Mmanoko is a rather small village located about 10 miles East of Molepolole, my village. My good friend, Nathan, is the Peace Corps Volunteer stationed there. Before he arrived there a couple years ago, another PCV had started a project at the one and only school in the village. The project was an outdoor amphitheater. Basically just a semi-circular seating around a small stage, made of cinder blocks and concrete, and to be used to host dramas, public addresses and many other functions.
Nathan arrived to find the project had stalled for want of labor, materials and motivation and decided he would adopt it. There was very small, quarter built brick wall and several large piles of sand, rocks and broken concrete, all scattered over an area the size of a couple of football fields. He called on some friends and managed to arrange for the donation of some concrete, more dirt, gravel and stone. This was almost 2 years ago. Since then he has failed over and over to get anyone from the village or school to help him continue the project. This is a very typical scenario on larger projects.
As luck would have it, the US ARMY has a special program where they send 20 or 30 ROTC (Officers in Training while they are attending Universities) Cadets to various countries to help on a multitude of projects. So, last weekend, Mmanoko was descended upon by 30 US Army personnel who spent a day and a half doing seriously hard labor. Under the supervision of myself and Nathan, this energetic young group of cadets relocated the 4 huge rock and sand piles from 100 yards away to right next to the building site, carrying one shovel at a time. They sledge hammered large rocks into small rocks, dug several one foot deep trenches in the ROCK HARD ground to prepare for Cinder Block footings, shoveled dozens of tons of hard sand and rock to level the surface, mixed dozens of wheel barrows of cement, built two long circular Cinder Block walls and performed many other terribly laborious tasks.
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It was refreshing to see the military spirit of teamwork in these young people and the three officers in charge were working just as hard, right along side them. This little village was even blessed by the presence of our Country Director, Tim Hartman, who brought his family to see American work ethic at it’s best. He parked his truck near the building site and put on some fun work music for everyone. Then he and his family joined in for several hours and helped. They even brought a chocolate cake, which, despite the slightly crunchy texture from the constant dust cloud we were all working in, was delicious and much appreciated!
At the end of a day and half of solid work, we had accomplished a tremendous amount and left the project substantially advanced.
The project moved along substantially but remains with much to do. It is hoped that perhaps with some help from the American Embassy personnel, we can some day again make another giant step toward it’s completion.