Well, with a new volunteer assets we expect to maintain this pace until the end of the work to be able to tell you as much as possible and keep you updated about everything happening to the 4people team! There’s plenty of things to tell you about.
Let’s start with the works at the Dome House that proceed at a “western” pace, despite the scorching heat and sudden afternoon thunderstorms, whose value and freshness we all have learned to appreciate! The roof of the bath of the Dome has been completed and now we just have to figure out how to put the pvc pipe that will contribute to the ventilation. To celebrate the partial success we got everyone on the roof along with the construction workers, for sure…you may have seen the pictures, but if you have not already done so, go and have a look at them!
A roof has been closed and a window has been opened. You can find ample evidence of this in the videos and photos we have published (watch the video).
Even the biosand water filters project that we had mentioned in the last post it’s going well. Paola and Natalia, who joined us in mid-October, daily control that children have poured and filtered the water used to clean up the sand that in a few days will be ready to act as a purifier filter (watch the video of the Water Quiz).
The past weekend was a working one. We went to Kisumu to buy the material we need to continue the works. Barbed wire and wooden beams mainly. Negotiating it’s so hard for a “Mzungo”, which means white man in Swahili, here! They all look a bit ready to take advantage of the fact that we are not locals, but now we begin to know enough about the dynamics and habits here and we are getting better and better at bargaining, we even manage to close some good deals!
The weekend passed quickly and with no much time to relax, but today starts a new week and we are ready to face it. Meanwhile Fabiana and Roberto are taking a couple of days of well deserved break, Tommy and Paola will direct the workers. We are working at the structure of the main door of the Dome and in the meantime we are going ahead with the works of the kitchen and the inner wall that divides the two rooms. We hope that the cool that accompanied the early hours of the day won’t leave us for a while !
Let’s go back to work now…waiting for the new volunteers who will join us in a few days.
August passed slowly and silently. As the kids were on holidays, we were just the four of us with the staff at the Bala to enjoy the peace and the silence of the country during the long working days.
The first phase of the work at the dormitory, after a few weeks of delay (more than reasonable if we consider the “African timing”) is finally over: the access ramps and the foundations of reinforced concrete beam are ready to hold the stone masonry gable and the roof structure which will be built in the next two months. After completion, it will host about 100 children orphaned due to a cholera outbreak occurred a few years ago.
On the other hand, the works at the dome were slower due to problems mainly related to the preparation and the delivery of pipes made from polypropylene bags. Since the beginning of the work we have been using bags of second (third, fourth, tenth …!) hand for two main reasons: to cut costs and to recycle materials. However, we realized that to be used, these bags must undergo a refinement process. First of all, they must be washed to remove all remnants of fertilizer, salt, corn or whatever they contained, in order to avoid soiling or breaking the sewing machine. Then the bags need to be selected to separate the good from the broken ones, the right size ones from those too large or too small. The right size ones can be immediately sewn together to form a tube, the oversized ones instead need to be resized and then sewn together.
This process takes a long time and it is repeated every time we buy new bags. We managed to find two people who come here at the orphanage every day though, they dive into mountains of bags and with the old Singer treadle plenty of tubes!
The team is becoming more and more numerous and specific roles such as: mixing the earth, filling the sacks, control measures, prepare doors and windows, pressing and finishing the tube and so on are emerging day after day, increasing the execution speed at a pace that will allow us to finish the structure within one month, one month and a half.
August was almost over and at the Bala we were ready to welcome new babies shelling and cleaning the millet and corn to make ugali, a sort of polenta that locals eat every day accompanied with vegetables, eggs, chicken or fish… It is a traditional food in Kenya because it is cheap and super energetic.
Meanwhile 4people received the great news that soon new volunteers would come to visit us!
After Marco and Davide’s visit, it was the turn of Cristina and Maurizio, Tommy’s parents, who have fallen in love with Bala from the first moment and after distributing a suitcase full of pens and colors that they had brought with them, they began to work with enthusiasm at both the electric plant and at the Dome House. Natalia will join us in October, as well as Ciarda and Mick, while Aysun, Dan and Megan will arrive in November!
We cannot help being super happy because we can move forward faster with the work and because receiving visits here at the equator from people who want to give an hand helping these orphans it’s always a great pleasure!
With Cristina and Maurizio we spent a few days in a well-deserved holiday for a bit of good relax on the Indian Ocean coastal area, in Mtwapa near Mombasa with a stop in Malindi, where we had a pleasant and unexpected encounter with “the Dawn ” a rehabilitation centre for drug addicts created between the new city and the old fisher’s village. Rocco, the founder, invites us for lunch and explains what they are doing and how he had started this project to help marginalized young people in the area of Malindi. It was such an exciting and engaging experience for us, that’s why we are confident that our paths will cross again soon.
At the Bala there were also Maura and Dorian waiting for us. They have been supporting the orphanage monthly thanks to the fundraising activity that they lead with their organisation Bala Orphanage in England. Thanks to their funds we are building the house for volunteers with the technique of sandbags. They were very happy with the results achieved so far and have encouraged us to keep on. It was really great to show them proudly the state of works. Furthermore, as a result of their visit we will start two new initiatives: the library and the water filters. After having catalogued the pile of dusty books, with the help of Yunita we’ll put back to use the library and we’ll create a reading room with cushions made of recycled materials where children can stop reading. While the cement filters lying unused in the warehouse have been located near the dormitories and classrooms with the intention to empower children directly: every morning, with the help of the teacher, they will have to fill in the filters of water from the river and after an hour they will be able to drink clean water and it will be their exclusive responsibility to take care of the filters and the water that they drink every day.
We will keep you updated with the results of these two new projects, the developments of the dome and the dormitory. See you at the next post!