Partial Masaiti – BEng Electronic and Electrical Engineering
& Simon Withers – BEng Aerospace Engineering
Today we woke up relatively late as we arrived in the early hours of the morning. The journey was long and arduous; 41 hours of travelling is never fun and the aeroplane’s dodgy headphones didn’t help either. But don’t worry; it all got better when we arrived at the Mutende Children’s Village.
The main project to complete was rebuilding the disused play structure. The children haven’t been allowed to play on the structure for some time because of its current state of disrepair; it was literally a death trap with rotten wood and exposed rusty nails. We were excited to start work, at the prospect of meeting the children and actually getting to connect with the locals.
Despite having a lot of work to do we were delighted to spend some of our time with the children. They’re really friendly and genuinely want to get know us. They’re very inquisitive about our lives back home and they are at times disbelieving. They enjoyed playing with our phones and just being around us.
Construction-wise, the first thing on the agenda was to dismantle the components, trying to salvage all reusable materials as we go to reduce expense. We were left with a dilemma: to leave the existing pillars for use as a starting point or removing the wooden pillars and replacing them with new, more durable beams. There were pros and cons with both of options. Keeping the existing beams would save us time, money and effort; replacing them would increase the life span of the play structure. After much deliberation and debating we finally decided to replace the existing wood.
To do this we need to dig out the existing beams, but that’s tomorrow’s job. Today we started digging holes for the foundations of a swing for the children. This was really hard work with the ground being so hard but it’s meant we have bonded well as a team and are now ready to work together for the next couple of weeks.
We have had a really good and productive first day and are really looking forward to getting even more stuck in tomorrow.