Otange and Ndhiwa Primary

18/05/18. Otange and Ndhiwa hospital primary

Early swim and then changed into tidy clothes as we got ready for the handover at Otange, tidy that is in a clean tshirt. Breakfast, cornflakes, pancakes with pan fried potato in a tomato sauce, bread.

The goodie bag and the filtration pump loaded into the hotel minibus along with some of the tools, we still need to recover the wash tank and stand from the welder and concrete into position. Sam will undertake this whilst the rest of us take part in the handover event. Arriving on site at 10:00 it is encouraging to see several people sat in the shade of the trees. Mrs Lencer greets us and we arrange to move a couple of tables into the stand of trees, one as a demonstration table the other to display the goodies.

davThe children are starting to arrange a line of chairs for us and moving school forms and desks out for themselves and parents to sit at. I unpack the filtration pump and then set to to create some dirt water for the demonstration, either that or someone would need to walk off and carry me dirty water. Job complete, with assistance from Adam and Mrs Lencer we laid out the goodies as best as possible, they certainly proved attractive to the children and Mrs Lencer shooed them all back and away.  As we were setting up I caught sight of the bullocks and cart moving off to collect the wash stand. Adam and Tim set to blowing up a dozen balloons that they threw out to the seated children.


Mr Nicholas Andiego, the deputy head stood and welcomed everyone, he thanked us for our work and the opportunity it provided for the school. He then handed over to the Chair of the management board, the board itself made up of 8 women, 6 men and 1 student representative. The Chair repeated the thanks and said how impressed he was with the work and how quickly it had been completed. These speeches had initially been delivered in the ‘mother tongue’ Swahili, but with each of the speakers able to repeat to us in English, in fact although they use it very little the children are all taught English. If you take the time and gain their confidence you can have very good conversations with them.


Tom then responded on behalf of WfK, explaining the work of the charity, not only in Kenya, but Zambia and Uganda. He explained that the infrastructure that we had created was now the property of the community, that they must look after and take care of it. He went on to say how similar projects elsewhere were still in use over 12 years after installation. Tom’s words were translated by Mrs Lencer for the benefit of the parents. Tom having finished I stood to demonstrate the filtration unit. I thanked the assembled group for attending and what a privilege it was for me to have taken part in this project. I initially took a glass of water from my ‘pond’, priming the pump, I changed the valves and continuing to pump produced the clean water. I took a sip and then offered the glass to the chair of the board who shared it with the deputy head. I explained the workings of the pump and how if looked after it would give them years of service, Mrs Lencer had been doing Stirling work translating. I said that I would show senior pupils and staff in more detail how to use and look after the pump.

Whilst my demo was receiving a round of applause I moved across to the goodies table. I explained how all the volunteers had gathered together donations and gifts to bring out with us to Kenya. I told the gathering that we had divided up the gifts equally between the 4 schools we were working at. I said that we hoped that whilst there was not enough for everyone, at least with the balls everyone could be involved in games. We all hoped that the staff could use the other items, soaps, sewing kits, bracelets, small rugby balls, pencils pens and tshirts to help encourage work within the school. I then told how as a group we had decided to repair the damaged water tank, have a new base created, which they could see was already under construction, and to include the repaired tank into the system we had already installed.

Barbara and Elaine then rose and taking over the demo table set out the hand wash kit. They explained how they had been working with the children on hand hygiene and wanted now to show just what they had done. 2 volunteers arrived from the school children and with the cohort singing the ‘Wash your hands’ song they had all been taught , demonstrated the process. Elaine then invited up any parents who may care to have a go, one man and one woman swiftly came forward and again with the children singing and Barbara and Elaine helping they went through the process.

As they sat down the deputy head, Mr Andiego stood and said that the pupils would like to say something. A senior boy and then a senior girl took turns in thanking us for the gifts we had given them and saying what a difference the water would make to their school days, how during the rainy season at least they would not need to bring water from home to school.

We thought at this juncture the event was over, when Mrs Lencer announced that the younger year pupils would also like to say something. With that a group of perhaps twenty stood to the side and started singing in Swahili, they swayed down into the demonstration area, finished their song and then walked back away.

