Wow, what a year! Never we would have expected to achieve that much in this year. The school is growing and growing and the children and teachers are delighted an ever improving learning environment. We were able to finish the second building to the point where we can use the four additional classrooms for the lessons. We built a roof constructed in Switzerland, installed an underground watertank with a pressurised water system for running water, transported 600 kg of donated goods to Kenya, bought a new new plot and held two school festivals. Yes, it was really a lot going on this year. But i have not yet mentioned the Highlight. In October we were able to install a solar system on the new roof and since then we have electricity for the first time in our history. The Mathys/Hürzeler family plunged into a family adventure and made this project possible for us. A heart-warming story.
In December 2020, we started with the foundation of the second building. We decided to make the classrooms larger so that we could safely meet the governments specifications. We have two rooms with 7.6m x 5.8m and two with 6.7m x 5.8m. So it should have enough space for all students and thus build a good learning environment. Especially the stability was important for us. We wanted to make significant progress compared to the first building. This was mainly related to the correct cement-water mixture and a clean floor structure. In the first building, some cracks appeared in the walls, which we then had to repair at additional cost. Since the floor in the first building was really not satisfying, we planned a clean layer composition with a metal mesh foundation there. The result is really convincing but was quiet expensive. However, we rather invest a larger amount in the construction than to carry repairs all the time. The floor has now only to be finished with stone tiles.
The biggest challenge on the entire building was the roof. It took three months from planning to completion. But I’m proud to say that we now have a Swiss roof. Without this stable construction we would have not been able to install the solar system, otherwise there would have been a danger of collapse. A big thank you to our architect Lukas and our master carpenter Walther!
When we had finished the floor and the roof, it was time for the interior work. All the walls had to be nicely plastered and then painted with white lime primer. Because we were a bit pressed for time due to the solar system and the house installation, 40 men worked on the rooms in one day. As we didn’t have electricity yet, several mobile phone lights had to illuminate the wall for painting in the end. Of course, we must not forget the energetic support of our two master plasterers Sascha and Sebastian. So Swiss plastering technique met Kenyan plastering technique and it worked perfectly! Just in time for the house installation, the walls were finished and our electrician Ken was able to pull all the cables and place the sockets and light switches.
Running water is essential for a school service. Therefore we were looking for a practical solution for our school. We decided to build an underground water tank to collect rainwater. If the rain is not enough, we can also order a truck to fill the tank. In a second phase we installed an automatic pump and a pressure tank. This will distribute the water over the whole site and supply the future sanitary facilities and the kitchen with water.
Family project mathys/hürzeler
The first volunteers at our school! The whole project started in Switzerland with an appeal for donations in the surrounding area, developed into a toy flea market in Kestenholz, spread throughout Switzerland with three TV reports on Tele M1 and finally ended with the assignment at our school and the installation of the solar system. So it was like a little fairy tale. We would like to take this opportunity to thank Pascale, Sascha, Vivienne and Sebastian, you have grown close to our hearts and have given us so much!
In her very personal blog, Pascale tells you how she and her family experienced the whole trip.
Here you can find the field report (german)
Solar system, wiring, light
Electricity in our school for the first time! Unimaginable for all of us a year ago and now a fact. The feeling, when we gathered in a classroom together with all the students and I was allowed to flip the light switch, was pure goosebumps. I have rarely experienced such a moment of happiness. The planning of the solar system was not that easy. Matthias did all the planning work. He compiled a data sheet with the required output of the system and looked for several suppliers in Kenya. I then took care of contacting and negotiating prices together with Lennox, as well as the delivery and support of the company on site. After reviewing the various quotes, we decided to work with Greenlog ltd. They offered us exactly the components we wanted and which are also used in Switzerland. At the moment we have six 445W monocrystalline solar panels, a 5 kVa hybrid inverter and a 4.95 kWh lithium battery. The good thing about the system is that we can expand it at any time.
The big moment
School festival and school visits
A big party in January and an even bigger one in October. We really had every reason to celebrate this year! In January we were able to open the first new building and simply enjoy the moment while eating and dancing together. In October we went one step further and invited many guests of honour to the big school party. We had the pleasure of welcoming our good friends from the Matterhorn Children’s Centre Beatrice and Andreas, Pascale and her family, Mama Milly with friends and tour guide Nele. In addition, there were also important members of the community and local politicians present. Our students welcomed our guests with traditional dances and requested them to dance along. Together we all swayed our hips and enjoyed the moment. After all the guests were introduced, we came to the highlights of the celebration: the food, which was sponsored by Pascale and her family and of course the donations of the goods brought from Switzerland. On this day we mainly gave presents to the parents and siblings. Our students were then allowed to look forward to the coming Monday, where they could pick out their gifts at their leisure. Everyone was really grateful and very happy about the successful celebration. It was exciting to see that almost only mothers had come. Only a few fathers showed up, which also showed who mostly takes care of the children.
When the donation handover was in full swing, we were suddenly surprised by the guys from Greenlog. Actually, we only expected a short visit from the boss for the exact planning of the solar system. But to our delight, they immediately brought all the material with them. From then on, we knew that the solar system project would definitely work out.
