Deborah’s Blog: Landscaping and Languages – June 2017

Hi all! It’s been a while. I have no doubt that you’ll all be pleased to hear that I am in a state of readiness; I have drawings, schedules, resource plans, programmes of works, risk assessments, health and safety plans, contracts, and inducted trainees. All I need now is the money [insert shameless plug here]. Kick-off is in sight!

Life catch up
Right then, so what’s been going down since we last spoke?

  • The UK has had a general election
  • Zambia has approved a Preservation of Public Security Act (whatever that is)
  • The Lions and the All Blacks managed to walk away with a draw for the first time in 72 years and what’s more I’ve been educated as to who the “Lions” and the “All Blacks” are and what sport they play
  • I’ve visited monkey pools (nothing to do with monkeys), a reptile park (lots to do with crocodiles and snakes) and I’ve also popped across to the fascinating and beautiful island of Zanzibar (I can’t be at work all the time after all)
  • It hasn’t rained in 79 days (not that I’m counting), which means increasing amounts of dust as the ground gets drier
  • I’ve been robbed once, but also redeemed once so all’s fair on that front
  • I’ve taken my little car on a road adventure where I only scrapped the undercarriage six too many times
  • And most importantly I’ve finally been granted my work permit!

I have also survived my most scary day on site thus far. Don’t worry folks, this is nothing to do with construction or organising thousands of pounds worth of works. Nope, my scariest day on site so far was this morning, when I had to give a site induction to our 23 latest trainees. Those who know me know that public appearances are not my forte, so just try to imagine my speaking “loudly” to 23 eager-faced and inquisitive trainees, considering that my first (and only) language is English and their native languages are Nyanja, Bemba and/or Lozi. But it was ok, I managed to get the message across, and I *think* that they all still respect me. Or at least they waited until I was gone to laugh at me.

Construction catch up
I’m sure you’re all wondering what’s being going on on site whilst we get ready for the next few buildings.
Well, the water supply pipes have all be re-laid at depth and in a sand surround. I made sure that this time the route is marked out for future reference. I’m trying to encourage others to think about good construction practices, such as considering the future buildings when laying underground utilities, and acknowledging why it’s important to know where a 240V underground cable is buried…..

We’re also planted some security border plants. I didn’t know when I joined Build It that my role was going to include landscape architect and gardener, but getting stuck in to everything is one of the joys of this job. The purpose of the border planting is to provide a living security fence, and as an added bonus we’re using all native Zambian plants. The current phase of planting includes moringa, known across Zambia for its vitamins and anti-oxidants. The security feature is being formed by a plant called sisal, which is like a floral version of a hedgehog and grows up to 2m tall. We’ve also managed to supress an infestation of caterpillars using chilli flakes (lesson of the day: caterpillars don’t like chilli).

In other news, my Nyanja is improving (albeit at a rate of about one word per month). I’ve now mastered “Mafunso?” (“Questions?”) and my longest phrase thus far, “Tiza onana mailo” (“See you tomorrow”).

And lastly, the current cohort of trainees is 26% women – better than our target of 20%!

I’ll be in touch with more as soon as building works kicks off. I’m sure that you’re as excited as I am.