the Vessel of Hope roof project

As the six of us first arrived to the Vessel of Hope school in Kayole, we were brimming with energy to get started. P and I introduce the new team to Grace, the head master, and Sam our Fundi ( head contractor), who points us up to the roof of the school so we can get to work.

The project has already been going for a few days, with the support beams in place. It is now time to cut the wood and nail it into place so that we have a sturdy structure to pour the cement.

We find ourselves easily fitting in with the Kenyan workers, sitting side by side as we haul, cut and nail wood planks into place.

On the first day we successfully complete the wood structure. BCK feels enormous pride in being able to put so many Kenyans to work in their own community, and our network of Kenyan volunteers is giving this project a true sense of community. We head back after a long day for some well deserved rest and look forward to what day number two will bring.

A little sore but no worse for wear, we rise early to a simple breakfast, then head right back to the project. We find that although the wood planks are laid, their are gaps throughout the structure. If cement were to be poured, it would escape through the holes, making the entire roof unstable and collapse.

In true Kenyan fashion we come up with a solution, taking tin sheets that were previously being used as roof covers, and tear them in sizable pieces to cover the holes.

Not as easy as it may sound, but hours later, we feel it is ready. Now comes the the cutting and tying of the rebar supports….

Day two ends with having all the rebar cut and tied down. BCK is thrilled our timeline and the project is coming along as scheduled. Tomorrow will be the big day.

The bags of concrete arrive first, followed by two big trucks of ballast rocks, then two tons of sand. It’s backbreaking work just getting the sand shoveled out of the lorry, but we get it accomplished.

With the cement needing to be moved up two stories, we had the Fundi get us a crane and a cement mixer. With shovels in hand, Tylenol taken, and people in their positions, we waited for the mixer motor to be started.

The roar of the motor and emitting black smoke is our signal to get started. Bucket after bucket of ballast, sand and water were carried upon sore shoulders and dumped into the mixer.

In a little over three hours, we finished mixing every last rock and grain of sand, and had the cement pour done. Our dream to have a structurally safe cement roof for the children and teachers at Vessel of Hope was realized.

After we were done, I had the volunteers gather in a group on the rooftop. We had given them Red sunglasses to help protect their eyes while working, and with my red University of Utah t shirt on, I showed them how we represent the U.

Wench, bring my ale, what say you?