Friday, April 9, 2010

The Real Power Behind The Tools

It is no secret that I love my power tools. I am one of those old fashioned tool guys who believes that he who has the most tools wins, whatever the contest may have been.

So what am I doing under the hot African sun with a playground to build and not a kilowatt or battery power amp in sight? The answer is getting a sunburn and letting the guys who realy know hand tools to do the work.

This is our second voluntourism vacation in the remote hill village on Wongonyi, in south eastern Kenya. If you climb high enough in the hills here you can see across the border into Tanzania and the famous peak of Mt Kilmanjaro. So far I will take their word for it.

I have work to supervise. The children of Ms Bush's class at Macauley Public School in Bracebridge have spent a winter collecting their spare change and are counting on me to build some play equipment in this barren playground.

On the worklist are three items. A simple balance beam, a see-saw and a large swing set were our goal. As this was my first time leading any type of building team, let alone one on foriegn soil, I arrived early to get my vision clear of our tasks ahead. As my father always said, cogitation is the most important part of any job. Once the crew arrived I have some semblance of a plan for the day.

With fresh cut lumber (read wet) on the ground, my team leader Eddie arrived with his bag of tools and his crew. While we would do the timber construction, the sand and aggregate would arrive for the concrete needed to secure the six legs of the swing unit.

Sand arrives one bag at a time on the backs of the guys who dug it from a stream bed likely some distance (vertical and horizontal) from the top of the hill where the primary school is. The stone arrives in a similar fashion and is crushed into smaller pieces one stone hammer stroke at a time. Once the two piles of sand and crushed stone are sufficient, (at about mid day), these two gentlemen called it a day and I sent them with a note back to my wife, the paymaster, to give them their hard earned wages.

Meanwhile the carpenters started work.

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