LAST MESSAGE FIRST. To read in chronological order, scroll to the bottom.
Written: June 26, 2009
I placed my feet in the wet concrete and walked to the door of the library with the intention of leaving a lasting message to the community of not only my journey across the US, but all of our journeys in faith. I carved the words " WALK WITH FAITH......Be the change you wish to see in the world." My hope is that as children and adults walk into the library, they will walk out with greater hopes and dreams and have the knowledge to help them use their talents to not only benefit themselves, but others.
I have now been home in the US for almost three months and have been in daily contact with the treasurer about the progress. Wonderful news about the long awaited CDF funds, we have received that promised check and are using it towards the finishing details. We are getting close to opening the library to the public and are working on the finishing details: painting, windows, flooring and shelving.
Written: March 6, 2009
the computer I use had crashed so I am slowly catching up to email. Two main sections of the library roof is complete. Remaining is the middle section which we have the mabati for, but had been waiting for a month on the order of steel. A couple days ago the awaited material arrived to continue on with the trusses. This week we are looking over quotations for electric installation. My remaining time is drawing to a close so I have been trying to organize for a smooth transition from the time of when I leave, to the completion of the library when KNLS will take over. In order to help ensure the public awareness on the services the library will provide, a publicity committee has been formed to share ideas and to educate the surrounding community. I have also been meeting with the MP as well as the officials in the office representing CDF about the absent funds that were promised for the library. The remaining money of which I had brought will be completed to finish the flooring, and then CDF funds will be used to finish the building. We are currently short of money to build shelves, tables and chairs but are sending letters out to the community to educate about the soon to open library and the need for help. With no delays the library should be ready to open in June! I am persevering on securing the funds before my departure and am prepared to leave the completion of the project to the community.
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Written Jan 25th, 2009
Progress is moving steadily along, trusses are being welded and the roofing will start to go on in about another week. One of my main concerns has been to have the community educated on the services the library will provide. People will gain immense benefits from this endless source of knowledge, but only if the community understands how to find the information they desire. We now have a subcommittee formed to address this concern, to come up with ideas on reaching the various groups of people. As I continue to take books out to children and explain how to use the library, I am noticing how more children and adults are aware of the library as they can see it coming up. "You must be the change you wish to see in the world." - Gandhi
Written Dec 6, 2008 post delayed by Howard
The library progress is coming along visibly now. The foundation has been completed and the walls are on the third row of stones. We had a very successful volunteer day last week, exhausting but splendid! The day before I went around town and asked buisnesses to donate food, about 15 contributions added up to feeding the 50 plus volunteers a hot lunch. We have had 100 trees planted, Kiava seeds as a hedge planted, lots of soil moved and many songs sung. There were 23 volunteers who came representing the Green Belt Movement(Nobel peace prize winner Wangari Mathai's project), while the other volunteers included youth and sponsored students from CFCA.
I have been so impressed with the group from Green Belt that I made a special visit to their tree nursery yesterday to learn more. I will be returning in another 5 weeks to visit them and hear their input about an idea I would like to implement. I want to help people save money and time while also helping the environment by learning more about a better fuel efficient stove than the now used wood/charcoal burning jiko.
Written December 6, 2008 posting delayed by Howard
I have been putting my hiking experience into good use as I have found a way to teach the children and adults about the library and how to take care of books, all while enjoying a walk. My friend Pat and I have been walking around hauling a bag of books and mats that we unroll for children to sit on to let them look at books. THe children bring the attention of curious adults who we then are able to educate on the services of the library. These walks bring me much joy and much needed relaxation from the pressures of the library construction. Children now come to me and ask when they can look at books and I excitedly tell them about the progress of "their" library
Written November 18, 2008
It has been 5 weeks since the groundbreaking, the rain has been coming daily, but the library is coming up slow and steadily. THe rains have made the dirt roads very muddy which has created some delay on getting materials from where we would like, but we are moving forward. The the pit latrine was dug to 31 feet, the walls and roof are up, now it just needs a front wall to finsih. All the trenches for the library are completed with stones to the height of the foundation. Later this week the hardcore will be put down and the slab will be poured. I am very happy to report that we had a successful day with volunteers. The idea of volunteerism is not ingrained in this society as it is at home in the US, so it has been a big accomplishment to see the men digging while ladies cooked donated food on the charcoal jichos for the men to have something to eat. Click the picture to see more library pictures.
Written October 30, 2008
I am making a list of needs that I want to help with and appreciate anyone who would be able to offer asistance. I am interested in doing some activities with the local orphanage (27 children), supplying more books for some schools who began "cupboard" libraries last year and providing the numerous outparishes with materials to teach children and adults more about their faith..Currently this is coming from my own pocket so you can be assured that if you want to help all the money sent will be used solely for helping others. If you would like to contribute, contact me and I will inform you how you can help.
Written October 26, 2008
The library is on its way to being built! A successful groundbreaking occured two weeks ago and was blessed by a tremendous downpour as the community quickly transferred from the open library plot to shelter in the church next door. I couldn't stop beaming as we all huddled inside to shelter from the rain, I held my ears and laughed as the noise of hail pounded out all conversations. The rain made the soil soft and crumbly, now the digging of the trenches and removal of topsoil is complete. The rain has been steadily coming so the pouring of the foundation is hindered, but the men are staying busy with dressing the stones.
