Finally 4people is complete. The first two volunteers are gone but here it is Paola, freshly arrived from frenetic Europe. She is full of energy and is put to work immediately: to empty the foundations of the dome that after three days of rain have turned into three fantastic pools. Not bad for her first day of work!
Waiting for the foundations to dry and while Tommy works on the dormitory, Paola meets Bala and its people. Jakton, the Director of the Primary School, shows her around and introduces her to the children, all between 3 and 11 years, and the teachers. Then it’s the kitchen’s turn, where John and Grace are busy preparing lunch: ugali, Sukuma wiki and beans; and the offices, with Yunita, the administrator, and Monica who is in charge of the children who live in Bala. Finally there is Mika who cultivates the field and goes to pump water from the river when the water rain in the tanks ends.
The next day we visit the Secondary School, where there are young people between 12 and 18 years, even if someone already is over twenty. Eric, a young graduate who holds a degree in human resources is the one who takes care of the school: while waiting to find for a job he offers his help to manage the learning path of these children.
Here too the round of classes is a must, but this time Jackton asks Paola to speak to the kids, highlighting the importance of learning and how useful it is to open up many opportunities. It ‘s been a difficult task because the audience is made up of teenagers, some of whom are orphans, who go to school to have a place to sleep and a meal. But we have a brilliant idea and we suggest to Eric to do a lesson on the house that we are building, so those interested can come and work with us and learn something that in Kenya is still unknown.
So the next day, Paola and Tommy are in front of about forty kids and begin to explain from scratch: What is the dome. The most hilarious part was explaining that the roof as well is made of earth, but like everyone else here, the kids were laughing in disbelief: we’ll have to finish it to show them! However, we have sparked their interest and the next day we have 17 guys ready to get started!
Among them, six or seven really seemed interested in learning and after taking their names we discussed the matter with Eric. The problem is that you can’t distract children from their school courses and over the holiday they often return home, so we had to abandon the idea of organizing a kind of training course, even though we said they could come and help us whenever they want.
Meanwhile the works proceeded and we spent a whole day to build the forms for the doors. Roberto and Fabiana, had the wooden boards cut according to the project and with Tom’s help, the three forms were ready by the end of the day. These forms will serve to maintain the door’s width up to 150 cm, after which the bags of earth will follow that shape to create the two meters height arc.
Days go fast and there is a certain excitement in the air. What’s the reason, you ask? The wedding of the year, of course! I don’t know if you knew it, but Roberto and Fabiana decided to get married here in Kenya, at the Bala Orphanage. They wanted an intimate ceremony, with the children of the orphanage, the staff, the Bishop and his family but soon realized that this was the first marriage of white people ever seen here at Bala and precisely the one hundred and fiftieth around Kenya, so that the presence of people from nearby village became almost compulsory! Number of people present: three hundred.
The organization has been a long and beautiful ritual, a dance of people coming and going from the house of the Bishop, each with a task: helping to compose the menu, helping to make the shopping list, buy the corn to take to grind and then all together do the shopping!
We went to Kandiege with Jakeline, Grace and Monica who with great energy, just speaking Luo, made a shopping of exorbitant amounts in less than an hour. It was great fun witnessing the negotiations, the laughter, the handshakes without understanding a word but being seen and welcomed by all: these three wonderful ladies were our ambassadors and every face was a smile!
Between rice and Sukuma wiki we also made time to go to the tailor and have Paola’s dress made. Here too, with us not understanding a word, they took the measurements and draw the pattern on a piece of paper … a couple of tests and the dress was ready in two days, just perfect!
Finally the big day arrives and three hundred people you can imagine, but seeing them all together and be the centre of the attention is actually quite embarrassing! There really was a lot of people, all under a tent, while the guests closer to the bride and groom were in another tent where the ceremony took place. It lasted about two hours and it was performed with pathos both in English and Luo. After the ceremony the newlyweds spoke, then the Bishop and then Tommaso and Paola, who witnessed the marriage: our emotion had become evident unleashing the hilarity of everyone.
The emotions and reactions clashed and mingled and made this African marriage unique. The evening went on with dinner first and then with the gospel group that made us all dance and sing until late at night. The bride and groom went away before the end of the party, to their well-deserved honeymoon, while the witnesses were enjoying an evening of African celebration.