Monday, August 15, 2016

August 14, Day 2: First we measure, then we dig

The team is pretty excited to be starting the project.  Elizabeth, host partner, gave us a tour of the property.  They have 2 acres on a slope, with a view of the valley bottom and the downtown rising up across the valley basin.  The new development plan for this area of the city will turn the valley bottom into a green space with a lake.  Half of the property is included in the new green space zoning.

Grace Rwanda is the Canadian-based ngo and its sister organization in Rwanda is Ineza Foundation. Ineza Foundation will be able to create a garden for growing food on the property, and plans to plant trees and flowering shrubs in the green space zoning.  Currently there is one house on the acreage.  Elizabeth and her  husband  Paul, have painted the house and cleaned the random trash from the land. 

The vision is to create a green Eco-lodge for paying guests, and to use this revenue to support the operations of the not-for-profit society.  Grace Rwanda has been creating libraries in the rural communities.  The longer term goal of the Ineza Foundation is to build a skills training centre on the property for children & youth and women.  They are also passionate about promoting literacy.

Our DWC team is the first team to come and participate in building the vision.

Our task during our stay is to start building the perimeter fence.  This may sound like an odd place to start, but every building here has a wall around it.  In general it is for security; but in this case it is also to keep the property from being used as the local trash deposit.  There are places to take one's local trash, and for a small fee get rid of it, but this neighbourhood doesn't have extra cash.

A neighbour's goat on the property.

We are working with a group of local youth on the construction.  

With the construction know-how of some of the DWC volunteers combined with the vigorous efforts of the local young men, there is a happy hum of work progressing. 

 Al is making sure the fence will be 6 feet from the neighbour's wall.

Setting up the fence post holes is a three step process. First, we measure the proposed location of the wall/fence.  It is 6 feet from an existing neighbours wall, leaving a corridor for people to walk between properties.  Tape measures, spikes and string are used to lay down the line of the new fence.  Second step is to approximately level the ground, so the bottom of the fence will be parallel to the sort-of-smoothed ground. Third, the holes for the fence posts are dug: at even intervals and to a sort-of-uniform depth. The dirt is rock hard and pick axes are needed to break into the hard pan.

While this is going on, Elizabeth and a few volunteers went to the hardware store to buy welding rods, anti-corrosion paint for the steel posts, and metal-cutting saw blades.  

By afternoon everyone has found their rhythm: measuring the line of the fence, levelling the ground, digging holes, painting fence posts, checking out the donated sewing machines and teaching the young men basic sewing, or cleaning up the upper yard with local children, all amongst a lot of laughter and joking.  There is liveliness and good will everywhere.  The hosts, Elizabeth and Paul, are doing everything to make this a well supported, productive volunteer experience.

Luinda Bleackley
DWC volunteer
Rwanda, August 2016

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