Where the wild things are

August 10, 2016

While on site and in Ghana in general, you see certain things that you just dont normally see in the States. From the first day we were on site we were fascinated by the wildlife. Seeing the spiders, insects and lizards that we havn’t seen before was a treat but the excitement of that has certainly all but worn off by now. We still welcome the random mongoose here and there or the neighborhood dogs that come wandering around each day looking for food but it is safe to say that we have all gotten used to it. Today however, as we were sitting down enjoying lunch I was beside myself when I saw our mentor Bob reach into his backpack and pull out a live bird by the tail. We were all taken back, as we knew that he was a magician, and made more confused when he said that he didnt put the bird in there. At this point we still dont know where this bird came from but it was a welcomed companion as it stayed with us for the remainder of lunch. It just goes to show that you always have to expect the unexpected.

As for the work accomplished today it is much more of the same old same old, we have made progess with installing the soffits and with the soffits around the library being finished, and we have continued to install the framework for the ceiling installation. Simultaneously we have been making sure that lthe masons, now nearing completion of the exterior plastering, are remaining supplied with plaster and tools to work at an efficient pace. We hope to continue the working and, according to our estimates, we will finish as much work as we can.

Almost there!

August 9, 2016

It is always nice to see progress in something that you work hard at. We have been seeing a good amount of progress everyday but it is nice to take a step back and appreciate it all. We are one day out from finishing the plastering of the exterior of all of the buildings.Once that is accomplished we plan to move into the interior to plaster the inside of every room. While plastering we plan to continue installing ceilings and soffits and prepare for the pouring of a topping slab in each room. We can not thank the masons enough who have helped us accomplish all of the work that we have gotten done so far and we look forward to getting as much done in the next few weeks as possible.

Ghanaian food ftw (for the win)

August 8, 2016

Well, another day down. Today we saw only a few masons showed up and it led to a little less work getting done then we had anticipated. Luckily we were able to all keep busy and still get a good amount of work done. We successfully finished the framework for the ceiling in the library and began preparing the remaining rooms for plastering. Today however, the topic of blog will be the food.
It has been quite an experience so far to try all of the Ghanaian food and it has been fantastic. Han’s Lodge offers a wide variety of choices from traditional Ghanaian to American. It was an exciting thing to finally put a taste to the unknown thing that is "African" food. Many people know what to expect when thinking of Mexican food, or even Asian food, German food, or British food etc. speaking from personal experience however I had little to go on or expect when it came to African food. Speaking from experience now, I, along with the rest of the travel team, am a fan. It is generally spicier then most American food and makes more use of rice, similar to Mexican or Asian food. However, the differences arise when you look at the spices and foods that you see. For example, there is much more ginger in Ghanaian food then is found in American food, and almost anything that is made of potatoes in the U.S. can be made from yams, plantains, or cassava. One of the more impressive dishes that we have come to love is Jollof. It is a simple rice dish served with a protein, usually chicken or beef, and cole slaw. While in town the other day several of us ordered the Jollof to compare to that which we have had at Han’s and we were pleasantly surprised by the similarities between the dishes as well as the wonderful flavors. Anyone who is interested in trying some African cuisine, I would highly suggest locating yourself some Jollof to enjoy.

And we’re back

August 7, 2016

I apologize for the delay we lost internet for a bit again, but we’re back online and have made progress.We have officially now, with the help of the masons, finished the plastering of the exterior of three of the four buildings. We expect the final long building to take two days to plaster. We have successfully mounted the required soffiting framework to allow for the masons to plaster and are nearing completion of the angled members to finish the rest of the soffit framework. Since completion of the framework we have begun mounting the ceiling framework in the library and will continue to prepare for the plastering of the interior of the rooms. Everybody has been working hard and it shows in the progress that we’ve seen. Plywood will be ordered on Monday and we will begin the final installation of the soffiting. After given the amount of progress and the general consensus of the masons we are taking this Sunday (today) off. It was nice to sleep in and we plan to head to the beach soon. The progress that we have seen so far bodes well for the ambitions to finish much more then we had initially planned for this trip.

Little by little, a little becomes a lot

August 3, 2016

Today we made great progress. Thanks to the help of the professional masons that came today, we were able to finish plastering the interior for the entire library and office as well as the exterior for that entire building. We have installed the framework now for about half of the entire school and are prepared to continue plastering the exterior of the rest of the buildings. Tomorrow we hope to have several teams working to pour the topping slab in the library, continue constructing soffit framework, and plastering the exterior of the buildings. Given the current rate we believe that we are on track to finish the required agenda ahead of schedule. As we continue to work we are very grateful for all of the help that we have been receiving from the people of Nsumia and the surrounding villages.

