Our CBO partner, the Kabiro Human Development Project, has obtained funding to drill a borehole at the site of our biodigester ablution block and community kitchen. The borehole is almost complete. This is wonderful news as water from the local utility is notoriously unreliable and in short supply.
Now our project will have PLENTY of water!
Please keep donating. We still need to raise the funds to build a second story as a meeting and eating facility.
Again, I sincerely appreciate your support.
Construction of Phase 1 is finished.The next steps are to install the plumbing fixtures, put in the doors and windows, lay the tiles, plaster and paint, construct cabinets and buy the other things we need for the kitchen (stoves, table, refrigerator, eg.).
You will note in the photo of the plumber on top of the staircase that we actually did construct a staircase in the hope that we will be able to add an upper floor for a meeting space. The meeting space would add a lot of value to our project as the women who cook in the kitchen could cook snacks and sell the snacks and drinks to people gathered in the meeting space.
Please help us add this value to our project! It will reallly help the community.
Thanks again for your support.
Today Michael Nolan and I visited globalgiving project #1761, “Ablution block and Kitchen for 500 in Nairobi Slum.” Constance Hunt, the project leader, met us and took us on a brief tour of one of Nairobi’s largest slums, Kawangware.
I handed her a microphone and MP3 recorder as just listened as we walked the two kilometers or so from the nearest transport into the heart of the slums. Endless shacks of rusty iron and cement lined the paths through this “informal settlement,” as euphemists prefer to call it. Walkers, bikers, and mothers glut the alleys as we weave a path to the community center she is helping construct.
Constance said, “If you tell them you are less likely to get cholera if you have a toilet. They don’t care. But if you tell them it will impress your guests… that’s the hook.”
“I heard the same about toothpaste,” I said, “People don’t brush to fight cavities, they brush because ads promise fresh breath.”
My visit was part of a larger listening tour of Kenya. We at GlobalGiving search for ways to let the people in communities like Kawangware speak to the world themselves. They are the experts on what they need. We believe everyone who uses globalgiving will answer their prayers if only there was a way for them to speak directly. I explained this to Constance. I mentioned that something as simple as twitter on a local cell phone could allow slum dwellers to begin a dialogue that will draw attention to their daily realities.
Constance looked a skeptical. “I’m just wondering does that mean that eventually it will add up to money coming into this project?”
“I don’t know,” I said.
Few believe mobile phones can fight poverty, or that local people would text what they see so that visits like mine become superfluous. Looking just above her head I saw dozens of TV attenas poking through the rooftops. A block later, the familiar “SafariCom sold here” sign jutted from a shack. Poor they may be, but not isolated.
We entered the school grounds where the future community center will stand. Despite the short notice (I requested a visit by text message only the night before) a dozen or so Kenyans were piling on cement blocks and concrete.
“Wow! They work fast!” Constance said. “I was here just last week and they had barely a foundation. This phase is ahead of schedule but we’re still short of full funding for the project.”
As Constance explained, this community center will immediately provide toilets for the thousands that live nearby. There are NO toilets in this slum, period. The current practice is a “flying toilet” where a person deficates in a plastic bag and litterally chucks it out the window of the shack without regard to the mess it leaves in the community as a whole.
Down the road, the project will provide clean water with a new bore hole. Human waste will ferment into methane biofuels that will provide sustainable cooking facilities for the people nearby. If she can attract more funding, she even hopes to add a second floor for community activities.
“What one thing does this community need most?” I asked.
“Sewers. The whole slum grew up without any infrastructure. Now it is expensive to lay them. But I wish we could add sewers to improve the health and livelihood of these people,” Constance said.
This tour, our twittering villages in Kenya, its all an experiment. As a scientist I know that most experiments are in a sense ‘failures,’ but ‘progress’ only comes after the last failure, and only for those who persist. Our goal: give people louder voices.
Last week, we started construction on the biodigester ablution block and community kitchen. Work is progressing rapidly and we have been blessed by an absence of rain during the excavation and initial construction phase.
The community has asked us to add a second story to the project to serve as a meeting and eating facility. We are thinking of putting a television there (which most poor Kenyans lack). The people who work in the kitchn could sell samosas, mandozi and other snacks and soft drinks to people gathered there. This component is not in our current budget, however and more funds are needed to make it a reality.
The second story would make the project much more profitable for the community. Please be generous this Christmas season.
In Sincere Gratitude,
This past Tuesday we had a training session on financial management for the team from the community who will oversee the construction process and manage the project once it is built.
The session went extremely well. The trainers were well prepared and highly motivational. The trainees seemed very competent and excited to be part of the project. KHDP served tea and sandwiches at the break and everyone left with a smile on their face.
More good news! We have permission to start construction and plan to do so within the next week or so.
Thanks so much for your support.
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