Iembeni School Kenia
Iembeni School Kenia
In April 2011 we started with the rebuilding of a primary school in Iembeni (Thika area).
The existing classrooms of this primary school were in deplorable conditions and the 264 children who attend this school did not have any lessons during bad weather because of leaking and mud. The school is having six new classrooms which were built according to the Kenyan demands and regulations. Also a new outdoor kitchen was built and the roofs of the classrooms got a drainage right into a water tank, located on the compound.
Macheo started a schoolfeeding program at Iembeni Primary School in 2010 and this resulted in a higher number of attending students. They went from 25% to 75% of regular school attending children. The expectations are that by building this new school the number of school attending children will even get higher.
Next to the medical bus, which is being used by Widhya Asih all around the Bali island, also a 16 seated school/person bus has been donated begin 2014 to transport children from the 7 different children’s home around the island from or to school. By getting this bus, this problem is partly been solved. Also thinking about eventually expansion of the organization this will help them a lot.
Expending a cowshed Kenya-Majengo
Expending a cowshed Kenya-Majengo
In the first part of 2014, Upendo has been helped financially to extend their cowshed. They had only 1 cow and 2 calves. They wanted to expend to 3 to 4 cows. In the surrounding of Mombasa the prices are about 40% higher than in the Thika area. Because of the higher temperatures in the coast area, the expected milk production is lower, but with the higher price, still profit is to be expected. Upendo will be able to generate more revenue and more profit, to be able to become a bit more self-sustainable to cater for the running costs of their children’s home.
Construction family houses Watoto Wenye Nguvu-Kenya
In 2013, we decided as Benjamin Foundation, after Macheo also to construct family houses in Watoto Wenye Nguvu (WWN). It has always been the desire of our founder Cees Dros. He wanted children to grow up in a family environment, rather than in an institution.
In Macheo we have seen that it is very positive removing children from an institution setting with large dormitories to family houses with eight children and a housemother. The housemother is going to really feel responsible for her children, and the children get more individual attention, as in a family.
During the period November 2014-June 2015 the following houses were built in Watoto Wenye Nguvu.
• A guest house with 4 bedrooms.
• 2 new houses with either 2 living units, each with 4 bedrooms.
• 3 houses each with 2 residential units, made out of the old dormitories each with 4 bedrooms.
• 1 small house with two bedrooms and bathrooms for staff.
• A total of 12 houses with +/- 1100 m2 surface.
Begin process, construction preparations
In early September 2014 we started to select an architect. Eventually we opted for a reliable architect/contractor who also has constructed Upendo and the first buildings in Macheo. In addition to the 10 family units also a guesthouse will be constructed for volunteers and donors/visitors and a small staff house.
In phase one starting October 2014, a guesthouse and 4 units will be constructed. The guesthouse is a small ground floor cottage with four bedrooms. Besides the guesthouse we also started with two new maisonettes , each containing two residential units. In phase 2, after finishing the two maisonettes, the children will move into these four units in order to change the existing dormitories to another 6 residential units, two 1-story buildings with 4 units in the current girls dorms and one 1-story building with two units in the boys’ dormitory.
The plan for 2014 was to finalize the guesthouse where possible and the two maisonettes to the first floor foundation and continue in January 2015 with the first floor walls and roof . The entire project should be finished by mid-June 2015.
The drawings were approved after much back and forth writings, while we in the Netherlands are slightly more detail than in Kenya. After approving the drawings a BOQ (Bill of Quantities)was prepared per building. These were sent to five contractors for bids which came back in mid-October. The amounts were somewhat disappointing, even though we were prepared that contractors maintain high prices.
After several discussions, we decided to build the first three buildings without a contractor. The architect will be a consultant, supervising about once a week or on crucial moments. We found a fundi (foreman) , who had experience with 5-storey buildings in Thika and was used to manage up to 70 people. Fortunately, he had time and he could start immediately. On October 24, we spoke to him and construction started on October 28th , with the setting out of the building. The week before we had already removed all the trees and plants.
