As I sit here in Paul Ochieng’s office the workshop is a hive of activity and very, very noisy. The ear protectors that we bought are sat in the office beside me. Nelson, the husband of Emily our caretaker and also a carpenter, is using the planing machine to cut timber to the required width and then planing it smooth. Paluoc gets paid for this; Paul tells me it’s a bob a foot, that’s K1sh per foot (About 135 Kenyan shillings = £1).
Stephen and Kennedy, and another lad, David are working on the desk seats. Evans is keen to point out that David is a new lad and doesn’t come very often. His father has recently died, but Paul hopes that long term David will be a decent student. Bonaventure is hard at work making chairs...
Please click on this video link to get the full flavour of all that is happening...
It seems incredible that it is approaching five months since I left Siriba. Being back at home is not quite the same as being with the people on the ground and communications by text and email are not always as efficient as we would like.However we know that the Principal, Josie Abong, has with some help, managed to deliver a good number of promotional leaflets into the depths of some of the surrounding villages. The new term opened in January and partly as a result of all the hard work the numbers of students has risen to around thirty. Many of these are really underprivileged and so this is rewarding for the vocational training centre as well for us here at home.We are hoping that the centre will go from strength to strength especially now that Bishop George Kasangaki has returned from a long trip to the USA, with we hope some innovative ideas!Fund raising here continues and we hope soon to be in a position to fund some individual projects as and when the need arises.
It is very sad to have to record the death of a good friend, and now we must remember the passing of Geoff Burnett, for many years our project co-ordinator for the HATW projects in Benin, West Africa, and a tireless fighter for the disadvantaged.
He will be sadly missed, but happily the orphanage he established will be named 'Chez Papa Geoff' in his memory. May he rest in peace.
His funeral and a celebration of his life will be on Tuesday 24 February.
We very much hope to be able to continue his work, and are delighted to report that Nigel England, ably supported by Dick Wheelock, will help ensure a future for this link by acting as our new Project Co-ordinator. Although Nigel has not visited Benin before, he has building skills and experience, has been a HATW volunteer at an orphans' project in Kenya and has many years' experience of working with children in care in the UK.
Of course we look forward too to your ongoing support and help. Thank you.