Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Construction Projects in Asikuma!

The idea to do something lasting in Ghana that would make an impact was born almost two and a half years ago in Jake's mind and heart (you can read about that here). He couldn't stand the thought of adopting a child out of Ghana, and then leaving the people and the heartache behind, never to return. God started turning the wheels back in February 2009 when Jake and his friend Chris took their first trip to Ghana. From there it has been a journey of God refining our vision, teaching us to wait on His timing, and grinding it out as He eventually put the right people in place to come along with us to use their specific talents for the Lord's work. Not only has God pulled many different people from many different walks of life into our vision, but, as He can only do, through these trips God has opened up more hearts to the nations. That in itself, is possibly one of the most giant rewards. The more people who SEE, the more who are stirred to action with a sense of responsibility. Here’s a look at our American construction crew that tackled the building projects in Asikuma….

From the left it’s Joe (Jake’s high school AAU coach who also has some plumbing skills), Michael (chiropractor, owner of Family Chiropractic in Ames, mutual friend of our family and Chris’s family), Andy (framer, owner of Strait Up Framing, does all of Chris’s framing for Bella Homes), Jon (general manager of Munn Lumber in Ames, mutual friend of our family and Chris’s family), Tim (concrete finisher, foreman for Van Gorp Construction, does all Chris’s concrete work for Bella Homes), and Chris - owner of Bella Homes. Not pictured is Doug V. (dad to one of Jake’s Kingdom Hoops players) who became Chris’s main project assistant, Cory (Doug’s friend with construction skills), and Todd (mutual friend of our family and Chris’s family, head boys basketball coach for Des Moines Christian and medical sales rep). All these guys worked SO HARD and had to trudge through many obstacles every second of the day as they worked alongside the Ghanaians from the community. As you’ll see, there were many men from Asikuma who joined in to help….some had construction skills, others just offered themselves as another set of hands and feet to haul materials, mix concrete and carry blocks. Nana had also hired a few skilled/professional construction workers from the community to assist our efforts. Work ethics clashed and cultures collided, there was arguing and there was laughter, there were many moments of satisfaction, and many moments of frustration. But through it all, concrete walls went up, and personal guards fell down as our guys made friends and memories with the community of Asikuma as they built.

We had two construction sites ~ 1) The medical clinic/foster home area (the buildings sit about 100 feet from each other) and 2) The library/additional classroom which was in the schoolyard.

Day 1 ......

Medical Clinic
-Demolition work
-Repair work to bones/structure

If you know Jake at all, you know he loves a well-groomed look to the lawn. All the weeds and brush and trash that were up against the concrete wall bordering the medical clinic were bugging him. So, he rounded up the Kingdom Hoops Ghana boys and they got to work pushing all the junk back so that they could give it a cleaner look and get started on painting the wall.

Chris said the Kingdom Hoops guys were such awesome help to the construction team the entire week. They did anything and everything asked of them, always with a huge smile and with a contagious sense of eagerness and excitement.

Meanwhile, this was the scene over at the schoolyard where the library and additional classroom were being constructed…

The first item on the list was to set the forms to pour the concrete floor.

Then, the concrete had to be mixed by hand!!!!! This meant that water, sand, and rock had to be brought in to mix with 40 bags of portland cement.

Chris said it was so cool because at the point when they needed to bring in the sand there was a guy who announced it over a megaphone. Then, about 40 kids sprinted away to their homes and came back with buckets to help carry the sand. You can see above that they also helped carry the water in. We didn’t ever ask them to do this, but they are SO EAGER to help out and learn at the same time!

Lots of onlookers….

By the end of the day, the concrete was down for the library floor, and Tim worked his trowel technique, all the while fighting off the rain.

Day 2......

Medical Clinic
-Outside wall painted

-Trusses built

-Put up new wall of concrete blocks where patio used to be

-Put in steel lentals for open windows and closed off other windows with blocks

-Mixed more concrete
-2nd pour went down for the floor of the classroom
-Started putting blocks into place

Day 3

Medical Clinic
-Trusses went up

-Door frames in

-Built windows with re-bar security

-More block work and painting

Library/additional classroom
-Laid blocks all day. :)

Day 4

Medical Clinic
-Metal roof was put on!