Teamwork makes the dreamwork

August 2, 2016

Today we saw what the Nsumia masons have to offer. We were helped today with the expertise of five professional masons and two professional carpenters along with several laborers. With all of the help we were able to accomplish more then we thought possible in a day. We were able to finish all of the walls in the library and begin plastering the office. In addition to the large amount of plastering that we were able to do today we were able to finish the installation of the framework for the soffit on the entire library building and begin on the adjacent long building. With the backing of both the elders and Frank the MP we anticipate even more help tomorrow where we will finish plastering the office and the exterior of that building. If the level of participation that we saw today continues for the rest of the trip we are confident that we will see much more progress then anticipated and will be able to reach the final touches for the school.

August 2016 Ghana Trip Kickoff!

August 1, 2016

Just about one week down and it has already been a blast. The hours are long and the work is hard, but for those few moments of free time alone it is already worth it, not to mention that this school will be able to benefit a countless number of kids in its life time. Yesterday we were able to make it into Accra to explore a little bit with Charles as our guide, we were able to visit the Market and go out for Ghanaian ice cream. After a fun night out on the town it was back to work early this morning. Thanks to Manesseh we have completed half of the library with a strong start on the second. With the help of the local MP and the Quarry we will now be able to find more Masons to help with plastering the walls. We hope to begin installation of the soffit beginning with the library and continuing with all of the buildings. We are nearing completion of filling the gaps between the window and door frames and masonry with mortar and will be able to begin plastering the exterior of the buildings as soon as the library is completed. After a long stretch of hard work in the hot sun it is nice to lay back and relax with a coconut in one hand and some fresh sugar cane in the other. The service here is fantastic and the people are more than friendly. With everything going on it is important to remember that we are here to help and to make a difference, regaurdless of how it feels like vacation for those moments off, we hope to push on and get as much accomplished in our time here in Ghana.

At least we have internet, sorta……

July 30, 2016

Alright, coming to you from Ghana, Africa I can now say that I understand what is meant by former travel members when they say that the Wifi is spotty. While I feel that this trip it has been better then past I see what they mean. Apparently there is a limited amount of data that our host, Han, is able to use/ he only buys a certain amount at a time. Come to find out the first night when the travel team was snapchatting and updating facebook and all other things that the modern youth feels so inclined to do (cough cough upload a blog) that one server goes through a good amount of data. That being said, we now have internet again and I will try and resume the planned daily blog posts and updates.

Today was a good day despite the rough start we had when Nick locked our key in the room while we were eating breakfast. We managed to finish the plastering of half of the library and get a good start on the other while simultaneously sealing up many of the gaps that existed above both windows and doors. We cannot thank the local masons of Nsumia enough for coming out and helping today and we hope to see and meet even more on Monday. We plan on beginning work a little bit later tomorrow followed by a trip to the market and dinner in Accra. As for the day that I failed to upload a post, yesterday, twas a cultural experience for everyone.
Yesterday after working on site for several hours we were greeted by the local MP (Member of Parliament). After a few more hours we gathered at the Village Center to meet with the village elders and explain our plans for this trip. After a very productive meeting they agreed to rally the masons to come help with the school. The meeting was very fascinating and could only have been made better if we could have understood the language.

First Day in a New World

July 27, 2016

As the first day draws to a close it is a good time to reflect on the happenings of the day and begin the month long task of keeping the blog up to date. As a first point, initial findings of the internet quality at the hotel we are staying at are promising. Which should allow for more consistent blog posts then have been carried out in the past. The highlight of the past few days of travel was the completion of the epic trek to Ghana. After 10+ hours on a plane over night the sight of Accra was very welcome. Luckily everyone made it without a hitch. Nobody got lost, all luggage was exactly where it was supposed to be, and everyone made it safely to Han’s Lodge. Due to the jet lag and the general need to get our bearings in this new place we spent the following day (today) exploring and observing the tools and people that we will be able to work with for the next month. As the day comes to a close we look forward to a fresh, well rested, start early tomorrow morning where we hope to begin and finish preparing the Library. Everyone is looking forward to a good night’s sleep after last night’s jet sleep.

August 2016 Ghana Trip Kickoff!

July 25, 2016

Well the day that we have been waiting for all Summer is finally almost upon us. Tomorrow afternoon at approximately one o’clock PM our month of excitement and adventure will begin with a short flight from O’Hare to Dulles International followed by an overnight jump to Accra. As the planning phase and the training phase come to an end, we are reminded that we will continue to learn and grow as we work with our professionals in country and the professional engineers that will be accompanying us on the trip. After the considerable amount of preparation and high hopes that we have for a successful and productive trip, the travel team looks forward to representing Engineers Without Borders and UW-Platteville as we begin work on the completion of the NAVA Primary School.

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