One of my favorite music groups is the Blue Man Group. I love their creativity, musical style, and energy. They have a great song on their Complex album called Time To Start. This is how excited I feel right now! We have been in Kenya now for 5 months and have had a few delays- some expected, some unexpected. I must say that I have been a bit frustrated that we haven’t started the building before now, but these five months have certainly not been in vain. We have had the opportunity to build some great relationships, make some fantastic building connections, and learned a lot about building in Kenya and especially Kenyan culture. It has also been a great season of rest, trusting God, Sabbath, and spending time together as a family. But we now have completed and approved building plans, we have hired our building contractors, and we are now ready to build. It’s Time To Start!
This week, I have been posting a few pictures on our African Children’s Project Facebook Page. If you are on Facebook, be sure to “like” the page so you can see the updates in your newsfeed. If you are not on Facebook, don’t worry. You aren’t completely left out of the world. You can still go and view the page without a Facebook account and view all of the photos there.
I thought you might like to know about the building process and even meet our architect and building contractors.
The process obviously began with the design. Meet our architect, Edward Githinji and his family:
When we met Edward back in August, he told us about this new technology of making building blocks from the soil. Most buildings in Kenya are build with stones cut from a mountain. These stones are used for exterior and interior walls. most of the time, the walls are left unfinished on the outside, but are plastered smooth on the inside. The blocks Edward introduced us to are called “soil-stabilized interlocking blocks”. In some cases, soil can be used directly from the building site. The soil is then mixed with cement at a ratio of about 12:1. A little water is then added. Once properly mixed, the mixture is then placed in a compression machine to form the block. There are 2 different types of block-making machines. One is a manual machine that is fairly inexpensive. We considered the option of buying one of these machines since it could be used for future buildings and potentially be able to rent it out when we didn’t need it. Then in the process of interviewing building contractors, we found out that there was a hydraulic machine available in Embu County for FREE! We like free. The machine comes from a company called Hydraform (their Youtube channel is very informative). These machines were dontated to Kenya to be used for government buildings and non-profit organizations.
We have hired Nyaga and his team to make the blocks for our building. Nyaga has had great successful experience with this machine, working with Jason, and making good strong blocks.
Nyaga and his crew have been working very hard all week (these guys are really hard workers) to prepare our site and sifting the soil for making blocks. The soil being used is from a village called Murindoko about 3 km away from us. We chose not to use the soil from our site because of the massive amount of soil needed (about 280 tons). We would create a big hole in our property and we would probably need to add some other substances (more clay or more sand) to the soil to make it the proper mixture for making good blocks. And because Murindoko is so close and we know the soil there is already good for block making as-is, we decided it would be better to just get it from there.
The soil is now being sifted through the handmade sieve to ensure that we do not have clumps in the soil when it is being mixed with the cement. The large clumps are then watered and re-sifted to get more good soil to use.
Tuesday, they will start mixing and making blocks! Once the blocks are made, they will be stacked for 3 weeks of curing. The blocks will be watered twice-a-day and then covered. This curing process ensures the blocks will harden properly and be ready for construction.
On February 1st, we will have an official ground-breaking ceremony. We will invite family, friends, and government officials to join us as we break ground on our first building. Then, our main building contractor will begin his work on the foundation of the building. Please meet Richard Irungu of Ripana Construction. Richard lives and works here in Embu and has been doing some great construction work with his team all around Embu town and his company owns all of the machines and tools we will need to complete the project.
On a personal note, I have found myself to be quite tired at the end the day this week. One night, I came back to the house, ate dinner, and went straight to bed. If you know me, you know I like to stay up late. Not anymore. I think my body got used to not doing much for the last 4-5 months and wasn’t ready for the sudden shock. I was very-much looking forward to Sunday and resting. It’s amazing how important a true day of rest is when you are getting up and going hard all day for 6 days straight. God knew we needed a day to rest before we get going again. But I am looking forward to tomorrow and this week seeing blocks being made. It’s Time to Start. Ready GO!