Working in Africa is not just a different continent; it’s a different world to here. And that’s before I have even set foot there.
There is a different approach to what can be done and what can’t, a different approach to safety and a different expectation to standards that should be adopted. So while I was expecting some variation, I am on a steep learning curve.
All that said it’s great fun to be planning and watching from afar, not quite sure how things will turn out in any particular area.
The team is ready to go. Whilst one of the ladies that were accompanying has dropped out, the five chaps and two remaining ladies are now ready with tickets booked for the 8th May to fly via Addis Ababa to Harare.
While there are still many things to fine tune here, the work on site; in one way or another, has been progressing in preparation. The actual work has in part altered as we only have to deal with 3 houses not 4. Political pressure has resulted in a staff change and a family coming into Musha Wevana to take charge, and they need to use the 4th house.
Myself and the team are now intent on upgrading the showers in the 3 remaining houses together with the toilets which we have discovered do not, and have not for a long time, flushed. Therefore 3 new cisterns are on site now waiting to be fitted and connected.
Problems were also discovered in the supply of water to the site as a whole. The local mains water is not of sufficient pressure and also not reliable enough to supply the needs of the houses. There is a borehole on site and that has been augmenting the local supply from the water tower however, it seemed good to re-think the water supply particularly as the distribution around the site was principally via old galvanised pipework which was in poor condition.
The result is that the site distribution has been replaced and the present system is to use the borehole to feed the water tower with the local mains augmenting that in an emergency such as a failure of the pump. Trenches were dug and the galvanised pipe replaced, except for the final rise which we will do, by what looks like blue MDPE by volunteers including the pastor of the local church.
I wait with anticipation to see it!
Next it was decided that the water tower itself would not give sufficient head pressure. The tank stood on a 4 meter stand and this was increased by a local welder to 6 meters which is adequate for all of the houses.
The operation didn’t quite look to me as though it met safety standards.
Briefly a vertical boom was erected temporarily and the emptied tank lowered using a rope tackle from the boom using a winch on the front of a car (rope broke once, wheel broke once). The base of the stand was cut and the stand lowered onto the ground. The extra two meters welded in place and the whole process reversed. All a bit Heath Robinson but it’s up and reconnected.
The geysers were ordered and the supplier, who is local, volunteered to provide the labour for free to fit them onto roof stands that they had already ordered. This meant a much safer job for the team and they would provide the access equipment and actually drop the pipes from the geysers through the tiles for me to connect to. The offer was too good to refuse – the 3 geysers are now fitted on their stands ready.
Most of the materials are now safely on site under lock and key including (as suggested by the committee) anti vandal pattern heads and percussion valves. The team are however having problems locating inserts for the 22mm PEX pipe as it is an odd internal bore and apparently they don’t use them there! I plan to take the mixing valves as I do not like the quality of the ones available there and also to take such things as clips (they only use holder bats) and other bits and pieces.
So work is reduced in some respects although I am assured there is more than enough for us to do. One thing that had been purposely omitted was the supplies of water (hot and cold) to a redundant separate shower block with one each male & female shower. The orphanage has been gifted a nearly new geyser of similar pattern to the obsolete one at present fitted and I hope that we may be able to tackle this while we are there and upgrade the showers – although we don’t know whether the shower heads and valves will be available so we will have to wait to see.
Clearly, a lot has been going on and now the time is getting short. I look forward to letting you know further progress.
See a full collection of images from the Musha Wevana project here