Starting to Build Bathrooms and Defy Local Belief that Obras CAN Happen

Note: I originally wrote this as an e-mail to a former teacher/current friend who contributed and coordinated heavily to my Peace Corps Partnership Project fund for building 22 dry bathrooms in two small rural farming communities. 

Yo Sav,

First off - Happy Dia del Padre compadre.

I wrote awhile back saying I'd have an update for you in the next week or so, but I'm sure you put on your 'International Development timeline' filter, and a week or so translated to how ever long this time span is.    But the good news is here, sir.  We've FINALLY starting on the bathroom project.  Although the Municipal funds are still in limbo, I decided there was no sense waiting when we at least had some of the money (from the Lebo donation).  We made the bulk purchases and picked them up from the distributor with the municipal dump truck last Thursday - enough bricks/rebar/cement for four units.  Our maestro is currently hard at work laying the first concrete slabs - I'll have pictures later in the week (re-activate International Development Timeline filter).  Like a good gringo, I'm there mostly to walk around with a clip board, providing technical support as needed, as well as a few photo ops. 


It took a bit to get a maestro to start up as we were looking for someone who lived closer to the project sites than where I live.  And seeing as how all the houses in the zone are made of adobe, finding someone who knows how to work with cement and bricklaying was a challenge.  But we turned over a few rocks and found a guy who was willing to take on the job - including a limited understanding of the project and what he was actually building). 

And there was something special when I was visiting the families early last Monday, telling them that we would be delivering materials to their houses (or as close as we could get with the truck).  They were excited and relieved.  You see, other families (even ones on the bathroom list) were gently mocking them, asking them what was the point of hauling all that sand (a full day's work) for a project that probably won't ever materialize?  The zone is used to projects being promised, particularly by campaigning politicos, and then nothing coming of it.  How many local administrations have promised electricity - and even though the posts and cables are all up and connected, people still don't have light in their houses.  So regardless of how nice they thought I was, many people were expecting this project to be another flop.  But having that dump truck roll up to the town full of bricks and cement vindicated the time, effort, and labor (making adobe blocks is some serious work) and semi-blind faith the families had not only in the benefits of these crazy composting bathrooms, but also that the project would even be completed. 

Our first unit should be done within the week, and be up and running soon after (the families have to build the walls).  May it be the first of many.

Yours in the lucha,




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