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More than half way through the building camp and we are slightly ahead of schedule.

The building so far…

Unlike in previous years, this house has not been built on the footprint of a demolished house. The family’s house was demolished, but they are able to reconstruct the house in a different location. When the volunteers arrived, the floor slab had been poured and the steel cages for the nine concrete columns were being covered in timber shuttering. The first act of the team on the first day of work was to pour buckets of concrete down inside the columns. The main structure of the house was thus established.

After the timber shuttering was removed, the concrete block external walls quickly followed. The work of the volunteers consisted of supplying the Palestinian workers with cement and concrete blocks. By the third day, the timber shuttering for the roof was constructed and the concrete blocks lifted up and set out. By the evening of day four a concrete truck arrived and the roof concrete was poured. While the roof was drying, the internal walls were threaded through the supporting scaffolding. Finally the supports and the timber roof shuttering were removed and the internal walls were completed. The electric wiring was then embedded in the walls.

Today, the first day of the second week, the structure of the building took on the first layer of its clothing as the internal plastering was completed and the external rendering started. The building is still awaiting its final layer of paint. The fine gravel has now been spread out in two of the rooms ready for the floor tiles to be laid tomorrow.

There is a great spirit among the volunteers in the camp and many have been given Arabic names to the huge amusement of the Palestinian workers. Materials and equipment keep arriving and leaving. The volunteers face a range of new tasks and situations each day. They have been helping with electric wiring, laying concrete blocks, constructing a surrounding stone wall or just carrying buckets of cement, gravel, sand or plaster. People have been covered in plaster, cement water and dust with consequent scrapes bruising. Survival is due to copious supplies of water, coffee, tea and ice cream.

The building is taking shape and a new Palestinian home is clearly coming into existence…

(With thanks to Terry, UK for his reflections)

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