Mafalala: October Session

Mafalala: October Update

Beam Us Up!

Words: Anna
Pictures: Bernardo, Carolina, Mr. P.

Today in service learning, a part of what our goal was to start working on re-doing the beams that support the roof. The specific roof that we were focusing on today was when you go through the entrance and out to the place in the middle of the building (with no roof so it was open) near where the kitchen and bathrooms are.

Beforehand,  we had to ask for all of the materials we needed to start the project.

The process that we had to go through for the first beam to be replaced, was to measure how long our beams (that the school provided) were. After we had all the measurements of the new beams, we had to measure the old beams to the nearest point, to make sure the beam would fit in once we replaced the old one. We  measured the marks and cut  the wood. That included a wedge where we had to cut slanted with a hand saw.

When we had the right cuts in the right places on the beam we just had to get the new beam into where the other beam was.

To do so, we had to somehow get the timeworn and deteriorated wood out to place the brand new and strong wood that we brought. How we did that, was by first getting all the nails that were put through the corrugated metal, (or easily described as wavy metal “sheets”) which, were placed completely through both the wood and the metal, meaning it took a little longer than expected but also a lot more pulling and manipulating each nail so that it would come out.

Once all the nails were out we could hold the roof up so we could take the old beam away. While one person was holding the new beam another was holding the old beam so that it wouldn’t fall. Mr. Peters had to saw through the old beam just so it took us a little less time to take out the beam. Once we got the old beam out the new beam was quickly placed in so that the roof would be held well.

First beam done!

We did this process again for the second beam and we can now say that we replaced 2 of the beams, so that the roof has more support from the beams.

Second beam done!

2 beams done and 4 more to go!

In our next service learning day, we would like to say that we completed 2 more beams at least. And also have some more school supplies to give to the children.

We are hoping that by the end of the year, we would have replaced all of the wood from beneath the roof in the area we started but also the front roof where the wood is also old and falling apart as well. We want to do this because we can see that if one of the wooden planks were to completely snap there would be a high risk that someone could get hurt if they were in the wrong place at the wrong time. Basically we just want to help with safety precautions.

Improving the Learning Environment

Words: Malik, Landule & Mr. P.
Pictures: Mr. P.

This service learning we improve the learning environment in a number of ways. We fixed more of their chairs that had been broken since our last visit. The back and seats from some chairs had come unscrewed and fallen off so we fixed them.

Also, we gave the kids foam carpet tiles with numbers and letters printed on them.

We put the numbers and letters in order, to help them learn.  In addition, the kids can now sit down on softer ground, instead of bare concrete.

AISM was kind enough to lend us some of the school maintenance staff for the morning, and they helped us put up several whiteboard and bulletin boards which really helped to transform the learning space.  They were all mounted at a child-friendly height so that the children can use them for learning.

We also brought them school materials, like crayons, markers, pencils and paper.  We will continue to collect materials and donate them all year long!

Electricity: Challenges and Opportunities

Words: Mr. P

Several of our ideas for this year involved improving the center’s food preparation areas by donating a refrigerator and other appliances. However, right from the beginning,  it was pretty clear that we would need to at least check the wiring and electrical system, and probably do some repairs as well.

One of AISM’s excellent maintenance team, Mr. Alexandre, visited Mafalala for us to check things out. The bad news is the center will probably require a complete electrical overhaul in order to support large appliances, costing a significant amount of money.

The good news is that gives us an ambitious goal to pursue for the rest of the year.  We’re going to be doing some deep thinking about fundraising. Stay tuned!


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