Tuesday, November 23, 2010

School Painting in Peru

School Painting
After spending four days in Lima and Chosica we flew over the Andes Mountains into the Amazon rain forest. Our most labor intensive Peru Project was painting the Jack Wolff School school at KM #9. The school was built in 2003 and the enrollment has continued to expand. Originally 350 kids attended the school. That number increased to 500 kids last year. This year 600 kids are attending the school with three split shifts throughout the day. The school has been well used and is starting to show the signs of wear. With the help of the local families we decided to paint the school during a four day work party.

Originally we had hoped to receive the help of ten good local workers each day along with our crew of four people from the United States. Painting the school is hot and messy work. The afternoon temperature is near 100 degrees in Iquitos. We planned to work from 7:30 AM until 12:30 PM each day before it got too hot. A lunch meal would be provided for all the workers that would be prepared by four local cooks. For the local families the offer of a hot lunch was too good to pass up. Our work force grew to 30-40 workers each day. That was great because we had lots of helping hands. We then needed to buy more paint scrapers, brushes, rollers, ladders and paint pans to keep everyone busy. Our first day working included several trips back to the hardware stores in the city to buy more supplies.

I was impressed with how hard everyone was working scraping paint and getting everything ready for painting. Like I said, this was a hot messy job and scraping paint in the dusty classrooms wasn’t a pleasant chore. We needed to go back to the store again and buy dust masks for all the workers. Eventually we started painting the inside of the classrooms a fresh cream color with brown trim. The outside was painted a golden yellow with brown trim. It would take 176 gallons of paint to cover eleven classrooms and the exterior including a building for the bathrooms.

Near the end of each workday we needed to clean twenty paint brushes and fifteen rollers and all the paint pans. The water source at the school comes from a small well and a simple pump. We had to be careful to stockpile enough water in buckets before the well ran out of water. Buy this time the noon sun was intense and everyone was ready for break. At 12:30 lunch would be served. The cooks did a great job of making rice and pasta over an open wood fire. We ran over budget buying all the extra painting supplies and feeding 30 more people each day. However we felt is was worth while to have the extra help and get the painting done as quickly as possible. The 40 workers were not as efficient as ten experienced painters but the community pride of have everyone involved was worth the extra cost.


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