Building a birthing center in Uganda.
Photo: Seane Corn
PAGE 4
After the mixture was complete, it was taken to another area where our crew was waiting to make the bricks. The brick making was difficult, and kudos out to Colleen for working tirelessly! She seemed to have found her purpose in brick compressing, which is no simple feat. There is no electricity, so all the tools are used manually. Many of these tasks would have taken moments with more modern instruments, but in this remote area, everything takes much longer, requires physical strength and much ingenuity. The brick making mold we purchased required strength most of us didn't have, so I was proud when I saw two or three of the women dangling together, hanging from the lever, using all their power and momentum to compress one brick. They did this all day, making dozens and dozens of bricks to be piled together and then sun-baked until dry.

To move the bricks from one area to another, our group formed a long line and together with some of the men, women and children of the village. We would pass the dried bricks, one by one, to a designated spot. Tossing bricks down the line, we found a good rhythm, and Suzanne led us in a chant of "Shanti Uganda, Shanti Uganda, brick by brick by brick." Africa is a culture of ritual, dance and song, and every time we have met with a different group of villagers, they would always greet us in song, welcoming us to their land and homes. I was so grateful to Suzanne for always being ready to return the favor and rouse us in a chant much to the happiness of the village people. There has been much spontaneous dancing and celebration as a result. Suzanne's drumming and vocals was the language that brought us all together and quickened our ability to communicate without words. 

At the main building, a third group was laying the brick and constructing the walls. With each row, the structure became more evident and I could truly visualize the waiting room and could see how the floor, windows and ceiling would soon look. I watched as Cyndi and Carrie constructed a sculpture on one of the finished walls. Out of mud and clay, they created trees and roots reminding us of our connection to each other and to the earth upon which we live and share. Looking around, I could imagine the activities that would one day soon take place. I could see the front courtyard where the pregnant women could walk around and the community center where the midwives and traditional birthing attendants would gather to exchange information and practical skills. I touched the side of the birthing tub, the brick hard and cool, and once again, felt overcome with emotion.

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