Saturday, February 24, 2018

A Look at the Toilets

Beginning on Thursday, March 1st, we will be able to start accepting your donations to continue our renovation of the Foyer House bathrooms at the Kimbondo Orphanage in Kinshasa, D.R. Congo.

The situation is currently pretty grim, with 75 abandoned kids sharing two functioning toilet stalls (the ones that we built in the new wing last year).  The plumbing in the old bathroom has collapsed completely and the sewage is literally bubbling upon onto the ground, creating a health and olfactory crisis.

For ~$12,000, we can install a new septic tank, replace all the old pipes, and fully renovate the toilets, sinks, and shower facilities.

Below is a look at the situation as of a year ago.  Know, however, that the situation has deteriorated and that the single toilet stall identified as functioning at the point no longer is.

If we are able to make this happen--and we are cautiously optimistic that (with your help) we can do so--the next step would be to modernize the old sleeping quarters at Foyer House.  More on that half of Phase II soon.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

We're Baaaaaccccckkkkk

After a stunningly successful Phase I (in which we turned two bedrooms for 75 abandoned children in Kinshasa into four bedrooms for 75 abandoned children in Kinshasa), Dean, Madlen, and Robert (and we hope *you*) are set to embark upon Phase II.

Before divulging the nature of that new project, here's a look back at what was accomplished last year:

Phase II involves two separate projects.

The first is the most vital and involves ripping up the decrepit plumbing in the old Foyer House bathroom.  Before we built the additional rooms and added 2 toilet stalls in that structure, the 75 residents were sharing a single functioning toilet.  In the year that's past, even that one is unusable.  Sewage is bubbling out of the ground and the smell is said to border on the unbearable.  The second video at the bottom of the final blog post for Phase I shows the state of the bathroom (as of a year ago), as well as a prototype as to what the remodeled version will look like. 

Nothing is cheap in Kinshasa--one of the poorest cities in the world, yet cruelly one of the most expensive.  But our source on the ground Madlen has worked with a local architect and contractor to create the cost estimate below.  Estimates are, of course, only estimates; but we note with pride that last year's even more imposing project came in essentially at budget.  To give these kids a functional and dignified bathroom, we will need to raise $10,000.

In an act of faith in our ability to raise these funds, Madlen has already begun advanced purchase of some of the needed items (as inflation is rife in the D.R. Congo) and hired workers to do some of the preparatory work.  A couple of recent photos give at least some sense of the current state of affairs.

And, yes--that is an overflowing septic tank on the left.  This is a fairly massive (and unpleasant) undertaking.  Madlen's architect has created the image below as a model for what it could look like:

Assuming that we can raise $10,000--and we *will* raise $10,000--this is our priority.

The second part of Phase II involves a massive renovation of the older Foyer House sleeping quarters.  Now that the 75-80 kids are sharing four bedrooms instead of two, the overcrowding is less overwhelming. Still, the old rooms are terribly cramped and are designed to create as little light and airflow as possible.

Madlen, the architect, and the contractor have drawn up plans and an estimate to build lofts into the high ceilings, which will create more beds and more floor space, as well as to replace the cement wall with light- and air-producing windows.  As of this point, I have not seen the blueprints nor the computer-generated prototype.  But from my on-the-ground experience last year, I can juxtapose an old Foyer House bedroom (which, again, housed 40 kids each night):

with one of the new rooms that we built last year:

The renovated room won't look exactly like this--but the difference in terms of light and air flow should be evident.

The cost estimate for this second part of Phase II:

As was true last time, we are partnering with Lantern Projects, which will allow for secure and efficient collection and transfer of funds, as well as the ability to offer tax-deductible status for all donations from US taxpayers.

The fundraising will begin on March 1st.  Stay tuned for updates.