The construction November
The setting out and the foundation
Setting out is done by first putting timber around the construction area, using nails and wires to indicate where the walls will come. By using diagonals and the Pythagorean theorem (ratio 3,4,5) all walls were checked if really 90 degrees to each other. After checking and approving the lines were drawn with lime on the soil. All future walls are supported by a deeper trench with concrete, iron and sub walls under the foundation slab. A trench of 60 cm wide was dug to a depth where the soil is firm with a layer of gravel (murram). The guesthouse ditches were excavated approximately 6o to 70 cm deep, for the maisonette in some places 1.50 meters deep and other places only 5 cm where we hit directly on rocks.
After the first trenches were dug buildings and construction were officially blessed by the priest of the Catholic church together with the children.
After the trenches were deep enough, a small layer of 5 cm of concrete was poured, in order to prevent the iron to get in contact with the earth and start rusting. On top iron bars with U shape around where put and covered with about 20 cm of concrete. Using a mixing machine and vibrator (machine) so that all the concrete was solid without air between the iron. The next day, natural stones were used to make the underground walls, on the exact spot where later the aboveground walls will come. There were 4 to 5 layers of stone, to make sure that the later slab will be high enough above the ground level to prevent water issues. This was followed by 15 cm of soil excavated in between the walls so that all roots were removed. After it was filled up again with clean soil to 35 cm below the upper stone. Then 30 cm Hardcore (small stones) were put in between the walls. All stones were hand packed, and fitted together as a puzzle to leave no space which can collapse and give risk of cracks in de floor. After they were hit with large hammers to be beaten into a solid compact layer.
This was covered with a 5 cm gravel (murram) which was hit with stones to get firm. This was well-watered so that it became compact. Finally, there was a large amount of chemicals (Gladiator) sprayed over it against all kinds of termites, so that the foundation will not be affected in the future.
On top of this gravel a plastic paper was put to prevent water coming up to the slab followed by mash iron to prevent the concrete to shrink. The outer walls were provided with a raised shelf so that the concrete could not run away.10 cm of concrete was poured, just after fixing all waste pipes for toilets, showers and sinks.
Unfortunately when the concreting had just started, which is a very tough job for the workers because all materials are carried in buckets dumped into the concrete machine and afterwards distributed with wheelbarrows, it started raining heavily. Concreting is a job that cannot be interrupted, because otherwise parts get dry separately and can burst later. Much water is also not good, because then the ratio of cement, sand, ballast and water changes. The concrete ratio was 2: 3, 6, two buckets of cement, three sand and six ballast (3/4 inch stones). While raining less water is added to the concrete, and parts finished were quickly covered with foil. Everyone was ice cold and soaking wet. 100 m2, 10 cm thick concrete takes about 3 hours. All workers were given a free meal and hot tea.
The next day already all walls were set out with mortar, followed by waterproof foil and then the stones of the walls. In 3 days the entire wall was ready. Each two layers stones were added an hoop iron ribbon to make the walls stronger. The windows started after the 4th layer of stones and in the kitchen after the 5th layer due the sink and working area. The windows of the toilet and shower came after the 7th layer of stones. The stones are called 9inch stones. They are 8 inches high and wide (20 cm) and about 15 inches long (45 cm), very heavy. After adding the mortar they are 9inch high. After the stones were done in the guesthouse all around a wooden form was built with iron work inside where concrete was poured in to construct the ring beam. This is to seal the doors and windows and connect all walls with one another and strengthen them. This was followed by 2 more layers of stones and the front and rear gable. That was the moment the roof could be installed. Meanwhile, a metal worker came to take all the dimensions to weld the 12 windows, and two outside doors.
The roof installation
By the end of November, exactly one month after starting the roof was added to the guesthouse. This was done by an approved installer. This installer also fixed the fascia boards and gutters. The pipes for electricity have also been entered into the walls so that the wires can be inserted later by an electrical engineer.
The furniture and wooden interior doors are now ordered at Sagana Technical College, where a good quality wood is used to get durable furniture with long life and easy to use for children and difficult to break. It is all made of cypress wood. For wood, it is of the utmost importance that it is well cured and water is reduced to 15% or 22% . If not the wood will start working and will bend and cause problems.
