I first became involved with EWB-Delaware chapter at the post trip meeting after the 1st implementation trip (February 2018). Eight months later, with much hard work from everyone, the travel team embarked on our 2nd implementation trip in Oct 2018!
Despite our experiences and knowledge from the previous trip, we still encountered many challenges.
On the project side, parts still didn't all fit, some parts were missing for the scaffolding, and city electricity supply was unreliable; additionally, narrow margin on the roof made it difficult to fit drills into the back of gutter.
Nature wasn't on our side either - the uneven ground was hindering scaffolding usage, and rainy weather prevented any work being done on some of the days. One day when the muddy road condition became impossible due to the sandy layer underneath, after much slippery and sliding in the van, we turned around and take an expedition through Tanzania road after bargaining with border control, then walked the last 3 miles to the school in white and thickening fog with dire visibility.
We were lucky to have help from the school watchman Enoch, as well as Sadera from WILK, but was still unable to fully complete the project. Nonetheless, despite the engineering and weather challenges, we laid a solid foundation for the phase II project to be successfully completed in January 2019.
Outside of work, daily life was a very enriching cultural experience. It was exhilarating and humbling waking up to Kilimanjaro every morning, and it quickly became a group activity to wake up and gather on the rooftop for sunrise.
The guest house we stayed in had latches on the outside, and I actually managed to locked Kim in by accident for an entire night until she discovered it in the morning - fortunately it was a safe night. Bursts of electricity outage in the guest house and restaurants were common; hot water supply wasn’t reliable in Loitokitok, and electricity still blinked and sizzled on the shower head.
The roads were very bumpy and dusty, and it usually took 45min on a good day just to drive 18 kilometers to get to the school. Sadera quipped the bumpy rides "Kenyan Massage". One day we sadly witnessed a serious motorcycle accident, leaving a pool of blood on the ground. Safety first, always!
The most profound of it all was seeing the lives of the students. During the day, they gathered around us with utmost curiosity and energy, forming a blue sea of school uniforms. In the evening as we leave, we see the same students, no longer in their uniforms, but scattered near and far in the field, herding their family animals. What a different life!
On the last working day we couldn't do any work due to the rain, so we left the school and saw some animals driving through the Safari park in Amboseli National Park. Some Maasai ladies successfully sold beads to us at the park, but we also visited Joyce's bead workshop before flying out.
We gave much in our trip, changing lives in the village and the school. Meanwhile our lives have been touched and changed as well, as we gain new understanding of life, inequality, and our connection with the world.