After two months working alongside our local contractor and his team we have finally completed the construction of two classrooms and a playground for the children. If anything, our experience has taught us that patience truly is a virtue! All of the work was done manually without the assistance of machinery, one of the luxuries we so often take advantage of in Western society. For example, concrete was mixed in a dug up hole in the ground with water and sand, which was stirred with wooden sticks.

Even in Canada there can be setbacks in construction progress. However, when the entire country of Tanzania was out of plywood we began to worry if there would be a divider between the two classrooms. Luckily we were able to order just enough plywood for our project. We waited two weeks for it to arrive, only to be informed that we must pay a "special price". On our first day our contractor left to retrieve sand and mortar for the concrete and bricklaying phase of the building. So we decided to stay back and prepare the site with some of our local volunteers that generously offered their time and efforts. After 2.5 hours passed, Richard (our contractor) frantically ran back to the site, explaining in kiswahili that the Tanzanian authorities caught him taking sand from an uncertified company. He spent the majority of the morning bribing the police to let him bring the truckload to the site, and managed to get away by paying them 50,000 TSH ($30 CND). Jennilee and I looked at one another, shaking our heads while thinking how corrupt the authorities in the entire continent of Africa can be. However, this is the norm here, and bribing is a frequent occurrence in developing countries.

Although it has been a lengthy process, we feel extremely grateful that we were able to find such a great team of workers. Not to mention the fact that we had to dig up an entire acre of land, using old shovels and rakes. Thankfully, a handful of local Tanzanian volunteers were more than willing to give us their time and support our cause. The two classrooms will be an excellent learning environment for the children as there is plentiful space and air circulation. Njiapanda Centre for Street Children are absolutely thrilled about the playground and intend on fully utilizing the field for playing games and activities.

Leave a Reply.