Maisonettes (one-story building with two family units each)
In the 2 maisonettes, the work went on nearly equally to the guesthouse. Here, however, was less excavation work, but much work digging into the rocks since the foundation could not go very deep. The columns that eventually will support the first floor slab needed to be well anchored in the rocks. A foot of 1×1 meters with iron work is the base for these columns. There are 16 columns per house. Currently, after one month they are busy with preparing the form work for the first floor slab.
In contrast to the guesthouse were first 9 layers stones were built, here 10 layers were built followed by the rings beams and crossing beams which will support the first floor slab. This resulted that the windows are slightly larger. The view is very beautiful. Also on the first floor all waste pipes are prepared and two layers of iron wires supported by small pieces of stone to lift them a bit from the floor. Next to the waste pipes also the electrical pipes for all lights which will come in the ceiling for the ground floor unit were added.
Period January-March completing work guesthouse and maisonettes.
In early December, the slab on the 1st floor of the two maisonettes was poured. Before this could be poured it initially needs formwork with a whole wooden floor with room for all the ironwork for the floor and beams, the columns that go up vertically in the foundation run through it for the supporting force. Under the floor are hundreds of poles that support the floor The floor should remain three weeks to allow the concrete to harden sufficiently. Every day 3 times the concrete has been sprayed with water. This meant that the walls on the 1st floor could start at the end of December. Building walls is very fast, within 3 days the walls were ready and one could start preparing the beams for closing doors and windows. After another 2 layers of stones and the houses were ready for the roof. Unfortunately here we got delayed because the company which was producing the iron sheets for the roof was not service oriented and were late in delivering.
Meanwhile, the floor was prepared into the guesthouse, terrazzo, a mix of small stones with cement. After it needed four weeks to dry and before it could be sanded and polished. The tiles were put in the bathroom and toilet, the glass in the windows and the walls were painted. The frames of the doors were installed and after the doors themselves. Pretty heavy doors, but too expensive to use throughout all houses. It was a instructive period which taught us which activities can and cannot be done at the same time and should be done before or after each other. On 14th of February, the guesthouse was opened officially.
For the maisonettes we also began the finishing in February, where we already succeeded to work a bit faster and plan the work better. After 3 houses terrazzo, we learned by a remark of one of the workmen that the terrazzo we were using was not the real terrazzo. We should use instead of plain cement white cement. This is more than 2 times more expensive but dries within a week and will be much harder. Finally we decided to use this for the last residential unit. For the ceiling, we decided to use PVC, however, while installing we found out that the quality was not good and the spacing in the wooden framework was too wide. A learning point for the next 6 houses.
On March 6th 2015 the first unit was ready, unfortunately not all interior doors were supplied, but we installed temporary doors. Eventually, it took more than 2 months before we got the doors (after we looked for another supplier). This meant that the boys could move and we could get started on the demolition of the boys’ dormitory. For the last three residential units it took two extra weeks to get them done as well. In particular, the finishing of the floors and the painting took a lot of time to complete. The girls went on March 20th in the new houses and the children were already divided into groups, which mend in every home 2½ group (future separate houses) together. Each residential unit now had 2 to 3 housemothers and temporary 18 children. This was already a major change, children were eating and making homework in their own house and were very excited.
Period from March to June 2015
Even before the maisonettes were finished we already begun with the work of the boys and girls dormitories. The planning, 3 months, was very short to get everything ready before the official opening in late June. The maisonettes took more than 4 ½ months to finish. For both houses we already constructed all the columns on the outside of the two buildings and at the girls side we prepared the extension of the foundation in order to make the house about 2.5 meters wider.
Directly on March 6th we started to demolish the dormitories of the boy partially. Also a part of to the ring beam came down and revealed that this was of very poor quality. This meant that a new beam had to be made. The foundation floor was found to contain no iron and was very low. It was decided to raise the floor and to add on a new foundation, which costed extra money and time. Meanwhile, immediately we made the holes for windows and doors that had to be moved. It was planned to construct the 1st floor slab before starting the girls dormitory would start, but we did not manage.
