Friday, 27 September 2013

Snorkeling, camels, and a week of project work

PROJECT: Community & Conservation
WRITTEN BY: Ella Scott

We arrived in Muhaka camp, Mombasa on Friday the 6th of September after a number of long and restless flights from all parts of the world but the excitement of where we were outweighed any tiredness we may have been feeling. As we arrived in the camp we were greeted by our camp coordinator, Eustace, with a hugely welcoming smiled stretched over his face. After being served our first incredible meal by our amazing chefs Tom and Tytas, we spent the afternoon being briefed by Eustace on what was to come in the following weeks and getting acquainted with one another as well as the camp.

Over the weekend we spend our days at the beach, swimming in the crystal clear water, riding camels and frying ourselves most of the day under the African sun. It wasn't until Monday that the real work began. We started our day at around 7.30am ready for work by 8.30am where we were greeted by Sam, Yahya and Rob, our crazy but incredibly dedicated project leaders. We lugged 50kg bags of concrete, litres and litres of water and wheelbarrows full of tools to the Muhaka medical centre where we were to begin work on the new emergency building. The foundations had already been laid so our job was to begin plastering over all the walls so that they were even and smooth, a job that initially did not seem as challenging as it turned out to be. After mixing up our concrete using barrels of sand, concrete mix, water and a spade, we got to work.

For the rest of the week the plastering continued. Our days are constructed around 3 hours of work in the morning from 9am until 12pm followed by a two hour break and lunch and then a final 2 hours of work from 2pm to 4pm. Over the first few days we were all pretty much in bed by 9pm with muscles aching after a hard days work. The first week proved to be quite a culture shock but it was also a test of how well we reacted when crisis arose, we proved less than adequate when it took 8 squealing girls and 2 fairly hesitant boys to capture and get rid of the palm size frog terrorising the girls bedroom. While the first week was definitely tough and took some getting used to it became obvious that everyone was already making the most of and loving the experience.

By the time the weekend came we were all so excited to have a day off and get some tanning time in at the beach. On Sunday we went on a snorkelling trip where we swam with dolphins and explored the coral reef which was followed by the most amazing seafood lunch of lobsters and crab.

The weekend came and went in no time and soon enough we were back to work continuing with our plastering but by now there was obvious progress being made. We ran into our first real hiccup on Monday. After sending two girls to hospital we all realised just how important keeping ourselves hydrated really is and I think we all learnt a pretty big lesson. Despite this minor incident we continued work and by Thursday we had finished plastering the inside of the emergency centre and had begun fitting door and window frames. Although we've only completed 9 days of work the difference we have seen in the building is immense and we can't wait to keep working and see it finished before we leave.

Today it's been two weeks exactly since we arrived but it feels like so much longer. We spent today at the markets followed by a huge family dinner with all the staff consisting of traditional Kenyan dishes which we all helped, or at least attempted, to create. It was a really nice way of thanking the staff for all they do for us and an opportunity to get to know them even better.

We are all really looking forward to a relaxing weekend followed by another tough but rewarding week of work which I'm sure will be filled with more laughs and fun and once again the time will fly by and we will be writing another entry wandering where the time went.

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