It was an eventful year! School operations had returned to normal after the corona pandemic and mask-wearing was lifted. We had already prepared many plans for 2022, but we did not know how far we would get and what we could achieve. It turned out to be the most intense year yet.
We were able to build a new kitchen for our cook and thus significantly improve her working conditions as well as the food supply for the children. Another very important point for us personally were the outdated toilets. We decided to build new sanitary facilities this year. The old ones did not meet the hygienic standards we envisioned and therefore something had to change. We were able to start the construction of the new and sustainable sanitary facilities in May. It would have been optimal if they were already finished and in operation by now. However, there were various delays in the supply chains and complicated construction phases, which made this impossible.
So it is our ambition to finish them this year. Below you can read the details about our new toilets. All in all, we are very pleased with the progress we made last year. We were able to further improve the infrastructure, educate more students, better serve the students and create additional jobs. We were also able to welcome numerous visitors to our school, which is always a great pleasure and an enrichment for everyone involved.
This year there were many construction sites with us. In addition to the large projects, such as the kitchen and the new toilets, smaller works were also carried out.
In the entrance area we thought of something special and created the Hands of Hope. For a long time Harrison and I studied how we could design the entrance area of the school. We decided to do a school art project that would include all the students. We had the entrance wall paved and a painter decorated it with our logo as well as our contact information. In the middle, we left a gray space where we would place our handprints. We gathered all the children in front of the wall and started to make handprints on the gray area with oil paint. This way everyone could immortalize themselves on the wall.
It was a huge party and the children didn’t want to leave the school. They would have loved to spend the whole night making prints on the wall. Despite 200 hands, the wall is not yet full and is waiting for more prints from our visitors and new students. The Hands of Hope stand for the hope we want to give to the children. Hope for a better life.
Further, we made the schoolyard more student-friendly. We connected the classrooms with a corridor and cemented the schoolyard. This is because we want the entire school area to be wheelchair accessible so that we can provide access to our school for physically challenged students. Cementing the schoolyard helps us minimize dust and dirt on the grounds and in the classrooms. This will allow us to significantly improve the learning environment. With the corridor, we will also create more weather-protected space. Unfortunately, our cypress tree had to give way for the redesign. However, we replaced it with a mango tree, which will provide shade and fruit in the future. Finally, the second school building has also received doors and windows.
For the teachers we had desks with a carcass made by a carpenter. Until now, they always had to do all their work on a chair. With the new desks, their everyday life should become much more comfortable. For Harrison’s office, in addition to a desk, we had the carpenter make a large cabinet where all documents, materials and laptops can be stored safely. This cabinet also contains our new printer, which Natanel and Anna-Barbara transported to Kenya for us. The printer is very important for the school because we need a lot of documents, forms, assignment sheets and also copies for the operation. If we can’t print it ourselves, we have to commission it for a lot of money.
With the construction of a new kitchen, we were able to achieve a great goal. In November, the time had come and we officially put the kitchen into operation. We organized a big spaghetti dinner for all students and teachers. For many it was the first time they ate spaghetti. It was a day full of joy and fun. The beginning was a bit rocky, however, as we were denied sunshine in the morning, the battery was dead and so we had no electricity. We had to switch to the old fireplace for the inauguration so that we could prepare the food. So when the new kitchen was opened, the food was still prepared in the old one.
With the commissioning of the kitchen, we thus realized that the energy of our solar panels with the battery is not sufficient. However, it was strange that we had a relatively high power consumption at night and it happened each time that the battery was empty in the morning. This led to the fact that we had several times no electricity, because in addition the sun was missing.
So we had no water supply and could not cook food. When technology goes out, tried and true methods like fire and water cranking have to help out. It then became apparent that the security lights were consuming more power at night than first thought. Therefore, we had to remove some. All in all, however, it was clear that the supply would not be sufficient for kitchen operations. So we contacted our solar company Greenlog again. A few days later, four 550W panels were already delivered to us from Nairobi, which were successfully installed the following day. From this point on, cooking was no longer a problem.
As of now, our panels bring more power than our inverter can transmit. As the power demand will increase with the size of the school in the next years, we will need an additional inverter and battery next. For now, however, we are well positioned and produce enough electricity for the entire school!
You can find the detailed report about the kitchen here.
