the weather; today the sun will shine bright and beaming and tomorrow it will pour down like there’s no tomorrow. For the Tanzanian’s the suns no problem they would rather work in that weather, me on the other hand I would prefer not to be in pain and be the color of a lobster at the end of the day. Although the rain also brings its own set of problems. After putting the final coat of “weather proof” paint on the building the painter gave me the okay to start painting my mural which I did. The next day when I returned to continue where I left off the wall had these huge boils filled with rain water from the previous night. While it was obviously upsetting for the whole state of the wall, it was even more upsetting for me personally as some of the boils had formed under parts of the mural I had just spent the whole day before frying my hide while painting. As of today we have decided to wait until the sun can shine consistently with no rain for a week before we go back and attempt to repaint the wall again. This is unfortunate for me as next week I will be leaving for a small vaca that won’t put me back in my vill until the kids have already started school again.
Although this project has really tested my limits as well as my mental stability I can say I have meet so many great people through this process and have strengthened relationship with other who before we’re just people I saw around but who I now greet by name; there have been times during this project that I feel my integration has reached an all time high and sometimes that makes me feel like I can finally say I have been successful.
Defining what a successful volunteer is is nearly impossible as each service is so individual, but for me it’s justified through integration and I finally feel like I’ve achieved it.
I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving and have a very Merry Christmas!