Settling into our new home

Settling into our new home

Written by Lucy Nyambura, HHFL Operations Manager

It happened like in a dream. We have been having a lot of problems when running our activities in our old slum home, which we have had to put up with since 2007.

HHFL needs a new home

Things have not been very easy for us and especially the kids when it rains. The old home was actually built on a swamp. So when it rained, water used to fill the compound from all sides and also from the underground water.  Most of the times we would have to suspend activities until the waters subside or go the extra mile of purchasing gumboots for the children and limit our activities to indoors. We had done all we could including raising the floors so that water does not fill the rooms when it rains.

However, towards the end of last year, things became worse after the only water way that used to help us when it rains got blocked by another neighbouring construction. To add pain into injury, the landlord had suggested a rent increase (we have been renting the premises and paying quite a lump sum on monthly basis under a yearly lease.

Thanks to Lucy and Margaret, HHFL has a new home

Lucy and Mama Margaret found our new home!

The search for a new home begins 

This, paired with the ongoing flooding  issues made us think of another  alternative. Mama Margaret and I set out to look for another place which  would accommodate our current  needs, as well as a place that would  still be near the slum for the kids who  have families within. We got lucky to  find a place that has been initially a  junior school with a seven-room structure which we thought could be  good for us.  It is located about a kilometer from the slum in a very quiet and green environment.

Relocation and renovations

We brought forward the findings to the board and everyone was very moved by this. We kicked off plans to move and had to do a few other improvisations to the new place. We needed a kitchen, a dining hall and bathrooms to be constructed.  The compound had not been powered yet so we needed to have electricity dropped from the power lines that actually run through the compound. We got all the paper work done quite fast but with careful assessment and approval from Hanne and Ted who have been so blown to have this move. This all had to happen in a flash. Our old lease in the slum was expiring at the end of Feb which meant we had to be out by March 1st.

Besides that, the old landlord was still on our neck that we owed her some money. She had gone to the point of fixing us to some legal office with this claim and we were not certain of how to go through this. This was difficult legal stuff which with the professional help of Ted, we left the matter to be settled by those who know it well. We are very glad because he is doing it well.

We hired a mason and a carpenter to prepare the extra structures while we were making plans to move our items from the old place. We finally managed to make the last move on 28th February, with all the kids taking part in packing and unpacking stuff. It was not that easy though.  It was very encouraging to see how everyone wanted to play a part in making this move successful.

We are now settled in our new place and everyone is happy. The skies look grey and very soon it will start raining. We are however not in any worries of stinking trenches, leaking roofs or the never-ending menace of rodents (we had lots of rats that used to give us a hell of time by attacking our food, clothes and books). We have the following rooms: The office, a boys’ hostel and a girls’ hostel, a very spacious computer room, a library, a dining hall, a kitchen, a store as well as a room for Mama Margaret. She stays within so she may be able to wake up as early as 4 a.m. to prepare breakfast for the primary school kids who have to be picked by the school bus by 6 a.m.

Settling in and celebrating

Everyone, especially the kids are so happy to be here. We recently had an opening ceremonies with the HHF Canada board (Hanne, Ted, Mama Marianne), an event which was tied up with the unveiling of the new HHFL board which is being run by the big kids. Everyone says of how cool and quiet the place is. There is a little garden near the kitchen where the kids hope to grow veges, sugar cane and other little nice things to spice up their meals. The structures are still made of tin, but not ordinary tins but the very high gauge resincot ‘mabati’ which is much cooler. The roofs, they say, are also higher and the tall ones don’t have to bend when getting through the doors. They like the glass windows and now they can hung curtains. Moyra, a member of the HHFL board brought us curtains for the girls’ and boys’ hostels and the kids are very happy. Generally, everyone sees it as a win-win thing for us, and a good way to start building the new HHFL.

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