Getting stuck in…
Day One: Gabby arrives early to meet Alix and Richard in Nairobi, then take’s a taxi to a backpackers lodge twenty minutes from the airport to await the arrival of Rosa later that night.
Day Two: We have a long wait in the airport café for the rest of the team to fly in, but use the time to get to know each other better and share our excitement at finally being in Africa! Once the team is assembled we take a bumpy bus ride from Nairobi to Mtito-Andei, which involved loud music and the African landscape flitting past our windows. We observe the sugar cane fields the ram shackled roadside stalls and the crazy overtaking by the massive lorries.
Day Three: Miriam’s bag still has not arrived and causes great sadness in the group. We are taken on a tour of some existing dams to get an idea of the final product we hope to achieve. The fields around the dams are lush and green, in juxtaposition to the sandy semi-arid landscape of most of Africa. Once we have arrived at our dam sight we meet the KiKamba communities we will be working with and are introduced to such personalities as Cheesy Munyao (crazy Munyao), Teacher, Jacqueline and Cornelius. Natalie is the first of the group to be given her own Kamba name (Indunge) but soon many of us receive ours including several Ngumbao and a Canini. Learning KiKamba words is important, as many of the community do not speak English, so phrases like Wamu Kata? Watin Data? Nuseo and Watcha? Aah! Are used daily.
Day Six: The group has improved its cement mixing skills so much we could be considered Pro’s. On our first full day we managed to mix 147 bags of cement! Despite this, we still accumulated some injuries and cement burns. However, these haven’t managed to quell our enthusiasm. Our breaks are spent sipping piping hot Chai tea, which is very sugary, or eating on beans in great quantities that we have flavoured with chilli sauce.
The Birthday Weekend: Miriam’s bag has arrived at the Shamba to great rejoicing! Gabby and Dom are the chosen two to celebrate their “birthdays” with presents. Children from the local community charm their way into the Shamba and we spend an enjoyable afternoon skipping and singing. After lunch we pop over to the Tsavo Inn to discover the other side of Mtito-Andei by enjoying the hotel’s pool. The day is topped off with a Nyama Choma (roasted beef & goat) and party games. By the end of the night a three-man tent is jam-packed with 12 people.
Sunday is spent relaxing and recovering in order for another week of Kaiwo (water) and Mavia Maneenee! (big stones).
Monday, Week 2 sees the end of our first dam! It’s amazing that the group has only been together one week and already we know each other so well.
Tuesday: We visit the new dam site before we start working proper, tomorrow. The site is much smaller but the terrain is steeper and the rocks and water needed for the dam further afield, meaning we will probably take just as long to build this second one as we did the first. The community greeted us excellently with singing and dancing and we are excited to get started and get to know this new group of Kamba as well as our first community. It’s very good news to know that cheesy Munyao will also be joining us at the new dam!