Monday, March 28, 2011

To move the job along

...a song, is usually what's needed. But can I add that some muscle and a fair bit of effort may be required as well?!

This was a week of hard work for the guys as the logs which were cut and hauled last week had to be put across the bridge (which apparently is 5-ish meters wide rather than my stated "3-4 meters"). Now, these are no ordinary logs. They're huge and very heavy, and there's little in the way of machinery out where we are. (A backhoe is on its way but it's still somewhere on the deep blue ocean between America and Africa.) So how do you move and lift 2000-3000 lbs of log and set them in a precise spot without machinery? Well, you definitely need more than a song!

And in our case, this plan means the well-thought-out use of sheer muscle force and a simple hoist. Oh, and don't forget to add to that temperatures of over 30 Celsius (90 degrees Fahrenheit) plus 80% humidity. Perfect recipe for exhaustion :)

First, the logs are skinned and notched.

And then there's lots of heave-ho,

and manoeuvring to get the logs "just so".

And there's the hoisting, too.

"Are you sure the hoist will lift this log?"
"It will, but we need to get it under the tripod so we can lift it straight up."

So on go the chains, and more heaving...

After 5 days of team work--TA DA! The two main support logs bridge the river's gap.

Now the other logs will roll onto these and be turned into the right position. Still not an easy task but one that is a little less heavy, and dangerous, thankfully.

So, where does this bridge go to? The landing strip (which is needed to facilitate the air transport necessary to touch many needs in remote areas of this wonderful country)!

Here are pictures of yet another big job that moved along last week. Many men, ropes, poles, and muscles were needed to place trusses on the training center walls.

Woot! Looking good!

And last, and probably also least (because of its size anyway), came the job of moving this suitcase of donated gifts and clothing along to children in Mozambique. It may not be as big an effort as construction is, but getting these items to Africa has been tough due to many airlines' new luggage restrictions. Thankfully, visitors on their way from Fort McMurray to Moz are willing to take this job on.

I trust there's more song than sweat involved here!

So long little suitcase.


PS: Be sure to check Rick's last blog entry.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Building Bridges

Anyone who has built a bridge (any kind of bridge, actually) knows it's a lot of work! But bridges are essential because without them, you're stymied. Stuck. Hindered from going further. And no one wants that.

In the above photo is the freshly graded road to the mission airstrip (taken in November 2010). The break in the middle is where a bridge needs to be built to span a seasonal river.

The gap is 3-4 meters wide and 2-2.5 meters deep. Getting things done to this point has been a big job, and the work isn't done yet.

This week, Ron Wayner and the guys cut some big trees for the wood needed so this bridge can be completed. Without sophisticated machinery, it's quite an ominous job loading the huge logs onto the 4 ton truck. Many hands are needed.

A very heavy truck, indeed.

Then comes the fun of unloading. Here is one tactic we use in rural Africa.

Get a rope and tie the one end to the heavy load to be moved,
then tie the other end to something that is less likely to move. A sturdy tree will do.

Then drive away, very slowly and carefully of course, and let the laws of physics do their thing.

Next, the logs have to be prepared...cleaned, shaved, trimmed and in the right shape!

It's a huge task, but all a part of building those important bridges we need to keep things moving.

And speaking of things moving, I'm very pleased to tell you that finally this week the Chitundo Clinic celebrated its opening! This project has also been a big task, but many joined hands with us to make it possible. So to all you who helped to dig holes, build and paint the walls, put in doors and shelving, paint and purchase the necessary items, sweep and clean the yard, and so on and so on...congratulations on a job well done!

The morning of the grand opening.
The strip of ribbon across the entry, and the entire community,
patiently await the ribbon-cutting ceremony.

In these parts, important celebrations are marked by the rhythmic beating of drums.

And joyful dancing, too.

Dwight and the community leader shaking hands. This day has been a long time coming!

Inside the consultation room, a toast, with Mozambique's most popular drinks: Coke and Fanta.

