Today was an incredibly productive and (as usual) fun day at Pongwe! We did a lot of work for the roof trusses, and became sawing experts. Just kidding; it was actually really difficult and we all sweat a ton as we attempted to be as accurate and quick as the contractors. Garrett was almost initiated to be a part of the contractor’s crew because his cuts were so straight and done so quickly. We also patched up some of the beams within the dorm structure because there were quite a few holes and minor cracks that had the risk of exposing rebar and causing corrosion. Our perimeter beams are currently curing, and they’ll be ready to hold the weight of a layer of bricks and our trusses soon enough.
On the more interactive social work side, we made a ton of progress with the girls today!! They are really starting to trust us and be much more comfortable. There are a handful who are practicing their english and are teaching us more and more swahili vocabulary words each day. We started the activities with a rapid name game, where we go around and say our names in a circle (of 36 people), and we are really starting to get each others’ names down! We also taught them the Macarena, which they absolutely loved. Since some of the girls are blind and a majority have low vision, we would physically move their arms with our hands so that they could get each step. A huge group of kids outside heard the song playing and wanted to learn too, so we taught about 80 other kids how to do it since they were running around and didn’t have anything to do after their exams finished. Sara and Garrett played red light green light with a huge mob of children, while Arlene, Rachel, and Siri did some yoga and dancing with another huge group of kids. All throughout this time, Xoab and Kate were working hard with the contractors to make sure that all the masonry and woodwork was going smoothly, and especially that our truss design would come to fruition. Through our research with the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired and now our experience, we’ve learned that doing fun interactive games, movements, dances, and songs like this is the best way to establish a good relationship with the children who only speak Kiswahili and have vision problems.
Overall, today was wonderful. Tomorrow will be a lot of work on our three truss structures and continued efforts to engage the girls with albinism in empowering activities that promote self-advocacy and self-determination.