Tag Archives: volunteer

The roof arrives!

UPDATE: Moving Schools project – The roof and flooring arrive!

After a fantastic weekend constructing the ten school modules on site, we were eager for the arrival of the roofing fabric and flooring which would turn the steel frame structures into a school building. We received notice on Sunday morning that the UV resistant fabric for the roof had arrived in Bangkok from Germany via Oman. The fabric was very kindly donated to Building Trust by Mehler Texnologies a German company, who offered to provide the fabric for the school project free of charge we then had to pay the shipping cost by air to Thailand. We also awaited the arrival of the flooring which is made from a cementitious wood board by a Thai company called Viva Board. The cementitious wood board looks very similar to the familiar concrete flooring often found in Mae Sot schools, however the vital difference is that the Viva Board can be taken with the school community if they have to move the school in the future. Another package awaiting delivery from Bangkok were the aluminium extrusions, a  product by French company Profil Tensions Systems which would hold the PVC membrane to the steel frame.

After a few days of long, arduous and frustrating phone conversations, trying our hardest to get the fabric released from customs at Bangkok airport we received the great news that on Wednesday afternoon the flooring, extrusions and roofing were on a truck from Bangkok to Mae Sot.

As the truck made it’s way to Mae Sot the volunteers spent 2 days completing 8 foundation holes for the central courtyard. Instead of using truck tyres and digging three tyres deep for the courtyard foundations, we used a smaller car tyres. We were able to use a smaller system for the central courtyard as there will be very little imposed loads on this area of the school.

Student help unload truck

As the final courtyard foundation hole was finished, the truck from Bangkok arrived and the volunteers, David and I wondered how on Earth we would be able to unload the truck containing all the flooring and roofing materials for the school construction. As we tried to come up with the easiest solutions to unload and called friends to see if they could help, out of nowhere a group of 50 students from the school next door, who had just finished playing football started walking in droves up the road. They all huddled together around the back off the truck and looked up to David & the workshop guys to unload the material to them. It was as if by magic a team of incredible, strong children showed up to help us unload. Ranging in ages from 6 – 16, they lifted the rolls of plastic roofing into the school site.

 

With 10 children to a roll the roofing was quickly brought into the school site. Next to be unloaded were the large Viva Boards for the flooring. Over the next hour 140 pieces of Viva board were carried piece by piece into the site, where I stood directing the children where to place the materials. It was fantastic to see how eager and enthusiastic the children were to help out.

We were so relieved that the fabric and roofing materials had arrived safely from Bangkok and could not quite believe the experience of unloading the truck. We truly believed someone/something was looking out for us.

Students from Parami carry Viva board

After an action packed afternoon on Friday, Saturday morning we were to begin work on the roofing sections. There are two sections to the roof, a small roof and one larger roof. Both steel frame roof sections need to be fitted with aluminium extrusions, which hold the plastic roofing material in place. Adrien from Profil Tension System  very kindly flew up from Bangkok to show us how to construct the aluminium and roofing sections.

Adrien from Profil Tension Systems fits aluminium extrusions to steel frame
Adrien from Profil Tension Systems fits aluminium extrusions to steel frame

First the aluminium extrusions are connected to the steel frame with self tapping screws at approx. 200mm centres.

Roofing fabric is stretched over the steel frame
Roofing fabric is stretched over the steel frame

The fabric is then rolled out over the steel frame and cut to the correct size. Small plastic extrusions are then tapped into place at four points across the frame to keep the fabric in place.

The four small plastic extrusions are then removed as a larger piece of plastic extrusion is fitted to the roofing section as the plastic is stretched and tightened across the frame.

Plastic extrusions are fitted
Plastic extrusions are fitted

When the plastic is stretched and tight across the whole roof, then a second layer of aluminium is fitted on top.

Fitting top layer extrusion
Fitting top layer extrusion

The process of fitting aluminium extrusions to plastic onto steel roofing frame took the team just under one hour to complete. Now to complete another 9 small frames and 10 large frames!

