Sam is a bigger village than where we were last year. It’s more spread out; the school is on the edge of town, a mile plus away from where we’re staying. As a result, this year Gaston loaned us his small pick-up for transport. It has made a world of difference not only in getting people from four different places in the village out to the school but also in getting over to Doumandzou where Doug is working on the latrines. We also took an hour drive to the closest large town for resupplies.
From the first day of work here in Sam, people heard the hammering and came to help. A few stayed through the week, sweating and getting dirty and joking around alongside those of us from the states.
Pictured here is Yves, who is the caretaker at the house where Drew and Claire are staying. Desiree (with an accent at the end) is a neighbor of the school and he is strong and skillful. Xavier showed up and reminded us he helped in Doumandzou last year for the first week, but he’s from here. Floriant is our driver but he pitches in, even through a minor bout of malaria. The first day two women – Hortense and Marie Therese – were helping with the demolition. Somewhere we have a photo of Marie Therese removing rotten wood while continuing to clutch her pocketbook. With Christian and Eko we have a good number working on the different areas.
Rundown of the first week of work. At the school, it was removal of the leaky roof, windows and doors. That went fast but more slowly was the tedious, difficult task of taking out all the nails that had rusted solid in place for 50 years. If you look closely at the picture, you will see on the wall in the front of the school a pile of the bane of our lives this first week. I want to find the guy who invented these nail clasps that hold adjacent pieces of wood together with four nails on each board. They have worked well to hold trusses and cross pieces together for fifty years. Too well, though, as we struggle to remove each one.
Anyway, by the end of the week we started the rebuild, putting up what they call here “chevrons” but might be the purloins across the trusses. We’ll screw the new aluminum roofing into those chevrons. Claire, Terri and Mary are treating wood with some anti-termite concoction and Drew built saw horses that will double as scaffolding when we start painting.
Over in Doumandzou, Doug, Nguema and Gabriel have started laying the cement block the first latrine pit, and the second pit was dug by some hardy men from a nearby village. It’s all coming together, not sure how but I know behind it all are Bob and Gaston making all the right calls from Libreville.
One week down and we’ve settled in and have a nice routine. No work today, Sunday, but we hear there’s a soccer game between the two villages today. That should be good for a few photos for the next blog.