10/5/18 Politics & Water Butts


Night a bit rough, bed comfortable enough, the mosquito net itchy, but the power going off at 01:30 meant my Cpap machine stopped working. Tossed and turned the rest of the night until I found the swimming pool at 06:10. Murky water, slimy bottom tiles and a fair amount of detritus floating around; other than that it was great. There was still no water available in my room before I had headed out exploring, so this was wonderful, as crummy as it looked. Swam for about 30 minutes, then got changed poolside out the wet trunks (good job I did some dive training in Swanage) and back to the room to prepare for our first real day. The staff were amazed that I had used the pool, other visitors obviously not as used to roughing it. ‘

Breakfast served slowly at around 08:00, a glass of apple juice, a slice of fresh pineapple, a weetabix with a jug of hot milk followed by a small plain omelette with maize pancakes and then for me a flask of boiling water. With the generator on we adjourned to the reception and asked Gilbert for wifi access, sorted after about 15 minutes and I was able to FaceTime home. Did also try to update the blog, but real problems with the upload.

Back to our rooms and prep for the day ahead, factor 50 suitable sprayed around, I joined Tom in walking back into Ndhiwa, the previous nights rains had caused even more destruction to the track surface and my new shoes were well christened with Kenyan mud. Our initial task was to call on Chief Cyprian, which proved more difficult than first imagined. Asking a local we were sent off in one direction only to be sent the other way when asking again. This with uneven ground a muddy foot and temperatures around 20C. Following yet more instructions we arrived at a small (4 X 3 m) hut with timber benches inside and four Kenyan ladies obviously waiting to see the chief. Tom mentioned the Chiefs name and they pointed at a door in the wall. We took a seat. 

Whilst we had started this way, Sam had been chasing up the water butt delivery, the idea being that the driver could be persuaded to travel a further 10k to deliver the tanks at Otange school. Whilst waiting our turn, Tom received a call from Sam that the butts were about 20 minutes away. Tom looked at the elderly Kenyan ladies and asked if there was anyway we could queue jump, no response. With that the office door opened and the previous applicant exited, the ladies turned to us and ushered us in. It transpired that this was in fact the Chiefs assistant, but that the chief would arrive shortly. We explained that our delivery was also imminent and that we would return later.

A 5 minute walk and we met with Sam, we had a soda (50 K$ about 40p)  and minutes later our lorry arrived. Sam shot off to negotiate and reported back that a deal had been done, I joined the driver in the lorry and Sam and Tom rode pillion on motorbikes (boda bodas). About  3k of metalled road and then a turn onto what was allegedly a really good dirt road, because ultimately if provided access to a sugar refinery. Wither bikes ahead of us we travelled for about 30 minutes, before slowing. The approach to the school had a ditch across it and a raised bank on the far side. Everybody down and after a brief discussion the driver moved another 20m on, turned and then approached at a jaunty 45 degree angle. I complimented him on his driving skills as we proceeded up the school track. Pulling up we were mobbed by children, climbing down, they were attempting to touch my hands, stroke my arms and kept asking ‘how are you’.

Staff and the headteacher met, with our enthusiastic audience still present we needed two of the 5 water butts off the wagon. It looked impossible, but the driver was skilled in his craft, pushing, shoving and I’m sure a little magic resulted in one of the butts teetering precariously on the edge of the truck side rail. Driving the children back for some semblance of safety, the butt toppled and Sam, Tom, myself plus the two lads with the motor bikes, steered it to the ground without injury. It was then turned and rolled towards the new base (a great deal of input at this time from the children had the butt careering towards the school). Cut off in the nick of time it was safely rolled back and placed in position.  The 2nd butt was actually caged on top of the cab, the driver again demonstrating his prowess had it lifted and ready to push over.

Children again made to retreat, as we lowered it to the ground the enthusiastic volunteers were after taking charge of the relocation of this butt. We tried with some degree of success to slow the movement down and the 2nd butt was safely located.

Thanks from the headteacher and staff and promises that we would return the following day with all the fittings, we took our leave, children running down the track after the truck. The remaining butts were to be dropped off at our hotel, so back to Ndhiwa, navigate the hotel approach which seems to be getting worse and into the hotel compound. Relatively simply now the last butts were rolled from the rear  and positioned to the side of the car park. Dues paid to the driver and the boda bodas, Tom and I headed back to complete our initial political mission. Sam now attempting to secure a means of delivering the remaining tanks to their destinations.

As we approached the tin hut office, we were asked to ‘follow me’ by a local who disappeared off around the corner to another tin hut, much smaller than the 1st. After just a couple of minutes we were warmly welcomed and ushered in by the chief. Emails had been exchanged previously between Tom and the Chief so he was enthusing about the improvements that we would make to some of his schools. Introductions over, I asked about his position, he responded by reminding me of the colonial past so that the regulatory framework throughout Kenya was originally based on British conventions, even down to the districts (counties). His was a central government administrative appointment, his assistant who we had spoken with earlier, his only staff.

The chief was then happy to accompany us to meet with public health and education officials within the local government framework. Walking across to the local government offices we met the old headteacher of the  Ndhiwa hospital primary along with his replacement. The Chief introduced us and we said that we looked forward to calling at the school later that afternoon. The Chiefs presence meant that we walked around the government offices, bypassing queues and opening closed doors. Offers of cooperation all round we walked the chief back to his office, met back up with Sam and headed across to  the  Ndhiwa hospital primary. The headteacher introduced us to the staff, the children all around us, we explained exactly what was proposed, and for today would be surveying the site only in preparation for work to start tomorrow.  Decisions made, back to the hotel (very weary, dirty feet).

Evening meal around 16:30, fried chicken again, definitely not KFC, spoke with Gilbert later that evening asking for the cooking style to be reviewed. Off to be around 20:00 for another nights fight with the mosquito net

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