Finished small roof
Finished small roof

It was great to see how fantastic the roofing fabric looked against the steel frame and when tested under the rain we could see how resistant the fabric was to the weather and how little noise could be heard when the rain hit the plastic surface. This would be a huge change to the current tin roof which is very noisy and only lasts a few years. We hope that the plastic roof will last for 5-10 years, Chan Chan the Headmistress smiled from ear to ear as she visited the school site and the weekend to see the fabric roofing material. This will be the first of its kind and we hope will make a dramatic improvement to the education of the children at Thu Kha Hang Sar.

Large roofing frame is constructed on site
Large roofing frame is constructed on site

We now wait for a break in the rain to place the 10 small and 10 large roofs onto the steel modules. We hope that we will be able to have the roof up over the next few days. This will allow us to have a dry area where we can begin to fit the Viva board flooring and insert the bamboo wall panels into the school structure.

Framed

LIVE UPDATE: from ‘Moving Schools‘ project – First Classroom module is placed on site

After another successful weekend with new volunteers helping on the school site we were happy with the progress being made. It was great to have volunteers from the UK and Canada working alongside the school teachers and students on their Saturday morning. With the number of long term volunteers slowly depleting it was great to see the arrival of Pablo from Guatemala on Saturday, a civil engineer who will be helping us out in Mae Sot until the end of the project. We also gained a few days volunteering assistance from Wen an Architect who had travelled from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to assist with the build.

New volunteers
New volunteers

On Tuesday, we received news from the workshop that they had finished cutting, drilling, painting and welding one set of steel frames to construct one school module. With this good news David, Pablo, Jim, Wen and I went to the school site to prepare the foundations posts for the arrival of the steel frames. In order to ensure we have the same height across the site, we purchased a 10 meter length of clear plastic tubing to use as a water level. Pablo had recently used this technique on a project build in Guatemala so was able to explain and show the very clever, simple process of ensuring the height across all foundation posts.

IMG_8772

The ends of the plastic tubing are held vertical, and the rest of the tubing lies on the ground.  The tube is filled with water, then two people hold the tube and one foundation post is chosen as the reference point. With foundation post chosen, one person stays at the post and holds the tube against the post and waits until the water levels out. The water level at each end of the tube will be at the same elevation, whether the two ends are adjacent or far apart.

Checking water level to reference height
Checking water level to reference height

Then at a second foundation post the other person holds their section of tubing against the second post and waits till the water stops moving up and down. When the water is still the level is marked on the reference post and then on the second post.

This process is repeated across all foundation posts using the reference post against each post.  A very simple method indeed!

On Wednesday, we headed up to the workshop and started loading a truck with the steel for one classroom module.

Truck2

Thankfully the distance between the workshop and the school site is not too far and the truck managed to drive onto the school site for the steel to be unloaded and laid out onto the ground

Unloading the truck
Unloading the truck

The workshop apprentices drill out the final holes in the foundation posts on site to ensure all sections are fitted to the correct measurements.

The steel columns are laid out on the ground and positioned into place with the floor panels and ceiling sections, which are bolted together. This will allow the two sections of the frame to be lifted up into place over the foundation posts and then bolted together.

First frame is lifted into place
First frame is lifted into place
Second frame is lifted into position
Second frame is lifted into position

When two frames are fitted to foundation posts the structure is secure, however we add a cross brace across the frames for additional support.

Cross brace is fitted to frames
Cross brace is fitted to frames

Next the floor sections are bolted onto the frames, soon we will add the roofing, bamboo wall panels and floor panels onto the school modules but first we must finish the remaining foundation posts and fit the classroom frames into place. The workshop are now planning to work over the weekend and we hope all ten modules will be fitted over the next few weeks.

