Jongerenreis 2010

Porject visit 2010 !Xere

Build on a Rock Trip account.

After having spent 3 weeks in Bostwana, the group of volunteers arrived safely on Wednesday the 6th of October at Schiphol. It took almost two weeks for everyone to adjust to the rhythm of everyday live in the Netherlands. But we look back on a great trip in which we were lucky to meet beautiful people, see amazing sites of nature and having made a difference for others. And the last part is to be most greatfull for.

After arriving in South Africa, we left for Botswana the very next day. With a group of 20 volunteers, of which most had never been in Africa, we set out on our adventure. The atmosphere in the group was terrific and it would stay that way during the whole trip. Everyone was open to one another and to the surroundings of Botswana.

Rakops was dusty as usual. The spring was about to begin, most of the trees were still barren and the long grass was still yellow. There were many cows and donkeys in and around the village. Cattle is the biggest income stream for Botswana after diamonds and tourism. There is plenty of space for cows around the village. The small huts where the Bushmen live were scattered over the entire village. Here and there you could see a brick building, like the 3 or 4 bigger stores in the village. The thornbush/tree seems to grow just fine in this dessert landscape. Everywhere you looked, you would see one. Especially when driving on the sand roads in the open jeep, you would have to be careful and try to avoid unpleasant contact with these thorn trees.

And it were precisely these small sandy roads which led us to the village of !Xere. This is where the school would be built. !Xere is as dusty as Rakops but even poorer. The government has installed a few brick buildings like a clinic and a primary school but the inhabitants of the village all live in huts made of cane.

As mentioned in a previous report, John Walters is our contact in Botswana. He was still busy with pouring the foundation. A few members of the group were able to help in this process because they had experience in this kind of work due to the trip in 2006 for the other project. Besides the group of 20 volunteers, there were also 30 local workers present at the site. They were mainly occupied with mixing the cement and filling sandbags (view the pictures to have a look in this new building method). The mixing of the cement was with no doubt the most intensive job there was to do. Each time, dozens of wheelbarrows would have to be filled with special stones and these barrows would then be moved to the place where the cement was being mixed. Everything was being mixed there with water. The mixing and shovelling of these ingredient was also pretty intense. Afterwards, wheelbarrows filled with the mix were then brought to the foundation to be poured in its mould. This would then be scattered out in the mould, neatly.

The filling of the sandbags was also hard work. The most effective way was to work with 4 people. One person to fill a bucket of sand in a precise manner, one to empty the bucket in a sandbag, one person to open and close the bag and one to stack the bags on top of each other. The associates of the company were also interested in this method of working and building together. To build  a school of this size, 27 x 8.5 metres, about 11.000 sandbags are needed. It makes a big difference to find a proper working filling method. Our project is the first to make use of this method, as it was offered by this company. Before it was used to build villa’s and buildings like that around Capetown. The advantage of using this method was clear right away. Also untrained workers are able to cooperate and work during the construction. And the isolation of these bags seems to be 3-5 times better than that of bricks.

At the end of the afternoon, we would drive back over the sandy roads returning to our camp. This was situated in Rakops, near the pre school we built in 2006. We slept there in tents or under the open sky. John had among other things, a big army tents of which the sides were left open. Others would sleep in another big tent set up by John. The temperature during the nights was not constant. Some nights were very pleasant and some were very cold. In the evenings we made a fire and we would ‘braai’ (BBQ) our meat. Everyday there was a cook group who did the groceries in the afternoon and cook in the evening. A different group would then do the dishwashing. We were fortunate to be able to use the kitchen in the school, where we also had many great conversations, together with the campfire.

The school in Rakops looked amazing. About 50 toddlers have classes there and are taken well care of. They get to play and learn using the materials we sent 2 years back in a container.

On our last day in Rakops, new construction material was brought in. Wooden frames were brought, which were tailored to fit for this school. On the pictures you can see clearly how these frames are used by filling them with sandbags. After that, the walls will be filled with cement to make a smooth wall. On this last day, we were able to help put together the frames and fill one of them.

By the way, that is a great example of the work in !Xere. The frames were put together with screws and an electrical screwdriver. There were two screwdrivers so we made two teams. But unfortunately there was only 1 battery for the 2 screwdrivers. And these went empty before you knew it. The chargers for these screwdrivers were in Rakops. There is no electricity in !Xere, only the clinic has a generator. Besides, the screwdrivers needed 3-5 hours of charging so we had to continue manually. Also an intense job. So it was clear that we were able to make a difference there, which is a great honour. We expect that the building will be finished in the next 2 months. It was a great experience living and working together with these people for a while. We are very thankful for the blessing that rests on this project. It is very thankful work to be able to build a school together with the inhabitants, also because their children will attend that school. We look forward with great enthusiasm to the continuing of this project.

Contact information

Build on a Rock Foundation
Willem Alexanderplantsoen 30
2991 NE Barendrecht

Phone: +31(0)6-50487250
Email: info@buildonarock.nl

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