This trip report comes from Bob Weisflog who traveled to the villages where we will be working in March.
Had an excellent trip to Sam and Doumandzou.
Left Libreville on Sunday at 7am with Gaston & Marie Therese and twelve hours later we finally arrived at Doumandzou. I was fined 20,000 cfa for passing an off duty gendarme on the Kango bridge, ate porc-epic in Biboulou, drank beers in Mitzic, had a wonderful meal in a village 20 km outside Mitzic with one of Gaston’s “nieces”, stopped in Sam, arrived in Doumandzou to watch soccer match with Papa Ekabane. Typical 14 hour day!
The next morning, we met with 20+ Sam villagers at 08:30 for an hour. Gaston did the introduction, Marie Therese gave her spiel representing the Libreville committee, I gave the “Encore” presentation. I reiterated the need for debroussing (weed-whacking), making blocks, providing sand, vehicle and lodging.
We visited 9 lodging possibilities. There is a decent small stream bathing that’s going to be a big part of living arrangements. The distance from the school site will be 1 -2 kilometers. Silent filarial flies that sting like crap are a problem. Volunteers will need to bring socks, closed shoes and long light weight pants & shirts. The food situation will be like Doumandzou – partly provided, partly bring/cook your own.
Christian, our foreman, came from Mitzic, and we worked at the Sam school for a couple hours. We went line item by line item from the budget sheet. The key is going to be flexibility and improvising when faced with reality – “it is what it is”.
Christian and I discussed his assistance with Sam school, 3 teachers houses and Doumandzou latrine. We agreed it is an ambitious 5-week project and that:
1) pre-arrival work will absolutely have to be completed
2) all materials and supplies need to be on site by first week
3) communication and coordination between himself, you guys and me needs to be better
4) his full-time presence would be required (except for real material runs to Mitzic)
5) additional skilled or manual labor would only be used as needed
The Sam village participation is to debrousse, supply 500 cement blocks and 400 window blocks (to be purchased from the village but I will provide window block mold), provide 6 pick-ups of sand, housing and pick-up truck (we supply gasoil). I think we should buy some chevrons and lattes locally from a wood cutter in the neighboring village of Hollande (considered part of Sam) to support the local economy.
At Doumandzou, we met with Gaston and 30+ men and women from the village. I presented the latrine project, emphasizing the Michelle Obama Let Girls Learn Fund much to everyone’s delight. The village contribution will be dig the pits and supply 1100 bricks – either we supply cement and sand and they make the bricks or we purchase the blocks from the village block maker.
For the Peace Corps World Map mural, the walls are still pretty clean and will need some light rinsing at most. There is one vacant block wall inside each classroom plus the gable end wall facing the road. Only 2 classrooms are being used so freeing-up a room is no problem. Gaston suggests to write/paint in large font “Ecole Publique de Doumandzou” on roadside gable end exterior wall.
Hope this helps.