On the 11th October 2009 a team of 8 volunteers commenced their journey to Kenya, half of whom had no idea of what the next two weeks lay ahead for them but took the opportunity to seek advice from the experienced members who had completed the journey beforehand. This years team consisted of John Mulholland, Des Cleary, Colm Kelly, John McKinley, Nicola McGlinchey, Zara McKeague, Mariana McKeefry and Siobhán O’Kane.
On arrival at Nairobi airport the group was welcomed by the Moving Mountains team who were sure to keep them on the right path over the next fortnight. Their new friends consisted of Francis Kioni – the project supervisor, Jackton Otieno, more famously known as OT – the chauffeur and comedian, and 4 beneficiaries of the moving mountains charity, previously street children – who would be working alongside the team each day.
The 2009 project was the new build of a dormitory at the Kayieye School in Siaya, the same region of Western Kenya, visited in previous trips. Kayieye has a special needs class with 7 pupils at present. The class is specifically for deaf children from the area but it had been getting requests from all over Siaya District and further afield to take in children who need the care and education that only a specialist teacher and set up can provide. The school has a specialist teacher in place but because the children are from all over the Siaya District they have no means to travel to Kayieye on a daily basis. Therefore the construction of the dormitory was essential to ensure that the children who need it have continued access to the education they deserve. It was initially proposed that this would consist of 8 bedrooms, with each bedroom facilitating 6 children. However this was adjusted to 6 bedrooms which would hold a maximum of 36 children and included a dining/communal room which would also serve as a classroom during term time. The teams task was to help with the completion of the construction of the dormitory and the furniture would be provided by the local community, with the aim of the new dormitory being functional by the end of January 2010. The reason for the local community’s input was in keeping with the underlying belief that it is more beneficial to help the community to help itself and encourage it to sustain itself in the longer term as opposed to continually providing hand-outs.
The westernised team that travelled came from an assortment of backgrounds to include Accountancy, Nursing, Teaching, Plumbing and an Electrician however they soon realised that the majority of their specialities would remain untested as they gained an insight into hard manual labour African style. As they arrived bright and early on Monday morning the moving mountain “work mates” soon introduced them to the 20 “fundi” (local craftsmen) who were employed to work on the project. These gentlemen were very keen to show off their skills and quick to hand over their tools to see how the new “workers” would handle them. They also introduced them to a few choice Swahili words help them through the fortnight!
Prior to the teams arrival the fundi had made great progress with the building externally, however there was still to be a lot of work to be completed in what seemed like a short space of time. The walls on the inside had to be built up to ceiling level, the building had to be plastered inside and out, the floors had to be levelled out, windows and doors were to be fitted and the building was to be painted. All tasks were carried out using hands on physical labour with no machines in sight. The scaffolding was erected by tying tree branches and strapping planks together. The mortar was mixed by shovelling sand, cement and water together, the water was carried from a well at the other end of the school. The schoolchildren themselves would lend a hand by carrying buckets of water over to the site on their way back from their lunch break. The walls were tracked for the eventuality that the school may receive electricity using a small chisel and hammer. All materials were utilised as the windows and doors were sanded down for painting using the brown paper bags in which the cement arrived in.
After ten days of work in temperatures never experienced at home, the project was completed. To mark this special occasion the school and local community had organised an opening ceremony in which the schoolchildren treated the team to an array of singing, dancing and theatrical shows, which displayed not only their talents but their love and thanksgiving for life.
Granaghan Outreach is delighted to have learned that the new dormitory is now fully functional at Kayieye. We are especially pleased to discover that two of the deaf children – Goretta and Hillary – who previously resided at the Ulamba Moving Mountains Orphanage, have settled into the dormitory and are striving in their new environment with their peers.