December 21. Ilja’s birthday. Beginning of the orphanage.

And so we wake up and look around. We are in a house made of mud, the traditional Luo way of building, and we are surrounded by cattle, chicken, children, long grass and aloe vera plants. This is it. They show us the plot of land where we are going to build the orphanage and we pin down the exact location of the poles. Yes, we are going to build it the Luo way, and we are going to learn how to do it, so we can repeat it at home, somewhere in Europe. It is Andrew Ogol, Philips father, who has kindly donated the land he inherited for the sake of the orphanage and Excellence Center. We will remain very thankful to him.

And we start: on the marked spots a group of volunteers dig deep holes with sturdy spades. They have to be about two feet deep to make the logs stand strong. I feel like a tough Teuton that wants to prove his Germanic strength and take up the shovel with a hubris-struck vigour. I dig and dig around a stubborn tree trunk but it wouldn’t go out. Blisters and scratches cover my weak skin and I give in. Ben, a local youth who occasionally proves to be a reliable volunteer (although on other occasions a more reliable drinker), cuts it out in an instant. I stand sullenly in the hot sun watching them finishing the holes. Meanwhile Yeon is sketching the  first draft of the design of the orphanage to be.

We buy one thousand bricks for a good price (8 Shillings each) and rent a lorrie to bring them to the orphanage. Volunteers and children help to unload and offload the truck. Some of the volunteers are drunk and unwilling to work. I have to see to it that the kids are not doing anything against their will, but they obviously like carrying the bricks into the lorrie. The bumpy truckride was an awesome experience Yeon and I enjoy very much. Here we are, we have just arrived in the village we are donating an orphanage to, and we are where the action is, sitting on top of our bricks. Only few of them break.

Today is the birthday of my mother. She would have turned sixty. I hope she would like what we are doing here.

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