For five families the future is now!
Updated: Apr 30
Above are the first five houses, almost ready for the tenants. The sixth (above, right) is underway.
The past few months have seen lots of activity on the site, with periods of inactivity when power to the site remained unconnected despite having been paid for some months earlier. This caused important delays, partly because as the houses came nearer to completion some design changes were made and some tasks were rescheduled.
The most significant changes were to the windows, doors and staircases. The first house to be built had a wooden staircase and the plan was also to have wood window frames and doors. It was decided that a more durable, and more environmentally friendly option would be to use metal doors and window frames. This would avoid the use if imported wood and would be easier and cheaper to maintain.
On top of that, building the wooden stairs showed a larger loss of floor space at both ground and attic level than had been visualised. it was decided to install a metal spiral staircase for the remaining four houses. The staircase has metal protection railings, as do all the balconies.
Below, the downstairs room, showing the staircase. There is also a small bedroom and the family shower room/WC at this level.
Above, the kitchen
Learning from experience
House one did not have a balcony on top of the porch but once that house was built it was decided for the next houses to use the top of the porch as a balcony as was in the original plan, with a door from the attic room level for access. That has been done, and the feature will be retro-fitted for house one.
For house one, the metal doors and windows were made off-site. It was found to be much cheaper to bring the metal worker to the site and to have the help of MWAMKO members where appropriate. Without electricity at the site,none of this was possible. Finally in early December2021 the connection was made and work rapidly progressed.
Another change, for a very different reason, was not to install the solar panels until they can be bought in bulk at reduced prices when more houses are ready. House six is going well and the funds are now available to build house seven, thanks to another very generous donor. Solar panels may be not so far away.
A CHG inspection suggested that the kitchen and bathroom sinks were too small so they have been changed.
Finally, the intended division of the large attic space into two bedrooms has been deliberately postponed so that the families allocated to the houses could divide that space according to the individual needs of each family. MWAMKO members would do the internal masonry work once that was decided. Four of the five families have now completed tthe change. The fifth is still working out the most appropriate plan for the family.
Above, the attic space, facing the balcony door. The balcony can serve as a small space for relaxing or chatting, or as a place to do homework. Lack of a quiet space is a real problem for young people with schoolwork to do. For large families the pressures are greater.
Allocating houses to families
As the first five houses neared completion CHGK’s allocation committee set the agreed process into action, having consulted with the MWAMKO families as to appropriate criteria for selecting the first tenants and they developed a points system agreed by the CHGK Board. Applications from MWAMKO members using a questionnaire about their circumstances and involvement in the project.
The responses were assessed according to agreed and transparent criteria and their weightings were known by all the families.
Most weighting was given to evident need - economic and other vulnerability. Active involvement in self-build was also important, as well as other forms of contribution to the group, such as involvement in meetings and financial contributions to group funds.
Eight applications were considered by the panel and their five recommendations were approved by the CHG Board. Those not chosen had a right of appeal. The process worked well, also revealing the community spirit of MWAMKO families. No-one appealed and the relatively low number of applications was because many people chose not to apply, aware that others were in greater need than they were. The merit of MWAMKO families being involved in setting clear criteria and their weightings was evident.
A home to go to In mid-March, a ballot - drawing lots - was held at the site with the families present, ensuring random and fair allocation of specific houses to the five families. Here are some photos and brief biographies so that you can see the life-changing difference for the families made possible by donors to this innovative training and self-build project.
ALMOST HOME ......
Tom was the first to draw the ballot and was allocated the first house to have been built. It is slightly different from the others but where possible it will be modified to reflect the changes in the other houses, including the balcony door and railings, giving more usable space. He works in community development with intermittent short-term contracts - his income is small and unreliable. Each day his wife goes out to work as a street vendor from 3-7 pm, selling dried sardines from Lake Victoria. The eldest two of their six children are studying at university, thanks to grants from the Government.
Below, CHG Chairman Harrison Kwach congratulates Tom and his family
On the threshold of their new home (below)
Maureen (below) is the single parent of three children, having parted from her husband. Her income comes from selling used clothes. She goes early in the morning to the matumba (street market for second-hand clothes) and buys items she hopes she can then sell on the street during the day.
Martha (seen below, outside her home in Korogocho) could not get to the ballot on site, caught in a 3-hour traffic jam as were several other MWAMKO members. A friend drew the ballot on her behalf. She has been a very active member of the project for a long time. A widow living with her three daughters and a granddaughter, Martha works hard to earn her small income as a street vendor of perfumes, women’s shoes and new clothes from China. She carries all these with her when she works. Her eldest daughter is a cleaner in a clinic, her other two daughters have recently finished school.
Martha’s son Magid was a MWAMKO building trainee, qualified in painting and able to help the family income by taking small painting jobs locally. He was a very active worker in the self-build programme from the outset, becoming a proficient concrete mixer in the time before there was anything on-site to be painted.. He helped and supported his mother in many ways and was widely very popular. Tragically, he died in a boda boda (motorbike-taxi) accident last year, while trying to help his family with occasional delivery work - a boda boda can be rented by the day by young delivery drivers..
You can meet two of Martha's daughters and also Maureen by watching the video below, in which they speak about life in Korogocho and their hopes for the future in their new homes.
Sarah and Oduor, seen below outside the house allocated to them in the ballot,
Oduor does some part-time tutoring in an informal school in the slum for which he gets very little pay. With only two state primary schools in Korogocho, these unregistered schools have sprung up for children without school places. Oduor’s wife Sarah has casual work as a maid, doing laundry or washing dishes. They have four children, one with epilepsy. In addition, they are bringing up a further four on behalf of two sisters and a sister-in-law who live up-country, all them even poorer than Sarah and Oduor This sort of arrangement with extended family in need is very normal.
Despite their difficulties and vulnerability, Oduor makes a wonderful contribution to the project in many ways, including active self-build participation, involvement in MWAMKO meetings and maintaining his financial contributions to MWAMKO despite his low income.
See the video below for a Sarah's thoughts on the life this family of ten in Korogocho.and their delight at the move to the new house in Kamulu
Above is the view of the dump, including the farthest 'hill' - actually part of the dump. These homes, including Joseph’s, are right on the edge of the dump site.
Joseph lives in one of the homes on the edge of the Municipal Dump with his wife and five children, in a 10 foot square tin shack, like those of the other MWAMKO members (see photo, below). He has lived there for twenty years.
In December 2021 he had to rent a second shack, having agreed to take in two of the children of his recently widowed sister.. His income comes from selling vegetables from a small kiosk. His wife sells roast maize on the street, cooked on her own grill.
Joseph is the Secretary-General of MWAMKO and has been a very active member of the group for many years.
Here, below, are Joseph and his wife outside their home in Korogocho
And here, below, they stand outside their new house with one of their children.
Joseph recorded a video, below) just before the move, in which he tells of their struggles and of their gratitude that they are part of this important project, looking forward to more houses being built for his neighbours.