A Day In My World: Construction Management In Rural Burundi

Jeanmarie: Engineer, we need you at the 8-plex.
Me: Sure, I will be there in 15 minutes.

It’s 8:00am, and I am still at home trying to finish a contract agreement for a project in Congo.  The office in Uganda needs the contract in order to review it and send it to the client representative, who in turn will send it to the president of their organisation and to the contractor.

Twenty-five minutes have already passed since I told Jeanmarie I would meet him at the 8-plex site. I don’t like to keep our foreman waiting.

While I am meeting with Jeanmarie, Alain needs me to meet with a clay pots supplier. We need clay pots for a vertical garden at the 8-plex. But the supplier is waiting for me at the kindergarten construction site for some reason.

I meet with the clay pots supplier and we reach a deal: we are getting 130 clay pots in two weeks. That’s a lot of pots.

Emery: Engineer, I need screws to attach the toilet seats at the ophthalmology bathroom under construction.
Me: Give me 10 minutes, and I will be there.

On my way to Emery, I meet Innocent who is working on terrazzo trial. He wants to know if he can grout the surface. I need to see it first before I can give my approval.

But first I need to stop by the doctors’ offices that we are renovating. The electrician is busy installing lights, light switches and sockets. He also happens to be the one on the crew who installs louver window frames. He asks me for the supplies to complete this task for the newly painted window frames.
Me: I’ll get those to you, please remind me later today.
I know that I also need to demonstrate how I want the materials to be used.

Finally I meet with Emery and attend to his queries. I do a quick tour of the work in and around the bathroom. Junction boxes are almost done, covers are being made and Emery has installed the hand washbasin already.

My next stop is the workshop. Innocent is there, waiting for instructions about grouting the terrazzo floor trial he has been grinding.  

The floor looks good. It appears as if our trial is a success. There are a few holes here and there and that is why we need to grout the entire surface with our own homemade grout. We will regrind and polish the floor next week on Monday.

Grindind terrazzo

I haven’t been to B20 yet. There is a small team of workers painting the 2nd floor ceiling and a group of masons repointing the ramp parapet wall. I stop by to check in how they are doing, and it all looks great.

Petro: We need you at the 8-plex.
Me: I am on my way there.

Petro is installing roof trusses at the 8-plex, and he almost done. He is now working on front porch trusses.
Petro: How do we attach the gutters? We will end up with so many downspouts.
Me: What do you suggest?
He is a creative welder, and his idea seems innovative.
Me: Give it a try!

As I inspect the ground floor of the 8-plex, there is a group of workers staring at a tree. I realize they are preparing to cut down pine trees that are too close to the structure. They also have suggestions on the direction to make the trees fall. I call for Jeanmarie to get his opinion and he seems to agree with the crew.
Me: Alright, let us do it.

Brian: Hey Matt, I’m at the clinic already.
Me: Cool, I’ll be there in a minute.

I sent a few guys to help Brian install cabinets in the eye clinic OR we renovated a few days ago. They had a questionable approach that would use nails to hang 4 very heavy cabinets. Brian is having a hard time communicating with them, but he is not convinced of their idea.
Me: I’ve got a few anchor bolts. They should work.
Brian: Sweet. Do you need my help?
Me: No, we’ve got this.

Well the cabinets are heavy, and we need help to lift them up in order to attach them to the walls. It ends up taking a long time to complete the task.

My wife: Hey love, our sink is not working.

Calling Emery:
Me: Hey, stop by my place, and fix my kitchen sink.
Emery: Yes sir, I’m heading there right now.

It’s 2:30pm, and we have just finished hanging the cabinets.

As I head down to the 8-plex to respond to another call from Petro, I notice that one of the trees has slightly damaged the roof eaves on its way down. It is not a big deal, but we will need to replace that section. I get concerned because we still have 6 to 7 more trees to cut down, and some of them are leaning heavily toward the compound wall.

I watch in amazement as some of these crooked trees are taken down with just a machete and a rope, but nothing is damaged. Genius!

Cutting down a tree

It’s now 4pm, and I haven’t eaten lunch yet. Maybe I can stop by my place and have something.

I try to go for my last round, but I don’t have time to visit all the project sites. The 8-plex and the kindergarten sites consume most of my time.

It is 5:30pm, the end of our workday. I did not yet respond to emails or send our materials order to the supplier. But I need to refresh my mind, so I go for a bike ride and then return back home to my computer.

I’ve reached the end of this workday.

7 Replies to “A Day In My World: Construction Management In Rural Burundi”

  1. This is some great work i have seen so far and it gives me a higher motivation to keep connected with you and learn more from you . Great Job

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s wonderful to have a window into your day-to-day work. I sense your joy in the work – it’s contagious! May you continue to find strength and perseverance for the tasks before you. Blessings, cousin.


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