Last week we paid a visit to the building site and the architect who is overseeing the construction. He was happy to show me a geological report of soil samples confirming that our property could sustain a two story building. This can be a serious problem locally since there are no designated garbage dumps. I have talked to others who told me that they had to dig a few metres deep just to get past the old garbage in order to lay good footings. (Basements are virtually unheard of in Niger).
Bricks in Niger are generally hand mixed with a shovel, and then shovelled into a mold. They are left to cure in the sun for three or four weeks before being used in construction. (I don’t know how long is really necessary but that’s what I’ve been told). The bricks for the cement foundation are now ready to be used and work has begun for the special bricks we’re using for the building.
We have decided to build with compressed earth bricks. We are told that they are the more environmentally friendly option. They require slightly less cement but are formed using a hydraulic press. These bricks are mixed using a red soil called laterite and some people refer to compressed earth bricks as the reds bricks because of the distinctive color. Red bricks are not only slightly cheaper but because of their density they do not retain the heat like regular cement bricks—a real benefit in Niger!
Please pray that God would continue to oversee the building project here and that progress would be made in the construction. Also pray that the beginning contacts that we are making with our future neighbours would bear fruit. Jennifer was "christened" by a neighbours new baby the day that we visited.