LIVE UPDATE: Moving Schools project – Frames for School modules are up!
After a successful day placing the first school frame into position, everyone from teachers and students to volunteers were very excited about the upcoming weeks and the fast progress, happening on the build. We spent the next week finishing the remaining foundation posts on the second line of the classrooms. It was very rewarding to see the first school module in the corner of the site, a reminder of the success that comes from the hard work of digging and fitting the foundation posts.
In an effort to recruit further volunteers to assist with the build, we placed posters throughout Mae Sot in guesthouses and cafes to entice more people to help out. We were very happy to receive a call from a Belgian family who saw our poster and thought a few days volunteering on our school project would be a great way to spend time on their holiday. Hans, An, Emile and Yann were a great boost of energy to our project, Hans helped David, Pablo and Jim with foundations while An and her sons Emile (10) and Yann (5) helped me with painting. It was great to see a family taking a month break from work to enjoy family time in Thailand and also help out with a volunteering project. Our youngest volunteers so far were definitely the most energetic painting the ceiling and flooring frames in no time at all.
When we originally visited Mae Sot in January 2011, we were shown around some of the school buildings by a Spanish NGO, Colabora Birmania. We have since stayed in touch with the NGO and were very lucky to be offered three new Spanish volunteers to help out on the build. David, Guiomar and Izaga are in Mae Sot for a month and have very kindly offered to volunteer on our ‘Moving Schools’ project. They quickly got to grips with the task of fitting foundation posts. It was easy to keep momentum up when carrying out the foundation posts as we could see the eager to learn children being taught outside their current school classroom to allow the teacher the much needed further space and quiet area she needed to teach. We saw the children playing a number game with their teacher with a game kindly donated by Imagine Thailand. We look forward to seeing the teacher and her students playing the number game in their newly built school classrooms very soon.
With only two weeks left until we fly home, we placed a deadline as to when all the steel had to be cut, painted and drilled at the workshop. We were very glad to see the workshop team work through the weekend to ensure all steel was ready in time. On Friday, we hired a 6 wheel truck to move all the steel to construct the school project from the Global Neighbors workshop to Thu Kha Hang Sar school. With our newly trained volunteers and a few spare hands courtesy of the workers from the Two Wheels Bike shop we had a team in place to move the steel to site. As we patiently waited at the workshop for the driver to arrive, excitement was building as our team knew today we would hopefully assemble all the frames.
As the truck manoeuvred around the workshop site, the team loaded the truck with all the different sections of steel, from columns to floor joists and ceiling beams. It was great to know that the steel needed for 10 classroom modules would fit comfortably onto the 6 wheel truck and reassuring to know that this school really was a ‘Moving School.’
Quickly the piles of the steel around the workshop decreased and within an hour the truck was fully loaded and ready to travel to the school site.
David, our volunteers and I jumped into our truck and led the 6 wheel truck to the school site. We travelled through the small village of Mae Pa where we tightly squeezed through narrow roads passing day markets and buffalo’s on the road. Driving through rice paddy fields, we saw workers carrying out their daily chores and then finally we drove up the final small hill to the school to see our first module standing proud through the corn fields. It was exciting to know we were about to construct 9 further modules.
As the sun came out over lunch time, the team prepared to remove the very hot steel from the truck into the school grounds. We spoke with Chan Chan the school headmistress to explain that the children needed to stay inside while the steel was moved. As the piles of steel from the truck were slowly moved in the mid day sun to the school, we could hear the children inside standing on their tip toes to see what we were doing. Chan Chan told the children that we would be building the remaining school frames and they spoke to her with excitement and asked when they could be taught in the new school. It was great to know that both the teachers and students were excited about their new school building.
The next task was to lay out the steel into position on the floor and bolt together. The frames could then be lifted up moved into place next to foundation holes and slotted into position.
Thu Kha Hang Sar school sadly had their electricity cables stolen recently therefore there is no electricity on site. With no power to charge the tools needed to construct the frames, we managed to hire a generator which powered the drills needed for the build. As the majority of the team constructed the frames on the school grounds, workers Nain and Aung Myint Soe tested the water level across the school and marked out where the holes to place the frames were to be drilled.
With the height measured, it was time to place the frames into place:
The team quickly got the hang of moving the frame into position and were quickly slotting the frames into place.
Finally the first line of modules is complete with the 4th and 5th module in place.
With daylight ending, we decided to re-group the next day to finish the second row of modules. We met bright and early on Saturday morning and managed to put up the remaining frames during the hours when the rain stopped.
It was incredible to see the frames on the school site, it gave us a real sense of what the final building will look like. Chan Chan and the teachers arrived to school on Monday morning and were very happy to see their new school building really taking shape.
Now we wait patiently for the roofing and flooring to arrive from Bangkok which we hope to install at the weekend. Meanwhile, the workshop team are still very busy construction the bamboo wall panels and the remaining roof frames. A very busy and exciting few weeks are in store!