Again we thought this was the end when a stirring female voice started up at the head of another 20 or so more senior pupils ‘Hallo to our visitors, we are happy singing today, sit you down and listen to us, Otange pupils sing today’ the remaining singers joined in as as a chorus as they all danced down into the demonstration area.  Here they stopped parading, but carried on with the song and dance whilst Mrs Lencer was encouraging members of the volunteers to join in the dance line. As the singers had started dancing down, a lone African drum had joined in as they moved providing the perfect accompaniment, unfortunately I was unable to find the player or their instrument of which there was no sign before or after their event. What an incredible emotive climax to our morning. I took a bracelet from the gift table and having spoken with Mrs Lencer presented it to the soloist

At sometime during the event the bullocks, cart and Sam had returned complete with the washstand. Sam had then carried on working and had the base concreted in place.   Our time here now complete we shook hands exchanged thanks and gathering our belongs headed off for Ndhiwa hospital primary in the hotel minibus. Enroute we collected the 2.5″ pipes that had been overnighted on the bus from Nairobi for us. We also gathered up a carpenter to come with us to the school. Whilst sitting on the veranda of the new building on an earlier occasion, I had been surprised how cool it was in the shade and what a breeze there was in this area.  Speaking with Sam, I’d asked him for an estimate of what it would cost to provide bench seating along the length of the veranda.

Arriving at the school I went to speak with the senior teacher on site to explain what we were up to, finish off the installation now the water pipes had arrived and provide hand washing education classes. She was happy with this and said that once the pupils returned from lunch (2 hours- to allow time for walking home eating and walking back again). I asked that we use the new classroom as it was larger and we could get bigger groups in there in the shade. She agreed with this, the classroom not yet in use and said she would divide the pupils into 2 groups for us. I then explained my idea for providing seating along the veranda, she thought this an excellent idea. I then asked about meeting with the parents, board of management and of course the pupils for a formal handover of the scheme, asking if it was possible to arrange for Monday. She felt this was to difficult but that we could do this on Tuesday at 10:00.

I joined Sam and the carpenter on the veranda and we took measurements, we could provide around 35 feet of seating in this area. The price still to be fixed, as the head carpenter had not been in the shop, we shook hands. I joined Tom in completing the installation whilst Barbara and Elaine with occasional assistance from Les and Tim worked through the hand wash sessions. Our work completed, all unused equipment gathered together and tools packed up, we loaded all these on a boda boda and we then walked back to the hotel.

For me time for a swim before dinner.

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Otange Primary

17/05/18  Otange primary

In the pool for 06:30, really is a great way to wake up.

davBack to the room and changed, actually washed my hair, what a terrible colour the water was, swimming obviously isn’t doing a great job there. Breakfast ready for just after 08:00, no power of wifi available before breakfast., cornflakes, maize dumplings, sausage and boiled egg along with a plate of sliced water melon.

Tidy up, grab kit and back to reception, arrangement made for use of the hotel minibus. Loaded up with steps, fittings and people, I’m privileged to get the front seat. Gilbert the hotel manager driving we set off, great journey, no obstacles and a generally smooth ride. On site and all equipment unloaded and that stored on site retrieved. It was good to see that the materials for the additional tank base I had ordered had been delivered to site, rocks and bricks so far.  We have a discussion about what tasks that we need to be completed by us during the day.



The tanks need connecting, which will involve laying them on their sides, climbing inside in order to tighten the backnuts to the taps and overflows. They can the repositioned on the prepared bases and the final down pipes slide into place.


We need to deliver hand washing education to all the children.

As part of the project and to demonstrate to sponsors the effectiveness of their investments, we need to gather data. With the aid of the school staff we need absence records over the past 3 months, ideally figures related to gastrointestinal illnesses. Following the rainwater harvesting system implementation (dependent on the tanks being supplied with rainwater) again 3 months of records. We would hope also that the staff may supply us with the same type of data at 6,9 and 12 months. From the 4 schools this would be invaluable data to be used in pushing forward similar projects, Kenya, Uganda and Zambia.

