Portage

Wednesday, December 7

Dau and Manyok and I met. They had prepared and printed (using the printer we bought in Juba) spreadsheets detailing the labor costs over the last few months. Some of the labor involved is portage of materials. There are three vehicles in the village, but they can’t be driven during the rainy season. The roads and paths between the high ground areas flood and the vehicles get stuck. Thus men, women, and children carry things—on their heads, their shoulders, and their backs.

The most expensive portage was bags of cement carried from storage at the school (inside a classroom and protected from the elements) to our site. It takes about 15 minutes to trek this distance during the dry season, it takes longer to walk through the water, and it is particularly important not to drop the cement in the water. I’m sure few readers could easily lift, let alone carry for a long distance, a bag of this cement. I know because I loaded and unloaded these same bags into and out of a vehicle when we stored them in the first place. Some of the bags were opened and dumped into buckets or sacks and carried by women. A few men were able to carry a bag on their own. It’s dirty work.

To bring the sand for building concrete block, three wheelbarrows were each loaded with sand 400 times and pushed to the site and back at a cost of 1 Sudanese pound per wheelbarrow. One Sudanese pound is about 31 cents. And, until my arrival last week with the materials to run water to our site, women carried the necessary water from the well on their heads. Many items on the spreadsheet are listed by the number of “backs” required.

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