Brick Making, the Dam Site, and the Kitchen Crew

Nov 2nd, 2011
We had two more people join our group last night from WHO, ( . They are working on manual well drilling equipment. If all works well they will employ the BT Workshop to build these drills to be used around the area and on into other countries. These will allow people in rural areas to drill wells with human power. It will also bring more jobs to this area.
I went over to the workshop to have some concrete blocks built for the base of our goat pen. I suggested that we use the block making machine and just put some small blocks in to hold the shape. I was voted out and they went and got a small mold for making single bricks. They filled it with concrete and put a post in it to hold the post shape while it was drying. They then had to wait about half an hour before doing the second one. I went to get a drink while we were waiting for the first to dry and mentioned to Bret that I had been out voted on our approach to making the bricks. He said to just go do it my way. While they were doing the second brick I went over to the crew making the bricks and made two bricks the way I had suggested. It took us a few minutes longer than the normal bricks as we figured out how to fit the wood blocks into the mold but we finished our two quicker that they did one. This afternoon I went back over to look at the bricks. Mine are much better than theirs. Sometimes it is good to listen to their ideas but sometimes it is better to just do it the right way even if they don’t agree.

            The progress on the dam was slowed down considerably today by water that is running into the hole where they are digging. They brought in another crew to bucket the water out of the river bottom up steam for the dam site. The diggers are now shoveling out mud so it is harder and slower work. If we were to get a large rain shower now the project would be set back several days as we would have to dig the whole bottom out again. We are praying for clear weather for at least a couple of days so that we can get the footings in. If the base is set then it would not be as big of a problem if there was rain.
          The local schools have come to help out. The children are carrying rocks from the river bed down below to be used as part of the dam. This is one of the keys to Koins for Kenya's success, they utilize the local people and materials for their projects so that the locals feel ownership in the projects that are finished. When people have ownership then they take care of what they have built. If it is just built in their village without their involvement they do not feel any responsibility to care for the project.

The local school children carry the rocks and pile them near the dam site. Shad oversees the digging.

            Making the bricks was hard work out in the hot sun. The bricks are 18 inches long by 9 inches both wide and tall. They probably weight over 100 lbs. The concrete is mixed in a mixer then dumped on the ground next to the mold. Concrete is then shoveled into the mold by two men and pounded down into tight bricks by two others with wooden plungers. The top is then slammed down multiple times to settle the concrete. The bottom of the mold is then pushed up lifting the bricks out of the mold. The bricks are then carried to a drying area not far away.

            After a long hot day I was ready to get clean. I went to the kitchen to get a little hot water to add to the bucket of tap water. I carried the bucket into the shower stall where I took off my sweaty clothes and poured the refreshing water over my head. It felt so good to be somewhat clean again.
            I decided that I should wash my clothes so I got another bucket of water sprinkler in a little soap and started plunging with the washing plunger. The water turned brown quickly and I had to rinse m clothes twice to get them clean. I carried them over to the clothes line to hang up to dry. It sure makes me appreciate my washing machine and dryer at home.
Emily and Ester our cooks

The Koins compound kitchen

    Rachel and Grace are helping Emily and Ester cook so we will have sugar cookies as well as spaghetti and meat balls. I am sure that Emily appreciates the help and the American cooking lessons also. This morning Emily taught me how to make chipati which are very similar to flour tortillas.