As of March 20th the same work in the girls’ dorms started. The number of workers continued to get higher. Because of the short period it was decided to take extra people, so there was a chance of a slight reduction of efficiency, but the work would be much faster. However, the foreman / supervisor had a good overview and he could control everybody well. On the busiest days, there were between 80 and 100 people to work in the construction.
In the girls’ dorms there was no need to pour a new foundation, but there was much work to demolish everything and rebuild. Also, the extension of the foundation had to be fastened to the old foundation. Meanwhile the 1st floor was constructed with the boys and they could focus entirely on the girls houses. After 3 weeks also the 1st floor slab was poured with the girls while with the boys the walls were built on the 1st floor. Finally around 25th of April, 2 months before opening the last 1st floor slab was constructed in the old girls’ dorms.
Now the experience of the other houses came in handy. While walls were built above, we put down the pipes for water and electricity in the walls. And then plastered the walls. Especially in the rainy season it can last long before walls are dry and ready for painting. The roof and the trusses were ordered this time a longer time before and directly we ordered good quality pvc ceiling. To save time, the frames of the doors were already made and fixed into the walls for plastering, directly after the doors were ordered. The 58 doors for these 6 residential units have been made by Maria Magdalena sheltered workshop, which is also supported by Benjamin Foundation in their wood workshop. They work with young adults who are mentally challenged. They also made the railings and fences for the stairs and balconies in their iron workshop.
The workers went at full speed, even before the roof was over the plastering was already finished. Immediately after plastering the floor were prepared by hitting them and cleaning, a sub-floor made of sand and cement and then the terrazzo was poured. The kitchen work table and bathroom sinks were prepared and installed. A special planning for terrazzo was made that if everything would go well, it should be ready 5 days before opening. Also a planning for all other remaining work was made. Everybody agreed to keep to that planning. Next to the terrazzo the tiles were put simultaneously. The kitchen cabinets were installed. After one week drying the terrazzo had to be sanded, holes filled, polished and cleaned and painted 3 times with oil. After the floors were oiled the doors were installed, with handles, locks and at the end of May the painter’s work begun. First the outside (old)boys dorms and after the inside. The painters first began with 8 people, but after a few days we hired in total 25 painters and helpers, to stick to the planning and finish before official opening.
Right from the beginning when we started the floors and tiles, they also worked all Sundays. After a short delay, we shifted 2 days 10 extra people to work for preparing the floors and also 2 nights the work continued during the night to get back on schedule.
For the former girls houses we had to use a special primer which could only be applied with a brush on the entire inside and outside plastered walls, because the plaster was not completely dry. This mend that all walls outside had to be painted 4 times and inside 3 times. Because for all the paintwork inside the house we decided to do the 2nd layer in August, so damages during moving could be repaired at the same time.
On 25 June to 1 day before the official opening the last two groups moved in their own homes. This mend that the planning drafted the month before and the general planning from 8 months before was kept precisely per house. But it took a lot of energy and commitment of all involved parties. From that day, directly all individual houses cooked for their children. A major change with much more individual attention for each child.
The old metal beds are still being used. For all wooden furniture we used solid wood as much as possible, so that it is strong and can last many years. Each house has a large table, one sofa 3 seater and 2 one-seater and a coffee table. For housemothers a small wardrobe (also made by Maria Magdalene), and for children a cabinet with 6 compartments and doors so that everyone has their own wardrobe. Here we have divided the work between several furniture makers (2 technical schools Sagana and Kolping and Maria Magdalena). WWN has made the curtains.
Environment and playground
With very beautiful houses also the landscaping needed a small make over. Around the houses
grass has been added and various trees and flowers have been planted. Also a playing area is of most importance for a child friendly environment with a concrete basketball / volleyball court, a sandpit and playground equipment was purchased (seesaw, swings, slides, etc.). There is also a piece of land raised with stones and after additional ground, to start small vegetable gardens where children can grow their own vegetables and keep animals.
In Kenya it is tradition that when the main part of the house is ready (for final finishing) all workers receive a special lunch they make themselves. A few goats or a cow is slaughtered which is boiled and grilled. The contents of the intestines is thrown against the house to chase away the evil spirits. Everyone eats large pieces of meat and drinks soda. We had two of these parties one in March and one in June.
