Friday 21 March 2008

Day 10 - Friday 21st March 2008

Our work here is done!!!

It's just before 5pm on Friday and we have wrapped up our brief contribution to the building project here in Csurgo in Hungary. It has been a wonderful 10 days and we are deeply proud of the work we have done in this short period of time. It takes 10,000 man-hours to complete a house and together we contributed about 1000 hours, nearly 10% of the total time. The experience has been life changing. The sense of team work, co-operation and mutual respect amongst the team and the community in Csurgo has been a powerful emotive outcome to our brief stay. The people have been so friendly, the hotel staff exemplary, Peter's hard work and vision has been an inspiration to us all and we will all leave with a deep sense of sadness but I hope pride as well.

The pupils of St. Columba's College have been a shining example of industriousness and duty. They have made the teachers' role as team leaders an easy one. They should be commended for their excellent behaviour and hard work on site!

Today, on site, we completed the final coat of primer on the outside walls, sealed the woodwork in the interior of the houses and tidied up the site! We also got an opportunity to visit two families in neighbouring Habitat Houses to see what a completed house would look like. The first thing that struck me was the quality of the finished product. The houses were warm and cosy and extremely comfortable. Considering each house costs just over €30,000 it is amazing to see such a high quality product emerge. The families contribute just over €100 per month to pay off their interest free mortgage on their home. The pride each family has in their home is admirable and inspiring. The Habitat for Humanity principles and philosophies are expressed here to the fullest. But none of this would be possible without SUPERMAN himself, Peter Geszti. He single handedly runs the work site and co-ordinates the teams (including their R&R). He is a one man Habitat machine.

So another year down and another Habitat experience over. It has been an excellent trip for all concerned, despite sickness and ill-health, and I hope this is not the end of St. Columba's connection with Habitat Hungary and the wonderful people of Csurgo. Although, I'm not sure we will be allowed back for St. Patrick's Day again!!!! Only kidding!

Goodbye for now and thank you all for your support and encouragement over the past two years. Here are some pics from today:

Humphrey Jones, Paul Cron, John Fanagan, Frances Heffernan, Peter Watts , Laura Hanna and all the pupils!

The house as we leave it!

Laura and Lauren tidying inside the houses.

Neighbouring Habitat Houses.

Our final group photo!!

Day 9 - Thursday 20th March 208

Today was our penultimate day on the site and once again we were exceptionally busy, making up for lost time on Tuesday. The day started off bright and sunny, cold but pleasant, and work quickly began on the foundations for the side walks and on repairing any broken or distressed plaster on the houses. We completed our assigned tasks for the morning well before time and began a thorough clean-up of the site. The area looked immaculate some lunchtime, with all work completed and the site well organised. After lunch we continued to tidy the site and paint any repaired plaster work from yesterday. Unfortunately the weather took a turn for the worst and snow began to fall at around 2:30. But we persevered and finished our assigned tasks for today. After work, the team travelled to the hills for a BBQ, with wonderful spiced chicken, local sausage and traditional paprika potatoes. We danced and sang around the glorious bonfire until the light had faded and so too the energy. All have returned to the hotel and have began the arduous task of packing for our early departure on Saturday morning. Tomorrow looks to be another busy day, but all are feeling both excited and disappointed at the end of our trip!

Here are a few pictures from today's work and R&R:
Some of the girls help to tidy the worksite.

The family members work alongside the team to repair the plaster and prepare it for painting.

Josh and Alec finishing the sidewalk foundations.

The BBQ on the hills. The view of Csurgo is spectacular and the food wonderful.

The gang sing and dance around the bonfire!

Wednesday 19 March 2008

Habitat Table Quiz

The pupils competed in a high quality Table Quiz this evening with questions ranging from general knowledge to music to cartoon trivia. The standard was very high but the overall winners were Team 1: Alec, Josh and Philip!!!! Well done to all the pupils in what was a very entertaining hour!!! Who knew we had so much useless information inside us!!

Day 8 - Wednesday 19th March 2008

The sun has returned to Csurgo again today and all of the team returned to work, devoid of sickness and ill-health. We all worked extra hard today, knowing the time that was lost yesterday. We began the day planting some trees, donated to the Habitat Project by the local government, along the road leading to the Habitat Houses. We planted a dozen or so trees today and hope to do more tomorrow. After our water break we continued to plaster around the windows of the houses in order to seal the glass and to provide a flawless finish on our painting. (It must be noted how much care and attention goes into the houses and how much the families appreciate the minor details) We then dug the foundations for the pathways around the house, removing the dirt and putting gravel in. We will mix concrete soon to fill the pathway. And finally the plumber completed his work on the sewage and water pipes and we were able to fill in the final holes!

