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Author Archives: john

Build Project – Video

Here is a video of the house build project.    

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Introduction

Dear All I am off to Kenya tomorrow and will be spending a couple of weeks there trying to get an understanding of the issues around poverty in Africa and exploring ways in which some of us might be able to work together with the people there as they strive for a better future. Some … Continue reading »

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Research

My extensive research for this tip included an invaluable visit to the Safari at Chessington World of adventure!

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Nairobi Airport 0600

Nothing too shabby here. No rush of hot air as we got off the plane. The one jumper I came with is gonna get some use!

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Accommodation

The residential block of the Holly Order of St Josephs which will be our home for a week.

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Net Practice

About to experience my first night under a mosquito net. These cost about a fiver each and can protect a child for five years.

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Briefing

Our first informal briefing at a smart beachside hotel. For the record, the sisters did imbibe but we voted to let them off thier contribution to the kitty.

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Techno Nun

Our hostess, Sister Veronica, has two mobiles and a laptop and drives thorough Mombassa like Lewis Hamilton. Julie Andrews eat your heart out.

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Back to source

Internet cafe in Mombassa. I checked with them all and none of them had ‘inherited £10m and needed a bank account to process it through’!

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CSI

Customer Satisfation Index Kenya style. BTW – they did so we did. Ding Dong

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Downtown Mombassa

Could be Beijing or Bangkok.

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Luggage On The Roof

A sure sign we are in Africa. Who remembers Daktari?

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Accommodation

Private ensuite room with balcony. I stayed in a Travelodge in Newcastle last week that was not up to this standard.

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Our Neighbourhood

These kids chasing a ball around our compound look far to healthy. Later discovered that the compound incorporates a small fee paying school for no HIV kids.

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Update 1

If like me, you don’t have picture in your mind of where Kenya is, look on a map, go to Egypt and then head south down the East coast of Africa and stop at the equator. Most of Kenya is a bit north of that, but you will in the zone. To get to Mombasa where we … Continue reading »

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Stats

Over 100 clients are seen here each day. Women, children and men are all given free medication and vital counselling on how to deal with being HIV+ (as we in the sector describe it!)

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ABCD

As a Catholic mission the Sisters face a number of challenges around educating clients about the transmission of HIV. Whilst the clinic itself does not distribute condoms they are able to refer clients to sources of free supplies.

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Update 2

Off to visit the clinic today for a briefing on the work the sisters are doing and what we are expected to do when we start our construction work. It is probably fair to say that our party of British, North American and Australian liberal minded volunteers approached the prospect of getting an insight into … Continue reading »

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Once upon a time

Teachers weave lessons about the importance of diligently taking medication into stories for the children.

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Language School

Our Swahili lesson was going well until I asked for a translation of ‘how much would it cost to employ you to rebuild that house on my behalf.?’

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Clinic

The team we are working with run this clinic as well as an outreach programme. Client participation and empowerment are key to their work.

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Update 3

Zawadi is 12 years old and was born HIV+. She has no siblings and is a “total orphan’, that is both of her parents are dead. They died of Aids. Zawadi has been taken in by her uncle and his wife and shares their house with them along with five on their own children. The house … Continue reading »

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The Build Site

Not sure who was more worried as we arrived on site, us or the locals.

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Zawadi’s House

Even the most audacious estate agent would be pushed to see the ‘potential’ here.

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The Plan

The plan is to knock down half the house and replace it with a larger space with two rooms. Oh, and they will have to live there whist we do it.

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Phase 1

Dig the holes for the uprights.

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Phase 2

Put the uprights in place. My vote was to demolish the old part of the house first. Overruled.

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Phase 3

Use a machete to split bamboo pole in half and lash them to the uprights. Oh for a pack of cable ties!

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Demolition

OK – so now let’s demolish the old bit and chuck it over the new bit.

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New for old

Progress at the site was seriously hampered by the lack of good tools so we headed for the shops. This lot came to about the price of Sunday lunch for four at our local pub at home and increased productivity ten found. Meat and two veg anyone?

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Education

As Zawadi’s friends help us carry the sand across the valley we are reminded that the education proces here is a two way street. Just for the record, I tried it and it hurt like hell!

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Participatory Development

Val, our team leader, is helped up the hill with yet another bucket of sand by our ‘client’

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Catering Team

At the peak there were nearly 40 people working on the project. The women from the village organised a mass catering programme. They produced vast tubs of ‘Seema’ a corn based semolina type food served with meat and cabbage that filled you up quicker then a Big Mac Double Cheese Burger with extra fries.

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Zawadi’s Crew

Zawadi and some of the community leaders that nominated her for participation in the programme

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Update 4

Apparently, there are some in my circle convinced that I have issues around ‘control freakery’. Not sure I agree, but I would be happy to organise a meeting, perhaps with some catering which I could organise, where we could all take turns in an order that I would decide on, so we could in an … Continue reading »

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Quiet contemplation

Not everything went smoothly. Sister catches a moment of reflection having just defused another potential crisis.

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Dignity

Zawadi’s uncle and guardian remained a calm dignified presence throughout the build, including the day when his boss threatened to fire him if he took a day off work.

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Carry on and keep calm

Zawadi’s aunt and her cousins do their best to carry on as normal in spite of the fact that we have demolished half of their house to make way for the new one. Worth remembering this next time we moan about ‘having the builder in’

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Water Course

In spite of my ‘minor cultural incident’ we did mange to get the water flowing across the valley – until the electricity running the pumps that feed the tank that connected to the tap went off. In an attempt to win back some credibility with my team I carry some five litre containers of water … Continue reading »

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Water Project

No shortage of volunteers to support Biggs’ Great Water Project! They really, really really did insist on carrying the materials. Honest.

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Dirty Habits

Any thoughts that church may not be fully engaged in the nitty gritty realties facing the community were rapidly dispelled as Sister Veronica put on a fabulous ‘mudding’ display.

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Mudding

The ‘mudding’ begins as evidence emerges that ‘builder’s bum’ is not exclusively a western issue.

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Moving Rocks 1

Now that is clever….  

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Moving Rocks 2

and that is just showing off!

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Great Leap Forward

Just when we thought we were getting nowhere the roof was on and the walls were well on the way to being fully muddied.

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Noon Day Sun

Check out the looks on the faces of the local team as they speculate on the arrival of the ‘Mad Dogs’ to complete the scene.

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Job Done

Well, almost. A small group returned the following day to add the finishing touches.

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Update 5 – Zawadi outside her new home

We finished the house on Thursday. A few months ago Zawadi could barely move. She was sleeping on the mud floor of her uncle’s house and missing school. Thanks to the work of Sister Veronica’s team she is now receiving regular Anti Retro Viral drug treatment to keep her HIV under control and she is … Continue reading »

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Donations

Sister Veronica tells me she can build another house for one of her orphans if we can raise $2,000. If you would like to make an anonymous donation to support the people we are working with, please CLICK HERE Thank you

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Donate

Sister Veronica tells me she can build another house for one of her orphans if we can raise $2,000. If you would like to make an anonymous donation to support the people we are working with, please CLICK HERE Thank you

Categories: Updates | 1 Comment