Jambo! I’m excited to share another update from Maua Villa with you today. In this newsletter, I want to tell you about our nearly completed community house in Maua Villa and why I believe it’s already our signature project. Plus, get ready for some amazing photos from our annual Pamoja Family outing, which once again reminded me that great experiences don’t always have to come with a hefty price tag. I’ve got a lot in store for you, so let’s dive in!
The walls are up, the windows are in, and the roof is on. Even though it didn’t always look like it, the construction of the community house is almost complete. I think we’ll be done with the major work in about 6 weeks. Just like you would expect from a construction project, there have been disappointments and setbacks over the past few months, but also a lot of amazing moments: teamwork, dedication, and plenty of creativity. John, who was supposed to be the project manager and coordinator on-site, is unfortunately (but somehow fortunately) no longer with us. Despite being a trained professional, his work turned out to be sloppy, inaccurate, and amateurish. Many of the mistakes occurred with the steel structure of the roof, and they were so significant that entire sections had to be dismantled and rebuilt. He also bought three times as many gutters as we needed. To make the best out of the situation, we decided to gift some of the surplus gutters to families in the nearby area. It’s hard to believe, but gutters are almost a luxury here. In our garden, we are currently testing how to efficiently water a large vegetable bed with just 2-3 gutters. We’re designing the bed in a way that allows the soil to store and distribute rainwater. Fortunately, we can return the remaining gutters. I think it’s a great example of how a mistake can turn into added value and ultimately something amazing.
It is stories like these that make me believe that the community house is the perfect signature project: it clearly reflects our vision and bears our unique touch. Not only because it has turned into a beautiful, sustainable house that will soon become the heart of Maua Villa, but also because the construction process was not easy. Our architects, Bea and Alan, faced significant challenges and always approached difficult situations with a cool head, coming up with creative solutions.
Now, it’s nearly standing tall. Once I’m back on-site, we’ll focus on the interior design—a little German thoroughness probably won’t hurt. I want to take a moment to express my heartfelt thanks to all our supporters. The fundraising campaign on betterplace is closed, and the house is financed. What a dream!
Speaking of finances… Does any of you know someone who would be interested in volunteering to oversee the financial matters of Maua Villa? Our Kenyan accountant, Hildah, will be stepping down at the end of June as she has found a full-time position elsewhere. We are searching for someone who can keep an eye on the income and expenses in Maua Villa. The main responsibility would be to remotely monitor the books with a critical eye and prevent any potential misappropriation. If you or someone you know is interested, please reach out to me for more details.
In addition to our growing team in Maua Villa, we have recently welcomed Anderson, who ensures our security. As word spreads about our project, it’s important to have someone guarding the premises and the construction materials. Thanks to a generous donation from Clem, an expat living and working in Kenya, we have secured Anderson’s salary for another year – a thousand thanks! I greatly appreciate Anderson not only for being an exceptional night guard but also for his honesty and his perspective that goes beyond his designated role. He fearlessly addresses uncomfortable topics within the team and has become a valuable member of the Pamoja Family.
At the end of April, it was time for our annual trip. Due to the extraordinary expenses associated with the common house, I decided to opt for a budget-friendly adventure this year. Together with the Pamoja Family, we embarked on a fantastic, albeit challenging and demanding, hike to the nearby Kilimwana Hill. We spent nearly 5 hours on the trail, climbing wooden ladders and tackling steep paths all the way to the summit of the 1,300-meter-high mountain. The view from up there was stunning! To get a sense of the steep ascent, take a look at the komoot-Tour to get a glimpse of the incredible trip. We managed to cross the adventurous river with dry feet, but the torrential downpour on the way back drenched us to the bone. Nevertheless, we had an amazing day filled with plenty of laughter and fun. It once again reminded me that a fantastic experience doesn’t necessarily have to come with a hefty price tag.
On the contrary, the school education of our kids costs quite a bit. As I told you in the last newsletter, three of our boys are now going to secondary school. One of them is Mwau. Mwau had initially decided not to go to boarding school. That means he continued to live with us in Maua Villa and rode his bike to the secondary school every day. Now the first term (trimester) is over and he has changed his mind. In the future he would like to live in the school as well - of course this costs money.
When the vacations start, the relatives pick up their child in Maua Villa to spend a few days at home together. On this occasion, I also get to talk to the relatives - like recently with Mwau’s mother. Mwau’s mother has another five children, and the 14-year-old daughter already has a child of her own. The circumstances also made me think of his siblings. It sounds harsh when I say this, but unfortunately, none of Mwau’s siblings will likely have a real chance at secondary education. When our children are home with their families over the vacations, many of the relatives also note how well-groomed and well-behaved our kids are. This is often particularly noticeable in direct comparison with their siblings or cousins. The exchange with the relatives made me realize once again how great it is that we can enable the children living in Maua Villa to attend a secondary school and thus also offer them a hopeful outlook. Starting next year, five additional kids will possibly attend secondary school. This will also significantly increase the financial needs. For one of the children the school fees for the first year are already paid - thanks to Roman from Children-First e. V.. After the construction of the community house, the financing of the school is our next big goal in order to be able to continue to accompany our children.
I’m so glad you made it this far to read, there’s just so much to tell. Next time I will definitely report on the inauguration of our new community house and who knows what else will happen until then.