We've been busy the last couple weeks getting started on Fatu's house. Here in Liberia the rainy season is also underway and will continue for the next 4 months. We don't have a lot of choice but to build in between the downpours (up to 200 inches between now and October).
We met on the site two weeks ago and helped to layout where the foundation will go. The ground is a fine white sand that is common around Monrovia. During the dry season it is difficult to drive on because it's like driving in quicksand. Rainy season helps to pack it down though so getting to the lot isn't too bad, other than driving through a couple muddy areas on the way.
Here's a picture of the foundation after they had finished digging, and after the rain had knocked a bunch of the sand back into the trenches.
I think I've mentioned before that most rock in Liberia is crushed by hand. There are a couple patches of rock within about a mile of the site where the property owners and energetic children spend the day breaking rock into piles of different sizes. A small pickup truck load of rock costs about $50 with the expense to load it. This is two small truckloads.
Alice, Mercy and Rachel have been asking for a couple months to come "spend time" with Aunt Jamie and Uncle Rusty. Jamie picked them up last Friday and they came over to spend the night. Saturday we went out to lunch with them and into town to buy a few things. We were a little surprised when we drove into Monrovia and the girls told us they'd never been to town before (they only live about 10 miles away). It was a weekend of many firsts for them.
Here are a few more pictures of some light urban flooding while we were in town. The Chinese company CICO is repairing the city streets and improving drainage this year. Many have already been repaved (which makes for traffic nightmares while streets are shut down). They haven't fixed UN Drive yet and even after it is repaired I doubt the drainage will handle the deluges they get in the rainy season. Below is one common site though, a child taking advantage of the rainstorm to take a bath. Unfortunately, I believe most of the system is a combined storm water and sanitary sewer system so backup aren't just storm water.
This picture is from today. The foundation is complete and they are up to window height with the block walls.
The blocks are available to buy about every 100 yards along the side of the road by more enterprising young men. They buy cement and sand and spend the day making blocks with steel forms that can be purchased from the small welding shops that are about as prolific as the "block factories". A typical factory has 3 or 4 guys that can put out somewhere around 300 blocks a day. For their effort they will probably take home around $4 or $5 a day, assuming they can sell their blocks. The 6" blocks sell for between $0.32 and $0.50 each depending on the location and quality.
Last but not least. A huge thank you to all who have donated so far. We are amazed by the outpouring of support for Fatu and her family. So far my parents have received contributions totaling $7,790!! That leaves only approximately $1,200 to finish the house! If we receive over $9,000 we would like to add some basic electrical wiring to the house so she would be able to hook a small generator up to the house for lights at night. We'd also like to be able to get a few basic furnishings like beds and a few chairs. Thank you to all who have donated so far!