Friday, June 17, 2011

Making progress

Things have been going great with my bottle school – we finished pouring the first set of columns on Tuesday, and we’ll probably start with the horizontal beams in the next couple of days. But it’s been a while since I’ve posted pictures; let me start at the beginning….

First things first, you have to dig a big square trench. Here's where the school is gonna go!

I dug out some of this dirt a little while ago; the afternoon rains make it thick and heavy (chopping it up is no piece of cake). So you have to take an occasional break:

Of course, at some point you’ll need to get sand delivered (for the concrete):

Then you’ll place the rebar for vertical columns and move onto pouring the cimiento corrido (honestly, I’m not even sure what this is called in English, but it’s the base of the building's foundation, the stretch of concrete running along the bottom of the trench):

Then you lay a few runs of cement blocks on top of the cimiento corrido, completing the foundation (you can’t use bottles yet, unfortunately :) ) That’s my program supervisor Carlos Julajuj on the left and community coordinator Don Miguel on the right:

Next thing you do is fill in some dirt and prepare the solera de humedad, which will be poured around the horizontal series of rebar running along the top of the foundation:

Jumping ahead, you can see how much progress we’re making:

On the day this photo was taken we finished the columns, which are formed within a wooden “box” into which you pour the liquid concrete. The novel aspect of bottle school construction is that you install a series of pins in both the soleras and the columns while the concrete is still wet - future pictures will illustrate why. Here’s one of the village kids helping out, putting pins into their holes at 20 cm intervals:

That’s our head mason Frainer mixing cement:

I had to help out, of course (shirt on my head = sun protection):

Then the wet cement goes into the column form:

All and all, things are going good. Tomorrow morning we’re going to deliver a bunch more rebar to the site, which should keep work moving at an even pace. People are motivated, costs are staying low thanks to collaborating organizations and everyone’s support means we’re making great progress. These kids can’t wait to get their new school!