A team of 5 Hands Around the World volunteers have just spent nearly 2 weeks at the project. They were warmly welcomed by the villagers and had an exciting time.
Their arrival coincided with the celebrations of 50th Anniversary of Zambia’s independence and the volunteers were treated to songs, poems and dancing by the local children. Everyone had a fantastic time and when the boys dressed up as animals there was plenty of laughter.
The main objectives for the trip were to get the carpentry and sewing projects up and running and with sewing machines in place (thanks to Tools for Self Reliance) and the new deliveries from the UK of carpentry tools, volunteers Sian (sewing) and Dan (carpentry) were very busy.
In these pictures Sian is working with one of the ladies and the chief is trying his hand at carpentry after the official hand over of the building.
The Hands Around the World team included 2 sports students who ran very popular lessons and games sessions as well as helping in the classroom art and play sessions.
We made the decision to get 5 children from each of the 5 schools in the chiefdom and make the 90 minute drive to the famous South Luangwa park. There were many logistical challenges but eventually these lucky few saw a lioness, elephant etc for the first time. The 5 selected teachers also enjoyed this as a first for them.
The Vocational training centre was opened and with tools in place, some good people enthused the team left feeling confident that this was the start of a new chapter for Mnukwa.
There are many things still to do but 2014 has certainly been a busy year for the project with many positives evident.
Paluoc carpentry workshop is still at a very early stage of its development. Last year the first three trainees successfully completed their Grade 3 examinations. They are seeking work so that the trainees get real experience of what is required in addition to the instructional sessions. The exciting thing is to see them gradually making progress. At the outset the plan was to add on an additional storey as soon as it was clear that the workshop was up and running, and proving to be successful in obtaining recruits and equipping them with valuable work skills.
The first photo shows the completed upper storey. By local standards it is a very impressive structure, completed to high standards. This was always the aim of Paul Achola, the manager and chief instructor – he wants to train youngsters to produce a better than average standard of work. The second photo shows the view of the building from the main Kisumu to Nairobi road. It is well placed to be seen from the road; hopefully enhancing both recruitment of trainees and the pursuit of work.
The third photo shows another exciting development that is nearing fruition. A planing / finishing machine was bought to aid work in the workshop and also to potentially provide a source of income; planing wood for other carpenters. These machines create a huge amount of sawdust and using it indoors was not practical as it filled the rest of the workshop with dust. Moving the machine in and out when it needed to be used was investigated. It was a possible solution, and it is a method employed by other workshops in Kisumu. The potential problem is that the machine could be damaged, it would be hard work and during some seasons it would not be possible. The better solution, aided by some extra funding that was made available by some well-wishers, was to build a hard-standing area outside of the workshop. It had to be secure and it had to provide shelter from the sun, wind and rain. The third photo shows the foundations for this building which we hope will soon be completed. The planing machine will be located there.
The overall effect of looking at the buildings is “wow”. It is a very desirable place with which to be associated; it looks smart and modern. Just the sort of place that youngsters would like to attend to be trained, we hope.
Finally, the last photo shows Paluoc’s solution to another issue. We wanted to make sure that the locals all knew what was going on at the workshop. My suggestion was that a banner be produced to hang outside the building saying “Paluoc Carpentry Training Workshop” and contact details for potential recruits. Paul’s first thought was to paint the information on the side of the building as it had been before the extension. I did say that he was to do whatever he thought most appropriate. Subsequently he has come up with the brilliant idea of a brightly coloured mural, very much in keeping with local culture, showing the workshop as a very vibrant place. What a great job, and hopefully it too will help encourage recruitment and work generation.
It certainly makes Paluoc look like a very vibrant and worthwhile place!
Great attention has also been paid to ensuring that the workshop is secure and its valuable stock of tools and completed work is safe. They have recently purchased some new power tools to help the workshop and its training methods to continue moving forward. Watch this space!
One of the volunteers who helped to build the workshop is going to visit the workshop next month, at her own expense. We look forward to hearing her report.