-Windows installed

-Electrical wiring started

Library/additional classroom
-More block work (this site had 5 times as many blocks as the medical clinic)

Day 5

Medical Clinic
-Started plastering process
-Started tile floors
-Started plumbing
-Continued working on electricity

Library/additional classroom
-Windows in

Day 6 – last day to work before departure

Medical Clinic
-More tile work
-Finished electrical
-Set a toilet, sink and shower
-Installed poly tank

This tank holds fresh water which is brought in by a truck. When the water runs out the truck comes back and fills ‘er up. The holding tank is held up by the stand which works with gravity to create pressure. Victor, the welder in town made the stand. There is an underground pipe that takes the water from the poly tank to the building. Chris and Joe plumbed it in themselves.

I missed getting any pictures of the library on the last day, but they finished setting the old roof on the new blocks for the classroom side.

WHEW!!!!!!!!!!! I am spent just reviewing everything that the guys got done!!!!!!!!!!! I know Chris was disappointed that they weren’t able to fully finish the projects, but for what he had to work with, he really moved mountains. The biggest obstacles/challenges for the team mainly centered around construction techniques in Asikuma just being so behind the modern techniques our guys were used to. Chris said some of the Ghanaian workers were using techniques that were about 50 years out dated! He also mentioned that he couldn’t bring in things like a brand new electrical box, or up-to-date plumbing because the Ghanaians wouldn’t have the parts or know-how to fix something so modern. Chris and his team really tried to be purposeful in explaining and teaching the Ghanaian volunteers, but of course this takes so much time and energy and patience!!!! There was also some definite management of personalities and work ethics going on, but the team persevered and came away with some very moving and life-changing trip highlights. I will let the guys tell their details in their own words coming up next week when I start posting trip highlights.

Our gift to the Ghanaian workers was that we hired some women in the community to cook them lunch each day right on site. I got to help serve it. :)

We also invited the Asikuma construction volunteers over for dinner at our hotel on the last night. Many of our construction team gave out shoes, clothes, and other items to the volunteers to thank them for helping.

So, we left Asikuma with the medical clinic being about 95% finished. We’ve hired some Ghanaians to finish out the final touches which are setting 2 sinks, finishing out the tile, getting the front door set, and finishing the painting. The medical director for the eastern region visited the site towards the end of our trip and she was practically glowing with excitement. Although a few things still needed to be finished up, she was planning on scheduling 2 nurses and a mid-wife to start working this week!

The library and additional classroom ended up getting about 50% finished. The roof over the library still needs to be put on and tied into the roof over the classroom. Block work needs to be finished up, as well as the shelving and floors for the interior.

And, since time ran out, the team wasn’t able to start on the remodel of the first foster care home unit. But, God has a plan, and it will happen when the timing is right.

Next trip is tentatively planned for December of this year, after Christmas time. The construction can be finished out, we can help stock the shelves of the library and medical clinic, and see how things are running at the medical clinic!

Thank you to all who donated monetarily for this takes visionaires, givers, and builders in the Kingdom to make it all work together. What an amazing journey to watch as God planted this idea in our hearts, sketched it out on paper, and then gave us the means to make it happen.....Whooooo hoooooo!!!! And of course, we are not through yet....that foster home will be pulling us back to Asikuma until all the projects we've committed to are finished....and then we'll see what God has planned next!

1 comment:

kendra said...

work ethic differences?? NEVER! ;)
hahaha, we ran into this constantly with our rice mill building. what a nightmare at times. whew! You guys got SO SO SO MUCH done!!

p.s. what do they call those white piles of mashed potato looking meals?? It's called nSima in Malawi- water & Corn meal/flour stirred in slowly over a fire...tastes like absolutely NOTHING, just a filler with whatever garnish they have with it. I have yet to post about 'food' in Malawi.