Today was a FANTASTIC day spent driving around with our architect to a variety of government offices in Kirinyaga County to seek approvals for our building plans. “Kirinyaga County?” you ask? “Why Kirinyaga? I thought we were in Embu?” Well, actually the land is just barely outside of Embu County. So all of our official approvals need to be done in Kirinyaga County.
We had an excellent start to the day in the town of Kerugoya , where most of the county offices are located. Kerugoya is about 28km from Embu town along a road with A LOT of potholes, but its better than a road that isn’t paved. Our architect (Edward) took the plans inside the Ministry of Public Works and was able to get a quick approval, but THEN, we were given this sheet:
This is the form that showed us that we would need four approvals to be able to have fully approved building plans. We had the first one from Public Works, and we quickly moved down the street (only about 1km) for the next one at the Ministry of Roads. That approval also came very quickly and I was SO excited. This thing was moving along so nicely I thought “surely we will go back with approved plans today” and still have time to celebrate with Edward for Kebobs, chips, and a Coke Light in the afternoon (because Kenyans tend to take lunch at 2 or 3pm in the afternoon anyway).
However, after driving another 2km back in the opposite direction to what we thought was the Ministry of Health, our approval journey slowed up a bit. Apparently there are a few different offices for the Ministry of Health and we were not at the correct one. Back into the car and down the road for about 25km to a different Health office where we find out that normally, the lady who is doing this approval only approves these things on Tuesdays or Thursdays. Today is Monday. See where this is going? But check out this blessing: due to an awesome connection, one of our Kenyan partners was able to call ahead for us and ask the lady if she would go ahead and approve it for us today. And she DID! Bwana asifiwe!
Now it was time to rush back to Kerugoya town where we started (no time to stop for tea, only a quick stop at the M-Pesa dealer to get some cash) to get the fourth approval at the Ministry of Physical Planning before they closed the office at 4pm. (side note: check out M-pesa. I love this thing!). Thankfully we made it on time. However, when we got there, we were told that currently, they are not approving ANY building plans in the county. Bummer. Stalled. The reason we were given is that they are working on figuring out a better process for approving building plans and they want to make sure that everything is done well with great integrity and stewardship. The government in Kenya is working very hard to crack down on corruption in the country, a goal that we applaud and fully support, even if it means that our own timetable has to be adjusted. As a result, we are experiencing a little bit of the growing pains of a new country (only 50 years old). We will wait until we are able to get the documents signed appropriately and the money and documents can be tracked by the government appropriately. We are being told that there is a meeting in two weeks that should decide on the process and we should be able to have the approvals shortly thereafter.
But, what we also found out is that after we have this approval from the Ministry of Physical Planning, we will now need to take our completed form to the County Council office for the final approval. We believe that this should be an easy approval since we will have all of the others and the work we are doing will greatly benefit Kirinyaga County and the country of Kenya.
We are seemingly a bit stalled at the moment, but this is really not a big issue since there is an even bigger reason why we cannot begin building: the glorious and life-sustaining RAIN! We are SO thankful “the rains have come”. In the US, most of you are enjoying our favorite season of the year, Fall. In Kenya, there are no such seasons as Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter. In Kenya, it’s the dry season or the rainy season. It’s either raining or it’s not. And the people around here can pretty much tell you the day the rains will come. However, this time everyone was quite surprised at how late the rains came. But they did finally arrive on Saturday evening. We are VERY thankful for this. The rains really cool things down. They knock down the dust. And the farmers are able to plant and grow their crops. You can feel the excitement in the air (as well as the cool raindrops hitting your face or pounding on your metal roof at night waking up you and the kids).
What this now means for our building process is that we cannot lay a foundation in muddy soil (and it is VERY muddy now). We must wait for the rainy season to be over and the ground to dry out before we can lay a solid foundation (anyone know of a bible verse about building on a solid foundation?). The weather man here says this rainy season will only last two weeks. But we all know how accurate weather men usually are and we all know God is in control of these things. When God is ready for us to lay the firm foundation, we will surely have no more rains for a while. And we will certainly have fully approved building plans by then.
But the great thing is, there are other things that can be done in the meantime that do not require approved building plans and where rainy or dry weather doesn’t matter. Stay tuned for a future blog post about these upcoming happenings.
By the way, Edward and I still celebrated with Kebobs, chips, and Sprite for lunch (they were out of Coke Light), but it wasn’t until around 5pm. But that’s a perfectly normal lunch time for most Kenyans.