Celestino helps to unpack the clinic's first medicine "kit". He will work closely with the new Health Workers to help provide orientation and guidance to them as they adjust to their new role.

Joao, Celestino, Barb Wayner, and the new Health Workers. Barb provided most of the photos for this post. Thank you, Barb!

Other events of the week:

Good progress was made building the training center trusses.

Which were then carried by hand to the truck--Mozambique bush-style--10 or so men to carry each truss. They were heavy!
They were then loaded on the truck to be taken to the training center.

This place is becoming more beautiful each day!

Autumn marks the season when we can finally get the garden into shape after summer. Seems backwards, doesn't it?! This garden grows vegetables for the school feeding program.

Some much needed drip irrigation pipe was also installed near the litchi orchard where we grow small crops of maize and soy beans.

And with all that busyness, Barb and Eunice took the time to do some bridge-building of a different kind with a crippled widow and her blind daughter. This didn't require the same physical effort as building a bridge out of cement and logs, but it was critical nonetheless.

Sharing some encouraging words.

Having a small discussion. I love the smiles!

Here, the widow (who has arthritis and chronic hip pain) receives a mattress left by a visitor from Canada. It's the first mattress she has ever owned in her entire life. Before now, she always slept on the hard ground on a thin, woven grass mat. What joy!

And last but not least, the reptile and strange pets part :)

I guess it's chameleon season again.

And my husband is not one to turn his back on anything that moves without first spending a bit of quality time with it!

Bob too, it would seem.

It's always important to build bridges. Even the small ones.

If you'd like to see clips of our klipspringer on youtube, click here. Other videos of the work will follow this week!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Not In Kansas Anymore

Or rather, not in Africa anymore. I'm in Canada on a short, personal trip. And although the weather has been far from warm and inviting--our family has been.

It's quite a shock to the system to go from a muggy, +30-ish C African summer to a -30-ish C land of cold, snow, and ice! This is more or less how the progression looked:

Green Chimoio Airport.

Sunny and hot Beira Airport.
(Figures we'd have to walk 1/2 km to the aircraft!)

That's the mission's little Cessna to the right :)

Grey, chilly Heathrow. (web photo)

White, Edmonton Airport. (web photo and I think this is
actually Halifax, but you get the idea...)

Meanwhile back home in Moz the pace is very busy as usual. I'm very grateful to my husband and Barb Wayner who took the time to take and forward the following photos for me to post:

Dwight, and Pastor Tome (school cook) on a visit to the mission school/clinic.

Progress being made on training center trusses.

Here, the thatched camp dining "gazebo" (lapa) gets the last section of its floor coated in nice, red wax. This will make it look better and make it easier to clean.

Good thing because the mission was visited by some local VIP's like the Comandante

And the new Chefe do Posto.
All very important relationships to have.

This is a recent photo of little Cris with his Auntie (below). He's been in our milk program since he lost his mom.

He was teeny, tiny at the time. Here he is with Nurse Keren when he first joined the milk program.

This is him several months later during a home village visit.

This is his sleepy face :)

Cris with his Auntie and Health Worker Celestino

This is his bright-eyed, "big boy" look. Too cute!

We've had a sudden increase in the number of needy babies in the program this year, and we and the concerned families have been so thankful that help could be offered.

Young mother who received help for her malnourished child.

Moving along here...another orphaned wild baby was added to our strange pet mix. She's a baby Red Duiker.
Dwight was the one who picked her up, but somewhere along the way she found her way into the Wayners' arms, hearts, and home.

Ron Wayner and his new pet :)

Guess she figured since that worked so well with the Wayners, why not try her luck with the big-black-horse-dog Magnum next door?

Yeah little Red're not "in Kansas" anymore either!

Read the latest news in our newsletter, and in blog posts from Dwight, Rick, and Andy.

Until next time.

(If you're interested in donating to the milk program, click here.)