New school benches built for 20 children to study
- Experience of Kate working in Mahatalaky as an International Volunteer (Pioneer)
“I am a macro social work student focusing on the link between environmental and community development projects. After learning about SEED Madagascar’s Pioneer Programme I thought it would be a great opportunity to work with an experienced organization on some fantastic projects, such as the Mahatalaky refurbishment.
I really like working with the community members. Being able to talk to and share experiences with local people has been one of the best parts of my time here. I didn’t really come with any expectations but I was surprised by how involved I have been in all the projects.
A couple of weeks after we had left Mahatalaky, we spent an hour back at the town for a quick lunch stop. It surprised me how connected I still felt to the community, playing with the local children as well as greeting all the local people we had worked with and become close to during our two week stay. I have learned a lot about different methods of community engagement and styles of project development.
I have so many memories from my time in Mahatalaky but to name a few: mixing cement, playing with the local children, mixing cement, playing cards with my fellow volunteers, mixing cement, climbing up a mountain in the dark to watch the sunrise, and mixing cement.”
2. Progress so far…
We’ve made some great progress on school building one, repairing the foundations and building enough desk-benches for 20 children to study on in comfort. Of course, there have been one or two unexpected challenges for the expert team to deal with.
Due to some bad weather making stone breaking too dangerous, the plans for the foundations had to be adapted. Our international volunteers (pioneers) spent their first week making breeze blocks to form the foundations of the school. This involved the strenuous work of mixing cement with shovels and casting the bricks in a mould. While the pioneers got their hands dirty with the breeze blocks, the SEED construction team began building the foundations around the school. The construction team had three skilled workers, and five unskilled workers. The unskilled workers were able to use this opportunity to begin learning new construction skills, yet another way that this project is helping to support the impoverished community of Mahatalaky.
The old foundations have been kept in place, allowing the construction team to build a supporting structure around the building without any need for a concrete base. In order to achieve the required additional strength; a ditch was dug, four breeze blocks placed inside (one on top of the other) and a layer of concrete situated on top with reinforcing wire running through it. To ensure the materials bind sufficiently cement posts are on each corner and half way along each wall, with wire mesh running both horizontally and vertically through them, effectively acting like a belt around the school’s foundations.
The construction team and pioneers are now working on repairing the floor of the veranda – which had cracks in it - by smoothing it over with cement. One challenge – as you can see from the photos, is the transportation of the heavy cement up onto the veranda using wooden ramps. Once the veranda is finished, work will begin on the inside of the building, and finally be finished off with the painting of the walls and veranda at the end.
Tasks still required to be completed on school building one includes:
- Repairing the cracked veranda
- Rebuilding the roof supports (current ones are not safe)
- Repairing the holes in the roof
- Filling in cracks in the partition wall
- Filling in cracks in the main school structure
- Painting the school.
Construction on school building two has not started yet. However, the weeds and plants that were growing inside the structure have been cleared. With the building being in particularly bad condition and having entire walls and structures missing, there will be a great deal more work required to repair school building two, than there is for school building one. Construction will start when school building one has been finished.
The construction team and pioneers mixing cement
Transporting the heavy cement up onto the veranda
The team repairing the floor of the veranda
Project Mahatalaky bringing people together