one of our favorite sights

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Into The Home Stretch

It has been nearly 2 years since we left Columbus and headed to Eldoret.  Thankfully due to the hard work of many men and women the 100,000 sq. ft. Cancer and Chronic Care Center (CDM) is really beginning to take shape.  The efforts in all regards are beginning to be seen.

At this time, we have a roof on the building and in the beginning of July we look forward to the commencement of the solar installation.  Over 1600 solar panels generating 250 watts apiece will be on the roofs of the Ampath Center and the CDM Building generating 405 kw of solar power….that will provide power for the entire building plus adjacent facilities.  Power costs here are quite high… the range of $.23/kwh, which is double what most Hoosiers pay.  The solar power will also provide an opportunity in the future to assist in the stabilization of the overall power grid for the Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital campus.

 We have also recently completed the construction of a 350,000 litre (nearly 100,000 gal.) underground rainwater storage tank

That’s Peter, our foreman standing in the tank…….and yes, it is very big.  This tank will
supply the water for flushing of toilets and urinals and also landscaping.  Water and sewerage are very expensive in Kenya and we are looking forward to reducing those operating costs by 35% with this tank.

Our team is focused on buying as much material as possible made in Kenya.  This has proved challenging on many fronts….and also sometimes more costly than if we were to buy imports.  But appreciating that facilitating the job market here is critical we choose to spend a bit more and buy “Made in Kenya”.  This includes all of our floor tile products, doors, ceiling products and to the greatest extent possible lighting.  All of our cement products are also made in Kenya.  To this day I continue to be marvel that plaster and
stone are less expensive than metal studs and drywall!

Wasting materials is also not an option.  Sand and gravel are expensive here….sand particularly as it has to be transported from significant distance and up out of the Great Rift Valley.  Fred Ngunga, one of the workers is bringing sand and cement residue  for reuse after it has been cleaned from the floors during the stone setting and plastering phases of work…….and that wheelbarrow has seen many, many a mile!

We are utilizing a goodly amount of terrazzo on the floors and countertops….again, it is a surprise that these products are less expensive than many we are used to.  The fundamental reason things are so much less expensive here is that the costs of building is almost directly inversed from back home.  At home labor usually makes up between 70 and 80 percent of costs, whereas here that is the cost of material and labor is only 20 to 30 percent of the cost.

The building has excellent colors both inside and out.  The inside colors are beginning to
With walls and ceilings being light blue and light green…..not polka dotted as you might guess from looking at this……These guys love to touch up.  At the top of the picture you can see a cable tray that we have incorporated into the design.  This tray carries the water, data and power cabling to allow for maximum flexibility.  The walls only go up 7.5’ and from there to the ceiling there is either glass or grills….maximizes ventilation and reduces the need for artificial lighting. TB remains a concern here so ventilation is key.

The outside of the building is a mix of natural stone, concrete and plaster beams and blue window frames and tinted glass.  It will be quite inviting upon completion.

The last remaining major construction hurdle is the casting of the bunkers for radiation oncology.  During the course of the project we opted to go from constructing two bunkers that would suffice for cobalt units to one “universal” bunker that will handle more powerful Linac units in the future.  What that all translates to in construction is thickness of walls and ceilings due to the greater amount of radiation that can be emitted by a Linac unit.  Our walls and roofs will be 1.6 meters (nearly 2 yards) thick reinforced concrete……that is quite a chunk of concrete, particularly given that there will be no ready mix machine any where in sight.    We are preparing for this work carefully as there are significant challenges from mix design, aggregate temperatures, placement of concrete and heat buildup within the concrete as it is setting.  We have a good team from South Africa assisting with this…Osmond Lange and Associates.

Cancer is an expensive, expensive disease to treat…..and success is not always guaranteed.  The 3 major pieces of equipment that will go into the radiation oncology wing, namely an ADR/HDR unit, a cobalt radiotherapy unit and a CT Simulator have a price tag of $3.8 million.  That is simply stunning…..and those costs are just the beginning as it takes a legion of highly trained specialists to operate these units.  I have become acutely aware of how our modern lifestyles and choices have a direct link to cancer.  Below is a report by the United Nations that is worth having a look at:

And as we consider how we treat our lawns and gardens have a read of the following:

The opportunities we have been afforded as a result of working on this project have made the time away very worthwhile.  Living apart from the family the past 2.5 months has not been great but thankfully Liz is at home takin’ care of things….and for that I am very grateful.  Thanks to all the friends and family who have received her and Liam so graciously.

It is not all work….we have had great fun along the way.  Liam and I had an opportunity to climb Mt. Kenya in a fundraising event that netted over $10,000 for the facility.  We joined a great group of Kenyans and a couple of Canadians to make that climb…..16,500 ft and thankfully I had my cheerleader Liam along with me.  We also had a great topping out event for the building where we all signed the back of the last pieces of roofing steel and also heard about the Luo tradtion of building from my colleague, Engr. Odhiambo Atogo.  Prior to placing the thatch on a roof in a Luo home, a pole is raised in the center of the home which goes beyond the thatch roof line.  This pole has significance……  If the man dies the top of the pole is cut off and the woman can now take a new husband……the attached link is quite interesting.  Simplifies community relationships, that is for sure.

The generosity of friends, family, the church and businesses have also provided opportunities to assist at the Kitale Children's Home, various other  children's homes nearby,  and homes of people in very challenging circumstances and at Imani Workshops. Asante sana!

  Funds have been used for the planting of  close to 700 trees, fencing for gardens, installation of rainwater capture systems, solar water pumping, mattresses, school fees, school clothes…..and Christmas gifts. Through all of this we have met some very special children and their devoted caretakers.  Your generosity has been greatly appreciated by all of the recipients. 

Kenya is a place of incredible beauty with stunning flora, fauna and landscapes.  Nary a day goes by that I am not surprised by something new that I hadn’t noted before….so that is always great fun.  We have had an opportunity to be close to some of the most beautiful creatures on earth…..and stunning creatures as well.  Regrettably, as you may have heard, elephants and rhinos are very specifically under attack for their ivory.  This is not just killing an animal… is murder… these elephants, in particular, are wonderful creatures that share families just like you and I.  It is deeply troubling and I would ask that you take a moment and pen a letter or email to the Chinese embassy and let them know how frustrated you are with the fact that they still have factories that carve ivory as well as retail shops that sell it.  This must stop, and only through concerted efforts is that going to happen.  Please take a moment…..and write a letter to the Chinese embassy and copy your Senator….and even President Obama!
Chinese Embassy:
Articles on Ivory:

Our contract ends in less than a year now….kind of hard to believe….so……if you have an interest in stoppin’ by for a bit let us know sooner rather than later.

Asante sana for all of your support!