Thursday, 25 September 2014

Volunteers Building in SA...African Style!

Our final group of volunteers this season, who travelled with EDventures and Pangea Trails to Chintsa to join one of our Community Development initiatives, began a new project at Mama Tofu's traditional Xhosa village.

Mama Tofu is the oldest registered tour guide in South Africa at the age of 93! Her homestead is a living and working example of a traditional tribal Xhosa homestead where volunteers and tourists can visit, sleep and eat while they learn about Xhosa culture, traditions and life.

Mama Tofu was assisted by local tour company African Heartland Journeys to become registered and trained as a guide and the company assist her today in supporting her tours and helping in the village when necessary.

This project created an incredible opportunity for our volunteers not only to assist in supporting community driven local economical development, but also in experiencing hands-on traditional building techniques using the resources available in the natural environment of a traditional village... i.e., cow dung!
There are two phases of work in the village; one is to assist Mama Tofu with the maintenance of existing rondavels and buildings in the homestead, the second is to support local builders in building a new rondavel.

Phase 1.

Volunteers worked with local builders and project leader Milton to learn how to mix cow dung, soil and water to create a natural plaster which is compacted on the walls of traditional rondavels in South Africa. Rondavels are round buildings usually roofed in thatch and in rural South Africa, are generally built out of whatever materials are available locally.

Once the natural cement mixture was ready they worked together to plaster the external walls of the buildings. The process was so much fun - especially as it was the first time anyone in the group had collected or touch cow poo!

Phase 2.

Once the basic maintenance was finished the group began helping local builders to lay foundations and bricks to build a new rondavel in the homestead which is vital to accommodate volunteers and travellers when they come to stay overnight at the village. Volunteers learnt how to lay bricks and mark out the shape of the circular building effectively. They managed to lay two layers of bricks for the rondavel walls.
Laying out of the rondavel shape

Learning to lay bricks with project leader

More cow poo! :-p
They also worked together to dig soil and level the floor inside the rondavel with heavy metal stamps which was a huge amount of work!

Rural power tools in action ;)

Helping hands - a great shot of
an old rondavel behind us

Stamping the ground

The floor on its way to completion
The project is still in the earliest stages of development but we're looking forward to the next phase when our groups return at the end of the year!

Daily smiles and giggles from the girls
at Mama T's were a total highlight! 

Heavy lifting - African Style!

Xhosa mama's carry their babies
on their backs instead of European
style on their fronts!
Interested in joining a project like this one? Check out our group community development initiatives on the website.

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