Les and Tim, will undertake the data collation and talk with the teachers around the purpose and use of the collated data.

Elaine and Barbara volunteered to lead the hand washing classes, leaving myself, Tom and Adam to deal with the tanks. Sam was a mission to try and get steel straps welded to the washstand. This wash tank and stand had already left the hotel before the welder from Ndhiwa had arrived.

First things first and a meeting with the teaching staff to map out our intentions for the day and how it may impact on the operation of the school.

The washstand and tank was already on its way to Otange when the welder turn ref up at the hotel. This set therefore need attention before concreting into place.on two boda boda the wash tank and Sam headed off to a local welder to get the work completed

So to our tasks, with Tom steadying Adam and I pushed the tank over and between us rolled it into a suitable position. Thankfully Tom volunteered to go inside. I must have been thinking about this subconsciously this morning because for the first time I had my head torch in my back pack. All the tools and fittings were prepared and laid out appropriate places. Tom stripped of his tshirt and climbed in. I passed in the head torch, tools and fittings. Next we heard were shouts and Ouches and ‘has anyone any mosquito spray’. Thankfully Adam had a spray which we passed in along with Tom’s tshirt. Back to work, the tap and overflow were inserted and backnuts tightened. Tom passed out the tools and then claimed out, red, sweaty and displaying an impressive number of mosquito bites.


A short interlude for Tom to regain his composure and we righted the tank and pushed it around to the correct location. I went and found the previously prepared connecting down pipe and slide it into place. One down, one to go. At this moment a brightly canopied motorbike rode up the school drive. The rider went across and spoke with the teachers and then made his way across to us. He introduced himself as local Pastor David and thanked us for the good works we were doing for the school. He went on then to say how other schools and his church needed our help. That if we had some time we good visit the other places.Tom replied that we were working as charity volunteers, that the funding for the project was very tight and that we had no spare time or funds. Pastor David, thanked us well for carrying out Gods work, mounted his motorbike and rode off.

Tank 2 and Tom was happy to go back inside. This time he gave a healthy spray of mosquito repellent into the tank then waited a couple of minutes before entering the tank. With the practice from the 1st tank, the connections seemed to go much easier and quicker, Tom and the tools out. The tank was righted, positioned and the connecting pipe slide into place. Tools and surplus parts gathered up and packed away, we wandered across to watch the remaining hand washing class, which was progressing well in the shade of a stand of trees. The children were enthusiastic in their responses.


Sam had just returned, there was still no power in the village so no welding, he had left the stand and tank and would return tomorrow to hopefully collect the completed job.

Les and Tim had made a good start with the data set and in helping the Mrs Lencer Ochola understand the importance of completing sand submitting the follow up data.

All wrapped up for the day, the hotel minibus called, for we bade farewell to the staff and that we would see them the following morning, when we would meet with the staff,  board of management, parents and of course the pupils. The purpose of this meeting to formally hand over the system into the care of the community. We would also bring and demonstrate the filtration, pump and a selection of gift’s from kind benefactors back home.

Time for a swim, still no other takers from the rest of the group. The buffet dinners are working well, portioned Tilapia, chips, shredded cabbage, mung bean Dahl followed by some sliced water melon.

Following dinner we agreed to bring all the gifts together in the bar area below reception. What an incredible accumulation, footballs rugby balls stress balls small balls, soaps of all description, from hand made to hotel soaps, sewing kits pencils, pens, crayons, girls bracelets, t shirts and balloons. We slowly brought order to what had looked like an impromptu jumble sale. Four equal piles of goodies now adorned four tables, luckily I’d a roll of bin bags in my luggage (lucky these hadn’t Beeb impounded at the airport as I now know that plastic bags are banned in Kenya. Now came the struggle of pumping up the deflated balls for tomorrow’s presentation, challenge met and everything bagged  up.

Into reception for a drink (we’d arranged for a box of beers to be brought up from the town) and shortly for me, to my room.

