Sunday, August 13, 2017

The View From the Top

I had been rather hoping my daughter wouldn't ask me to do a blog entry, so naturally she did. I've spent my week adding first height to the perimeter wall, then rebar spikes on top of that.  It is a formidable barrier.  There was a significant learning curve to manage, though I have built many block walls before.  For one thing, the blocks are extremely flimsy with many breaking apart simply by lifting them.  Also, the cells are not open, making vertical reinforcement challenging. As I have discovered, they do their rebar reinforcement horizontally every few rows rather than running rebar down every few cells. Another strange custom is how they put forms on the walls, they simply break holes right through the blocks and insert cross pieces of wood!

We have many holes to fill now
Fortunately I got some local help.  Felix, who lives in the house with his wife, has apparently done a lot of masonry work and showed me how to do many of the things we simply don't have to do with our more substantial cinder blocks.  In fact, he is putting in more time on the wall than I am. Though he has tried to defer to me, the fact is he has become the master and me the assistant as we progress with securing the perimeter.

Spending my time looking down from the wall, I've had the fortune to observe the crew at work. The word I have to use is incredible.  I have taken groups overseas, including Tanzania in Africa and we have done service project work, but nothing as amazing as what this crew is accomplishing. I am used to the kids on my crews goofing off and needing a strong prod to get to work, but not this crew! These kids may need more downtime than the adults, but they are willingly pitching in when given a clear task.

Mike Miziere is one of the most amazing men I've had the pleasure to meet.  I had previously worked with him on the Mexico house builds but the unbelievably thorough planning and execution he is giving to this project is a testament to his incredible planning ability.  Given all that, he pitches in more than anyone else and is almost always the last to call it a day.  Every problem that comes up, he quickly has a solution applied and when his plans don't work he finds alternatives that work just as well.

Jake Johnson also deserves special mention.  He has the unfortunate role of being in charge and the stresses must be incredible.  I know how stressful it can be taking a group of young people overseas and being in charge, making sure all tasks are complete and no one gets lost or hurt.  To also be working long days doing physical labor makes Jake our superman of the group.

Their leadership has inspired the rest of the group to awesome feats I'm sure none thought they were capable of.  My daughter, Rachel, has been taking on one task after another without batting an eye.  Mike's wife Sheila is non-stop and their kids not far behind.  Jake can be proud of all that his son, Max, is doing.  Sophie and Caroline are right there with us making it happen every day. Claire, despite her torn ACL has never once shown that she's hurt in any way. Last but most important is Stefan.  There is no task he won't do and no end to his energy. He also is the natural cheer leader of our group.

I am beyond humbled by what I see from our group. I've felt somewhat inadequate because I simply haven't been able to keep up with the pace everyone is keeping.  40 years of sitting behind a desk, way too many pounds and too many years has left me unable to keep going like they do and I cannot say enough about everyone I work with.

The people here are also incredible.  Everyone I have met has been friendly, kind and helpful.  The kids walk by as I work on the wall and always have a cheerful word.  The littlest ones are so cute, they keep wanting to come shake my hand and greet me. It is difficult to be in any way negative about this project and the amount of things that have been accomplished.  The folks at home can be very proud of this group and ready to support this mission that is only in its infancy.  I just have to get over the terror of riding in the cabs in this traffic....

Today's post comes from Don

A kid came to say hi to Don
Don smiles, but I (his daughter) has to be with him

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