There's been a lot of anticipation, and finally we're moving forward with construction on the school. I left Nanyuki on Friday afternoon after having spent another morning with the crew. Building works differently here, and the protocol for starting a project like this is really different than in the U.S. The first day I arrived in Nanyuki, people kept walking onto the property. They asked what was happening, and then they all kind of just stood around waiting. They were eagerly hoping for a job. In an area occupied almost solely by simple farmers, jobs are hard to come by. The project manager brought a crew from Nairobi, but the goal is to use as many local laborers as possible, especially for the informal jobs.
He told me, "We need to make this their project, like they are part of it." Indeed, getting the locals involved is important. They're our advocates and supporters, the ones who'll offer security, and without them, the idea could fail. Kenyans are all about relationships and community, so you can't just dump a school down in the middle of a place without connecting with all the neighbors.
So the project manager called a meeting to establish protocol and give everyone a task. Within 5 minutes most of the neighbors had stopped what they were doing and walked over to the property. We worshipped God together on the edge of the field, and it felt like a holy moment. Then the project manager told them that they must build up trust and show they can do a good job, that they must go out and report honestly that we are building a school (not a university or a hospital or something else). He showed them our surveyor report to indicate we were indeed building in the correct area and not stealing anyone's property (very common in Kenya). We made sure to invite the area manager. She reports all issues to the chief, so clearly we want to connect and know her. We hired the lady across the street who cooked Edwin and I delicious chapati back in September to be the cook for the crew. And the projector manager told them to call me by my name instead of calling me mzungu (foreigner or white person). And then I watched as men went out with their metal slashers and began to hand slash down an entire field of weeds. It's tiresome work and looks like someone swinging a golf club back and forth, but no one complained. When I left, we were in the process of purchasing posts and metal link fence that will be put in the ground and then have beautiful hedges planted over top, which creates a secure fence that no one can break through. They have to plant the hedges quickly before the April rains come.
So this is the beginning, and now comes the part where we need your help. Our prayer is that we'll be able to complete all of Phase 1 this year including 4 classrooms, office space, teacher housing, and 1 dormitory. We've raised part of the money to do this, but we're still short $150,000. I know that's a lot of money, but I've also seen miracles happen this past year.
Our first miracle is that a donor has offered to match the next $20,000 of donations! This means your $100 becomes $200, your $1000 becomes $2000, your $5000 becomes $10,000 etc.
If we can raise these matching funds quickly, this will allow us to keep building without having to pause in the middle of the project, to keep the momentum going, and to keep our deadline of opening in January. Are you able to help?
You can DONATE HERE
Or, mail a check here:
Grain of Rice Project
PO Box 91
Brookville, IN 47012
or donate through our Facebook fundraiser.
These are some of the local kids I met who actually live right across the road. Imagine the impact the school could have on their lives one day. Thank you so much for continuing to be part of this huge dream.