We've made plenty of progress over the past 2 months, and this week we are making final preparations for the slab which is arguably our single biggest undertaking of the entire project. The roof truss fabrication and installation is another large aspect of the building, but just last week we contracted that out and won't be very involved with the work itself. The 15cm thick slab, on the other hand, has involved countless hours of preparation and will involve significant oversight while it is being poured. The reinforced slab will cover an area of approximately 1,200 square meters, which means we will need to mix about 180 cubic meters of concrete with our 2 mixers. A cement truck would come in real handy right about now!

The past couple months has seen Mark and Alex splitting up on a daily basis to cover the many tasks. We often use lunch as a time to catch up on the day's work. Fortunately, the District Council and Traditional Authority have not bothered us. Let's hope that remains the case for the rest of construction.

Some other developments on site over the past couple months include: finishing the perimeter fence and installing gates, connection to power supply, drilling a borehole for a clean water supply, setting up security lights around the property, pouring the footing, laying the foundation walls, pouring column bases, pouring columns up to slab level, backfilling, and storm water drainage.

Unfortunately, things have not gone the best with our contractor, Madzi Building Contractors. We have very different ideas about workmanship and labor force size. Fortunately, we only signed a contract through the completion of the substructure. So once the slab is finished we look forward to changing our labor arrangement and taking more control of the labor force. We plan to appoint our electrician, Simon Magumbo, as the site manager. He has been a great person and friend to work with over the past several months and his many connections and insights have made our job much easier. We quickly discovered that his expertise extends well beyond electrical work.

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    Mark and Alex are attempting to use their limited experience as factory builders to erect a production facility for Project Peanut Butter in Blantyre, Malawi. Upon completion the factory will produce chiponde, a peanut butter-like paste, to feed children suffering from acute malnutrition.


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