A lot goes into preparing for a construction day on the mountain. First of all, the bottles must be collected by our environmental team. The team sets out into the streets under the hot sun, to retrieve as many plastic bottles as they can find. According to our Environmental Coordinator, “There has never been a deficiency during the days of collection of bottles, because they are always in abundance.”
In a day of collection, the coordination, supplies, transportation of bottles to the base of the mountain and participation costs (meal and
drink accommodations) generally cost around
$150, but encouragingly yields roughly 4,000 -
6,000 bottles in a 5-hour period. This equates
to around 2 ½ cents per bottle.
Once they arrive in the community, they are
transformed into environmentally friendly,
sustainable bottle bricks. The community must
come together to pack the bottles in order to
transform them into those bricks, which is a
time-consuming task, but one that they achieve
for the sake of the school.
After the bricks are prepared, the sand must
be manually extracted from the riverbed,
sifted through a filter and transported from
the river to the job site (either by wheel barrel
or donkey back). The work is very laborious,
and we do not overlook that most within the
community are not physically capable of
doing this type of job. Therefore, the laborers
who take on this task are paid a participation
fee for encouragement, which generally
equates to around $150 (at this time), divided
evenly amongst them.
After the sand extraction, which generates enough to cover 4-5 days of construction, the purchase of cement bags takes place. A construction week will generally need around 25 – 30 bags of cement, which sees a price fluctuation almost daily. The cement must be transported by motorcycle to the base of the mountain and then shoulder-carried up the mountain on foot, totaling around $15 per bag of cement including transportation.Once all the materials have arrived and are ready, the construction crew begins the work. This form of construction is still more cost effective than traditional construction, helps fight pollution and incorporates the community’s involvement into the work, as this method requires only a basic skill level to complete. As our new Field Coordinator and Liaison, Mr. BillyMarc Joseph, put it in our most recent construction report, “When the project recipients are involved, when the community is integrated and actively participates in the project, the benefits are more sustainable.” It is important to remember that, while the terrain does present a challenge in the work, this project has mostly seen an extended timeline due primarily to lack of funding. There are many weeks that the bottles are already prepared, and the workers are available, the sand is extracted but the resources are not substantial enough for the purchase of cement and transportation of supplies. This sometimes demands a three-week delay before we are able to purchase supplies for another construction week.