It is hard to believe that my time here this week in Ndandini is almost over. Tomorrow morning at 8am Duncan and I get picked up to go back to Nairobi where we will be attending the Nairobi Industrial Area Rotary Club meeting I am sure that they will be most interested to hear first hand about the project and plans for the celebration/dedication day on September 5th.
Our day started with the well inspector arriving from the government water department. A formality in order to get our final extraction permit. Mostly it entailed him taking a GPS reading to identify the site location for government records and taking the meter reading and serial number (so the water tax guys know the initial reading and make sure we don't swap meters).
While the inspector did his inspecting, we set up our laptop in the kiosk and caught up on emails and updated the blog. The network response time is quite slow (compared to high speed internet at home) so we often had time to enjoy the view.
Then we were off to the Ndandini Primary School to finish off some minor work on the solar wiring at the Ndandini Primary school. It was interesting to see that the teachers have already discovered that a benefit of working at the primary school is that you get to charge your cell phone.
We also had an interesting day as we unwrapped a BIG SURPRISE. We had brought along a laptop computer with a Safaricom cell phone datalink! We first demonstrated it to Kimali, the principal of the Kyaithani Secondary School and the chairman of the Water committee.
Then we took it over to the Ndandini Primary School to show to the headmaster and the chair of the parents group. Disbelief is probably an understatement. Everyone is so excited that they will be able to introduce computer learning in the community!
It will definitely be a bit of a challenge to balance the use of the computer between the needs for email between the chairman of the water committee and me (as we begin the critical operational phase of the well), email between the deputy headmaster of Ndandini Primary (who is responsible for getting the greenhouse project underway) and me, email between the interested folk at St. Hilda's (who have donated the greenhouse for the school and are interested in building people to people links between the church and the school) and the teachers and student at Ndandini Primary who are so interested to learn more about the computer and the internet.
Just so it isn't all about email, I took along a 5 DVD set of the BBC Planet Earth documentary that the teachers can use to augment their lessons on nature. If only we had a projector so that these could be realistically shown to an entire class at once.
Already the teachers are talking about the need to share the solar classroom (with a power source for the computer) between all the schools - something that has never been done before.
So we had quite a "computer day". It actually started quite early (4am) as I tried to get caught up with my laptop in my tent.
Today we also opened up discussions with a landowner near the Ndandini Primary School about land for the community garden. We hope to have an answer from him by September 5th when we return for the dedication day about his willingness to part with some of his land. There may be an acre available. That would be enough land for the community to eventually install 8 greenhouse kits like the one at the school.
All in all, I think we have made really good progress this week. Most of our work to get the well to the operational stage is now complete. The only physical work left to do is to fence the well site and install some sort of fencing around the greenhouse and garden at the school.
After three years of work on this project It is really hard for me to comprehend that very soon the number of emails every day to/from Kenya will decline and the concerns about deadlines and dealing with remote vendors and suppliers will be over. I keep hoping that the work done to date to groom the water project management committee will be fruitful and that they will turn this project into much more than just a source of potable water for what is now several thousand people. I truly believe that they see the possibility of this being a starting point for real community development.
On a final note for today, we received a phone call form the Member of Parliament for the constituency. They were inquiring to ensure that they would be welcome at the village on dedication day and also requested that I provide them with a report about the well and its ability to provide water for the neighbouring village of Kyaithani so that they could use it to back up a request for federal funding for a possible pipeline to that village. It is much too early to have too much hope in federal grants but it certainly is better than disinterest or rejection!
We took one last look at the setting sun
and did a quick photo slideshow for some of the local kids that are so interested in everything we do.
There will not be many more blog entries until we report on the September 5th village dedication day.
Once again - thank you everyone for your encouragement and support throughout this project. We could not have done it without everyone's help and involvement.