Our school urgently needed new toilets. The old ones were falling apart and the hygiene standards could no longer be met. So we decided to build a new toilet facility. This project is the biggest and most complex in the history of our school. But before we could start the construction, there was a long planning phase. We had to evaluate what possible toilet systems were available, which ones would suit us and whether the implementation was possible with our know-how.
We then decided on a worm filter (Vermifilter) with a Wetland. The reasons were the possibility to reuse the drain water, not to pollute the environment with waste and the creation of fertilizer. So we will have worms that will process the feces and toilet paper. In Switzerland, such worm filters are known mainly for compost processing. It is a new type of system which is not known in Kenya. Normally a hole is dug where the feces flow in until it is full. After that it is either emptied or closed. But for us this was not an option, because the environment and especially the school environment are polluted and the water cannot be reused.
The worms will be in so-called IBC tanks, where the fecal matter goes in. Now the worms process the feces and toilet paper into compost that can be reused without hesitation after about a year. The wastewater then continues to flow through a layer of sand, cloth and stones, where initial purification takes place. From the IBC tanks, it then enters our wetland. This consists of sand and gravel and is planted with reeds. The water collects there and is cleaned by the sand and gravel layers and the reeds. It is then pumped by a pump into an overhead tank, where it is ready again for the next flushing cycle. The excess water can be used to water trees.
The on-site project manager is Bonniface Mwadime, an engineer specializing in sanitation. He graduated last year and decided to take over our project. We are also supported by Chris Canaday, a biologist from Bolivia, who knows a lot about sustainable toilet systems in regions with limited supply. So we have a team of specialists who take care of this new kind of system. Since this type of toilet is new in Kenya and we do not have much experience, we still expect some challenges that we have to overcome. If everything will work properly, we will have a super sustainable toilet system with water recycling.
We have planned two blocks, one for the girls and one for the boys. On the plan, which was drawn by our architect Lukas, you can see the exact layout. In each block there will be two showers and one barrier-free toilet. For the girls there will be five cabins with two normal sitting toilets and three squat toilets. For the boys, there will be four urinals and three cabins with two squat toilets and one sit-down toilet. We need the squat toilets for our youngest members. The blocks are divided so that the students have their own entrance and the teachers have another.
In front of the toilets will be the hand washing facility. It consists of three half tanks each with a drain. The water flows through a tube over all the tanks and the children can press water nipples to trigger the water jet. There everyone should be able to wash their hands with soap. With this system we can keep water consumption to a minimum. The sitting toilets were donated to us by the Laufen company. We have received top modern Laufen save! toilets. These separate the urine so we can use it directly as fertilizer for banana plants. The toilets are currently on their way to Kenya by ship. We would like to thank Laufen for the great donation!
For the construction of the building we bought a brick making machine. With it, we were able to produce the bricks ourselves and thus significantly reduce the cost of construction. We mix the components together and in the machine the mixture is then pressed into bricks. The brick making machine will be of great use to us for further constructions in the future.
Our handwashing facilities.
ADDITIONAL UNDERGROUND WATER TANK AND DRINKING WATER
As our school continues to grow and we thus also have more students, the demand for water naturally increases. During the year, we have noticed that our water tank is no longer sufficient. We have equipped all our roofs with rain gutters, but since the tank is too small, a lot of water from it gets lost again. In addition, a full tank will not carry us very far if it does not rain for a long time. So it happened that we had to buy fresh water frequently and this put a strain on our budget.
We therefore decided to build another underground water tank. This time, however, it was to be much larger, with a capacity of about 90,000 liters. Unlike the first tank, we used an excavator to dig the hole. This brought us several advantages: We were able to save costs and the dimensions of the tank were much more accurate. Unfortunately, it also had a small disadvantage. Due to the tight space conditions, our large tree in the middle of the area had to give way. However, we will replace it with equal value. The whole construction took about three weeks.
One difficulty after completion was the connection of the two tanks. Since they were not the same depth and the first still had a sloping bottom, the connection was not so easy. In addition, it also had to withstand large pressures. But together with our plumber we were able to find a suitable solution and install it.
All the rainwater now flows into the large new tank and from there into the small one. If the small one is full, we can close the inflow with a sluice and there is no danger of overpressure and thus destruction of the tank. For the connection we had to use high quality and stable materials, which was also reflected in the price (about CHF 1000). However, with these two tanks we can now supply ourselves with water for an entire year without any problems. Another step towards the desired self-sufficiency.