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14th May Ndhiwa Hospital Primary

14/05/18  Ndhiwa hospital primary

Early morning dip is a real revived, plenty of rain again through the night, having started mid evening. Could be mistaken for thinking this is Sunday morning when we go in for breakfast. Cornflakes, Apple juice then a Spanish omelette type egg mix and a sausage (chicken I think), plus bread and spreads. Obviously expect us to be doing a hard days work.

Tom and I walk across to the school about 1k, taking care with the rushing water and slippery mud from the nights prolonged deluge. The staff welcome us back as we retrieve, fittings, tools and ladders from their staff room.  Set to and complete the guttering installation without any further complications. The chair of governors turns up during the morning on a school visit and stops to talk with us and thank us for the improvements we are implementing. The children are keeping a respectful distance but watching closely when we do something of interest such as drill into the rendered wall with a cordless drill.

Interesting in that there is a window opening in the staff room wall with a shelf where the children place their exercise books. Talking with the staff, this is homework for marking at the start of the day. Completed exercises from classes as the day goes on

again in printed exercise books.

Sam has arrived on his motorbike with cement  which is stored away safely for later. IN readiness for its use, the wash tank and stand are placed in position and the down pipe fitted from the recovered guttering. This is a huge roof area to supply such a small tank (250lt), but this was an extra task that had not originally be factored in. Should the school receive some funding in future this water source could easily be adapted to supply a much larger tank in addition to the wash stand.

The mason has arrived on site and is now hand mixing concrete to secure the wash stand to prevent theft. We are now concentrating on the installation of a primary filtration system between the guttering and the storage tanks. This is constructed from 2.5″ and 4″ pipe work. The 4″ having an elbow solvent welded to the bottom and the a small hole drilled into the screw cap which has also been welded in place. A rubber gasket connects a short section of the smaller pipe to the top of the 4″ and a firmly secured. A t piece is then added above this with the 90 degree joint aimed at the tank. The top joint has the guttering downpipe attached. Rainfall will now run off the roof taking dust and debris, which collects in the 4″ pipe. Once the 4″ pipe is full of water, the now cleansed water from the roof flows across through the t into the water tank, simple but very effective.

Once the rain stops, the small hole in the stop end allows the filter pipe to slowly drain, the only servicing need here is tat the stop end is opened before the start of teach rainy season and the accumulated debris removed. Annoyingly we do not have sufficient 2.5″ pipe on site to fully complete the installation. The mason now comes across and creates a cap with bricks and mortar around the 4″ elbow, leaving the front screw cap clear. This will protect the vulnerable part of the installation should children decide to stand on it.

We tidy up and explain to the staff we’ll be back to fully complete the installation in a couple of days. As we’re in Otange tomorrow, we take all tools and steps with us. Tom rides pillion on Sams’ motorcycle, with the two sets of steps, while I walk back with the remaining tools. Definitely time now for a swim.

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15th May Otange Primary

15/05/18  Otange primary

Sam comes up with a car and driver to take us the 10k to Otange primary. Plenty of space for the tools and additional fittings that had arrived, the steps and additional guttering strapped to the roof. Paul who had often been one of the boda boda drivers was now driving an old station wagon.

The road out of the hotel is becoming more difficult on a daily basis as the rains wash away the soil between the rocks. Where the flow of water has crossed the track, the drop is now easily over 500mm, across approx 1m of uneven rock bed and then a slope back out, makes for an interesting ride. I still find it fascinating that whenever we are using this track the number of others, who are walking, boda bodas and cars, when other than a few shacks, 1 church and a clinic, there really doesn’t seem anywhere else to go. That being said, these people walk miles, it is incredible when passing the schools either at start or ends of the AM or PM sessions,  the distance children, some really tiny are walking or running. It is easy to differentiate between their destinations as each school has its own uniform and all these children are immaculately turned out.

