Brick Chain and hey – some pictures!

This entry is part 14 of 27 in the series, Zimbabwe 2007 Project

Hi there folks! Another day has come and gone here in Zimbabwe. Did you know that the Zimbabwean day is nearly always 12hours long? The sun rises at 6am and sets at 6pm (give or take a few minutes). When the sun rises, it’s bright – when the sun sets its dark, almost immediately – the sunrise and sunset don’t last very long. Needless to say it’s pretty interesting for us Canadian folks used to wide varieties of seasonal daylight hours!
Today was a great day. We got a chance to join in with a community building day with men from Hope Community Church and men from the plots who live near the Village. Over 50 men from the community showed up to help get things started on the building of the structure for the third school classroom. By the way, this is what our project for the time we are here will be. We’re hoping to get the walls up and and the roof in place for the classroom in 6 working days. Quite a challenge but one we’re up to trying to meet! Today was an amazing day of getting to know some of the men of the village and contributing to a “human brick passing chain” that moved brick for the walls from where it was piled to a more accesible location surrounding the foundation where the walls are being built on. In Zimbabwe, construction is a bit different from Canada because they use brick for their structural support and steel or timber for the tresses (roof structure). Lumber is not easy to come by and it is much easier to build with brick and mortar. Anyway, we had lots of laughs and fun as we moved the brick from the pile to the foundation and got to know some of the men better.
A funny story: The Zimbabwe men have a new way of describing someone who talks alot thanks to the wonderful observation by Doug. While we were passing brick along one of the men from the area was very vocal in conversation and continually urging us to “hurry” and “two two” which was to get us passing more bricks along at once (sometimes “three three” and “four four”…) All in good fun of course and everyone was laughing. In good humor Doug contributed to the laughter by calling the gentleman “Barry”. The nickname stuck and now Barry is the byword for, “one who talks alot” πŸ˜‰ For those of you who know Barry well…well, you’ll understand!
Following the work day we had a BBQ with the men who worked. Now a Zimbabwean BBQ is much different than the typical Canadian BBQ…frankly, our BBQ’s pale in comparison. When we get back we’ll show you some pictures of the difference but I highly suspect that you’re going to see some of the men build a *real *BBQ in their back yards… The food was delicious. One of the awkward things about the meal was that we got our plates with food and then we looked around for forks and knives…only to discover there were none. The Zimbabwe people eat with their fingers…now how do you think we felt about that? 8 guys from Canada learning that it was OKAY to eat our food with our fingers… πŸ™‚ And yes, we did wash our hands first hehe.
In our team reflection time tonight back at our house we spent some time talking about the day and what stood out about it. I’m not going to share everything we talked about except to say that it’s obvious that this trip is affecting all of us in a big way. Words really can’t express the emotions we go through as we share with each other about the things the Zimbabwean people go through and yet the incredible resilience and joy they have in the midst of their trials. We also spent time talking about the reality of the economic situation here in Zimbabwe vs. what we know in Canada. For instance, we’ve been purchasing our food each day and this is what it costs:
A small brick of cheese = $330,000 ZD = $4.2 CDN A 6 pack of sausage = $104,000ZD = $1.3 CDN Peanut Butter = $60,000 ZD = $.74 CDN Ketchup = $37,000 ZD = $.46 CDN 10L Juice = $98,400 ZD = $1.21 CDN Cookies = $86,500 ZD = $1.17 CDN
And that was just today. Since the average inflation pushes prices up by 2-3% per day the costs continue to go up! Now translated into Canadian dollars the prices don’t really seem to be all that bad until I throw in the statistic that the avg take home pay for THOSE who work is about $31.50 CDN per MONTH! Not only that but taxes are at $47%! So…much of the things we take for granted at the local supermarket are considered “rich mans'” food here in Zimbabwe. Another sobering reality is the fact that the unemployment rate in Zimbabwe is around 75%. We certainly are challenged as a team by the realities of life for the people of Zimbabwe and amazed by the resourcefulness of the people in surviving.
For this update I thought I’d include a few pictures. Now because of the slow connection they won’t be in a very high resolution because I reduced the size of the file to cut down on transfer time. But I’m sure you’ll enjoy them anyway!
Here’s a brief description of each picture, 1. The team about to leave for the flight from Toronto. 2. The team in front of Westminister Abbey in London England 3. The team’s arrival at the Village of Hope. 4. Here the team is passing out some of the tools that were donations given to us to pass on the Village of Hope. You should have seen the eyes of the Zimbabwe workers when they saw those tools! Especially the cordless drill – they were wanting to try it right away! 5. Here is the “Brick passing chain” I wrote about earlier in the email.
Till next update folks… – Darren and the Zimbabwe 2007 Team

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