2009-10-15: Water Project

Samalu called at 1:15 and said they are dedicating the foundation of
the new tank at 1:30. I quickly grabbed Kelly’s camera and headed out
to meet him. When we joined up I saw that he was wearing a sulu and
tie so I went home to change into more formal gear. On the way to the
construction site the wind was whipping my dress around exposing my
briefs. I pondered how ironic it was to be traveling to a concrete
pour wearing a dress and thought of the hundreds of pours I’ve watched
back home and how quickly my butt would have been kicked if I had
showed up to the site in a sulu.

We arrived at the construction site with Samalu, the Vice Chairman,
three chiefs, and the pastor. The men had cleared the ground,
excavated the beams, formed the sides, and installed the reinforcing.
I was impressed at their hard work in five hours. However it was
difficult looking at the foundation knowing the means and methods used
where violating just about every rule there is to building
foundations. I reminded myself I was in the deep in the south pacific
with no power tools (or for that matter proper hand tools), no
hardware store, no concrete batch plants, and no engineers or plans.
Given those facts I was impressed with the end product, actually.

The pastor made his way to the center of the tank foundation along
with a chief. He said a prayer and quick message. Everyone then
joined in a song celebrating the momentous occasion. Chief
“Cries-A-Lot” gave the closing remarks so it was quite an emotional
affair. After his speech he shoveled a mound of concrete from a half
drum into the foundation and the work was on. Soon the workers
swarmed the area like rabid ants mixing and pouring concrete.

Four half drums where placed inside the formwork with two to three men
working shovels at each drum. Other workers where carrying feed bags
full of sand, cement, and gravel while others carted buckets of water.
The foreman walked around and seemed to be checking mixes for proper
ratios but after the second or third barrel full it was quite a sloppy
affair. I once again cringed at the practice, but knew my place in
the affair so I kept my mouth shut. They had no means of properly
vibrating the concrete anyway. I then witnessed workers tossing large
rocks into the concrete. Once again I wanted to stop them but caught

In about thirty minutes they had poured 75% of the slab. Everyone was
contributing and even the old men where helping out by mixing grog and
passing it around. It was really inspiring seeing the men come
together and give their time freely for community development.

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