First school module is fixed into position
First school module is fixed into position

Parent’s Day

UPDATE: Moving Schools Project

On Saturday morning, the remaining volunteers, David and I travelled up to the school site ready to start another day of foundation work. As we walked on to site we looked behind and saw a large truck dropping off a great number of people. Slowly one by one they walked through the school gates with tools in hand, the children’s parents had arrived to help! With the majority of our volunteers leaving last Tuesday we were not sure how many people we would have to help over the weekend and were pleasantly surprised with the influx of new recruits!

Parents and Students arrive
Parents and Students arrive

Along with the parents a new group of Canadian volunteers arrived, five girls who are currently teaching at migrant schools in the area. They kindly offered their Saturday to help out on site, draining a further foundation hole. It was great to see volunteers, children and their parents getting along and helping out.

Line of parents, children and volunteers
Line of parents, children and volunteers

By creating a long chain the gravel was passed to the foundation hole quickly and in no time at all the foundation post and three truck tyres were placed in the foundation hole and filled with gravel and sand. It was fantastic to see everyone working together as a team to carry out the task in hand in a quick and efficient manner. It would be great to have such a great team of volunteer on site everyday!

Parents help out
Parents help out

The parents will be helping us out on the school site every Saturday over the next month, it is fantastic to have their assistance and see that they are very positive about the school design and want to help out in anyway they can. We are looking forward to working with them this Saturday where we have also been promised some tasty Burmese food for lunch after a hard morning working on site.

Parentsday7

parentsday10

Parents day2

If you are in the Mae Sot area and are interested in helping out volunteering on the school build please do get in touch. We are always open to people willing to give their time to help out in anyway they can.

Email louise@buildingtrustinternational.org for further information

 

School Test

Moving Schools Project: Week Two on Site:

Line

After managing to put in the first foundation post at the end of last week, our determined and energetic volunteers worked through the weekend and managed to fix three further foundation posts on site. The team worked through heavy rain, attempting to remove water from the foundation holes before they filled up with new rain water. It was great to see their clear understanding of the tasks, each volunteer knew their role and worked together as a team to construct the foundation posts in a quick and efficient manner.

Placing first tyre into Foundation hole
Placing first tyre into Foundation hole

It takes a great deal of patience and careful orientation to place the truck tyres into the foundation holes. The wires which can be seen in image above plot out the central line of the foundation post. It is very important that the wires remain in the correct place to ensure we have an accurate measurement across the school grid.

Finished foot foundation post

 

On the last day, many of the school students helped out the volunteers to carry gravel to the holes. It was great to see the kids excited about the school project and get involved in lending a hand on site.

We were very sad to loose nine of our volunteers on Tuesday, as they returned to Hong Kong for their Summer break. Ashley, Airi, Stephanie, Charity, Chung, David, Hin, Nicholas and Jim made an incredible impact on the school site and we are very grateful for the help they offered over the last month. Thankfully, Jim will remain with us for another month and our UK volunteers Claire, Ben and Mark will continue to help out over the next week.

HK Volunteers
HK Volunteers

As we awaited recruitment of new volunteers to assist with the foundation posts and with a day of continuous heavy rain the remaining volunteers spent Wednesday at the Global Neighbors workshop. The workshop team had managed to drill all the required holes in the steel and cut to the correct dimensions to allow us to assemble the first classroom module. With great excitement the team assembled the steel construction simply slotting the steel plates in place and bolting together.

Fixing steel components together
Fixing steel components together

It was very exciting to see the pieces come together and gain a real understanding of the size and scale of one school classroom module. It was also very reassuring to know that in no time at all the unit was assembled.

Steel frame
Steel frame

We had the great opportunity to finally see how the bamboo wall panels which the G’yaw G’yaw workers made a few weeks ago would sit inside the steel frame. The frame slotted inside the frame perfectly and the combination of the dark metal steel frame looked fantastic next to the natural bamboo wall panel.  We cannot wait to see how one fully assembled unit with full wall panels, flooring and roof will look very soon.

