Sue and Richard update Saturday 2nd April
Here we are again! Weather report first: most of this week has continued to be hot – so hot in fact that the locals are complaining! We hit 37 one day, but last night we had a thunderstorm (accompanied by the inevitable power cut) and some rain, and today has become cooler – the locals are now beginning to wrap themselves in blankets as we are now just 30 and there is a pleasant breeze!
Our week has looked something like this. On Monday we spent some time doing some painting at the school, with help from some our friends here. We had a break from the heat in the afternoon, visiting Millicent’s sister near Kisumu, where we enjoyed an hour chatting and snacking in their garden. When it cooled off a bit, we did some basic repair work to the dining room at the Care Centre.
Early on Tuesday morning we went to the local building supplier to get the materials for the house building project, which is not quite like Wickes or B & Q! The premises are basically something like a barn, with the proprietor (Mr Akaii) sitting at a counter behind a large wooden screen. Various other people are always hanging around, usually shouting “Eh – Akaii!!” It’s hard to tell who is a customer and who is a shop worker! The system is that you read out your list of requirements, Mr Akaii writes it all down, then shoves the piece of paper back through the screen with his prices. Then you negotiate, and because he is a decent fellow and likes Pamoja, he gives a discount. It takes time! The rest of Tuesday was spent with Eric and Millicent, giving them lunch out at a hotel on Lake Victoria and helping them with choosing a bed, spending money given by an anonymous donor in the UK.
Wednesday was to have been housebuilding day, but the builder had not quite finished another job he was doing, so that was postponed until Thursday. Instead, we did an unplanned project of decorating Millicent and Eric’s bedroom in anticipation of the new bed. We also needed to take a trip to a wood yard in another town to get a stack of thin poles for the house which for some reason Mr Akaii does not supply. More time, more negotiation… Meantime, Millicent had to go to the auditors in Kisumu with the Pamoja Accounts to ensure they were ready for submission the NGO the next day. Her journey by matatu proved eventful, as the police were stopping everyone and finding reasons to ‘fine’ them. The driver of Millicent’s matatu decided he didn’t want to stop, so ran over the stinger, puncturing the tyres, then jumped out and made a run for it while the matatu was still moving. Fortunately no one was injured, but it reminds us of the need for prayer on every journey.
Wednesday night was not the most peaceful ever: it’s been great staying in Millicent and Eric’s little tin guest house but sadly one of their neighbours died suddenly a week or two ago. Part of the tradition here is that people come from far and near a few days before the funeral – no problem, except that they have to be entertained with an all-night open air disco! The ‘music’ started at 10pm and ended at 6.30 am! Last night was quiet (probably the thunder and rain dampened spirits a bit), but as I write this on Friday evening at 8.30pm it’s going strong again, so we’re not anticipating a quiet night tonight!
Thursday (still sweltering!) we did some more decoration in the dining room at the Care Centre, while the workmen built the new house (see previous blog). We were really impressed by the skill and sheer hard work of the team of workmen who, as promised, completed the wooden framework in one day. Thanks to those in UK who gave us gifts before we left saying “Use it for whatever you see fit”: your money went towards this valuable project. The banner we brought from UK (see previous post) was erected outside the school: more of a job than we thought, but the local ‘Fundi’ (handyman) was a great help.
On Friday, we spent time in school this morning, listening to the children singing and teaching them some more songs. We have made recordings, and hopefully there will be enough material for a CD of ‘Authentic Africa’, recorded with little rehearsal and with hand-held equipment! Watch this space. The school, under the leadership of a new, experienced Head teacher, is making real progress, and it was good to spend time with him, encouraging him in the job he is doing. We also travelled to visit two girls away at boarding school who are on the Pamoja scheme, while the workmen applied mud to the outside of the new house.
Saturday was spent at the Care Centre, first of all getting a quote for Solar power (there is plenty of sun here and the mains supply is very unreliable), then painting. We had planned to paint as much of the dining room as we could in the time available, but we had not counted on the ‘help’ of the children at the centre! At one point, it seemed that everyone in sight had a paintbrush in their hand and were frantically painting as though they were in a competition to see who could finish first! The result couldn’t be described as professional, but the room is certainly brighter than it was before!
We’re now safely back in Nairobi following a long journey yesterday – hence I can once more get in touch with the rest of the world to tell you what we have been doing!
Many thanks again for all your support and prayers.