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Serenity in Serendib

I’m happy to report that our project in Nepal continues to go well. We have made great progress on the house for our beneficiary family under the watchful eyes of our in-country project manager.

As you recall, we took down the family’s dangerously-damaged house and are building a new one.

We already cleared the site, dug the foundation, and have completed the first two floors. We’ll go up one-and-a-half more!

This is the side of the house.The path along the front is too narrow and, now, blocked by construction materials to get a good photo.

A few of you have asked what my project days are like in Sri Lanka, and what leads up to construction. So...

After deciding on whether to use a contractor/foreman or do that task myself (based on cost and language and crew and vendors), I get bids and material prices. In this case, the family had someone they liked, and he would bring his crew and miscellaneous equipment (shovels, wheelbarrow, saws, etc.), which is one reason I like to contract someone like that.

Once we started the project (or start projects, in general), I go into “construction mode,” which is slow and meditative. Atypically, here, I am living right at the worksite, in a small guest house (top floor in the picture below).

In the mornings, I confer with the family, who, in this case, is acting as interpreter with the construction guys, and make sure that we don’t need any additional materials or specialized tools for the day. (Actually, we discuss this the day before, too.) 

Once the crew is working in the morning, I have time to exercise (just stretching/yoga, here, because it’s so hot), meditate, eat some fruit and nuts, and do emails—like this one.

Later in the day, I photograph the work in progress for future updates.

Then I might go for a walk into town, buy some veggies, and maybe have a coconut juice at my roadside coconut guy. 

Usually, I cook rice and curry for late-lunch, my main meal of the day. But sometimes I go to a local place where they have a buffet of Sri Lankan fare (rice and curry—hahahaha) for 1,000 rupees, about three dollars. 

And here in Hambantota, I occasionally have a late-afternoon tea with our beneficiary family from 2010. 

At the the end of the construction work-day, I meet with the current beneficiary-family interpreter to see what materials we used and look at the physical receipts for any deliveries we received that day.

Then I update the Quickbooks accounting logs for the project on my laptop (calculating the exchange rate in U.S. dollars) and decide if we need more Sri Lankan currency for the coming days.

And I connect with our Nepal project manager for our daily update on that project—she is ending her day, as well. Usually, when I’m in the U.S., I contact her in the our morning when her day is ending—there is a 12-hour time difference. So it’s nice to be in the same time zone, for a change.

The worksite in Sri Lanka is definitely more scenic… this time.  And there is distinct difference in the structural steel for the columns in both projects. That’s the difference between building a three-story structure in an earthquake zone in Nepal and building a small shop in a tidal-wave zone in Sri Lanka.

Construction work is a slow process, but both projects are going well. 

At MicroAid, it is important that a project manager is on site every day, as there is always some decision to be made or materials to buy. And of course, we don’t leave until the project is done and we hand the keys to our beneficiary families.

We are definitely having a huge impact on peoples lives—helping them thrive after a disaster has destroyed their homes.  

In the places we work, there are no social safety-nets, no insurance, and no government assistance. Without MicroAid, these families would have no recourse… they would never be able to rebuild on their own.

Thank you for supporting this important work.

Wishing us all the best from Serendib.

Jon Ross

Founder/project manager


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