Build Site Day 1 Recap- Matthew McDonald

[Note: Matt has been blogging daily on his own personal blog that you can check out at The first day on the build also happens to be our 4th day in our experience after a community welcome and traveling from Managua to León]

Ahh day 4. Yes the famous day 4. Day 4 was the day that we finally got to go to the worksite and begin helping with construction of the new school. We woke up at our regular time and ate breakfast at 7:00 am as usual. We drove to the worksite and got split up into teams. One team was in charge of cutting wood, one team was in charge of getting the rebar ready, and the last team was in charge of helping dig out the holes. I ended up volunteering to cut wood, oh boy I should have stayed in shop class in middle school.

Once we headed to our work area we found out we would be cutting large planks into 40 inch long rectangles, using a handsaw. Let me just say I have not used a handsaw in years, probably over a decade, so it was a new experience for me. The head honcho of the construction site, Dennis, showed me how to use it. I am pretty sure he thought I was a complete waste of space, but I did improve with time. It took us quite awhile to cut the required pieces of one size of wood. Ended up making 26 pieces in the morning, which isn’t a lot but considering how bad I was at the start I was quite happy. My partner in crime Peter was invaluable in this process. I could not have done it without him. He showed me techniques and gave me tips and encouraged me. He really made me feel good about the whole thing and I really look up to this man. He worked his butt off today and never complained, he just kept going. He really impressed me and it pushed me even harder.

We ate lunch at the site again today and once again it was fantastic! The food they make on site is so good, I am so honoured to have these women from the community cook us lunches. We had this mix of rice, chicken, peppers, hot dog, raisins, ketchup, tomatoes, and I’m sure other ingredients. It was really, really good.

After lunch I switched to digging holes because I was tired of sawing wood; my right arm was very sore. The process of digging sounds like it won’t be too bad, unfortunately we are digging to a point where there is layers of rocks. So we use these giant metal sticks that are kind of shaped like a spear and manually break up the rocks. It was hot today and the sun was beating right over our heads as we dug. We did some quick work, but had to take breaks as the heat was way too much to handle. I got dirt everywhere, I found it in some really random places.

Holes that were dug on the 1st day on the work site

Holes that were dug on the 1st day on the work site

At the end of the workday we all loaded up in to the vans, hot, sweaty, and tired, but we were all flying high. For me it was the excitement of doing some hard work and knowing that today I made a difference. I worked my butt off today and the blisters and sore muscles prove that. The whole group wants to get as much of this school built as possible, we want to see how far we can get with it and I believe that is the main motivator for the group as a whole. I know I will put in as much work as I possible can over the next 4 days to see what difference I can make in the lives of these children.

Tonight we are going for dinner at a Mexican restaurant (YUMMY) and then we are off to Salsa class. I get to shake my hips and get my groove on so I am looking forward to that.


Rebar Work

Rebar work was being done at the same time as hole digging and cutting wood on the site

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