August 28, 2017
An engaged community, donations for materials, Adanu (means ‘wise collaboration’ in Ewe), and LOTS of hard work from everyone!
Land is donated, work committees established, rules for work are made, and the community provides all the labor, sand, water and anything else they can.
The Chief and Elders set the tone by showing up early every workday. The women start collecting water, men start mixing the concrete by hand. Blocks are molded, lines are set, foundations are dug, walls slowly rise. In about 4-6 months, a school building is completed.
Sound easy? NO WAY!
We spent a week in Hehekpoe trying to be helpful to the workers, but we mostly slowed them down. Even something as simple-sounding as collecting water had us begging off after 4 trips. Try carrying a massive bowl on your head for a ¼ mile without spilling – it’s heavy, requires a model’s posture, and strong neck muscles (luckily the other women lifted it onto our heads so we didn’t have to start in a squat position!). Carrying bricks this way is better as they don’t slosh around!
I tried putting my expertise in mortaring bricks to good use (I watch my husband do DIY jobs), and while I was pretty pleased with myself, the men soon encouraged me to take a seat in the shade.
In the week we were in Hehekpoe, their progress was tremendous – walls were climbing to the invisible ceiling, and the entire back wall had four courses of bricks laid.
The best part of watching the school go up was the participation of the community. Those that couldn’t work onsite still gave valuable help. One man who ran a very small store in the community asked our Robert Tornu how he could help. Robert said he could pay for an extra mason (from a nearby village) to come work for one day. The man disappeared for a few minutes, then came back with the needed amount – 40cedi, or $10.
Building a school is about empowerment, commitment and communication; empowerment so the community knows they can do it and own it, commitment from the community and Adanu to see the work through, and communication between everyone to ensure challenges are resolved and successes celebrated.
Want to join us for a trip? Go to https://goo.gl/a7UiXT to see our trip options.