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Raising the roof!

Posted by Katie Godfrey on September 1, 2014 at 8:30 AM

Last week I was surprised to notice that it’d been a week between blogs, but here I am again and things still haven’t slowed down enough here to write one. Time is really racing by now – I’ll be home in two weeks. We said goodbye to two of our housemates this afternoon, Gemma and Ryan, who have been here for a month. Mzungu House is going to be a lot quieter, less Scottish and much less accident prone without you! We’ve had some really good times together away from the building site and their placement, including Hell’s Gate, Lake Nakuru and karaoke (really good and really tuneless times). Less great but no less funny was Gemma dislocating her knee while boarding a matatu in the main stage in town, and then going to hospital in the matatu (with all its passengers) and having her knee relocated before she could get off. Please try to get home in one piece!

It’s exactly two weeks today since we began digging foundations for the classrooms and today we added the roof. Since last Saturday, when the walls were completed, the masons have added the verandah, the rental (reinforced concrete wall supports), the central pillar, the walls and doors and plastered the supporting pillars and walls. The plastering on the walls is a particular source of pride as the mason’s son has come up with a particularly creative way of doing it. Usually, outdoor plastering refers to throwing plaster on the concrete joining the huge bricks together before smoothing it and then scraping the edges away to give the appearance of nice, square bricks. Instead of nice smooth bricks, Davey has used a bucket lid and a fork with the inner prongs removed to create a swirly pattern between the bricks, which has then been painted black. They and John decided on this to mark out the classrooms-cum-hall as something a bit special, compared to the other classrooms, as this swirly pattern isn’t something I’ve ever seen before in Kenya. What with the black swirls, the red pillars, yellow windows and green doors this building is going to be extremely colourful, which is just what the kids and teachers want!

All that is left to do now is to finish nailing the iron sheets down to the roof, fit the window panes, paint the doors and windows and to plaster and paint the inner walls, floor and the blackboard. We also need to finish off the verandah, which runs around the interior of what is now a new block of classrooms and helps to keep them clean and dust-free. In a few weeks, once everything has dried out properly, the folding partition and ceiling boards will be added but if we do this in the time I’m here, the building will still be damp and they will rot. It’s a shame as I’d love to see it all completely finished but unfortunately real life calls… We expect to be completely through by Friday next week. School opens again for the final term on Monday so although the final week of construction is typically quieter as it requires less labour, the addition of hundreds of curious pupils will make it pretty busy!

We’re also in the rather nice position of having a considerable amount of change left over from the funds raised and the estimated budget, as once again it’s all cost less than anticipated. It was lovely to be able to tell John this today and to ask him to think about what to spend it on. As it was donated to build classrooms, which are a permanent structure which will eventually serve every pupil in the school, that is the only guideline I’ve given him (as opposed to using it for fee sponsorship for graduating pupils, for example). I think that installing a higher capacity water collection and storage system is quite likely (as there are now more buildings to collect rainwater from!) or adding proper floors to the older classrooms to try and reduce the dust and/or mud in these.

Here in Nakuru there’s something of a buzz settling on the town, as there’s a huge rugby tournament coming to town this weekend. I can’t wait – I love rugby and it’s so much fun to watch it in Kenya. It’s something I associate with cold drizzle in Britain so the idea of watching it in the sun with a cold drink is very appealing indeed.

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