After perhaps 500m of turning off the metalled road onto the sugar factory track, we come across a rope today being held across the track by a couple of women. We have seen this before with various people holding the rope, sometimes the police. Each time we approach from either direction the rope is raised and we pass through.only now I ask the question, just what is that all about? Apparently a toll point with funds collected going to the local administration. Why aren’t we charged? Simply because we are visitors. Seems counter intuitive to me, but we do seem to be known wherever we travel around. Headteachers from other schools have been to see what we are doing and talk about the poor condition of their own schools and how such a project would be of great benefit. If we have any materials left at the end, could we perhaps visit their school. Regrettably the funding for this project and because of the location on the sites we are working on, transport costs are high. Tom, who has worked extensively on projects for WfK in other African countries, mainly Uganda, reckons transport costs here are easily double what he would normally expect to pay.

Arriving at Otange, we are again greeted by very enthusiastic children. We are welcomed back head and teachers. The car unloaded, Paul leaves us and heads back to Ndhawi, he will return when we call later in the day. Tom and I discuss our plan of action, deciding that with a tank at both ends of the building line we will have a single gutter that falls from the centre to two running outlets and stop ends. That way each tank should receive any equal amount of the captured rain. The roof valley on the axis of the two buildings is heavily clogged with leaves and small branches. Rather than risk this level of detritus getting into our system we stop the gutter run about 1.5m shy of the corner.

The plan made, Tom and Sam proceed to mark out the bracket positions on the facia board. I follow along placing the requisite bracket on the ground below. We set a string line with a screw in the centre to ensure our two opposing falls. With the cordless Tom starts screwing the brackets in place. With the first running outlet and set of brackets in position I use the other steps and place the first gutter section. After the 2nd gutter section was offered up, I pointed out to Tom we had a problem.were we were setting our connecting clips at exact 3m positions, regrettably the Kenyan 3m gutter sections were not all the same size. We reformulated our work process and each Tom was ready to locate a connector, I offered up a length of gutter and Tom adjust his marks accordingly. This system worked well will Sam is steadying steps as necessary, making phone calls to arrange for assistance with some issues, transport and generally ensuring that we were good to continue with the project. Just two hours and the guttering was finished, stop ends in place.

We then proceeded to construct two first flush filtration systems as we had at Ndhiwa hospital primary.the school staff were asked for their preferred location for the hands wash tank. The tanks were aligned with the running outlets and holes cut, amazing how much work you can get out of one little cordless drill. Found a new little friend when moving one of the tanks.

The connecting pipes were cut to size and offered up. The weather however was not keen on us continuing, dark clouds scudding in and brisk winds were announcing a forth coming storm. Sam phoned for Paul to return and collect us and Tom and I gathered up all the tools. Tomorrow we go to Kisumu airport to collect the other volunteers, so we would take all the tools and steps offsite. The drinking water butts and the wash tank assembly were safely stored along with the two conning pipes that had been cut to size.

I spoke with the senior teacher on site and explained what we were about, also that we would return on Thursday to hopefully complete the work and start hand wash instruction classes. I asked if it would be possible for the area they selected for the hand wash stand to be levelled off prior to our return, explaining that we would then set it in position and concrete it in place. This agreed we loaded everything back into the car which had now returned, just as we started to unload at the hotel, the weather had caught up with us, with the heavens opening., looks like I’ll miss a swim this evening.

Tom and I sat in reception discussing progress and the potential to pick up our missing lengths of 2.5″ down-pipe in either Kisumu or HomaBay the following day. Arrangements ŵere made for transport to be away for 7:00 and breakfast to be available at 06:00. Rain still pouring down I opted for bed.

13th May – HomaBay

13/05/18.  HomaBay

Another disturbed night, no power on after 22:30 and I struggle to settle without the Cpap. I look forward to a sneaky 40 minutes when someone sparks up the genny around 06:00. Only it’s Sunday and even in Kenya the place has slowed, no power until after 07:00, by which time I’ve headed back to the pool. It is lovely, the gardens whilst unkempt are beautiful still with a range of exotics in bloom and incredible a large amount of untidy topiary alongside the footpaths. Pool all to myself again, you can see a heat gaze rising from the water in the cool morning air.

