Omgoi – Building and Singing

Knowing that we might not wake up in time, we made sure that an alarm was set this time. The alarm woke us up at 7am and we had plenty of time to get ready before heading over to breakfast.

After completing the evaluations yesterday, it was time for us to use our muscle strength as we were helping to build bathrooms. The 30 of us were divided evenly by strength into 3 different groups. We picked up our hoes and shovels and headed to the various work sites around the village.

My group had quite a lot of manpower, there were 10 of us with an engineer, a teacher, a local guide and a few people from the local community to help us out. We started off with mixing the cement and getting the floor of the bathroom laid down. We also had to make sure there was a hole so that water is able to drain when someone took a shower.

As we did not need that many people mixing cement, some of us went to do some carpenting. There were a lot of bamboo and all of it needed to be cut down to size as the bamboo was going to be the wall of the bathroom. After cutting them down to size, the bamboo is nailed onto the side of the house.

Nailing the bamboo was actually a very long a hard task. The bamboo is actually thicker than we think they are and nailing them took a really long time. Often times the nail would start bending due to the force which means that the nail never actually makes it all the way into the frame. Other times we would miss the nail completely and hammer down on our thumbs which was actually very painful. But there had to be some risk as without the force the nail wouldnt go in, but with it would mean risk of hurting your thumb.

We worked on the bathroom until it was time for lunch. Our group ran out of bamboo sticks so we were not able to finish the last wall of the bathroom. It was all we could do with the amount of equipment and time we have. Below is a video one of my friends made of another group building a bathroom.

Here is another video that Khun Kate made of my group working on the bathrooms.

After a nice relaxing lunch break, we headed to our second bathroom building site. This site was much closer than the last one and equal amount of work needed to be done. We got down to work and we worked quite well as a team. Every time we would build a bathroom, the local family would be there to help us out. In the last house, the younger people were in the field, but the grandmother was there helping us out with cutting the bamboo and she showed up with more bamboo when we started to run out. Although she could not communicate with us due to a language barrier, we could see she was very appreciative of what we were doing.

At around 3 in the afternoon, we had to stop what we were doing as we had to move onto our next activity. The second bathroom was nearly done as well, again with just three sides of the wall made and the concrete floor filled in. We placed our tools back at basecamp and headed towards the school. It was time to build and race bamboo bikes!

Bamboo bikes are exactly what they sound like. The kids in the village use pieces of bamboo to put together a bike and they ride it down the hill. The road was very slippery and wet so it is actually quite a dangerous sport. Everyone took turns riding it down the hill and it was all very fun to watch. We all had a great time.

We had some free time before heading to dinner, so some of us decided to trek to the water tank and check it out. Although the water tank is just elevated 100 meters above the village, the trek up to the water tank felt like forever. It was a pretty hard climb and everyone had a hard time getting up. It just shows how hard mountaineering and trail really is. We stayed up there for no more than 15 minutes as we needed to head back down and get to shower before going to dinner. But getting down was actually harder than heading up the mountain as it places a lot of strain on your knees and ankles, which is not very comfortable for us humans. We have been adapted to walk on flat ground!

After dinner, we headed to the school for some cultural activities and engagements with the children of the village. But before we could socialize with the kids, the village elders were there to present us with a blessing. They would tie a white string around my wrist and say a blessing. This is to protect us and give us good health. After the blessing was over, we headed over to another building where there was a larger room for us to do activities with the children. The children had three different performances dance performances ready for us. They were all very well rehearsed and choreographed. After their planned performance, it was tradition for us to also put together a performance and d the same. As we never have anything planned, we would just think of something on the spot. Improvisation!

Jeff went first with his great juggling performance. He started off with juggling 1 ball, then went on to juggle 4 balls in the end. It was very nicely done and the kids loved it. A boy band has also formed on this trip and it was our turn to perform next. We did not know what we were doing so we just thought of a song and started to accapella it out. We first did a warm up with Stand By Me and then moved onto to do Smooth Criminal. We ended our improve performance with a Bohemian Rhapsody. I had no idea how we were able to pull it off but the Boy Band managed to do it somehow. After our performance, we played games with the kids and soon it was getting late and everyone needed to head home.

It was our last night in the village and the trip had been wonderful so far. People are very passionate about what they do and it is great to see a lot of the younger people taking up this project. In total there were 5 different year levels on this trip, with Jeff and I being the oldest. When we got back to our houses, everyone was tired as it had been a very long day with lots of physical activity, but we still stayed up to play cards as that is a tradition. Eventually everyone rolled into their sleeping bags under the mosquito nets and fell into sleep, spending our last night here in Omgoi.




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