I will start by being as blatantly honest as possible: The wall is going to cost more than $2000. When I first visited Omari (the day I posted his picture and story) he came up with that amount simply by estimating the amount of stone, sand and cement needed, mostly because he didn't realistically thing we would raise the money, especially not so quickly, and thought that that would be a good start. He did not take into account the cost of labor, the increasingly high cost of cement, the cost and amount of steel needed, the lumber for casting the columns, transportation costs, and tools like wheelbarrows, nails, hammers, hacksaws, and other assorted building materials and tools. He apologizes for the very low-ball initial estimate and did not intentionally mean to mislead me, or anyone else.
Take a seat; the estimated cost of the wall is likely to be around 850,000ksh ($10,000). I have asked around, and this is considered to be a reasonable price considering the size, quality, and the time in which it will be finished. We also want to construct a wall that will last for a very long time and therefore use good materials. We are carefully documenting all costs and keeping all receipts. We want all of you to know that the donated money is being spent efficiently.
Due to the urgency of erecting the wall, we have agreed (after comparing quotes) on a construction crew that has promised to finish the wall in one week for 150,000ksh ($1,770). The crew consists of nearly 20 people. If the wall is not finished in a week, they have agreed will pay them less.
Construction started at 8am this morning. The crew showed up and immediately began digging holes for the foundation of the wall. By the time I left today (at 6pm) they had finished all of them. Each hole is anywhere from a two to three meters deep, depending on the soil. Columns will be placed in each to support the wall.
By 6pm four truckloads of stone had been delivered (one is not in the picture), out of the ten we will need. The cost of all the stone is 185,000ksh (almost $2,000) alone. We are buying from a local quarry to save transportation costs; buying from Nairobi or another town would be very expensive. We are also buying unshaped stones, which is cheaper than buying already shaped stones; they will be shaped on site by the crew. The rest of the stone will arrive tomorrow and Wednesday.
Please believe that I did not realize the cost of the wall was going to be so high, but I am thankful we were able to raise so much so that this rather dramatic change in cost is not a problem. I think you all agree that the wall is absolutely necessary, despite the cost. We have done absolutely everything to ensure we are getting the best price on everything from labor to materials (for example, I am never around when Omari is bargaining over a price, as we would likely receive an "mzungu price"), while also making sure we finish construction as soon as possible.
Rather than solely posting the updates on the most recent Reddit post, we thought we would post them to our website in the form of a blog (thanks to the suggestion of many redditors)! We will continue to update this blog daily with the progress of the Faraja Childrens Home. Here are the updates we have posted so far to Reddit:
Edit 1: Here are a few more pictures!
Edit 2: For those who would like to volunteer their time at the Faraja Orphanage, the organization that sends volunteers is called Fadhili Community, through the International Volunteer HQ.
Edit 3: How Reddit Saved an Orphanage
Edit 4: So many of you have offered support, and we are making an effort to get in touch with everybody. Kyle Burkholder (Swahili-speaker) and Liana Leyrer (TammyTwo), will also be contacting those who have said they would like to help in any way. So far up to $70,000!!!!!!!
Edit 5: Redditors Without Borders!
Edit 6: $73,000! Thanks everyone for all of the encouraging emails! I can't begin to put into words how thankful I am.
Edit 7: Original Post and where you can Donate.
Edit 8: Just to confirm, there are currently two armed police officers stationed at the orphanage. They will remain there all night. We will continue to hire them to guard the orphanage during the next few nights until the wall is completed. That being said, tomorrow morning we're buying the materials!
Edit 9: $79,000! I'm headed back to Faraja in an hour or two. I'll be there most of the day, but I'll keep you all updated!
Edit 10: Just decided to stop home really quickly to update you all. Omari, Mama Mora and all of the children enjoyed a restful, and most importantly safe night last night! Yesterday I left Mama Mora with 20,000ksh (roughly $200) to buy food and other supplies. This morning she brought me a record book, detailing every single shilling spent and asked me to sign next to the amounts. She has been documenting all donations and expenditures of the home for years. This was more than encouraging! She will continue to record all of the money spent on not only the costs for the construction of the wall but for the food, supplies and wages of the guards. Apparently during the first or second invasion of the home the thugs took a set of house keys to all of the locks of the home which allowed them to easily break in during their third and fourth invasions. As I write this, Omari is in town shopping for new padlocks to all of the doors. This afternoon we will begin to buy the materials and supplies needed for the wall, and contract a construction crew that will hopefully begin building tomorrow! We are also looking into hiring a guard to watch the home during the day in addition to the two guards at night. Many of you were asking if it was possible to donate things like books, toys, etc. This is a great idea and they would be more than grateful for these things. They are even considering starting a library in one of the rooms of the home! The address is: Faraja Childrens Home P.O. Box 57526 - 00200 Nairobi.
Edit 11: Hit $80,000!!! We have changed all of the locks to the four doors of the home, and purchased new padlocks for the iron gates that cover the doors. The police will patrol outside the orphanage, and we have hired a Maasai watchman to patrol within the compound at night. We also bought him a rather sweet machete to use while on guard (ironic?). Tomorrow we intend to hire another to guard the compound during the day. We bought 60 bags of cement, and will buy 30 more tomorrow (they did not have the full amount in stock today). We will also buy the stone, sand, and the rest of the materials needed for the wall tomorrow. We intend to hire 15-20 workers, and have already had many people volunteer to help with the construction; the goal is to finish the wall as soon as possible. I will continue to update this post until there is enough progress (or we have finished), to create a new post. Keep checking back for more updates!
Edit 12: Enjoy this picture of Omari with his hammer. He still keeps it beside his bed every night!
Edit 13: I forgot to upload the pictures of the new locks we installed on all of the doors yesterday! Keep in mind these doors/locks are also protected by a metal gate with newly installed padlocks. Today we got A LOT of work done! We hired a construction company to build the wall; they have agreed to have it completed it one week. We purchased the sand and gravel, and the stone will arrive tomorrow. We will also buy the remaining tools and materials tomorrow morning. As you can see we had to tear down part of the wooden gate (in order to get the trucks into the compound), which we promptly put back up before dusk! Construction beings at 8am sharp tomorrow! We also have a number of volunteers who want to help, which will only speed up the process. It's hard to describe how amazing it feels to see all of this happening so fast. It was only a few days ago this all seemed like a dream!
We will continue to post updates to both this blog, and the original Reddit post. We hope you will continue to follow our progress!