February 5, 2014

Putting it into practice is easier said than done

Life Award 2013

24th January 2014

Outside the hospital are market traders selling food stuffs to the patient escorts, the mothers, wife etc. of patients.


Watson and I (Dave) spend the morning with three plumbers from the maintenance team. We visit the children’s unit and see the ‘new showers’ (fitted under a separate grant) but find that one is no longer working and that four out of eight toilet faucets are closed off.

The shower is not working because the water has scaled up the shower rose and no-one knows how to descale and clean it. The first reaction of the maintenance team is to throw it away and replace it. Yet another sign of training required… Watson and I soon put that right!

Investigation of the toilet problem proves that the bib tap provided for flushing and personal hygiene is of poor quality Chinese manufacture. The spindle thread has stripped and it is tied shut with old cannula tubing. When we ask about replacements a new British Standard tap is produced and quickly exchanged.

Simple precautions such as covering waste fittings to prevent losing screws and washers down them have to be pointed out to the team as no one has highlighted the potential problems.

Once solutions are identified the maintenance team quickly learn and resolve the problems and all showers and toilets in the children’s unit are fully functional.

Meanwhile, Mark is working with the electrical maintenance team to teach them about saving energy with the use of PIR sensors. They quickly grasp the principle but putting it into practice is easier said than done.

A suitable light for a test is identified but doesn’t seem to have a switcher isolator. Eventually it is sorted and work commences but it soon becomes clear that the team have inadequate tools and equipment for the work they do. A redundant pendant light fitting has to be utilised as a junction box as not once junction box or enclosure is available.

The PIR is fitted and connected in circuit with the lamp but just as we start to test it the power goes off! It must be 12 noon! We’ll have to come back about 6pm to test it.


As it is Friday, everyone goes off to prayers in this mainly Muslim country and we retire to Paradise for a review meeting. As our meeting takes until 7pm the final test of the PIR and light is later than expected but it works perfectly.

Dinner is again on the upper veranda accompanied by the light of fireflies flying around us.