Good Samaritan Home Blogs

Nairobi Rains

It is raining again in Nairobi. This is the season of the long rains that gather in the afternoon and often continue into the night. Now the sky is dark grey at 3 pm forecasting the coming storm. After a full-day workshop for secondary students from Good Samaritan we leave St. Teresa`s Church in Mathare Valley at 6 pm.

As we drive through Mathare we are fortunate to be in a van because cars are wheel-deep in the rushing muddy waters. One man pulling a handcart is struggling to keep his heavy load moving against the flood. No one offers to help and we see him as the back of his cart is pulled down by the strong current and near collapse. Another brave traveler rides a bicycle half submerged in water. Peddling is not an easy task. The challenge for him and for hundreds of drivers is that the water hides the enormous potholes that can swallow and strand a vehicle. In this sea of cars, brightly colored buses with religious and pop cultural images and slogans honk and pass. These vehicles, decorated with blinking colored lights to gain attention and improve status, ferry thousands of workers on their way home. The matatu drivers are fearless with aggressive moves pushing into other lanes with horns honking and shouts from the conductors who help them negotiate the curbs and sidewalks as they stop to pick up passengers and push ahead often without any concern for other drivers or traffic laws. They are the reigning pirates in this sea of vehicles. The water does not impede their reckless speed and creative routes around the impediments that would cause other drivers to pause.

The road is lined with men and women, young and old, in suits and work clothes, walking back from their jobs in the city center to their homes in the slums. Many trudge through the water as if it were just another day and the rain was no different than sunshine or clouds. Some women have plastic bags over their heads. The lucky ones have an umbrella.

The multiple lanes of traffic and buses, cars and vans maneuver in their strategy to move forward separated by inches. The sidewalks also offer space for one or two extra lanes. Drivers who are window to window talk to each other and share information on road conditions ahead. A heavy pounding downpour brings traffic to a halt in many areas, especially around the city centre. We are among the thousands of commuters who are caught in this weather event. Roads are closed and we sit for more than two hours waiting to enter a roundabout and moving only a few feet ahead. It is amazing that the drivers in the multiple lanes of cars are so patient sitting for hours without moving. Only an occasional call of horns signals some brief irritation. The matatus and buses have long ago moved ahead and left the more conventional vehicles behind to wait in this impromptu parking lot.

The next day the newspapers called it “havoc” and included photos of rescue efforts at a collapsed building. In the informal settlements around the city, shoddy construction is no match for the strength of the muddy polluted waters. A stone retaining wall falls on unsuspecting people taking shelter from the storm and kills four. A building that has been quickly constructed of inadequate supporting steel and sub-standard concrete collapses on the occupants and takes many more lives. These makeshift buildings shelter the increasing number of people pouring into the city, those families who can only pay a small rent for one or two rooms. Contractors and landlords exploit the need for shelter. These floods emphasize the problem that lurks in the structure of many of many low-rent residential buildings.

The floods are common in the season of long rains and the citizens of Nairobi, from the wealthy who live in gated mansions within lofty estates to the stoic residents of the crowded valley slums, are used to it. Yet the floods are worse in the informal settlements where tin houses do not keep out the rain and garbage-clogged drains send sewer water into homes and businesses. The rain falls on everyone but for the poor the consequences of the flooding are more severe.

Home for Orphans Stabilized

The construction at Good Samaritan Children's Home has stabilized the building structure, which was leaning badly.

Steel beams have reinforced the sagging second floor and the roof. The one set of narrow rotten wooden stairs are replaced with metal stairs and railings. The building now has both front and back stairs and a rear porch area where the children can play.

The roof has been rebuilt and includes some semi-transparent panels which bring natural light into the dark rooms which have no windows. The roof also has gutters and a drainage system. The construction provides a safer and healthier environment for all the children.

Many thanks to our generous donors, the engineers who donated their time and skills, and the local workers who accomplished all this while the building was in full use.

A Pickup Truck for Good Samaritan Children`s Home

One of the major needs identified by the Director of Good Samaritan was a truck to take the children to school, to travel to the medical clinic, to pick up donated food available in outlying farms or discarded by food processing plants, and to bring in clean water for drinking, cooking and washing. A good used truck was purchased along with the required insurance. This truck is fulfilling its purpose every day and easing numerous daily tasks for the staff and the children.

Funding to Help Buy School Uniforms

While primary education is free in Kenya, all students must have a specific type of uniform and other supplies before they can attend school. This includes a shirt and pants or skirts, sweater, shoes and socks, and backpack. Good Samaritan does not have the funds to buy uniforms for all the children to go to school. We are helping to meet this important need.

Home for Orphans is in Danger of Collapse

The two-storey wooden framed building that houses more than 220 children at the Good Samaritan Children’s Home in the Mathare slum in Nairobi, Kenya, is in danger of falling over and collapsing on the children. The structure which was built in 2000 by local people from available materials serves as classrooms during the day and bedrooms at night. On the second floor as many as 70 children sleep in each room.

One by one the children climb the single set of narrow steps that lead to the second floor. It shakes with each step. The stairs have to be repaired almost every day since the boards have inadequate support and keep coming loose. The building is leaning and the roof is slowly breaking away from the walls.

Your tax-deductible donation can help buy a large steel support beam for $300 or a secondary beam for $100.

Something must be done immediately to save the only shelter that these orphans have. The rainy season is coming and the construction engineers report that the building may not hold up to the heavy rains. The entire structure could collapse on the children and young lives could be in danger.

The engineers have assessed the situation and recommend that the building be framed with hollow steel beams. The walls, floor and roof will be reinforced with steel beams, which will stabilize and align the structure. This increases the load capacity and lifespan of the building. The stairs will be replaced with metal steps and an additional set of stairs will be put in at the other end of the building for added safety.

You can help to support these children by contributing to the purchase of one or more steel beams. Your tax-deductible donation can support a larger column or main beam for $300 and a secondary beam for $100. Won’t you buy a beam and support the only shelter, the one safe place these kids have, surrounded in the slums by poverty, disease, and crime.

After we raise the funds for these beams the work will be completed in approximately two weeks with minimum disruption of the routine of the facility. The Rockbeam Construction and Engineering Works in Nairobi is donating engineering consultation and labor for this task. We just need to raise the funds to buy the steel beams.

The orphans at Good Samaritan Children’s Home are counting on us. Their lives depend on the stability of the building that is their home. By contributing the cost of a column or beam you can support the structure and help protect the 220 children who live in this building.

Construction Update: We Need Your Help to Continue

Thanks to your donations, initial construction has begun and some of the primary beams are in place. We need your help to complete this process to stabilize the building. Now we must buy beams to reinforce the sagging floor and second story of the structure. This section still poses the greatest danger to the children.

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