Friday, February 10, 2012

Hacking, digging, shoveling away...

The living room, before renovation
John, Peter, and I
Today was my first official day working with John. There is an old man named Peter who lives up in Maingi, a town just above Kijabe, who John met three years ago. I guess Peter isn't very old in age, but his body is old. He has such bad leg and joint problems that he cant get a job, or even sweep his house (the African broom is a little different than ours, its about 2 feet tall and made from branches) because the bending hurts him. His house doesn't have a floor, its just uneven dirt.Which is not good on his legs. So, he told John a long time ago that for the 15 years that he's lived in this house, with no job and constant pain in his legs, he's needed a real floor. John wasn't able to help him until now, so today we started the job. John used a Jembe (I don't know how to explain it... its like a pitchfork/ice axe) to break the hardened dirt and dig about 5 inches into the ground, and me and one other boy that John has been trying to give work to (to encourage getting him off the streets) shoveled the dirt out of the house and into a wheelbarrow, and took the dirt to the yard outside. So we did this to his whole living room and bedroom. We also were able to order the stones to start making the floor, so a huge truck full of stones came to the house and delivered the rocks needed. We all got into the back of the truck and threw all the stones over the fence into the yard, ready to be used in a few days for the floor. The plan is to put the stones down, break them up to make them smaller and more level, use some of the dirt we shoveled out today to put in between the stones, then cover the whole floor with cement, to ensure a strong and reliable ground. This will also make it much easier for Peter to clean, we're going to get him a mop so he doesn't have to bend down and sweep.
In the middle of our day, when we went for lunch, John took me by his old house. He used to live in Maingi, until one day in August at about 4pm, someone set his house on fire. John couldn't get to his house till 6, and by that time it was almost all completely ash. His room was the one thing still
Throwin' stones
John looking at what used to be his home
standing, the house was flaming so they didn't have much time, but him and his neighbors attempted to save his valuables. Instead of saving them, some of his neighbors ran away with his things and they were never to be seen again. So, literally everything he owned was either ash or stolen. John puts every pint of energy into helping improve other peoples lives, to imagine that someone would do this to him is heartbreaking. No one deserves devastation like this, but John is the last person on this earth who this should have happened to. Anyway, he has now moved up towards the highway to a different neighborhood, and he's working on building his new house which will be made of stone and I'm sure will be a strong and wonderful house for him and his family.
So we had a good day of hard work, and we will hopefully be finishing the floors next week. I'm hoping life is good for all of you back at home!
All that remains...


  1. Awesome post, my dear! Keep them coming! I arrived at Chimayo yesterday and when I opened the car door, Oliver leapt in and pinned me in the driver's seat. I love you, and your words and photos are bringing your hard work alive.

  2. Bravo, Kristin. Keep writing and hacking ;) amazing stuff! Kayce

  3. Sounds like a hard day of work. So very pleased to read your descriptions. Keep the stories coming!