HANDS AROUND THE WORLD

HANDS AROUND THE WORLD seeks to help vulnerable children around the world, encouraging enthusiastic and well-prepared volunteers to offer practical help, skill-sharing, support and friendship.
Nov 15, 2016

November 2016 Update

Ready for the solar panels
Ready for the solar panels

After a good flight from London through Casablanca, Dick Wheelock and I arrived in Cotonou where we were met by DieuDonne Kakpo our local co-ordinator. On our drive to Affame we stopped to pick up steel tubing and paint to make a frame to mount the solar panels on the orphanage roof.

The new kitchen, storeroom and dining hut were in place (although needing a little finishing in part). We also met a new member of the team (Alice, a recently bereaved lady) with her young son, who will live in as supervisor.

I was very pleased to know that 4 girls and 6 boys have now moved in to the orphanage, with a new girl due to come next school term. The children have been in for a fortnight, are settled in, look happy and well fed.

We were able to complete the setting up of the solar panels that will give a consistent electrical supply and run both water pump and fridge.

We met with local education officers and agreed a feedback system for the 116 children/young people in school, university and apprenticeships. I am setting up a spreadsheet to monitor their progress and help with the new intake.

The 4 hectares of land acquired recently looks very promising for growing food and cash crops.

Altogether a very encouraging and successful visit!


Nov 7, 2016

November 2016 Update

On the 13th of November there will be a team of four volunteers going to continue the work at Muko School. We have once again managed to include Ceri an English teacher who will be teaching the teachers, not only from this school, but also from other schools in the area. This teaching program has proved to be very successful over the last few years, is well attended and appreciated by all that are present.

The remaining volunteers along with a local labour force will continue with the very successful maintenance program that has transformed the School for its 1700 pupils.

The School’s principal has requested that completing the building of the perimeter wall remain a priority, this is helping to reduce damage to the classrooms out of school hours, and also prevent flooding of the classrooms during the rainy season.

There are still a number of classrooms with mud floors which would benefit from being concreted. These classrooms have no windows, only a hole in the wall which does not allow adequate ventilation. Larger windows would of course also benefit the 40-60 pupils who study in there.

Last year we were able to raise enough funds to build some additional toilets; also a replacement kitchen block, which although still rather basic, allows beans and rice to be cooked for the senior students. Additional water tanks are still required, to allow washing after using the toilets. The general cleaning, painting and repairing is still ongoing.

Nearly all of this work is carried out by the local team, with all materials being bought locally. Obviously finances are required to carry out this work, although all of our volunteers pay their own expenses and fares.

If you have in the past made a donation this very well worthy cause - well done! I thank you, and look forward to updating you further on our return.

Nov 7, 2016

October 2106 Update

So, I'm sat beside the pool in our hotel in Zante. The conversation around me is all about "globalisation" and its effects on trips to Greece. "All of the refugees have ruined the tourist trade in Kos, lots of locals have gone bust as a result". There was also some slight sympathy for the plight of the refugees.

Meantime Paluoc continues in its efforts to provide invaluable training for youngsters in Kisumu. Globalisation is having an effect there too. We are concerned about the long term effects of cheap factory manufactured imports from China potentially displacing the demand for school desks, lockers etc which are currently the mainstay of Paluoc's workload. There is already an issue regarding carpentry training - it takes quite a long time and its not particularly highly regarded. The work connected with buildings, roofs etc is secure but beds, desks, cupboards less so. Our response is twofold: we are looking at more use of power tools. They already make good use of a planing machine, maybe now is the time to add a band saw, maybe a lathe
and other similar equipment. It will make the training more technical, the work easier and potentially the rewards greater.

Hopefully this, if it happens, will help recruitment and retention and also improve the quality of the work produced. There are also issues like how effectively can they be used and the training be given. Paul, our trainer says that he is confident and competent to do so. These improvements will need to be funded and sustained at least for a couple of years. We are aso looking at the possibility of diversifying at the workshop: can we also repair, refurbish, and sell bikes? We can supply an initial stock, if we can deal with transportation, and if the import duties are not prohibitively high. Understandably through Kenyans do not want a lot of cheap bikes dumped in Kisumu putting current repair shops out of business. Do we have the space for the expansion? Yes. Do we have the expertise on hand? Probably. Can we sort the transportation? Maybe. Is there a big and growing demand for bicycles - as has happened in many other countries as they have developed their economies? Not so sure. Has the globalisation of news and expectations led to a demand for motorcycles instead and straight away. "Bikes are OK for school children" If only life was more simple.

David Steiner, HATW's Executive Officer, is going to visit Paluoc later this month to check all of these things out. With the help of Paul, our trainer and manager, and with assistance from his trustees and some other locals, hopefully some more definite plans can be put into place. The carpentry workshop is still getting on with the day to day business and is giving youngsters a chance to learn and earn their way out of their current hardships.

 
   

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