Since I am a bit of a hippy at heart, I am always trying to steer my construction toward environmentally sustainable practices. Its not puritan by any means and you may one day even see me with a chainsaw in my hand. In Los Palos, they have a pressing need for food. Samuel and Uli, the Pastors of a youth church, take in as many people as they can feed which is not a lot on a meagre $70 per month allowance. They have an excellent patch of land but if they try to grow vegies some hungry person or animal ends up eating it before they do. This means the land lays fallow and unproductive. The challenge was to build the cheapest and most achievable fence possible with what we had. It also had to be strong enough and tall enough to keep out children and goats from the garden. That way they could harvest their food and give it to those who really needed it. So we … ok, I came up with a bamboo fence design – I’ll take the credit, that way if it doesn’t work, you know who to blame.
First we dug a trench down 20cm deep and 20cm wide.
Then we fill it with cement and rock – ok the cement came from Indonesia but the limestone rock was onsite and the sand came from a local river. Spot the flying rock from Keith’s hand.
We shoved in some bamboo poles about 1.8m long into the trench about every 2m. The Timorese know which poles are good for posts, in this case its ‘red bamboo’ (I know to the untrained eye they look green, you might have to use your imagination) The bottles are an idea for protecting the top of the bamboo from filling with water.
Then we split a different type of bamboo in half for the horizontal fence rails. This is easier than you may think – if you have a good machete, and a good eye. But once you’ve got the split going it tends to run along the grain and pop apart.
Then we cut more bamboo at 1.8m and split it up into strips about 4cm. We nailed the pickets onto the rails with 5cm flat head nails and bent them over on the back. Some pre-drilling goes down well.
Then sections are carried to the poles to be screwed on with … wait for it … my little trade secret … roofing screws! These screws bore their own hole into the bamboo without it splitting and hang on real tight – sensational!
Don’t tell anyone else about this. I think bamboo is the next big thing that’s going to happen to Australia. Just as soon as I finish mucking around in East Timor I’ll come and grow some bamboo in oz and make a mint off picket fences.
Ok, out of my instruction mode, we had a great time in Los Palos with the locals. Uli and Cynthia had lots of long D&M’s and got to know each other real well. It was a great soul time for them both (And I just thought they were sitting around not doing anything important?!) We finally finished the last of the tiling a year after starting the building. Credit must go to Sylvia for the long hours she put in grouting and cleaning.
We also finished building their shed walls, got the rafters and battens on the shed and provided funding for the iron which the Timorese will happily put on later.
And all this in 3 days of action. A big thanks to Alan Kent from Leongatha Salvation Army Corps and Sylvia, Keith and Lynise from Tweed Heads Salvation Army Corps who had the courage to come to East Timor and give of their time, talents and money to help make this a reality.
It was a great time in Los Palos and a real boost to the youth – they’re finally seeing a bit of action. This sort of work gives them hope and lifts their spirits. They are the real heroes.
They are the ones going around their community telling others about God and how great he is and what he has done for them. There are many testimonies of how God how freed them from abuse, violence, disease and evil spirits. There are many testimonies about how God meets their daily needs. And I must testify too, to the way God has provided for us, watched over us and kept us safe. I thank Him.