Saturday, February 6, 2016

Under Construction

Sahel Academy is currently undergoing a couple additions on campus - the new elementary building and a covered sports court.  Watching the gradual progress of both projects makes me feel apart of it in some way, though my dad has played a much more significant role in the overseeing of these two major additions to Sahel's campus.  Yet, it is exciting to see the foundations being laid and the walls going up "kana, kana," in Zarma, "slowly, slowly."

SIM Director, Steve Schmidt; SIM Head of Construction,
Chad Winsor, Sahel Academy Director and Principal, Bev Farrer 
In October of 2015, a ground-breaking ceremony was held for the new elementary wing!  In order to prepare the spot of land they are using for the building, workers chopped down trees - by hand.  With just an axe, I felt like I was watching Paul Bunyan!  When they were ready for the ceremony, one of the smallest (and cutest!) kindergartners helped turn the first shovel of soil (more like sand).  All the elementary students and teachers gathered together to pray over the start of this exciting project.  Praise God Sahel Academy is growing and in need of new rooms for the elementary school, K-5.  When it is finished, it will be a two-story building with about 6 new rooms.  They hope to finish by June.

Pouring and smoothing the concrete by hand.
Last Thursday, January 28, was the big night for the covered court.  A team of men from the States came to help prepare the grounds for this huge project - demolition, dump trucks, jack hammers...every guy's dream!  The new court is the size of 3 high school sized basketball courts combined.  While you can probably imagine this process in the States requiring large cement trucks with funnels for pouring (15 loads, to be exact), we do not have such resources in Niger.

Workers lined up with their wheelbarrows of concrete!

Starting at 4:30pm on Thursday afternoon, about 100 Nigeriens helped hand-mix 130+ yards of concrete - over 40 tons of sac concrete, plus sand and stone.  Men filled wheelbarrow after wheelbarrow with fresh, wet concrete ready to dump and refill.  After 14 hours of non-stop pouring, the cement for the court was done!  Coming to school to see it finished the next morning was a treat!  What an impressive and unique experience.  The court remains covered in water to help with the curing.  The students are looking forward to having such a spacious place to play!

We are so grateful for the men that have made these projects possible for Sahel.  It is a blessing to Sahel families, students, staff, as well as the larger community to have such facilities for learning and recreation.  Praise God!

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