Breakfast of a banana, Apple juice, cornflakes, maize meal dumplings and a boiled egg with a couple of slices of brown bread. Each day on the table there is a jar of peanut butter, very dark compared to home, honey and spread. Managed some FaceTime conversations before gathering ourselves together for the journey to HomaBay. Tom had called Sam to arrange for a couple of boda boda to pick us up from the hotel, we would meet with him in. I’d gathered up a couple of fittings to take as patterns in our shopping quest.

We meet with Sam at the major junction below the market area in Ndhiwa, the place bustles with boda boda,  Makati (Gari ya Agora in Swahili – for the little mainly Toyota minibuses, allegedly for 12 people) and  Probox (mainly small Toyota cars used for private hire, like a taxi but with multiple fares on board). I’m to discover are 5 seaters that they actually carry at least 9 with accompanying sacks, boxes and bags. We had originally intended travelling by Makati but Sam called us across to a small Toyota and we climbed into the back seat, there were already 2 in the front and one in the back luggage area. They attempted to squeeze another in on the back seat with the three of us, but those of you who know me, know I’m a big chap and not for squeezing. Despite the protestations I sat firm, I was hard against the door anyway. When they attempted again to get another man onto the back seat, indicating to move up, I simply opened the door and said the only way he’s in is if I’m out. This obviously isn’t the norm there’s raised voices , my door is closed and the lock button put on, which I swiftly undid, no more people offered the back seat. 

Waiting there, a further 2 went in the front , the ‘conductor’ sorted out boxes and sacks in the back and then climbed in holding the tailgate shut. The driver sat on the knee of one of the front passengers and his dues paid to the ‘bus station’ we set off. Bumping and swerving around the potholes, this made for an interesting journey. The driver then pulled into the side of the road and flagged a motorbike coming up, the chap he’d been sitting on got out and went pillion. A few hundred metres up the road was a police road check, apparently now we weren’t overloaded and were waved through, with a comment about ‘and whites as well’. Another few hundred metres and our errant passenger was waiting for us roadside.

HomaBay bus station and it’s everyone out, the driver disappears into the bus station office, presumably to pay his dues for using the facility. Having unfolded ourselves and gathered our bags, Tom and I followed Sam back out onto the main road in search of a builders merchants selling plastics, hot and uneven surfaces slowed me down. We arrive at a supplier with racks of piping , guttering and steel, and Sam starts negotiations. Some pieces we are after, the gutter connectors, we are told that we need to get from Kisumu, if lucky. Other pieces, to repair the repurposed guttering he doesn’t have but sends a lad away to pick up for us. All parts gathered there is further bartering over the costs and Tom settles up. Sam, meanwhile has been using contacts to arrange for the safe storage of the length of pipe we’ve purchased until we are on our return.

Now we’re after ironmongery, apparently we can find this in a market area (bear in mind this is Sunday). Another kilometre of so and there’s the sort of stall we’re after, must have been her lucky day. I watched, Tom and Sam were talking through the job and what we still needed, if it wasn’t laid there on the table, she disappeared off into adjoining buildings and returned preferring the requested items. 

Our purchasing completed and the stash shared around for carrying, we need to find a bank. Kenya is very much a cash society and I’ve watched Tom getting through it like water. Off we head again, through back streets and apparently with purpose. Regrettably the first bank wouldn’t accept his WfK card, a problem he’d experienced earlier in the week in the Co-op in Ndhawi. A Barclays was a couple of hundred metres up across the road.

As we arrive, Sam waves a boda boda down and tells me to get on and the bike will take me. Where, well that was a mystery to me, we weaved through streets, mainly thankfully in fairly good condition and an Ascari (security person) is opening a double steel gate for us. I’m offloaded and my driver informs me to wait. There’s a spare seat opposite the Ascari so I plant myself there, no conversation going on between us other than the traditional ‘jambo’. I can see what appears to be an old colonial hotel, sat in extensive grounds, I can certainly see what must be Lake Victoria off in the distance. I’m not sure how long later my colleagues, banking transactions complete have joined me. Tom had decided that perhaps a sit, a drink and maybe some lunch (13:00) would be good.sat under a tree in what effectively was a huge meadow the others had sodas and I opted for water. Drinks arrived  plus menus, Tom and I have not been bothering with anything midday so far so I opted for a chicken salad from the starter section, Sam had the fish (Tilapia cooked in the same fashion as Tom and I have had for the last couple of nights) and Tom settles for a plate of chips. 

