Spilled Beans

Truck (1 of 1)We could hear the 25-ton truck long before we could see it. Save for the birds, the insects, the bullfrogs and the occasional sound of distant drums or singing in the evening, it’s quiet on the ASAH School site. The first truck arrived late morning and took much of the day to unload. A half-hour after it arrived, our small tipper arrived with our new water tank and three drums of fuel for the generator.

We sent one of our guards to find local people to unload our cargo. We pay them a fee, but it isn’t much for such difficult and dirty labor.

Two wheelbarrows and 15 plastic chairs were tied to the top, and the driver and another man used the tie-down ropes to lower them. Tarp off, others climbed the attached ladder to help unload the top layer – lighter stuff – boxed fluorescent tubes, Phillips energy saver screw-type fixtures and bulbs (we were unable to find the requested pin-type bulbs and fixtures though we stopped at nearly every tiny electrical shop in every market in Juba).

Then came the door and frame for our new dorm, plus beds and mattresses for the girls, boxes of soap and toothpaste and toothbrushes. The whole load will be inventoried against the list of purchases.

Food supplies – sugar and salt and flour and beans and rice and onions – all in heavy loads – 25 kg, 50 kg, 100 kg. Replenishing our depleted food supplies, these men piled bag upon bag on the pallet in our “store,” their term for storage. I was confused a couple of years ago when they said we needed a store – were we going to sell something? A couple of bags of beans and a bag of sugar were punctured on the punishing roads – it took them 2 ½ days – probably 15 or more hours of driving to travel a little more than 200 miles from Juba to Duk. One overnight in Bor and another in Panyagor.

Then building materials – lumber, rebar, steel mesh. The stack in our equipment shed grew. Lastly, covering the bottom of the truck – 150 bags of cement. I’ve helped carry cement bags before in Duk, but I didn’t offer to help with this. Cement is dead weight – somehow heavier than an equivalent bag of beans – and much, much dirtier. I busied myself organizing things in the store and scooping up the spilled beans.

After unloading, we sent this big truck out twice for loads of sand. We need another load, but they leave early in the morning and don’t want to delay. During the start of the rainy season, when we have been unable to hire a truck to bring sand because they fear becoming stuck in the mud, we have paid people to haul it from the edge of town to our site by wheelbarrow. One load at a time.

Deb Dawson, January 20, 2013

truck (2 of 1)

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