Team Member Volunteer Chronicles: Kenya #4


Thanks to Lisa Slater from contributing this blog post.

Almost every night after dinner, we have a debrief in the dimly lit dining room/sitting room of our home away from home. On the walls are murals of African animals-zebras, elephants, water buffalo, giraffes and tigers and we sit around four mis-matched tables in square, white painted wood chairs with squishy brown and white cushions that don’t offer much support.

We talk about the day’s activities, what we’ve experienced, how it made us feel, and of course, staying true to Whole Foods Market end of meeting  tradition, we have appreciations.

Last night, when Ruby Ruth our spirited CTC host, asked us how everything was going, Katie said “We want to work!” Up until now, we had teasing glimpses and half days at Café UBUNTU but hadn’t really set to work completing the painting, building paths from the parking area to the café, planting flowers and generally getting the location ready for opening day at the end of September.

Well, beware what you wish for! For the last two days we have been working like…Whole Foods Market Team Members! We are used to working with intense concentration, collaboratively, and in a way that will get the job done well and by its deadline.
And so we set to work: the artists in the group, Chris and Liz, using the work created by the WFM Team Member volunteer group that preceded us, started to tape walls, and paint the geometric design that rims the walls and ties the room together. Kevin mounted a 10’ platform, made by Rocky, one of the Comfort The Children International employees, in order to create a huge circle using a nail and a twine, that would eventually be filled in with the CTC teal blue and the CTC hand logo. Marsha and I, both convinced that no one would want us to paint, were encouraged to do so and found, if not latent talent, at least enough ability to execute the design nicely enough to make it look artisanal and definitely local!

Katy put her expertise to work in redesigning the floor plan for coffee service and acted as the bridge between inside and outside, using her passion for gardening to assist Tyler, Devon, Ken, and Ryan start the heavy work of laying out paths and starting to cut through the turf down to dirt.

Today, Chris mounted the platform to complete the hand, which every customer at the café will see as they exit with their frothy cappuccino in hand, while Katy, Oakley  and Marsha worked on (among other things) painting  “karibu” or “karibu sana” (meaning “welcome” and  “very welcome”) over each door. The idea is to make the café a place where both locals and tourists will feel comfortable and…welcome.

Liz touched up yesterday’s work, and made sure that Chris’s work on the logo was spot on (which it most definitely is). Your faithful blogger alternated between inside and outside, painting, washing brushes (using the outside hose, and feeling guilty that there was no place for the paint to run off except into the garden) ,setting up the floral borders, raking gravel, and hoeing dirt to sort out grass for recycling.

Meanwhile, outside, Devon was assisting the stone mason finish the stairs, and started the retaining wall that runs around two sides of the café. Tyler, Ken, and Ryan didn’t stop chopping, cutting, hoeing, raking gravel, and doing incredibly exhausting work…but we were all painfully aware, and in awe of,  of the two gentleman not far from us digging a 50’ (yes, that’s correct fifty feet) pit that will act as the latrine outhouse for the café until a septic system can be installed.  We were especially grateful to Liz for providing them with moments of hilarity when she told them that she wasn’t married because she couldn’t find anyone who suited her. They found that very amusing.