A great day's work! Here are some of Joanna's Photos from today!
Some of the girsl stop for a well deserved break!

Digging the foundations for the pathway.

Laura doing somthing??

More digging!

The trees after planting!!

The Csurgo Bridge Club

Bridge has come to Hungary, and with a bang. A recent influx of Irish People to the town of Csurgo has caused a bridge sensation. The sights of the newest bridge club in the "Panzio" on a nightly basis has caused a stir! The echoes of double and redouble have rebounded from the walls of the dining hall and, to be honest, we are lucky no one has been shot yet!!

Tuesday 18 March 2008

Day 7 - 18th March 2008

SNOW in Csurgo!! After the glorious day yesterday and highs of 17 degrees, we were greeted to snow showers this morning in Csurgo. This unfortunately meant that no work could be carried out on site so the team went to a larger local town for some shopping and then onto a spa, with volcanic pools and swimming facilities. Unfortunately, the vomiting bug made an unwelcome return and claimed yet more victims this morning so Mr. Watts, Mr.Jones and Ed Teggin were not well enough to travel to the spa. The team will have a meal out later and look forward to getting back onto the site tomorrow morning.

Monday 17 March 2008

Day 6 - Monday March 17th - Csurgo gets painted green!!!

St. Patrick's Day in Csurgo and we went a little silly. We weren't quite satisfied with covering ourselves with green, but we also (literally) painted Csurgo green too. The house received its first base coat over the bare plaster and Peter insisted we use green!!! It was a glorious day here and all members of the team are feeling better, if not quite 100% just yet. But all returned to work for some of the day and we had a ball sanding and painting. Tonight we are going to have a sing song and a bit of Irish Dancing!!!

Beannachtaí Lá Feile Padraig!!!

Peter "Guinness" Geszti

All the gang in their best GREEN!!!

The Leaders sport their Paddy's Day Rigouts!!

Painting the town green!!!

The coat is placed on the houses before lunch! Don't worry, we painted over the green with yellow in the afternoon!!!

The Day at the Lake

Here are some pics from Sunday's trip to the lake!
A wonderful view of the lake and surrounding houses.

Goulash been cooked over a log fire. Absolutely gorgeous!!!

The Lake in the background with a local hotel in the background.

The gang that made it feasting on Goulash!

Sunday 16 March 2008

Day 5 - Sunday 16th March 2008

How the mighty have fallen!

Today was a difficult day for the team as an agressive vomitting bug swept its way through the hard working and exhausted troops. A number of the team were ill throughout the day, which was very unfortunate as today was our day off from the site. However, the troops that remained standing braved the icy waters of Lake Gekenyese and sang songs over a camp fire and gorged goulash til the night grew dim! As the ashes faded, so did the songs and laughter until the faint crys of zip, zap and boing echoed through the hills of South West Hungary! Tomorrow the team will venture back to the trenches of the the Habitat Site and celebrate St, Patrick's Day and paint O'Csurgo green!! Faith and begorra!! Top of the Habitat to ye all!!! Slán agus póg me I'm Irish!!!!!

The Gang (2nd SCC Habitat Battalion)

Saturday 15 March 2008

The Town of Csurgo

Here are a number of pictures of some of the landmarks of Csurgo.

One of the five churches in Csurgo, this newly built Reform (Calvinist) Church is one of the finest buildings in town. Built in 2001, it is built alongside a local boarding school, run by the church.

This is a picture of an appartment block in central Csurgo. One of the families we are building the houses for currently live in a small, run down appartment within the block. The building was built by the Russians in 1950 to a very poor standard. Water leaks into all floors when it rain and damp and mould are found throughout.

Another local appartment block, not far from the town park.

This is the Csurgo Town Hall, where the local council sit. The beautifully restored community centre is oppositite, although not completed yet.

The view from the CBA, one of the local supermarkets. This is main street Csurgo, a town with a population of 6000 people. Although the town is run down in some places it is impecible clean and crime free.

Day 3 Pics - Saturday 15th March 2008

Here are some pics from today on the site!!! And what a glorious day!

The Senior Plasterer!!!!

Filling in our lovely hole!!

Plumber on site, connecting sealing the sewage pipes!

Frances started the day with a plastering age of 3 but progressed to age 12 by lunchtime!!

