I had the opportunity to go to Africa by my private Christian- affiliated school. We went on a mission trip to Mozambique in Africa, to build a new school for the poor young Africans giving them a new life and opportunities. From the SEATAC airport in Washington, we took the Alaska Airlines to fly to Washington D.C. Then from Washington D.C. we took the South African Airlines straight to Pretoria the capital of South Africa. The plane ride was ridiculously long, about 18 hours, and that wasn’t the end of the trip. The next day we had to take a 10 hour bus ride to Mozambique which is north of Pretoria. We stayed in a nice shelter that was rented by the people we had connections with, although the students had to sleep in tents as the staffs slept in a house with air conditioning and beds. We rode in small buses to our work site which was about 30-45 minutes away. We stayed in Africa for 2 whole weeks during our spring break. The trips cost estimated to a total of about $1700.00.
The African construction workers had already put up the framed girders for the school building. Our job was to build a wall of cement blocks surrounding the school and also to build the walls of the school itself. We stacked and placed sun dried clay Lego-like blocks to build the school house wall. Then to build the wall surrounding the school we had to lift cement blocks, weighing about 15-20 pounds each, over and through metal poles that struck straight out of the ground. Then we fill the insides of the cement blocks with wet cement. The blocks all fit together just like Lego’s, stacked from the ground up to about 20-25 feet high using scaffolding.
This job was quite dangerous in many ways. We worked in such intense heat and UV rays that some of my friends nearly got heat stroke. One of the staff members fell off of the scaffolding and broke his ankle resulting in a plane ride back home. Most of all, we had to watch out for malaria and for that we took malaria pills.
The most unforgettable memory at the work site was enduring eight hours of heat five days a week with the humid weather making it worse. Then, mosquitoes ate us at night. Warm water or Gatorade often emerged as filthy because of the orange sand which was everywhere. Repeatedly, the liquid became hot as we had no shade until we built a wall. Drinking warm Gatorade in burning hot weather was not pleasant. Our Gatorade, which was made of powder, was never mixed to the right consistency resulting in a revolting, bitter distastefulness. It was mandatory that we drank all of what was given to us.
During our trip, I noticed children playing on their own, their mother and father were working. Also, children were taking care of their younger siblings. When working on the site the last couple days, children would swarm around and look at the work, and often we would end up, singing, dancing, or playing ball with them. On the last day, we cleaned up every tool, swept the floors, packed our things, and before we left we gave the kids presents that we brought. We were surrounded by about 100 kids. We watched them crowd around each person giving gifts and we all appreciated how happy and joyful they were; it was blissful.
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