Breaking Ground if not Groundbreaking

Published February 9, 2012

Forgive our silence on the blog for the last couple of days. Part of this was due to lack of communication with Blake and Marianne in the out of pocket location of Jalle, the other part was due to difficulties we were having onsite which Blake will explain below. Thankfully, this doesn’t change our project’s budget, but it does require us to spend $20,000 now instead of in a few months from now. If you were planing on giving any time soon, please consider an immediate gift to reBuild Sudan to ensure we can cover these costs and keep this project moving forward. We’ll give a more thorough report of our Plan B which is now in action when Blake returns and we can strategize with our manufacturing partners, HeliPiles. We are so glad to have your help and support in this! – Jill, Board President

I’m pretty certain God did not put me on Earth to prove to me my genius. More likely, humility and gratitude is more His agenda. Years of planning, progress, mishaps and setbacks has brought us to breaking ground for the primary school in Jalle Payam. We hoped that our project could become a showcase for advancing building science in East Africa with the use of a helical pier foundation. We wanted to break ground with groundbreaking technology that didn’t, in actually, break the ground. This didn’t come to pass. The technology is sound, but our experience and our installation techniques proved not enough to overcome the challenges of our site. Without going into too much detail, we simply could not install the piers to the manufacturer’s spec to insure a safe and lasting building.

The foundation tool worked perfectly in Colorado but not so perfectly on our site…

Lesson one: Humility. Check.

I can’t say enough for our contractor. Denis with GDC South Sudan was not only willing to attempt to build with new technology he was able to change gears quickly and without any blame and propose a plan B. We will still use deep footings as required by our soil and flooding conditions. Though instead of steel piers, his crew will hand dig fifty-two 2 meter deep holes with pickax and pry bar. Shovels? Are you kidding me? An elephant stepping on an shovel couldn’t penetrate this soil in the dry season. From an engineering perspective, it is very sound. Within 24 hours of our failed tests, workers were literally breaking the ground for a school that will serve the people of Jalle for decades.

Less two: Gratitude. Check.

We have not abandoned the helical pier technology, nor written off what we have invested in it. The piers that we purchased for Phase I will hopefully now be incorporated in Phase II which includes installing the flooring system. We have time now to figure out what went wrong and try to come up with solutions. Thank you so much to all of you who have supported this effort. Everyone is doing their best to see Michael’s dream a reality. Within 6 weeks, the horizon in Jalle Payam will have a symbol of hope and peace for all to see.

– Blake, Executive Director

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