Thursday, November 11, 2010


Our “office” (aka hotel) is surrounded by very little development. A building foundation is in construction to the north, a small shack snack shop is on the northeast corner, there is a church across the way in the northeast, a few shack homes (made of corrugated metal scraps, totaling approximately 80sf each) below on the south side, and a cement block “factory” to the east.

It has been fascinating to watch these men create the hundreds of cement blocks they’ve produced during our time here. They move so fast, for so long. One guy fills the machine with each bucket of heavy ingredients that mix into the cement, another shovels the product from below the machine into the forming machine, another waits with a wooden platform to slip the SOLID cement block (not the typical kind with two holes, this weighs 70lbs!) out from the machine and RUNS it across the drying field to lay it on the ground for curing in the sun, running back of course, and they all do this continually. I saw one guy do the running with bricks for at least four hours as he gathered the dried blocks up into a pile at the other end of the field. He was shirtless, with unreal muscles showing at no more than 6% body fat, his jeans (for Tanzanians wear pants even in the immense heat) were held up with a worn rope, and he glistened with the sweat as we worked.

Even so, as four of us snuck a peek at his amazing accomplishments, a few children began yelling as they passed by. A young boy and girl were in a bit of a scuffle. A young boy had caused a girl to drop the bucket off her head as she carried it home from the watering hole. She became immediately offended at his actions and demanded he pick it up as her jug lay on the ground gurgling out its contents. He refused, and the pushing and fighting began. The worker without hesitation walked calmly over to the kids and pulled them away from each other. He heard their story, then told the boy to go home, talking to the girl, he picked up the bucket and disappeared. It must have been a good five minutes before he returned, it seemed like forever as the girl sulked along the street, but he returned with a full bucket of water, and sent her on her way. This kind of hospitality from a man who has been running back and forth all day with 70 pound blocks to earn his living. Impressive. It warmed my heart to see such an example.

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