We finally get to start designing the house, the building phase is not far off. First we need to see what kind of materials the family actually have. The first thing that came to our minds was the soil that the family has. It is very rich of clay, which we found out during the soil tests of last week. This soil test shows us what type of soil we are dealing with, this soil has a lot of clay as it turned out. The fact that this soil has a lot of clay makes it good for making bricks as we Dutchmen know. We tried forming it into a brick and let it dry. This was last week so now we have a proper brick, and we could show this to the family as a contender for the way we are going to build their new home.
To aid us designing the new house we built a scale model of the current situation. This would give us a great feeling for the layout of their compound and what we could alter. But for the design of the layout of the house itself we need a material, so that we could design according to the material. To do this we had to make some new tests, and for tests we needed research.
After doing a lot of research we settled on testing some adobe bricks. If we wanted to make a test brick we needed some timber to make the formwork. Making the formwork seemed quite difficult. We went to Musa’s wood workshop, but the skills of his labourers left much to be desired. We chose some timber and watched the so called “craftsmen” mutilate our timber. There is only so much we could endure without stepping in and doing it ourselves. Here we ran into our second obstacle, the tools. All the tools were crooked or broken, and this didn’t bode well in combination with the labourers fooling around. Trying to saw wet timber with a dull handsaw proved to be a very difficult task. After wrestling through two cuts one of the labourers came up to us with a saw that didn’t seem that broken, and with this new tool we finished our formwork in no time.
We took our formwork to the family’s compound to test some soil compositions. Plus it seemed nice to do some experiments together with Cleophas, boy were we wrong. It was not that we couldn’t work with him, the opposite was true in fact. But after some time a lot of people gathered, each having an opinion on how we should proceed. So we continued and we finally produced our first brick and left it in the barn, unguarded.
This brick seemed the ultimate pray for the 1,5 year old ball of destruction Gideon. This little guy completely wrecked our test brick while we were thinking about different compositions. “Well, bad luck” we figured. We continued to our next brick, but according to murphy’s law this one broke as soon as we tried to get it out of the formwork. Here the overly helpful Dan tried to explain us what we should do to make the tests successful. The catch being that Dan is a mute, hearing impaired Kenyan, so his instructions did not surpass gestures and quite “insisting” humming noises. There was no way that we would be able to understand what he was trying to say and it became quite annoying actually. So after many failed attempts we decided to call it a day. When we returned home we bought some soda’s and agreed that we would forget about this day to persevere in the next one.
The next day had arrived and we had acknowledged our errors and went on to fix them. This meant that we would have to make a new formwork, but Musa was no option. Corné had made some friends with the carpenters at work at the hospital, so after pulling some string we received some spare timber and tools we could borrow. Having proper tools and a straight piece of timber makes it way easier to so anything. Today it felt like everything was cooperating, unlike the day before. After having finished the framework we proceeded to make some more test bricks. Working with the two of us created a more relaxed atmosphere, without other people forcing their opinions. It didn’t take long before we had turned our “lab” into a huge mess while working with mud.
But our first real brick was made.
Having a week like this, with the ups and downs, demanded some recreation, which we did in the form of a poker night with all the Dutch people and a barbeque. We planned the barbeque on the same day that Maud would arrive so she had a festive welcome into her new temporary family. Next to celebrating that Maud finally joined us we had a birthday boy that evening. Atdhe would turn 19 at twelve o’clock, but many of us couldn’t wait that long so we decided to celebrate earlier. Many people went to bed earlier and in the end we were left with the four Dutch guys playing: “Mens erger je niet”, a good way to finish the week.