Order taken we just sit and chat, I’m not much or an ornithologist but I could recognise that the flashes of orange shooting in and out of sour tree where orange bishop weavers, birds we’d had in our pub aviary. As to the myriad other colourful birds, I’d no idea, other than there were plenty around and this has been the case during my time in Kenya a proliferation of bird life. It can be fascinating just sat in the hotel garden watching all the beautiful birds. Here though what was really capturing my sights were the many lovely butterflies around, not particularly close, but clearly visible. On asking, I do now find out that we are in the gardens of The Tourist Hotel, HomaBay, not sure an out the hotel, but the grounds are delightful.

Food arrives, my starter salad, at home Diane and I would have shared it, but I munched my way through as did the other through their dishes. Lunch completed and dues paid 2250K$ (somewhere around £18), bargain, we walked back through the security gate to the road and Sam magicked up three boda boda, off we went, initially to a supermarket. Well, while the opportunity presented itself and our hotel being dry, sodas only and I’ve had one of those already this week, I wondered what the Kenyan brandy offering would be like. I happened upon a small selection and opted for a unpretentious looking Kenyan Legend Brandy 750 ml, 40% proof and just 540K$, how bad could it be. Purchases made, back onto the bikes and the bus station, in fact Sam again directed us towards a Probox rather than a Makati.

Sam sits me in the front passenger seat, I’m experienced and ready now, ready for the action. Attempts made and thwarted at sharing my seat with others. A young lady is placed in the drivers seat,, she has a large rucksack,Tom, Sam and three others in the back seat, sacks etc in the rear, plus of course another couple of people, the driver then squeezes in, trying to take the girls bag which she fights vehemently fights. I ask her if it would be OK on my knees and she happily passes it over.. With her legs pressed against the automatic transmission, I note the driver foundling her leg, rather than selecting the gear, well I’ve thee daughters, the dad in me came to the fore. I slapped his hand, pointed out just where the gear lever was and suggested we get going. Dodgy looks, but no further response, we set off, not far and we pull in another two ladies shoehorned in, one in the back and the other in the drivers seat.the young lady is now perched with her legs either side of the transmission and I’m ready, but no issue and we move on. Thankfully this was only a stage of our journey and we climbed out at Rodi, retrieved our pipe from the roof and move around the corner on the road to Ndhawi.

Same story, different vehicle, I’m again in the front passenger seat, this time with only one other and the driver. Ndhawi, boda boda and back to the hotel, it’s only 16:30 but it does seem to have been a very long day. Quick change and into the pool, wonderful to just wash the day away, lazy strokes up and down the pool. Refreshed it’s back to the room and attempt to catch up with the blog. Our evening meal time has settled around 18:00, although it does appear that nothing is started prior to our arrival in the dining room and it can be over an hour before anything appears. Now if the chairs were comfortable that may not have been an issue. In HomaBay I’d attempting haggling down the cost of two foam pads from 500K$ to 450k$,  without success, foolishly I’d not capitulated and left the vendor with his stack of cushions ( Sam later told me the young lad was a student who had been left in charge by his father). Well now was my time regret.

The meal arrived pieces of chicken (always on the bone and not any particular piece of meat that I could identify), obviously the conversation with Gilbert had been passed onto the kitchen. The meat had been maybe braised in a sauce, served with boiled rice, Orago and shredded cabbage, delightful. The rains as ever have come and seem insistent on altering the landscape with their brutality, normally going on for hours at a time. A chat in the reception area alongside my flask of hot water and I remover my earlier purchase, bid a good night to Tom and head off through the rain to check the brandy, amazing not bad, should have bought more, next time, and so to bed under the new mozzarella net that we’ve had sorted out. We’ll just need to get another 5 for the rest of the group

12th May – let the work commence !