I am proud to say that my desire to encourage community involvement was encouraged last week as 12 men came to volunteer to move soil for about 4 hours. I went around the town and had some rice and beans donated and had a couple ladies volunteer to come and cook lunch for those who helped that day. I have learned that while service and volunteering are an ingrained part of my upbringing it is an aspect of this culture that is absent, mainly for the reason that people are striving just to get food for the day. But I aim to show people to look beyond their current situation and look at where they can be. While challenges continue to be showered upon me to make this much more complicated than it should be, I can say that adversity makes me stronger rather than weaker. Tonight, as another situation has occurred to add to the ongoing drama, I have felt a new sense of peace that makes me feel ever closer to being the way that I believe God wants me to be. I have never doubted that this is what I need to be doing. If it were not for difficulties we would drift from God because we would feel independent, so I feel grateful for this opportunity to draw closer to the Lord.
Written October 1, 2008
Hello! I am smiling as I am able to finally email you some good news about the library. This has been a very stressful 3 months, so many unexpected issues and misleading information regarding the library that I am grateful to let you know of a positive turn. Yesterday was the date set for groundbreaking which I had delayed to instead turn it into a community meeting to get the community better involved. Well I am happy to say it was a very positive meeting where people in the community stood up to say how important a library is and how needed it is. Up to this point the communities interest/involvement had been silent. The director of Kenya National Library Services was there and stressed of the importance of integrity and accountability, she then gave me the go ahead to set a new groundbreaking as soon as possible. The area Member of Parliament gave us a date today when he would be available so hopefully it will be on the 13th of this month. We have had two stories already run in the national newspaper and will be having an upcoming large article with pictures included! I know that there will always be challenges, but this is a relief to see the tide turn. I now feel like the community is getting involved, things are done so differently here, I am used to having a plan before I take action and here people are used to starting while the plan evolves. The committee had been warned by the local priest, the director of the national library as well as the MP to be transparent. I believe that the committee now realizes that all eyes are on them and they must not dismiss issues I bring up. Hakuna matata "No worries"!
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Written September 19th, 2008 posting delayed to 10/1 by email accident
The last I had informed you was that the library comm. had presented me with a new proposal, we had worked together and managed to find ways to reduce the costs. A date for groundbreaking was set last week to be the 30th of this month, and then some events unfolded that made me question whether to go forward with the construction. I am being given misleading information and my questions and ideas are often dismissed. As much as I am wanting to move forward and work together with the library committee I do not feel right about it. A couple days ago I began gathering opinions and advice from leaders in the community. The advice ranged from being very careful because I am being taken for what can be gotten, to realize that things are done differently here and that I cannot expect it to be done the way I expect. Everyone has advised me to take it slow if I am uneasy. I have also been warned from a man in town to be very careful. I then took a trip down to Nairobi and spoke with the director of Kenya National Library Services. She told me to delay the groundbreaking and instead make it a main library committee meeting that she will attend where the way forward can be discussed. Also she told me I should leave the area after the meeting until I am told when they are ready to meet the conditions that will be given to them. She then told me to visit the MP Member of Parliamant) for our constituency. I luckily was able to see him that same day and discussed the issue with him over tea. He agreed to have the groundbreaking ceremony another day. Right now my heart hurts as I see the dream of a library being pushed further down, I want so much to have been able to get started and even though it is harder to have to hold off, I know that it is wiser to do so. Here is a quote I saw in the paper the other day, "It often takes more courage to change one's opinion than to stick to it." (Geoffrey Abert(French philosopher priest))
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Progress since I arrived in Timau 6 weeks ago. Written 8/29/2008
I have taken long to write because I needed some time to get my thoughts together. The day I arrived I was thrown for a loop when I was handed a new proposal for twice as much as what the old goal for the library was, nearly twice as much as what has been raised. Needless to say, I feel many emotions and realize how very much I have to learn when I set out to help others. I was never even told that they were looking into a different plan so it has put me in a tight spot with many options to sort thru.
While there are many issues I can concentrate on, the two I feel most important to focus my energy on is getting the community involved and overseeing all dispersal of the money (I still have not had it sent here until I am shown we can build the library with the available funds).
THe library committee had a meeting a couple days after I arrived and we designated a building committee consisting of 5 members to do the work necessary to prepare for groundbreaking. We have had about 10 meetings and have accomplished much in this amount of time. We put out the invitation for bids for contractors. The contractor we chose is for labor only, he is local and will be on site daily and has 30+ yrs experience. He is willing to work with volunteers and has shown to be very helpful in educating the bldg comm members on the language of construction, he has also been to all the bldg comm mtgs since he has been chosen. We have put out bids for the materials which are broken down into categories of timber, hardware, windows and stones. We have received many bids and will finish going thru those at the end of August. The bids for windows will be done later. THe building committee has as well been looking at different ways to raise more money as well as ways to cut costs on the materials needed.
I want to assure you that I am dedicated in helping this community. I am disappointed and am struggling not to take this personally, but I take comfort in knowing that God is with me always. I have been going thru my options and may not know when or how the library will be completed, but when I start something for the intention of helping others I do not quit unless I am shown it is not wanted. I am encouraged as I walk around town and speak with the children about the "maktaba"(library) and see the happiness in their eyes as I delight in talking with them about books in their future. While I struggle with not allowing myself to be taken advantage of, I aim to be patient and graceful.