So we were now able to store enough water, but rainwater, as we know, is not drinking water. We absolutely need drinking water to supply the school and we want to get away from processing it using chlorine. Together with Davis&Shirtliff we looked for a suitable possibility and decided on a UV filter system. This kills all bacteria, parasites and viruses and the water can be drunk without any problems. The water flows from the rain tank via pressure tank through five different filters (2x sand, carbon and 2x sediment filters) and then through the UV filter. So we have managed to produce drinking water from rainwater. An enormously important step for the health of the children!
Rain water –> Drinking water
Compared to last year, we were fortunately able to increase the donation income even a little more. In total, we received a donation sum of CHF 73,660.89! This is an amount we had not expected. Where there is a lot of income, there is also a lot of expenditure. Thanks to you we were able to invest a lot this year and to push the renewal of the infrastructure. The total expenses in 2022 amount to CHF 70’178.12. In the table below you can see the individual items.
|Land purchase, 632 m2||CHF 6’756.45|
|Water tank 90’000 L||CHF 6’381.19|
|Extension of 2nd school unit|
– Windows and doors including transport
– Rain gutters
|Extension of 1st school unit|
– Rain gutters and plastering entrance wall
– Cementation/shaping schoolyard
|Extension solar system||CHF 1’603.41|
|Toys for the children||CHF 864.25|
|Desks and chairs||CHF 867.13|
|Water treatment incl. filter and pump||CHF 547.70|
|Brick making machine||CHF 544.30|
|Office and school supplies|
Textbooks 6th grade
Epson Ecotank printer
– Repair of old toilets
– General repairs
|School licence||CHF 138.17|
|Customs document toilet transport||CHF 87.33|
REVISED EDUCATION SYSTEM
A few years ago, Kenya decided to introduce a new education system. This stipulated that elementary school would only go up to grade 6, followed by junior secondary. At the moment we are in the conversion phase. For us, this means that in the future we will no longer have a 7th and 8th grade. The government has set certain requirements for the operation of a junior secondary school, which we are not able to meet at the moment (like most elementary school in Kenya). At the moment it is not clear where the new 7th and 8th graders will go to school. However, we are doing everything we can to meet the government’s requirements and to be recognized as a Junior Secondary School soon.
The sponsorships are a very important part of our school. Last year we were able to increase the number to 32. This makes us extremely happy. Since we have had this support for our neediest children and families, many things have changed for them. The children now have two solid meals a day, something their parents could not provide for them before. They have also received school uniforms, shoes and the necessary school materials.
The changes are also reflected in their ability to learn. Two of our sponsored children have completed 8th grade and are now moving on to secondary school. Thanks to our program, we can finance this education for them as well and continue to guarantee the chance of a good education. This makes us extremely happy. At this point we would like to thank all the sponsors. Without you this would not be possible. The children and families would also be happy about more sponsors! Here you can sign up for a sponsorship and make a better life for the children possible: Become a sponsor.
Anna-Barbara and Natanael visited our school in July. They helped our cooks with the cooking, supervised the playgroups and also created some lessons themselves. It was a great time for the children and we are very grateful for their visit. Here you can read their report in German!
Volunteers are always welcome. If you are interested, you can contact us here: Volunteering
With great joy, board member Matthias and his family visited the school for the first time in April. With their luggage full of games for the children, they set off on their first Kenya adventure. Arriving at the school, they were warmly welcomed with dance and singing performances by each class. This was followed by a round of introductions and a tour of the school grounds. After the introductions, the presentation of the different games started. Most of the games were unknown to the children and had to be explained first. For this purpose, they had prepared extra explanatory videos on the laptops. Speedstacks, four wins, mill, a slackline, juggling balls and much more were hidden in the gifts from Matthias and his family. The children were thrilled! That day they were only busy playing and promptly forgot about the lessons.
The most important goal this year is the completion of the sanitation facility. As soon as we can put it into operation, we will work on the next projects. Next on the agenda is the planning and construction of new classrooms, a staff room and a multi-function room (library, auditorium). Our goal is to have a maximum of 25 students per class and a single classroom for each. Since some classes are already larger, they have to be divided during the year. In this way we can ensure the quality of teaching and the care of individual students. Furthermore, we want to invest in a kitchen garden, redesign the schoolyard, lay an improved floor in the existing classrooms and put shutters on the windows.
So we are not running out of projects and ideas. But in order to realize all of them, we depend on your financial support. Help us with a donation to get closer to our goals and to change the lives of the children!
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