12/05/18 Let the work commence

The early morning 06:30 swim to shake off the night is a great start to the day. I past just a couple of staff on my journey, 1 sweeping the pavings with a 12inch long switch, back breaking, the other gathering up last nights debris from reception.

Breakfast this morning, some freshly sliced pineapple, Apple juice, weetabix with cold milk, vegetable samosas, bread and spreads, and then, the habit formed, a flask of boiling water.  Once completed, back to the room to grab the iPad and check if we have any internet available, frequently we log onto the router, but no internet access. This is why the last three days blogs have been mucked up and delayed. The connection has been so weak that although I’ve uploaded to WordPress, the update process falls over or times out. Arrangements now for Catherine to upload and verify to WordPress with the text that I’m able to email out to her, hopefully I’ll not be so tardy now with keeping up to date.

The tractor returns during breakfast and we join in loading the last tank and all the fittings for Rakora. That achieved Tom and I head back across to Ndhiwa hospital school, Sam going to Rakora with the tractor and trailer. It’s only just after 10:00 but the sun is high in a clear blue sky, we locate the watchman who unlocks the staff room for us where all the fittings and our hired steps have been stored. We start work on the back of the classrooms we’re working on, thankfully in the shade. Barge board marked out at metre intervals, a string line set to dictate the fall and get into a rythmn of up and down the steps, move along and repeat. The ground is uneven and stony, the steps need footing to prevent accidents and it’s not getting any cooler. A small 18v cordless drill is doing sterling work driving the screws into place and we are soon seeing a length of gutter clips in position. One side completed we move

There were tanks in place at Ndhiwa hospital primary, one 6000lt and three 2000lt. Whilst they are on a good base, they have not been particularly piped together. The top third of the large tank would never hold water as the discharge on the smaller ones is below this level. Also the gutter had not been set with a string thereby not allowing a free flow of water. The guttering also only covered one slope, missing half of the buildings capacity. We had however harvested the guttering and old pipe work and now set to in the shade to install on a new building, due to house the staff room, office and another classroom. Whilst again it would only be serving half the potential of the building, it was not a part of the original project and we would need to purchase some fittings to install correctly. A string line up, closely followed by the running outlet and all the gutter clip location marked on the barge board. We would require additional clips as insufficient had been used originally and the two gutter joints were both broken. These parts we would pick up in HomaBay on Sunday 13th, where we would also need to find additional gutter joints for our new stock due to a miscalculation along with various pieces of ironmongery. So as much done as possible we packed up and secured everything away and headed into a ‘bar’ in Ndhiwa that we were given to understand belonged to the deputy head. Wrigglie tin roof and part walls, wooden benches and a table, but a young lady appeared, took our order, Tuskers for Tom and I, mango juice for Sam. Half an hour later, our legs almost recovered, a couple of boda boda’s were arranged and we were transported along the treacherous hotel approach track (it’s not just for the hotel, it do us serve a multitude of other properties).

Once back, for me, changed and head for the pool, still very green with flotsam, but when you consider the way the rain comes down, it’s not surprising. Just a quick 30 minutes does wonders, so back to the room to change for our evening meal.  Amazingly there is currently power (generator) and even some water to the bathroom. I washed my hair for the first time, that was a mistake, the water was brown from accumulated dust. Like in Belize, I should have just stood under a palm and used all that fresh water during the rainstorm. There is generally just the one each day, lasting from an hour or at times all night and the force is relentless, easy to see what damages the tracks and roads.

Evening meal, Tilapia again with mashed potato and orago (steamed maize flour, tasteless, the Kenyans take a large pinch, roll into a ball, the shape into a bowl and use to capture their food)

Wifi available, FaceTime message and look at Facebook, then for me that’s enough, I’ve blog to write and sleep to catch up on.

Let me know if I’m waffling too much or not giving enough detail of some things. I’ve not done this before and I’m sure it shows

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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