Hard work pays - Blog by Joe Asher

Here at the Island School there has been a lot of hard work this week. That was especially true today as we mixed the concrete for the teachers’ homes we are building. The great William Hill team here was at its best, with people relieving tired colleagues, who then got a few minutes rest and went right back to work. It reminded me of an ice hockey team, with people coming in and out as the action never stopped.

A hundred yards away on the school’s athletic fields, there were about 1,000 kids, including “our kids” and those from several nearby schools, enjoying a Sports Day. It started with the raising of the Kenyan flag and the singing of the National Anthem, an awards ceremony for the top performing students and was followed by a number of games. Word quickly got back to our worksite every time a goal was scored in the first football (soccer) game. There was a lot of pride amongst the William Hill team and the local Kenyans working with us when Island School prevailed 4-1 over Ol Maisor. A lot of happy faces and there wasn’t even betting on the event!

One of the teachers from Ol Maisor called me over to tell me that Island School was a lot nicer than his school and that he needed new teachers’ housing and upgraded facilities and he invited us to visit his school. It would be great if someone would adopt his school as we have Island School.

While all this was going on, children were constantly going back and forth to the clean water taps that William Hill has provided here. Before that the only water source was the nearby river, which the locals share with the cows and goats. It is really striking – at home we get to choose between still or sparking bottled water, or tap water or filtered water. It all seems so trivial when you consider the only choice many Kenyans have.

Another memory that will stay with me for a long time was the seven year-old boy I met in the library, where he was visiting the nurse William Hill has provided this week. He was born with syphilis, which he got from his mother at birth, and can’t control his bladder. He is also HIV positive and so are both of his parents, who are also alcoholics. We’re paying for all of them to get treatment, but you can’t help feel sad at what a terrible hand this young man has been dealt in life.

On a cheerier note, we had a short camel ride to a nearby village, as we were ahead of our work schedule. On the ride I was asked about the weirdest thing that had happened so far. Every time we stopped along the way, the camel behind me would snuggle up next to me, rubbing her snout against my side and wanting me to pet her. It was disconcerting at first, but then I got used to it. Not quite the snuggles at home from my girls, but the only ones I’ll get this Valentine’s Day!

Joe Asher