Army of Workers!
We arose early to greet the children as they arrived at school. It was one thing to see the state of the old buildings empty last year, but quite another to now see the classrooms jam packed with excited kids. The sight of this school in use increased the value of every dollar raised for this project!
After leaving the kids to their classes we got straight to work digging a metre wide path around the parameter of the back and one side of the building. In some spots we were clearing soil up to half a metre deep. Tools and equipment in the mountains are scarce, so armed with a couple of shovels, one wheel barrow and a stack of buckets, we began digging and moving dirt.
Yesterday, Nyoman mentioned that the kids would join us after their assembly to get involved with the project to encourage a greater ownership of their new school. We were not expecting the army of enthusiastic kids that swarmed us with empty cement bags to help move all the dirt. They were simply extraordinary!! And innovative! Some kids carried bags of dirt clutched to their chest, others on their shoulder or back. Some used a bamboo pole to carry two buckets between them, while others also paired up using an open cement bag like a stretcher to carry a load together.
Jill had a group of helpers using rocks as hammers with sticks to pry loose large rocks that were buried in the dirt. At one stage Tony could barely keep up with dozens of kids presenting him with bags to fill all at once. I was amused to see a couple of young boys mimic me by lugging heavy buckets of dirt on top of their shoulders in an attempt to show me how strong they were. All the dirt moved was used to fill a large hole at the front of the building in what will become their courtyard and assembly area. It was incredibly inspiring to see the level of enthusiasm and endurance of these kids and their teachers as we worked alongside each other. Once the kids finished school it was back to reality for our team with some extremely hard work in the heat to finish the rest of the excavating by hand. By lunchtime we had finished the longest stretch at the rear of the building, exceeding Nyoman's expectations. We all agreed that this would not have been possible without the help of the students and their teachers. It was difficult to get moving again after a well earned lunch break, but we were determined to finish the side pathway. Our energy levels dropped rapidly by late afternoon, but we soldiered on and got the job done, despite encountering a stubborn tree root half a metre from the end!
Is it possible to be exhausted and exhilarated at the same time? Well we were. It was great to finish a hard day of manual labour with a deep sense of satisfaction. Even the cold shower (aka trough of water and scoop) felt great!!