Scene 3: Gettin’ Down and Dirty


At the end of Tuesday it was decided that the lot for the crèche would be cleared on Wednesday in order for the drainage and box frame to be laid on Thursday. The community members, team, and Terrance had all agreed that these were the next steps necessary for staying on track for the construction process since the concrete was to be delivered early the following week.         

Cast of Characters

The WPI Flamingo Team – Jacquelyne, Malina, Andres, Justin, Kristin

ISN – Terrence

Community Members – Mark, Elizabeth, Lenrika, Shakeel



Flamingo Crescent Informal Settlement



We arrived at Flamingo Crescent a little after 9 unsure of what to expect for the day. As we walked around trying to find Terrance, we noticed that the lot had not been cleared like planned. Although slightly discouraged we stayed optimistic as we met up with Terrance and discussed the plans for the day. Collectively it was decided we would begin by clearing the lot and digging the trench that the drainage pipes were to be laid in. Although we had originally intended to lay the wood frame for the concrete slab today, since the concrete was not going to be delivered until early next week it was decided it would be best to hold off in order to ensure the frame wouldn’t be damaged or stolen. With this arranged, we headed to the crèche site to begin work.

Terrance and Marky brought over a mismatch of shovels, rakes, and brooms for us to begin work. The site was covered in dirt, rocks, garbage, and an abundance of dog poop. Despite the circumstances, we grabbed tools and began shoveling and sweeping the debris towards the center of the site while Terrance and Marky focused on digging the trench for the drainage along the back wall. As we were hard at work getting our hands dirty, we noticed numerous community members had come to watch what we were doing. It was satisfying being able to tangibly show them that progress is being made and that we are serious about delivering them a crèche for the children. After about an hour of heavy labor, it was time to sift the pile of debris to separate the rocks we would use at a later date for the drainage. Although a seemingly simple concept, this task quickly proved easier said then done. The crates the community supplied us with had to be tilted on their side while sifting in order for the rocks to be captured. Although this process was time consuming, in the end it ended up working fairly well, leaving us with a substantial amount of gravel. The next step was to drill holes into the pipes we had bought on Tuesday in order to make a perforated drainage pipe for the back wall. With the help of Marky and his friend Shakeel, we managed to get the job done.

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Justin, Terrence, Marky, and Shakeel Digging the Trench for the Drainage System


In the middle of all of this, the guy who had originally brought the standing cement toilets during the reblocking process to Flamingo arrived to remove the two toiles currently in the lot. His arrival meant the hurdle of how to remove these 1.2 ton toilets that were preventing us from further construction had been tackled. There had been great concern from both us and Terrance as to what we would do if we couldn’t remove these toilets ASAP, so watching the crane lift the toilets up and over the back wall was a relief.

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Removing the 1.2 ton Cement Toilets from the Site


With this completed, we packed up and headed back to Lenrika’s house to have a quick meeting before we had to leave for the day. We discussed with Terrance that we were concerned about the communities investment in our project and willingness to help out based on the lack of help we had received throughout the day. He expressed with us that he shared this same concern and would address it with Lenrika right away. After sorting out a few other loose ends, Terrance rounded up the construction team he had put together. Although we only got to meet with five of the guys, it was reassuring to hear their understanding of the project and commitment to it as Terrance explained the logistics to them. Each guy was someone we had seen around the community previously and most had already expressed their interest in helping out to us. Despite being brief, bringing us all together gave us promise that this project was up and rolling.



Although today was an extremely productive day, it also raised some concerns for us as a team. Throughout the day we had worked hard doing manual labor and some heavy lifting. Although we are more then happy to help out in any way we can, having the community members simply observe us rather then helping out was discouraging. The goal of our project isn’t to simply show up and build a crèche but rather to involve the community in every step of the way so they can have pride in the end product and a sense of responsibility to upkeep it long after we leave. At one moment while we were working, one of the women came over to remove some dog poop for us without being asked. This gesture, along with the assistance from Marky and Shakeel throughout the day, gives us promise that community involvement will change for the better as the project progresses.