On June 26th 2015 the grand opening of Kusitawi village family houses was combined with the 10 years anniversary. A big party was held with about 750 guests.
Names of houses
In January 2015 it was already by the children decided what names they wanted give to the houses. Their first choice were English football teams, after some adjustments and explanations they came up with names of animals and birds. The conditions were that everyone should feel at ease in every house name and that there is no rivalry between the houses.
Eventually, the following names were chosen: elephant, flamingo, cheetah, dove, ostrich, lion, buffalo, eagle, butterfly and leopard. At this meeting also the painter was present who then helped the children to choose a color to each name.
The children were classified by the social workers in groups of 7 or 8, in which siblings stayed together, and as much as possible to combine different ages and boys and girls like a real family.
In a subsequent meeting in May each group could give its preference in which house she wanted to live. For some it ended to be plumbed.
Setbacks additional expenses
Looking back at the whole building, there were no major setbacks. There is ample work within the budget, and there are several quality added-enhancing changes than in the original plans, as an additional foundation in the boys’ house, only terrazzo floors instead of concrete. A PVC ceiling. Light metal instead of wooden trusses. And there are several other improvements made. Also we worked faster than the original plan in which the houses would be ready by August.
It is mainly on electricity costs that we spent more than budgeted. They chose to lay everything right with multiple safety switches. As an RCD. All the houses on separate lines so the electricity could be turned off for each newly built house separately. There is additional investment in solar panels to have less spending in the coming years electricity bill. The project can run for about 90% on solar. It was also decided to purchase their own generator rather than renting one, which can also be used as long as there is no connection to the grid for the remaining 10% especially on cloudy days.
One setback was that the security wall partially collapsed because additional land was added next to the wall. A new piece specially reinforced wall had to be constructed.
Also, it was decided to put an additional pipeline for clean water from WWN water kiosk to all the houses, which means that all the water in the house is drinkable, instead of a small filter in every home.
Also, an additional small toilet at the entrance of the compound has been added.
To save costs, we have chosen to be our own contractor. Also, many contractors can not to be trusted and you still need to keep a constant check on the purchase of materials and their usage, to be certain that the quality that was quoted is also really used into the house. When using a contractor you are also very dependent on the speed and other work he is doing elsewhere. Being your own contractor, has its advantages (you can set your own pace, select your own workers and supervise and purchase materials), but also disadvantages (if you buy materials of poor quality or make mistakes in construction than you are responsible for it and cannot blame somebody else). Fortunately, through different networks good people were found, who could advise when purchasing eg stones and who could go out and buy for us. Until now, the construction is progressing well. During the work, you get more experience and you ensure that materials are delivered on time. It is very informative, takes much time and attention, but if you have done one building, the rest is easier, and you have now learned from the small mistakes … As example, a waste pipe that differs 50 cm from its proper place, a toilet pipe which is not in the middle and that kind of little things, which need to be adjusted afterwards.
During the construction some things can change which must be decided immediately on the spot. Windows that are slightly larger or smaller, doors are moved to another place, etc. During construction the foreman works mainly with standard sizes, as he is used to and not directly the sizes that are on the drawing in height, etc., Is that a problem ? No, maybe our demands were not logical and it is so designed by the architect but impractical in practice.
Before starting the construction there was a lot of hurry, because of the approaching rainy season in November 2014. Piling and Trenching during a rainy season could cause major problems. Fortunately, the rains were a bit late and we have been working hard, finishing the whole underground foundation of all three buildings just before the rains started. Sometimes the work had to be stopped during a heavy downpour, but for curing the concrete it was very good. Concrete must be watered 3 times a day so it cures slowly. With the rain, this was done automatically, which ultimately yields much stronger concrete. The second rain season in April 2015 was moderate and did not cause any problems or delay.
