Gongali Village School

Gongali Village School
children at the Gongali Village School, built by Primary Schools for Africa in Nov/Dec 2010

Wednesday, 30 April 2014



Hi All

Greetings from Africa (Tanzania)

Gongali School Site. 
all roof trusses in place
In the past two weeks since arriving, the work has steadily progressed, thanks to the consistent and good quality workmanship of Mathew’s crew imported from Arusha. The walls are plastered, and the roof framing is almost finished. I don’t know where he found these guys, but they are a godsend to the project. Not that the previous locals were faulty; it’s just that Mathew decided on raising the bar of construction quality. The general contractor is still our competent Fabian Ammas, but this project will set the standard for him for future projects.

The crew of eleven has a base of three skilled tradesmen; Abrahaman the concreter, Hassan the carpenter, and Anthony the painter. They are devoted to this project. At no extra cost, all of them are camping out on site away from the comforts of their own homes and families. They sleep on sacks of grain in the storage room of the Kitchen/Dining Hall building; bargaining for food from the locals, minimally washing themselves and their clothing, basically living as the epitome of simplicity. Despite their hardships (according to our standards), they are congenial and cooperative, readily correcting occasional deficiencies Mathew and I have noted.

Whaddya mean I cut it too short!!
I spent my usual time helping with the roof framing as it’s the only thing I could do with any degree of expertise. I didn’t bring any new tools (saws, hammers) this time due to my already overloaded baggage, and as a result, experienced the hardship of their dull saws and crude hammers. Next time for sure, I will bring some. We worked well together, alleviating the discomfort of the sun’s heat with an occasional sprinkling of humorous banter. To have me working alongside them is a welcome break from their routine, these Tanzanians always being amazed at the rooftop agility of a “mzungu babu mkubwa”.

Life in Karatu
My daily routine in Karatu is set; a comfortable room at the Lutheran Hostel Hotel not far from the town, reasonable quality meals, hot showers... It’s slow and intermittent, but I’ve got internet and electricity for my computer work.

My early morning hour-long bike rides to Bashay Town and back help with the stresses of life here. The first stretch of road on the smooth wide-shouldered highway out of Karatu is down a long hill, where I fly at up to 60 km/hr for two kilometers, escaping the dust and noise of Karatu Town, into the panoramic foothills on the doorstep to the national parks of Ngorongo and Serengeti.

I pass many locals walking long distances to town to work, and they never hesitate to greet with wonderful smiles. The kids and toddlers playing in front yards close to the highway excitedly shout out to me. They must marvel at the unusual sight of a white person madly pedaling just for the sake of exercising. They only regard their bicycles as a workhorse for transporting firewood, building materials and heavy bags of grain.

I slowly passed one elderly “babu”, walking, straining to push his bike up a long hill and was taken a little aback by the contents of his handlebar basket; a severed head of an ox. I later queried Mathew who explained that it is boiled and cooked to make some kind of health potion.

on the way back home with the week's water supply
I marvel too at some amazing sights; the top of my list is how cattle used to haul drums of farmers’ domestic water from distant water points in villages are slapped on their butts and sent home unaccompanied while, I guess, their owner stays around the water point to take advantage of some needed social time with neighbours.

the Gongali High School site - our next possible project

The Next School Project
I’m now working on the feasibility of the next school project and the Gongali High School looks like a promising one. Peter Hayshi, the village mayor, has already assigned a building committee, and we are having meetings at the site to test my conceptual layout. More to come…

local kids from the Gongali Primary School
Gongali Electricity Project
I finished the pricing from the local Utilities company and electrical contractor and am awaiting final approval of a funding source. More to come on this too...

End of Update.

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