Bamboo wall panel and Steel frame
Bamboo wall panel and Steel frame

 

Now that we have tested the first module we can confirm all dimensions with the workshop and order steel for the ten classroom modules. Over the next few weeks the apprentices at the workshop will be plotting, marking out and drilling many holes to create the final steel frame structure. The steel will be brought to the school and assembled on site. In the meantime, there is lots of painting to be done!

Painting foundation feet
Painting foundation feet

Meeting the Mae Sot team

Meeting with Global Neighbors:

There are over 100 other non profit groups in Mae Sot all helping in a variety of ways to assist in providing better education for the 13,000+ displaced children in the area. One of the larger organisations is a Canadian charity called Global Neighbors. The Building Trust team were able to get an appointment with David Heppner, Director of Global Neighbors who has been heading up work in Mae Sot since 2004.  David and his local community in his home town of Prince Albert, Canada kindly donate hundreds of items which are placed in a shipping container every year and brought over to Thailand to be donated to the local schools.

David is a great asset to the the area and after a very interesting meeting we hope that we will be able to work with Global Neighbors in the future to develop more schools in the Mae Sot area. At Global Neighbors Headquarters in Mae Sot there are fantastic workshop facilities where the team train locals in an apprenticeship scheme teaching woodwork, welding, mechanics and more. We hope that we will be able to gain a team of apprentices to help on the school build.

Meeting with Translator:

As I am not up to scratch on Thai conversation we organised to meet a translator, a lovely lady named Mey. We had a really nice meeting with Mey who is Burmese and speaks fluent English. Sadly as our school is a Karen school we need a translator who can also speak Karen. Mey kindly taught us a few basic Burmese words and vocab and is going to source a Karen speaker for our upcoming meetings.

Meeting with Youth Connect:

The Building Trust team had a great meeting with Patrick Kearns from Youth Connect. Youth Connect pose the question, “What happens when these students become young adults and have to leave the system? Where will they go next?” Youth Connect provide training, apprenticeships and career services so students can transition to safe, productive and independent lives. We were very interested to meet with Patrick and hear more about the great work he is carrying out in Mae Sot. The organisation offers paid apprenticeships in skilled work which are carried out in the workshops mentioned at Global Neighbors. We hope to work with Patrick and his team of apprentices to build the winning design from the ‘School 4 Burma‘ competition. More details to be confirmed soon! Check out this short video showing just a few of the apprenticeships on offer:

Design Meeting:

We met up with Albert and Jan to review a new scale model of the school design. We discussed possible materials to use for the school floor possibly a stone tile structure or a wood/cement material. Albert made a suggestion that if we were to keep the raised flooring we should raise it even higher to ensure that poisonous animals don’t ‘move in’ underneath the classrooms. We are now in a process of refining and finalising the design details.

Meeting with HKU Volunteers:

Tomorrow 9 students from Hong Kong University will arrive to volunteer on the ‘Moving Schools project we are very excited to have the team work with us on the build. Yesterday we met with the team leaders Neha and Edward who previously volunteered teaching English at Kwe Ka Baung school last Summer. It is great to have them as part of the team! We look forward to next week when we will start an introduction session with our volunteers. We currently have 9 volunteers from Hong Kong and three from the UK along with a camera man arriving next week to film the progress of the school construction.

Meeting with Imagine Thailand:

Another great charity found in Mas Sot is Imagine Thailand another Canadian run organisation who offer support to the community of Mae Sot through supplying water systems to schools in the town. We met with volunteer Dave Hanson who moved to Mae Sot with his family to help the local people, his family has now been in the area for two years.

Imagine Thailand works with ERDO to provide the funding needed for the water systems in the area along with a range of funding programmes such as Sponsor a School linking Canadian schools with schools in the Mae Sot area. It was great to meet up with Dave who is hoping to help out on the Moving Schools project throughout June.

Many thanks to all of those who have met up with our team this week!