Interested in volunteering abroad? Here are a few lessons taken from the blog that the Barnsley Builders created for their volunteer trip in Romania (Comanesti).
Lesson #1 – Don’t volunteer yourself for digging
After a long journey yesterday and a good nights sleep we were all feeling refreshed this morning. We were all down for breakfast at 7:30, had a few messages from Steffi our leader and were then off down to the site. Andrei gave us our health and safety briefing. I volunteered myself for digging, something I may have lived to regret.
Kirsty, Juliet and I made a start trying to find the connection to the waste pipe. The first break came, we hadn’t found it. Lunch came; we still hadn’t found it. The hole was getting deeper and deeper and I was starting to disappear in the hole whilst Kirsty and Juliet shovelled out the dirt. Finally we hit gold and found the connection a good 4 hours later. It was a good job we had a large lunch to give us all the energy.
The next job was to plaster the bottom of the walls so they could be rendered. A tricky job but one that we managed and still need to finish off tomorrow morning. We left site at 4 o’clock and I ran straight for the shower to get rid of all the dirt. Volunteering to dig will be something I think wisely about again!
Lesson #2 – Fitting a plaster board is harder than it sounds
One of the local construction trainees from the Moinesti College was working with us and we took it in turns to dig and remove the soil. We were lucky! We found a corner of the man-hole and revealed a large iron rectangular plate and once it was cleared of soil, Radu, the site manager lifted it up. The stench told us it was the right sewage inspection man-hole! We got all this done before lunch.
I think Aidan, Jeff and I can clearly say that after this afternoon’s task, we are going to wonder why ceilings were ever built!! We were measuring, cutting, fitting and using adhesive to place plaster board round windows and on window sills in the ‘duplex’ or semi-detached house.
With just 3 people, we managed to put a heavy and large plaster board on the ceiling which was harder than it sounds! When it came to the next coffee break, we could hardly lift up our drinks as our arms were aching from holding and lifting up this ‘mahoosive’ piece of plaster board. But when the job was done, it was extremely rewarding.
Lesson #3 – A home has an impact on its entire environment
The next job was to lay styrofoam on the floor, followed by green netting and sheets of laminate flooring. In the other home, the plaster boarding was fixed and finished by putting netting over the joins and plastering over them.
We did our best for some of the on-site wildlife: Sofia transferred worms from the trench to the adjacent field and we gave the on-site dog some water and snippets of our lunch; there are hens on site too! Ruth nearly tipped an empty bench up by sitting on one end but was rescued by Aidan.
We had several visitors on site today. We met a social enterprise volunteer, Julian, who is working with Cristina for the morning, in Radu’s absence. The enterprise teaches carpentry and wood-working skills through manufacturing; the stair case in the ‘triplex’ house was made by them. A couple of the families who will have a house on the site visited too. It feels as if the Habitat ‘ripples’ extend far and wide into different people’s lives and situations
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