tirsdag 19. januar 2010

All in all not just another brick in the wall…

Today, we are a day away from the workshops official end and I am perched on a rock under the stadium seating roof. On our first visit to the site of the Ibanda workshop we took shelter from the sudden tropical downpour under the same roof. This quirky structure with its eccentric pitch is barely two months old. Andreas and Ragnhild had built it with their local team when they were in Ibanda last November. On the first day we – the newcomers, old-timers, locals and mzungus- huddled under it and stared across the pitch at the site where we would be building more stadium facilities over the next 10 days. All we could see then were 5 sections of 2mt diameter concrete pipes on the site and not much else. It was fun to speculate what our mixed bunch would leave behind in 10 short days.

Everyone under roof on rainy first day

Nine days later the scene across the field has changed. I still see the pipes; I also see our team busy building. The awkwardness of the beginning has given away a unit working, singing, arguing and laughing together. Through days of sickness, health, rain, shine, productive days, unproductive days, communication days, miscommunication days we have continued building. And the results are there to see. The two changing room roofs are up on both sides of the pipes (roof sheeting in fast progress, brick walls in slow progress), the VIP seating stands high above the ground in the centre (flooring on the way, roof still to go, awesome view from top) and the referee room fits cosily in the central pipe ( its hexagonal elevation providing a perfect ‘football’ motif!) In 9 chaotic days, not bad!! No wonder Andreas keeps saying –‘I am happy’! Or maybe he is just being reassuring….

The raising of VIP stage:

The non stop physical activity coupled with the pressure of delivering on time and delivering well in a still unfamiliar context have made these ten days an intense experience. We can measure results only in hindsight but every once in a while there have been moments which offered welcome insight into the context of our hectic activity. We learned to find a balance between our technical knowledge and the local knowhow of materials and constraints. Julian showed us how to tie re-inforcement bars, Silje adapted to build with crooked timber, Jenny learned to get the perpendicular lines just right with four different methods and I learnt finally to build with my hands a brick wall in three different techniques ( sort of ! ) It seems that it is possible to pull off an audacious amount of building in 10 days with a healthy diet Meat, Posho, Matoke and Doddo everyday. We also now know that Pringles and Coke are crucial health supplements.

There is no time yet to take stock as there is one more day of work still to go. I am just glad to be here, of seeing, doing and learning amongst such wonderful people. I wish I could stay to see things completed but unfortunately I cannot stay longer (almost everyone else is staying back an extra couple of days more to finish work ). So I will have to leave behind Shaban and Caesar busy on the roof, Clinton and Josephs impromptu songs, Kikki and Van deep in discussion on the timber wall, Baluku and Olav with their yellow concrete mixer, Tuva and Per painting the pipes, Silje and Rune busy on their VIP perch, Alex with the changing room windows, Mujuni helping everyone, Mbusa and Ingrid with the bricks, Andreas and Ragnhild trying to keep this craziness in control and get back to Kampala. After spending two months understanding urban planning in Kampala last year it is good come back to see this side of Uganda and to get back to building. Tusen Takk, Wasingya, Asante Sana Andreas og Ragnhild for the opportunity! To Stephen, Joseph, Agnes and everyone in Ibanda for taking such good care and to my new Norwegian and CDTS friends for the ‘nice time' and the language classes.

Lessons in Norwegian, KiSwahili, Lukonzo and Hindi

There are so many experiences, people, and moments crowding my mind that I almost look forward to the bumpy 6 hour bus ride back to Kampala tomorrow as time for reflection!


Amritha Ballal

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