Monday, July 03, 2006

Return to Malibay

It's been a while since the last post on here.

Don't worry, we have been scurrying about like crazed mice during the past few days. It has been an excellent weekend, marked by the visit of the Director of McGill's school of Architecture, (also bearing the title of Friend) Prof. David Covo, as well as a group of McGill alumni currently based in Hong Kong, along with some of their family. Not only did these past few days bring us some unexpected camaraderie and like-minded cooperation, they also marked a watershed in BuildAid's development. A basic plan of action for the coming months - and eventually school ye
ar- was laid down.

But to talk about all that would be a bit too punctual, and some of you might start worrying that I have stopped being lazy. So instead I will give a recap of our latest work in Malibay last week, where things have definitely taken major steps. First off, through the ever-resourcefulness of Freeman Chan, we managed to secure a contact within the Manila branch of Ove Arup & Partners. This engineer, named Raul M, gave us some much-needed assistance in the evaluation of the housing projects we adopted in the Malibay area.

As you may remember, there was a devastating electrical fire there this past December, leaving 80 families without houses. Since our first visit we have formed teams that work w
ith some of these families in order to assess the state of the re-construction they have been undertaking. As these families will be potential recipients of CCT loans, it is crucial that we evaluate if the current construction is technically acceptable - and financially feasible.

Raul from Arup (in light blue) explains

Poorly poured concrete - a structural issue

Last Saturday, then, Raul M got to endure our presentations on our findings thus far, and soon after we headed out to Malibay. Upon arrival, he immediately set to work interviewing the nanays - the mothers heading their families' rebuilding projects - to discover as much as possible about the foundation and reinforcement work. Using Tagalog and some quick sketches, he was quickly able to get the information he needed, which was a most pleasant surprise for us, who had had to laboriously decipher (and no doubt crudely misinterpret) whatever the nanays tried to explain, due to the language barrier.

Raul was immediately able to make some basic recommendations, which he has since expanded upon. Soon we will have more complete drawings showing the structural workings of each nanay's house, allowing us to sit down with them once again and work out the details of their future construction. Our goal is to minimize the amount of redundant materials used whilst still providing a home that can be seen by the families as being secure and well-constructed (no doubt a fear after seeing their last home burnt to the ground), and incorporate some smart planning as well. We have observed that much of the construction work is haphazard and lacking in foresight; it is therefore our aim to get the desired final result down on paper, that construction work can then follow.

A big thank you to Raul for taking the time from your work to help us further our Malibay projects - I hope this partnership can continue.

Got your blog address from Joel, the photographer who was with you in Malibay yesterday. I should've joined you guys but I had a lot of other concerns at the office. Anyway, this is a good thing you're doing for the nanays of CCT. Keep it up, and thanks for your work here in the Philippines. =)
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