3.2.19

Refrigerators and Doors

by Rachel

A long time ago, before any of us moved to Burundi, we packed a container of "essential things" for life here.  Because we were unsure of what sorts of things would be available here, it was deemed a good idea to order appliances in the US that were wired for 220 volt electricity, so that we could have high quality appliances that would last for a long time, but that would also work well in our new environment.  Stoves, fridges, washing machines, and microwaves were loaded up in the container that arrived here December of 2013, several months before our houses were completed.

Where do you want your light switches?
Building a house was an adventure that was...occasionally...somewhat fun.  But mostly overwhelming and confusing.  Our house was the first to be built.  From almost day one, there were unanticipated issues.  Eric and I will never forget standing on a slope looking down at our newly poured foundations, then looking at the "blueprints," and then looking back at the foundations, wondering if there were perhaps new plans for our house that we didn't know about.  In fact, there were not, but every room except two had been mis-measured (by up to 2 meters).  We rolled with it.  We would occasionally get asked what kind of trusses we wanted (I didn't know what a truss was) or where we wanted our windows, and then Eric would rush off to figured out where to put windows and the workers would remove rows of already laid bricks in order to accommodate said requests.  So, yes.  An adventure to be sure, and we are so grateful that for the past 4 years, our teammate Caleb has helped the process run a little smoother every time.


The kitchen under construction
So, the day came in 2014 to move in our appliances in preparation for our move in, how exciting!  Sadly, there was an issue.  We had already been asked as to the width of our doorframes (um, standard size please?) and when the refrigerator was brought to the kitchen door, the fridge was about 10cm too wide.  Apparently Burundi standard size doors are not large enough to accommodate American "standard size" appliances.  Even after removing the kitchen door from the frame and the fridge door.  Finally, the security bars on the kitchen window were sawed off, the fridge was hauled in, and the bars were re-welded on.  We vowed to never remove the fridge again.

Trying to repair the fridge for the first time

I won't go into all the details, but the fridge has had a lot of issues.  It was repaired (while remaining in the kitchen) at least twice, and then we got an email on Christmas Day saying it seemed to have died for good.  Bummer.  Surprisingly, there is a Canadian Muslim refrigerator repair man now living in Bujumbura, who came up recently to try and repair the fridge.  Although he was not successful, he thinks that he will be able to fix it in his workshop in Bujumbura.  

We tossed around the idea of sawing the bars off the window again, but this time, Caleb came up with a new idea: why not widen the doorframe permanently?  I must admit, I was a bit skeptical.  The walls are solid brick and concrete.  I envisioned sledgehammers and half of my kitchen wall crumbling down.  But Caleb was very confident in our new plan.  So, on Wednesday, three very competent Burundian workers showed up at my front doorstep.  They promptly got to work with their little chisels and hammers (no sledgehammers, though) and removed 15 cm of wall.  Wouldn't you know it, the fridge fit out perfectly!  By the end of the day, a new frame was fitted, the concrete was poured, and other than the lack of paint, you could hardly tell work had been done at all.


It fits!
Now our fridge is on its way down to Bujumbura, hopefully to be repaired, and when it returns, I look forward to sliding it right in the kitchen door, with no chisels, saws, or hammer required.
Farewell, fridge...
As I was typing this up, Eric reminded me that actually we have had similar problems in America, so as "exotic" as this problem seems, we did have to move a queen box spring into our bedroom in Ypsilanti MI through the window...because it wouldn't fit up the stairs.  All's well that ends well....
The box spring in the Ypsi upstairs bedroom