The end of the day and some of the gang return to the airport. They will spend the evening Hungarian Bowling!!!

Day 3 on site! Saturday 15th March 2008

Today was an extremely productive day on site again. Everyone was busy busy busy and we were extremely lucky to blessed with glorious sunshine. The day began with the completion on the trench to connect water and sewage to the main supply.

The local plumber was on site and when he was finished his work, we refilled the trenches dug over the last few days. Some of the team were plastering over the insulation fitted yesterday on the foundations while others were sanding loose plaster for preparation for initial priming on Monday.

Today is a national holiday in Hungary and flags are hung from most houses. Tomorrow the team will travel to a local lake for some swimming, fishing, boating and a BBQ with traditional Goulash!

Friday 14 March 2008

Birthday Celebrations

Today was the birthday of Rebecca Murtagh and we celebrated during our evening supper. Here are some pics:

Matron's Photos!

Here are some photos taken by Miss Hanna, the school matron!!
Ed give Joanna a helping hand (She must have dug a hole for herself!!!

Laura Hurley enjoying the work!

Alec and Lauren relax in the local playground after a hard day's work!

Day 2 Pics - Friday 14th March 2008

Day 2 on the site and work continues!!!
JCB (Jonesy, Cronners and Beans)

Rebecca taking the JCB for a spin!!

Cronners and John comparing shovers again!

Some of the team are seen here insulating the foundation. The temperature in Csurgo can be as low as -15 degrees in the winter!

The end of the day and all the insulation is finished (we must plaster over the aeroboard later), the main trench is finished and the connecting trench is nearly done!

Good job everyone!!!

Half way through day 2!!!

Hi everyone. Jonesy here! It's half way through the first day and it has been tough. We are continuing with digging trenches for sewage and water (we're nearly finished). Although it is very physically challenging, everyone is up-beat and in great form. Some sillyness appears at times (nothing to do with me, honest!) but work is still done effectively. It sounds like a job that could be done quickly but the home owners could spend weeks completing the trenches if they were by themselves! If it was completed using machinery it would cost the equivilant of €10,000 (one eight of the cost of the entire build!). Also today some of the team were insulating the foundation. Csurgo can be as cold as -15 degrees in the winter! Lunch was fab with wonderful soups and spag bol! (we were introduced to one of Hungary's major exports - paprika, which added a "little" more spice to the occasion!) Anyway, must now head back to work. Hope all is well back home!!

Oh and Happy Birthday Rebecca Murtagh!!!!

Thursday 13 March 2008

Ed's View of the day

I personally had a great day and thought that it was really good that both students and staff were able to work together in a light hearted environment. I thought that it was a great day and I hope the rest of our time here will be as enjoyable. Hi to everyone back home, am taking ages to write this as the keyboard is at a funny angle!

Mr Fanagan's Daily Update

Thursday 13th, 9 pm

We've just finished our group meeting, after a long, satisfying day. The mood was wonderfully upbeat. We were told we shifted about 30,000 kilos of earth.
We started digging at about 9 a.m. after being shown the first Habitat houses built in Csurgo. The town of about 6000 people suffers quite high unemployment and is a bit down at heel in places, though spotlessly clean and very safe: no crime to speak of. The two families were on site and the husbands,Istvan and Sandor,were digging the sewage trench with us all day. We saw the interiors of the duplex whose frame last year's Columban team had constructed. They're nearly finished and it is hoped the two families will take possession in May. Their pride in their emerging homes lifts the heart.
After a lunch break 12-2, we worked on till four. Dinner at 6 then a guided walk around Csurgo with our site supervisor,Peter. The town was rather eerily quiet. Now a few are playing pool, but I suspect many of us will be asleep early.

John Fanagan

Day 1 - Thursday 13th March 2008

Here are some pictures of our first day's work. We spent the day digging a trench for the sewage pipes of the two houses we are hoping to finish. Progress since last year is amazing and we are delighted with our days work. Mr Fanagan will write a more detailed diary of the day later but in the mean time, here are some pics of our first day on site (in what was a beautiful day in Csurgo)!!

Hard hats are handed out!!!

The families who will eventually move into the houses.

All the gang!!!! (No one missing this time)

The dynamic duo, back in action!

Pottsy DIGS DEEP (Get it?)

Some of the diggers!!!

Jonesy and Phil

Jonesy & Phil giving it loads!

Most of the gang in action!

Pottsy & Ed stuck in a hole!