After finishing our new library in Likoni, Mombasa, our volunteer Alena has moved to the other side of Kenya to finish what she had started earlier this year. Yes, we raised more funds and received donation of 10 laptops and decided to reconstruct the second floor of our library and create a computer centre there.
Upon arrival I was welcomed by many familiar faces. It was nice to see that they still remembered me and everybody kept on calling ‘Madam Alena! Madam Alena is coming!’
I made this journey from Nairobi, Kisumu or Mombasa few times already and so I was an experienced navigator and that is what surprised this motorcycle driver.
I get off my boda-boda (motorcycle) with my heavy backpack and suitcase full of laptops, payed the driver who took me here and happily answered his question about what a white tourist does in there parts of the world. I explained to him that this is the new Public Library and he and his kids too can come and enjoy it. Koguta is a large area 7km from the town of Sondu (which is about an hour from Kisumu), in Koguta there are many small villages and our library lies in Ndori village. Boda-boda is the only (reasonable) way you can get to this rural area from Sondu. There is a small muddy road up the hill and only jeeps or big lorries can pass this road, but this is only used to transport the material because it is too dangerous for the cars and too expensive. Not to mention that the rainy season is about to start which means that our Ndori village might be cut of completely for a while.
Everybody came to welcome me, say hi and see how I have changed. The kids as young as 3 remembered me and automatically hold my fingers and walked me through the gate, older boys immediately took the suitcase and backpack to help too. Unfortunately I only have 10 fingers and could only satisfied 10 children. Trust me when I say it is indeed very difficult to walk on a narrow path with ten kids fighting over your fingers, but I managed.
Madam Tina, our hero - lady responsible for the library, for me and for the smooth running of her large family – was very welcoming, ready with breakfast and proper Kenyan tea (very sweet tea boiled with milk) for me to take.
The same day we asked a fundi to come and make an estimate of the costs and to write down material which we need to purchase. Typical haggling and bargaining, which I was already used to and was getting good at, allowed me to limit the costs. Next step was Sondu again, this time to purchase the material. I was happy to make new acquaintance with the shopkeepers and boda-boda drivers. This always helps. We met our old friend who helped us with the transport last time and offered a good price again.
In the next few days masons (Fundi) with their helpers would come, work full day and got payed at the end of the day. This became the routine. I would check on them from time to time to see if they are really working and if the work they do is good.
Then came the electricity man. Electricity turned out to be more expensive than expected but we believe that this will truly help this community and so I gave it a green light. That meant going back to Sondu to get the cables and material. After a week, when the new stairs and terrace and roof was finished it was time to move inside and do the floors and fix the walls.
Surprisingly, I realized that the building which we have started reconstructing in April has not two but potentially three floors!
Around the same time there were many people coming to speak to me and thank me for this contribution to the community. There were also few people very interested in joining a committee and apply for government funding for regional development projects, they also had many interesting suggestions about what can be done with this building. It was decided. We will try our best, find more sponsors and reconstruct not only the second but also the third floor. This way we can have meeting room, volunteer room, library, computer room and even music corner in one big community centre. This would be all open to public and everyone will be able to use this.
However we now still need more sponsors and if you can donate just few euros, dollars or shillings please do so, it will help enormously! Now it’s time for me to check on the workers again, have a lovely day and I will report back to you soon!