Monday, 1 May 2017


The hospital is going through some physical growth at the moment, thanks a legacy from the UK and some generous people in the USA.  I thought it would be good to explain (in lay terms, because, at the end of the day, I’m a pharmacist) some of the intricacies of how things are built here.

Being a mission worker overseas means you more often than not have to get involved in things that ordinarily, in your passport country, you wouldn’t.  That’s definitely the case for me at the moment, having general oversight of three building projects for a month or so.  We’ve been able to start a new area for outpatients to wait, a new surgery centre (with operating theatres and a new sterilisation room) and another house for expats to stay in.

Not being on ‘city power’ (read: mains electric) here at Guinebor means that the majority of things are prepared manually.  Even in the city most things are done manually as electricity costs and manual labour, apart from a salary, doesn’t.  The builders hire in generators when they really need to do something with electricity (i.e. soldering metal together to make a frame for the veranda on the new house).  Apart from that, right down to making the bricks, everything is done manually.  It’s crazy and amazing to watch at the same time.  Factor in the 45C daytime temperatures and you’ll have some understanding of the physical labour that goes into constructing a new building here.  There’s no Wickes’ (or wherever in the UK builders buy stuff….!) that we can just pop down to and buy bricks, mortar and so on.  Nope, we have piles of sand, gravel and sacks of cement delivered and dumped in massive piles near the construction site.  And then the hard work begins….

Step one of brick making:
fill metal mould with sand/cement mix
Step two:
level off the sand/cement mix in the mould,
whilst co-worker poses for photo

Step three:
carry filled mould over to drying area
Step four:
tip freshly made brick out of mould
Step five:
remove mould and start process again,
leaving bricks for two weeks to dry before using

I know very little about construction but I'm told that to ensure a wall is structurally sound, it has to have metal horizontal and vertical supports.  These are also made by hand from long lengths of metal:

Jean creating the metal supports

Marking out the building site for new surgery centre
A week after the picture above was taken,
the building site for the surgery centre looked like this!
These are the start of the foundations.  There are about 20 vertical pits like this,
which are about 3 feet square and at least 6 feet deep.  All dug by hand

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