Orphan Medical Network International
Zambia Steel Buildings
When you’re in the middle of Zambia putting up a school building, it’s good to have a little “divine intervention” on your side. That’s what Rick Jastert found out while erecting an Allied Steel building for OMNI, the Orphan Medical Network International.
Jastert found himself two-and-a-half hours from the nearest hardware store, surrounded by 10 Zambian volunteers and a small crew of American workers. He was in desperate need of an adjustable wrench at one point – and dreaded the thought of a five-hour roundtrip drive to get the right tool.
“Just as I was about to say ‘Someone’s going to have to drive to the store,’ one of the Zambians pulled a wrench out of his back pocket that worked perfectly,” Jastert says with a laugh.
Jastert is a volunteer for OMNI, an organization dedicated to helping African orphans. In early 2004, he was looking into buying a steel building to use for a school in the village of Agape , in Impongwe , Zambia .
“We considered a wood building, but Zambia is the termite capital of the world,” Jastert says. “You see termite hills 20 or 30 feet high all over.”
Jastert was able to negotiate with Allied Steel to provide a 30- by 50-foot building at one-fifth the cost of the structure. “That was huge,” Jastert says.
The building was delivered to Troy , Michigan in March, and loaded onto a shipping container, along with tons of other supplies: medical equipment, school desks, school supplies, clothes and wheelchairs.
A five-person American crew, including Jastert, a residential contractor, an accountant and two college students, flew out in June to the site of the school.
The only problem: the container was held up in port by the Zambian authorities. It took two days, and the involvement of the American Embassy, the Vice President of Zambia and OMNI leaders to get the container released and sent to Agape for building.
Once that hurdle was cleared, and the building delivered, Jastert led his crew along with 10 Zambians who had never worked with power tools.
“The instructions took some figuring out. I had the residential contractor basically spend the whole time deciphering what piece went where,” Jastert says. “It took us three tries to get a 28-foot beam into the right place. We didn’t know where it was supposed to go!”
In addition, the building’s 14-foot ceilings posed a problem for the crew’s 12-foot ladders.
“It took five guys to get me up on the roof,” Jastert says. “We put a wheelbarrow next to the wall and a ladder on top of the wheelbarrow. Three people held the wheelbarrow and two held the ladder, and we got it done.”
The project started on a Monday afternoon and was completed that Friday. Jastert says the teamwork between OMNI and Allied Steel has made a difference in the lives of the 16 orphans who live in Agape.
“With no other schools for 12 kilometers, these orphans now get to attend school. It would not have been possible without Allied Steel,” Jastert says. “I can’t say enough good things about how they helped make this happen.”
30‘ x 50‘ x 14‘
Square Footage: 1500
Industry: Community, Church