Besides our school festival, we had the pleasure of welcoming dear guests to our school on a normal school day. At the hotel we met Claudia, Regina, Sylvia and Frank. People with an incredibly big heart. They also wanted to get a picture of our school and we organised a trip together at short notice. On the way they bought school supplies and sweets for the children. The purchase was a great experience for us as well as for the shop assistants, who had to count out 150 pencils, erasers and sharpeners by hand and enter them into the cash register. At the school we were warmly welcomed and the children were very happy about our visit. First of all we had a little tour, then there were demonstrations by the pupils, we continued with the distribution of gifts and finally we had a traditional Kenyan meal. Thank you very much for your wonderful visit and for your support!
We decided to organise another donation transport to Kenya this year. But this will be the last one for the time being. Together with Pascale and her family we collected clothes, shoes, toys and school materials for half a year. Then the most time-consuming part followed: we had to sort and pack all the clothes and toys. Many things we could not use because of their bad condition. Several people helped us with the packing. In total we sent 594 kg to Kenya. Once again we could count on a great cooperation with Swisscargo. Many thanks at this point. As we had already gained experience with a cargo company at the airport in Nairobi last year, we felt much better prepared. However, we were to be proved wrong. Harrison and I flew to Nairobi to unload the goods together. This was the first flight in his life! A lorry took the overland route and was then to transfer the goods to Mshomoroni. At the beginning everything went well, we got five of the six customs stamps we needed without having to dig deep into our pockets. The last stamp was denied us until the end. The young woman with the stamp thought that it was not allowed to import used socks and underwear in Kenya and that her fellow Kenyans did not need this. After some discussion and asking her how the poor people of her country could afford new underwear and socks, she angrily packed up her stamp and disappeared home. No stamp = no goods, it’s as simple as that. Completely shocked we stood in front of the warehouse with perplexed faces and looked at our unobtainable packages. Since Harrison and I had already booked the return flight, we had to make the return journey willy-nilly without any freight and travel to Nairobi again the following week. But just before we left, the bosses were able to negotiate a deal among themselves and we actually really received the goods. Of course, this deal was not free, but we were able to transport the donations safely to Mshomoroni.
Of course, all the presents still had to be distributed. As we already knew from January, this always takes a lot of time. So we planned a whole day to give the presents to the children. The first thing we did was to lay out all the shoes in the classroom. There were over 200! Then each class was allowed to come by and each child was allowed to choose a matching pair of shoes. Then we switched to the clothes. The children diligently tried on everything and were delighted with their new T-shirts, jumpers, trousers, skirts, bags and hats! Seeing the children’s beaming eyes is always a real highlight. We can do so much with so little. A big thank you to all those who donated clothes and goods and to all those who made the transport possible with a financial donation.
During the Christmas season, we again had a Christmas campaign. For every donation of CHF 25 or more, one received a bar of the finest chocolate from either Honduras, Madagascar or Ecuador. Matthias is a passionate chocolatier. He made each bar of chocolate himself by hand and then sent it to our donors. We hope you enjoyed it!
Of course, an annual report should also include the finances. After collecting CHF 2,500 in donations in the first year and CHF 8,800 in the second, we were happy to receive an incredible CHF 60,922.53 this year! Thank you very much for your amazing support! Big income always brings big expenses with it. In the table you can see the total expenses of the year 2021.
|Temporary roof||CHF 77.45.-|
|Solar system||CHF 6’375.65.-|
|Wiring and light installation||CHF 1’761.10.-|
|Four Classrooms |
– Leveling and filling of the floors
– Cementing of the floors with metal
– Material ad labour walls (+rising walls)
|Purchase of land|
– Rest payment of first plot
– Initial purchase 550m2
|Water pressure system|
– Cage for protection of the tank
– Watertank cleaning
– Water pump
|Reparation toilets||CHF 249.20.-|
|Donation transport||CHF 2’826.70.-|
|School license und registration|
– Working license
– Child care facility
– Name search/Registration
|Textbooks class 5||CHF 300.-|
|School desks and tables||CHF 863.30.-|
|Manhole und drainage system||CHF 100.-|
|Various work first building|
– Sanding and varnishing windows
|School festival January||CHF 170.-|
|Ceiling and window grid headteachers office, night watchman||CHF 348.05.-|
|Waste bin and broom||CHF 90.60.-|
When a year ends, a new one begins. This year we have a lot of plans again and are in the planning phase of the next projects. We desperately need new sanitary facilities so that we also have good hygiene standards. Here too, we are focusing on sustainability. We will build a biodigester tank, where the excrements will naturally decompose into water. Furthermore, we want to replace the last two temporary classrooms made of metal sheets with stone buildings. Then we also want to build a new kitchen so that the cook no longer has to cook on the floor with fire and in unhealthy conditions. Katharina is responsible for the kitchen and she has created a yearly calendar with recipes of Kenyan specialities for the funding and offered it as a Christmas present.
As you can see, there is still a lot to do. Of course, we depend on financial help to realise our projects. We are happy about every donation! Thank you for accompanying us on this journey!