Construction carried on this second week of our project, and we now have all of the materials bought and delivered to the site of the community center. The walls of the bathrooms and doctors’ office have been raised, and we are working on plastering the bricks with cement in order to paint it later.
This week we will begin the roof and finish the smoothing over of the walls. Like the first week, we had several volunteers each day to help the mason, Seu Roberto, with mixing cement, making scaffolding from trees, and cutting wire. The four of us help out the best we can, usually smoothing the walls’ plaster or sifting the sand for cement. All of our work goes a lot faster, though, when Juliana improvises Brazilian country songs about each of us on her guitar and Seu Roberto corrects her rhyming.
Each day we have enjoyed hot meals: rice, beans, chicken, and pumpkin, from women in the community. At the community meeting on Saturday night, we had little trouble finding five more willing women to cook for this coming week. It was a larger challenge to find construction volunteers because of the all-day time commitment, but there is still at least two per day plus the hired masons. Some men who work in town regretted that they could not volunteer, and offered to pay for the salary of a mason for a day as their contribution.
Thursday evening we went with our neighbors to a Festa Junina party at a local grade school. Students dressed up in roça style clothes (frocks and braids for the girls and plaid and jeans for the boys) and performed traditional country dances for the parents and community members. As four older girls who knew a little about hair-braiding and make-up, the four of us were quite the hit with the girls getting ready for the performance. Food was for sale, including pastel and quentão, a warm spiced wine for the winter, and the English teacher, who was excited that I, an American was at the party, welcomed me with a free espetinho de frango, chicken on a stick. We danced with children and friends after the students’ performances, and a bonfire warmed people nearby.
The four of us spent Saturday morning as I imagine most people our age would want to; we woke up at 7am and went to a field by the community center with wheelbarrows and shovels to clear the field of cow, horse, and donkey poop in order to make a soccer field. With a number of local boys’ help, the hours went quickly and by lunchtime we had lines drawn with chalk and two sturdy goals made from some cut trees. Today we had a big soccer game in the afternoon, when we put the field to good use. Over forty people from Chapadinha and neighboring communities came to cheer and play. We played a series of games with teams mixed with every sort of community member—moms, kids, fathers, and even a grandfather. Two games were girls v. boys, and resulted in a loss and a tie on behalf of the fierce girls team. Before the game, we also held a movie screening in the community center. With equipment we brought from Sao Paulo, we projected Os Incríveis (The Incredibles) onto the wall and made popcorn for the large handful of kids that came to watch. It was a huge hit and we hope to do another movie next weekend.
Carolyn, Luiza, Paulinha, and Juliana
Construction progress and serenading Seu Roberto
Constructing the goals and movie time
The girls team and game time
Most of the futebol crew