Posts Tagged ‘Septic System’
We need to take the fence down.
Can we get the tank up? Oh yes we can!
The septic tank and pipes are in place to carry waste water from the building to the tank where it will be processed into grey water. However, the grey water must go somewhere and that is the next challenge. With Sister Kathryn supervising the construction of the drainage into two different fields and Mr. Steven A. Bennet from Texas generously donating the funds for the project, the septic system is well on the road to completion.
The first step involves connecting a holding tank for the grey water. You must remember that EVERYTHING in Kenya is done using manual labor. The photos below reveal the tremendous effort needed to raise this huge tank to the top of the platform. From this elevated position, the grey water will be carried by gravity to the drainage fields and supply nutrient rich water to the fields which supply much of the food for St. Clare.
Our next posting will be a photo collage (with comments) of the work it took to get the holding tank in place.
When we built the septic tank we thought we were only building a sewage system to protect the children from cholera. Many of the children from St. Clare and St. Francis are members of the parish choir. Clever and creative, the parish choir found another use for the top of the huge septic tank. It is a STAGE for their songs and dances.
The dance is always slow and rhythmic and usually performed to the beat of a drum.
Notice the men with their hands over their heads holding a rectangular box. This box contains seeds, carefully placed in a rectangular box and when shaken in a skilled manner gives forth a unique sound.
So drums and seeds are the background music for the performance. Broadway has nothing on the wonderful singers and dancers from the parish and from St. Clare and St. Francis Schools!
The girls at St. Clare have the best seat in the house!
This was made possible by the generosity of many wonderful people around the world such as Mrs. Marianne Bruchmayer in Germany who donated a majority of the funds to start the project.
This is a great step forward for the children at St. Clare. Up to now they have depended on an outside faucet outside as the place to wash each day. This new facility will allow them to wash in privacy and totally.
Sr. Kathryn reports: “In the Sanitation Block the metal doors are all completed and hung, toilets are installed, pipes for showers are installed, lavatories are all installed, overhead lights are
installed, walls are plastered. What remains is to set in place floor drains in each of the three sections. slant the floors as they are sealed and readied for tile and then finally the tile work on the walls and floors.”
The last step is to install the tiles on the floor and walls.
It is not a “thing of beauty” but it is beautiful to see the huge septic tank being filled in, shovel by shovel. It took two months of 26 people working all day to create the hole. It partially filled-in when there was a collapse on one side, but fortunately it was lunch time and no one was in the hole.
Now we only need to install the processing pumps and pipes to bring the grey water to the drainage field and we can call it a success.
Everything is Kenya is built with stone blocks quarried out of the hills around the country. Cement and blocks is the basic. When it came time to build the pump house for the septic system the stones had to be delivered by truck, dumped on the ground and then each stone has to be shaped because like snowflakes, no two blocks are alike.
The workmen do this ‘shaping’ with simple machettes and a lot of back breaking work over many hours.
We continue to make progress on the septic system. The next step is installation of the pump system but that can only be installed after electric power is available to the system.
Without a sewer system in the bush, in order to avoid an outbreak of disease it has been necessary to build a septic system. In the midst of the famine and drought the workers never stopped working and last week they were able to put the top on the huge concrete tank. You can get a feel for the size of this structure when compared to the size of the workers on the roof.
The huge tank consists of four sections through which waste water will pass, be processed and exit as reusable grey water destined for watering and fertilizing crops.
Once the concrete top was poured and firm the workers returned to add man-hole covers by which each individual tank can be accessed to service pumps. Sr. Kathryn wrote: “The engineer who is responsible for constructing the septic system is hopeful of having the work done by the end of this week. Then they will install the pumps and grinder and finally connect the newly laid sewer drain pipes to the system. I am assured, there will be no more leaking, no more backing-up, no more raw sewage standing around the kitchen and our front yard! Can I believe it? Part of me says, This is Kenya, no way” but the better part of me where hope springs eternal says, “Yes, yes, yes.” The men, from Engineer James who is wonderful to work with, down to the laborer who carries and pours bags of concrete into the mixer, or with a ponga (machete) cuts the saplings to the
correct length and angle have all worked tirelessly and ceaselessly. I have such admiration for the Kenyan workers. They have been totally dedicated, even risking their lives at some stages of digging the septic system. Twice during the digging there were cave-ins in the big hole. Through God’s grace, it was during lunch break so no one was killed. It frightened some of the children
terribly for it sounded like bombs. But do you know, every man returned to work that afternoon and the next day. We redoubled our prayers for their safety.”
This was the major project and now it is ready for the installation of the pumps and pipes. But first we must build the powerhouse which will house the electricity for the pumps. One step at a time, but it is progress in the right direction. It is hoped this whole system will be operational in a month.
Since St. Clare Centre began in 2004 a proper sanitation sytem has been a dream. The former cess pool was no longer adequate as more and more girls arrived to the safety of St. Clare. About the only advantage of the long drought is it provided long dry days to pour the cement which will be the septic system for the St. Clare Centre.
Each day, in sweltering heat, the men work from dawn to dusk, pouring the cement.The photos taken by Sr. Kathryn show the cement coming down the chute into the forms. Notice the men precariously balanced on the rebar, directing and packing the cement in the forms.
Once the cement is in place it will take 20 days to cure. During this period it must be kept moist. The well at St. Clare makes this possible. Before this well was dug last year, this whole project would have been impossible due to the lack of water.
When the cement walls are strong enough, the pumps will be installed. Each day we inch closer to the dream of a proper sanitation sytem at St. Clare and all this is made possible by the generosity of so many donors in the States, Canada, Germany and Switzerland.
The hole for the septic system was progressing so well and then they struck water. This not drinkable water for it is very salty and turned the site into a mud pit. Everyday it had to be pumped out. But the men and woman continued until they reached the bottom.
Last week the base for the septic tanks was poured and now the rebars are being put in place to create four separate tanks. The waste water from St. Clare will enter one end, be processed through 4 tanks, and exit as grey water usable for irrigation.
What rhymes with “irrigation???” Irritation! The constant seeping of water into the site is a huge irritation and a costly one. If you look at the photo you can see it on the left side of the photo.
The good news is that once the walls for the septic tanks are poured and set, then they can back fill and forget about the water. Until then, they just have to muck it out!