There is a high risk of theft and fraud, which during the purchase and storage of materials can occur. If you work with a contractor, the risk is for the contractor, but now it was our own risk. The following steps have been taken. A person is made internally within WWN responsible for all purchases and orders. The director Elizabeth is also very involved in all purchases and control of the construction. A security guard at the gate monitors all trucks with supplies before they come in and when they go away (if they take not something else back in the truck, or is not everything unloaded). An accountant student, from WWN Next Step program checks all purchase orders and keeps track of who gets what paid (all workers) and what should be retained for the meals they have received. Every day the workers get porridge and a snack at 10 a.m., each cup costs 10 eurocents and 5 eurocents for a snack. Lunch is around 1 p.m. and consists of a hot meal with lots of carbohydrates and vegetables, which costs 35 eurocents per plate. They can order as many as they want. It is important that the food is good, because the work is very heavy.
In addition to keeping receipts, workers pay, meals she is also responsible for the store, what materials get in and what is daily being used. This allows us to see in detail what exactly has been spent on each building for labor, materials, etc. In addition, there is a person of Benjamin Foundation present to keep overall control and to help to run everything smoothly.
In Kenya, a lot of handwork is done. On one hand, because labor is cheap. A mason gets about 9 euros per day, an assistant bricklayer 4.50 euros and a supervisor around 20 euros. Professionals such as plumbers and electricians are a bit more expensive.
Machines that are used are a concrete mixer and a vibrator. These can be rented on the days that they are needed for about 52 euros per day with two people to operate them. If work needs to be done into the height, a construction of wooden poles and shelves is mounted in the walls. The same wood what it also used for formwork for the foundations and beams. Doors and windows are made of metal with a welding machine but in the workshop of the relevant specialist. Furthermore, almost all is handcraft. Iron saws are made by a local workman that bends a iron bar and welds a saw between there. All metals (braid) work is done by hand with some help from a hollow tube and 4 pins in a wooden board, bent and then tied together.
Bricklaying goes old fashioned with a plumb line on a long string, and the stone perpendicular to each other and the layers alternate stepped neatly together.
Down here some of the used materials:
|Cement||5200 bags of 50 kg||260.000 kg|
|Sand||600 ton||600.000 kg|
|Ballast||400 ton||400.000 kg|
|Natural stones (hand cut)||25 x 300 feet||2286 meters in a row|
|Machine cut stones||24.000 stones|
|Paint||+/- 900 liter|
|Labour costs||+/-74.000 hours work|
|Wooden inside doors||96 doors|
We have chosen to build houses of machine cut stone, these are equal in size, something more porous for water, but we found a good quality which firm enough. The foundation wall is made of natural stones, which are hand chopped, stronger and do not absorb water.
The trusses are made of light metal, which are coated, which is faster and cheaper than wood. Wood is hard to obtain in Kenya. Wood is also rapidly degraded by termites. The iron sheets are blue corrugated iron.
Concrete is made of cement, sand and ballast. Depending on the use in various ratios. Foundations 2: 3: 6 and 2: 4: 8, column 2: 3: 6, strip foundation eg 1: 3: 6. It is mainly about the quantity of cement. The less cement the less strong the concrete will be and the less it can bear. The ratio 2: 3: 6 is class 25 with 20 mm aggregate, anything too technical for me. The cement comes from a wholesaler , where even the iron comes from (there are more than 1,000 kilos of steel in a house (especially the one-story buildings). Sand comes from the river in Sagana, it’s ordered from someone who goes to get it, or a lorry is stopped along the road and the sand is bought it from the driver.
After the rains had started, it was more difficult to get good quality sand. Sand is harvested directly from the river. Due to the extra water , the sand got more contaminated with mud and the roads were getting slippery, which made it more difficult for the lorries to pass. Good control was so important.
Next to buying good quality for a good price we also have tried to reuse all materials from the old houses as much as possible. Stones, doors and windows from the old dorms have been used in the new buildings after repairing or adjusting. Also the timber bought for all the form-work has been used different times, but also to make a shade, and a part has been sold again to other construction sites. The rest is being used by the children to learn and exercise to make different objects.
Also buying ballast was not easy. Orders were not delivered, while they were ordered directly from the owner …. What turned out, the truck would have liked some extra tea (extra money), and it appeared that apparently others give extra money and are being delivered first, but later the problem was solved and the last 6 months there were no major problems.