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Sunday, December 25, 2011

A Christmas Miracle.. Maybe not but it is a major achievment....

Submitted by Capt Yaw,

This is one of the most frustration and satisfying weeks of my life. Despite the thankless task of herding cats, we actually achieved our planned construction targets at Kpong Airfield.... and that, my friends, is a FIRST.

We had planned to complete the slab for B3/4 (multi-purpose building/accom/office/training and mini-clinic) as well as connect the new genset to ensure site wide power and reduce our costs of fuel and hassles related to the same - as well as enable power sufficient for a cold making machine called a FREEZER!!! A luxury item - especially when it makes water solid.... AMAZING!!!

Amazingly, and thanks to the incredible support of many of you, and especially the linguistic skills of Patricia (she managed to translate my profanities and coarse cajoling into words that worked), Matthew's logistics (driving trucks and tractors to feed the production chain), and Mr Solo's constant attention to details and watchful eye - tonight, at 19:00, long after the sun went to find its pyjamas, we have done it.

The morning started with breakfast - as it always does - the men here like to eat together to start the day - it is a 'frustrating for me' cultural thing.... then it was watering of the slab layed yesterday at B4, and pounding the foundations for B3 - the target for the day... - then weaving the wire to go into the slab and laying in the electrics ready for the sockets in a few weeks... then, finally, the sand and cement and stone mixing began somehow overlapping,.... not as fast as we would have liked, but it was happening... slowly and at the steady pace that the heat of the day allowed...

In fact, Spitfire and Catalina, the airfield dogs, watched - even wanting to share water from Patricia's sachet!!

The site wide power system (see earlier post for the laying in and the gen set) was achieved by early afternoon, mainly done by Patricia and myself - I can trust Patricia to put the right colours in the right place and to tighten, not loosen, a screw on a connector - and she is up to speed with aircraft wiring, so some 20mm2, 16mm2, 4mm2 and 2,5mm2 two and three phase gizmos were well within her rapid learning curve! Now we can use power at all points at all times with no practical power usage limitations.... (on the small gensets we had to carry them around, and often only use one tool at a time - or computers OR a grinder....etc) - we can even drill and use a power saw on the new construction site to speed up certain future tasks!

The slab completion slowed up and was getting ' touch and go to complete'. We ran out of stones - so we had to run the truck all around the site to look for the remnants of piles from hangars and loading aprons, etc - 6 truck loads were scratched up from the site - really 'scrouge' style - How appropriate is that !!!!????? As we got to 1pm, it was looking as if we were sunk - so I called our local quarry and begged for a lorry of stones. The reply was 'Wednesday'.... I begged a little and he agreed to 're-route' a truck of stones, and at 4pm it arrived... we only needed a few of them, but the teamwork and collaboration quotients we enjoy here are key to our successes.

Then at 7pm, the slab was not only set AND level, but also the tools were tidied away, the men paid and right now, as I write, we all stink to high heavens with sweat, and yet all of us are happy to have achieved this task. If you have EVER tried a project like this you will understand the challenge of completion in a tight time frame. Now, with the supply chain issues and cultural approaches to working and our location, and if you have tried that in a similar circumstance - you may be surprised... I am. Pleasantly surprised.

So, now the men are paid, a handsome Christmas bonus in their pockets and these men will enjoy Christmas vacation BECAUSE of their hard work and it being recognised.

The next challenge is, how to get B3 to Lintel level before the middle of January - and then how to raise the funds for the roof.... and the finishing - but such challenges have never stopped us before - and we are on a roll - with a cold chain!!!!


I will update soon with our Year End message.... and hope that you all enjoy your seasonal break, celebrations and family time - and if you chink some ice, think of us, we may get to chill for an hour or two between the ongoing workshop and paperwork progress that this time of year allows us.

Merry Christmas to those who celebrate it, Happy New Year to all who recognise ' this ' Calendar, and be Happy and Merry to any not covered by these things!

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