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Published: August 7th 2018
The next four days of work were pretty similar. The groups worked hard, ate mediocre food, and had quiet nights. Monday:
On the first build day, both teams worked on their concrete slabs. Site two dry-mixed sand and cement and spread the combination on the foundation then wet it with a hose. This method was not conventional and will likely lead to a sub-standard floor. Our site spent the entire day mixing and pouring concrete.
Each batch of concrete contained 8 five-gallon buckets of stone, 5 buckets of sand, 1 sack of cement, and water. We dry-mixed the sand and cement before adding the stone. Next, we added water and hand-mixed on the ground with shovels. This process was physically demanding. Brad struggled to mix with the short-handled shovels and resorted to filling and moving buckets of materials. Once each batch was mixed, we filled small pots and used a bucket brigade to move the mix to the foundation and pour the slab. This manual process continued all day and was only interrupted by a disappointing lunch at the local government building.
The crew met before dinner to share some personal reflections about the day. Kristy and
I were tired from the labor but acquiesced to the invitation. Most of the reflections were boilerplate and not inspiring. Dinner was better than lunch but left us craving protein.
Overall the first day was rough. Max, one of the crew, summed it up well later in the week: “After Monday, we survived Nam” Tuesday:
The slab cured overnight leaving us with a solid work platform. We had a local worker demonstrate how to lay bricks. He then did the first row all the way around the house. The team split up according to work duty. Eight volunteers laid brick and the remaining three mixed mortar and moved block. Brad and Kristy got on brick-laying duty. Before starting, Brad showed the crew how to load up a wheelbarrow with bricks and power it up the ramp to the brick-layers.
We stayed on brick-laying duty for the entire day. We were slow and sloppy at first but improved over time. By lunch, one of the four groups had a window getting bricked in. By the end of the day, our wall had a window partially bricked in. Wednesday:
The brick-laying continued. In the late morning,
we started to erect scaffolding so work could progress. While the masonry carried on, some of the group tied re-bar. The re-bar was used for horizontal concrete beams that were to be poured in place on top of the brick walls. Before lunch, the first of four beams was formed and poured. By the afternoon, all four beams were poured.
Many of the crew were tiring of Vietnamese food and put in a request for a Western dinner. We went to Pizza The 1932
in Cao Lanh and had seafood, tuna, and mixed pizzas made on baguette dough. The pizza was not very good, but Wednesday happened to be “Pizza Happy Day” so we got 25%!o(MISSING)ff and a funny name for Wednesday. Thursday:
By the fourth workday, Kristy had grown tired of brick-laying. She moved on to mortar and brick duty. Brad continued to lay brick high up on double-level scaffolding. In the early afternoon, we had exhausted our reach and could not lay brick any higher. We cleaned up and knocked-off early on our last workday. The foundation had been transformed during our four days and now was starting to look like a house. The remaining work included
completing the walls with more scaffolding, putting on a roof, and installing doors.
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