For the past several years, Jacob’s Well has partnered with Andy & Olivia Dupont, a couple from Michigan who spend several months of each year living and working in Asilong, Pokot, Kenya–the village where JW has funded several water wells and is now working on the construction of a secondary school. Andy, an engineer, and Olivia, a teacher, have both been crucial for our work in Asilong in innumerable ways. Here’s some photos from Andy & Olivia that provide both an update on construction and a good overview of life in the village.
Grace, Julius and Olivia talk to the women about many issues, including how they can be salt and light to their neighbors.The women are particularly concerned about how to take care of widows in their community.
The brick issue mentioned in our last update was solved with this specialized brickmaking machine. A good formulation was developed with the soils on site, and a team was formed to produce the bricks. This sounds easy, but hours of research, travel and lengthy discussions to work out the details were required. The community endured the process well, and the school building will be stronger for it. The people at Jacob’s Well Church were instrumental in making this all come together and continue with bi-weekly conference calls to monitor the progress.
About 8500 bricks are required for this major school building.Four separate classrooms will be housed in thisthree-tier structure.Two different types of soils were combined with cement to make the bricks. What you don’t see are the many women who filled used cement sacks with the soils they dug and sifted, and then carried them on their heads to the mixing site.
Here is a typical day of work at the construction site. Many from the local community are hired as un-skilled labor. Note the sandals or bare feet, handmade wooden ladder, and lack of hard hats. Certainly not up to OSHA standards. On our last trip, a solar powered pump was installed to fill a storage tank about 500 feet away. The power for the pump was increased during this trip, and the sytem is keeping up with the water needs for the construction.
The work is still underway and this building should be finished by May. There are still many elements thathave to come together before the school will open. Living quarters for students and staff, latrines, hiring of teachers, equipping the classrooms and more. Asilong CHM Secondary School, as it will be called, is the combined effort of the Asilong community, City Harvest Ministries and Jacob’s Well Church.
Several community meetings were called by the local Chief to discuss issues confronting the community. Important meetings are normally held under large trees with elders seated up front as you see here. It was encouraging to see the community taking ownership of new resources, such as water wells and solar power, which require ongoing maintenance. They also addressed the competency of the headmaster of the primary school, highlighting their newfound appreciation for the importance of educating their children.
Progress in an area like West Pokot, where Asilong is located, takes time and we must be patient. We are very encouraged, however, when we reflect on the changes we have seen already. Three years ago, we listened as the elders explained that the children in the school were no longer their concern but ours, particularly the girls whose bride price would be far less after being educated. When we contrast this with the sentiment expressed in the Community Meeting mentioned above we can’t help but praise God.