Tuesday, April 17, 2018

April 17: Breaking Walls to Let the Sunshine In

Usual first thing first...we still need +/-$6,000 to complete the Foyer House at Kimbondo Orphanage Renovation.  

                         DONATE HERE

So far:

  • New bedrooms built?  Check.
  • Bathrooms in new building? Check.
  • Paved the parasite-yielded dirt walkway? Check.
  • Remodeled the dining room and hallways? Check.
  • Constructed a laundry room and a storage room? Check.
  • Funded lofts and a major renovation of one of the two old bedrooms?  Check?
  • Finished the old bedroom renovation and loft?  Working on it.
  • Funding for second bedroom renovation and lofts?  Still not funded.
  • Industrial strength washing machine.  Still not funded.

Help us and/or spread the word to others who might help us:

As for the bedroom renovation, Madlen has the funds and is overseeing the following:
  • the installation of lofts, since ~20 kids are sharing each room
  • new floors and walls
  • installing huge air- and light-producing windows.

We'll update photos as the work develops. But I just received this incredibly cool slow-mo assault on the dingy old walls and a photo of the new windows that were just installed.  I don't think it takes a lot of imagination to picture the difference this will make when the work is completed.  And again--we hope to be able to do this with both bedrooms.

And the new windows...feel the light and smell the breeze!

Saturday, April 7, 2018

April 7: The Beginning of Phase II-B

First and foremost, the usual--we need your continued generosity.  After fully funding the toilets and the dining hall renovations, we are now about $7,000 into funding the $14,000 that we'll need to renovate the old bedrooms and purchase an industrial-strength washing machine.

Yep, those donations are US tax-deductible.

In short, we've all accomplished a lot since this foggy notion first formed a year and a half ago.  The 80 abandoned kids living in two incredibly cramped rooms and sharing a single (really foul) toilet stall are now living in four bedrooms--two of which are light and airy--and sharing three toilet stalls and, as of next week, sharing eight.  Luxury living?  Perhaps not. But across the whole Kimbondo compound--which houses close to 800 childred--our Foyer House is known as "La Maison Blanche"..."The White House".

If you've not done so, please take a few minutes to watch Dean's video tour of the work:

In this post, I'll summarize what's happened so far, including some before and after photos.  Next time, I'll focus upon what more is to be done.

From Phase I: January - March, 2017

The Paved Walkway

A paved walkway may not seem like a big deal.  But given the relative dearth of shoes at Kimbondo, the kids spend a lot of time barefoot and the dirt pathway was exposing them to a handful of simply ghastly parasites. I have a couple of photographs and decided not to use them.  But this is a huge, positive change.

The pathway also extends into a large patio area:

The New Bedrooms
These were the focus of last year's $28,000 project.  When Madlen first showed us around Foyer House, they were sleeping 75-80 children a night in two bedrooms.  They were completed in less than two months time and with less than a 10% overrun from the initial budget projection.

Believe it or not, this is the crowding situation *after* the two
new bedrooms were added!  Double the bodies to get a sense of
the original situation
Last year's phase of the project added these two bedrooms and also two small bathrooms.

From Phase II-A: January - April, 2018

                       The Bathrooms 
Before the completion of last year's phase of the project, the 75 residents were left to share a single working toilet stall in a miserably damp, airless, and dark bathroom.  The plumbing was shot and the air hung heavy.  Just as we committed to funding the bathroom renovations, raw sewage began to bubble up out of the ground, as the thirty year old septic tank finally lost the ability to hold its burden.  The smell, which I am thankful to have missed, is said to have permeated the entire Foyer House compound.  Three large trucks were required to remove the contents of the tanks and take it to be treated.

We are proud to announce that the residents of Foyer House at Kimbondo now have a new, bright, clean, and sanitary with beautifully tiled showers and six toilet stalls.  We have turned this:

Into this:

I think it's hard to capture in a still photo--and the olfactory improvement cannot be at all--but it should be clear how much more pleasant the second pair of photos are.  (It's not just a photographer's trick. The first pictures are dark because there was virtually no light, save a hundred watt bulb, in the old version.)

The Dining/Living Room and the Hallway
So, it wasn't part of the original Phase II-A plans, but Madlen  and Dean made the on-the-ground call to perform an aesthetic upgrade to the remaining part of the house, namely the dining/living room spaces:

It used to look like this

Now it looks like this

So that the kids can do this

As for the hallway, the walk from the dining area to the bedrooms used to look like this:

It now looks like this
With the $16,800 raised (an accounting for the money raised and spent is here:  Cost Overruns That We Are Proud Of) we also added a rudimentary storage room and a room at the back that we hope will house an industrial-strength washing machine.  Oh, and a 

concrete ping pong table
Word is that the ping pong table is a major hit.  At about $100 a pop, I just might spring for a few more out of pocket.

So, What Now? (April - July?, 2018)

Phase II-B--The Old Bedrooms
Phase II-B came in at $16,800.  We have one more major undertaking (and a modest bonus addition) that we still hope to add.  We finished the first round of fundraising with roughly $7,000 leftover.  

In order to fully renovate the old bedrooms (including beautifully tiled floors and walls and lofts that will house more beds), we'd need to lay out an anticipated $6,500 each, for a total of $13,000.  Given that we have enough in pocket for one of these bedrooms, three days ago, I gave Madlen the green light to complete one of them before she leaves Congo for three months.  If we have the rest of the money (or something close to it by July), we'll do the same with the remaining bedroom.

Furthering Madlen's reputation as one of the more action oriented people I've ever encountered, the "green light" from *three* stinkin' days ago has already yielded this:

Amazing...someone needs to write a book about this woman.

Oh, and the bonus addition?  An industrial strength washing machine.  Currently, the overworked staff washes 75 sets of clothes each day by hand.  There are better uses for their time.  Projected cost:  $1,000 - $1,500.

So, Phase II-B, which will finish the complete makeover of Foyer House at Kimbondo Orphanage in Kinshasa, D.R. Congo will run between $14,000 and $15,000.  We have already raised $8,000. We have another $7,000 to go.

The new (and final) thermometer will make its appearance in the coming days.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

April 1: A Video Tour of the New Foyer House at Kimbondo Orphanage

A million and six rounds of applause for Dean for filming this so nicely.  I was overwhelmed to watch this today and (predictably) have so much to say about it.

But for now--for once--I'm going to let someone else do the talking.  Or something else...

Still lots to do--we have two bedrooms to renovate and will have to get back on the fundraising train soon. But for now, we can all step back and appreciate that we've done something good.