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In-pictures: Tracking the progress of BPF's sports & education community centre construction project
It’s a bitterly cold winter’s morning in Malawi’s capital and, one month on from completing the purchase of a 7-acre plot of land in the rural heartland of Mtema, 25km north-west of Lilongwe, BPF’s Founder, Richard, arrives on site. In the distance, a figure emerges from a thatched mud hut and, over the next few minutes, moves slowly towards where Richard has now parked his bike, taken shade under a small tree and perched his laptop on his knees.
The sun, piercing a seemingly endless and totally cloudless African blue sky, begins to warm the village community below. The sweet sound of birdsong and the joyful calls of children on their way to school is increasingly interspersed by the crunching sound of the figure – now resembling a slender man in torn brown trousers and a red t-shirt – taking small, careful steps across a field of dried leaves and groundnut shells.
The man arrives at Richard’s makeshift office to welcome his foreign guest with a warm smile and a heartfelt handshake. “Morning”, he says. After a friendly but brief verbal exchange, the man sits down and appears to bask in the view of the landscape out in front of him. His name is Dickson Shema, a future village chief; a role he would assume a year later.
Today’s objective is to mark out, by hand, the key areas of the masterplan in preparation for the earthworks. Dickson is joined by a growing team of local villagers assembled by Tim Mahoney, a British/Malawian landscape architect brought in as BPF’s project lead. Over the months that follow, Tim will train a committed site team in hand-pressed concrete block-making, bricklaying and landscaping, as well as teamwork and leadership.
Dickson and his fellow workers – men and women – will also have guaranteed employment and income for their families throughout BPF’s construction schedule; an arrangement which would remain unchanged when the rest of the world comes to a standstill in the year of the pandemic.
Bhubesi Pride Foundation is now nearing the completion of its sports & education community centre construction project. BPF is preparing to embark on the next phase of bringing this incredible project to life, enabling hundreds of community members to regularly access sporting and educational activities; the charity will create jobs locally (training sports coaches, educators, managers, caterers, maintenance and grounds staff); and provide a platform for the international community to directly contribute to ongoing and ever-improving community programs.
Click through the image slideshow as we take you on a journey from 2018 to today, tracking the progress of our build project in rural Malawi.
Tim Mahoney, BPF's consultant site manager, works with BPF's Founder, Richard, to create drawings for BPF's sports & education community centre, detailing all key aspects of the project.
The bulldozer arrives on-site and, with the marking-out complete, Tim works with the operator, Lewis, to shift tonnes of earth and correctly map the levels required for each key structure, such as the clubhouse, sports spaces and accommodation buildings.
Borehole specialists, Freshwater, drill nearly 40m down and install our first borehole on site, making construction much simpler going forward.
As earthworks continue, quarry dust is delivered to site and, using a concrete block device, designed and manufactured by a Malawian inventor, the team set out to hand-press 30,000 concrete blocks for the perimeter wall.
Foundations go down for the visitors' accommodation, a septic tank is constructed and the sports pitch spaces are preserved.
Wet weather does little to halt progress, and momentum builds with final earthworks, regular quarry dust deliveries, perimeter wall construction, accommodation footings, Czarnikow's donated shipping containers arrive and we engage a commercial block maker for the main buildings.
BPF's site team are in full swing as the accommodation buildings are the first main site structure to take shape.
5 of 8 accommodation units start to resemble their intended designs, the site's first 'khonde' (porches) go down, and our first water tower is erected.
Timber beds are fabricated locally for the rooms and, with the visitor accommodation buildings making good progress, attention turns to the manager's house.
The first of two netball courts is surfaced, grass seed is planted on the sports pitch, stem by stem, and phase 1 of the clubhouse begins in earnest.
In a carefully coordinated series of events, Tim and the team link up with Lilongwe-based steel frame fabricators to erect the skeleton-type clubhouse structure, followed soon after with the block-work for the walls.
A huge milestone is reached as BPF's clubhouse structure begins to take pride of place on site, overlooking the sports pitch.
Phase 2 of the clubhouse includes two learning spaces, a kitchen and canteen. Work is underway...
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