This first week I have helped Zach where ever I can on the Internet expansion project he as started for the schools in the
Basically the plan is to beam a radio signal from an independent network provider in Bungoma ,
google maps coordinates 0.566756,34.560685 (enter these numbers including the comma in the google maps search box), to
a school in Kakapel (0.672797,34.353156). The distance is approximately 20 miles. Kakapel is one of the highest elevation
shools in the region, so the hope is that Kakapel can then be the hub for several schools. From Kakapel, shorter distance lower
cost radios will be used to extend the internet to schools no further than about 7 miles away. One problem we are running into
is the hilly terrain is causing some line of site issues.
The first steps of the process is to erect ratio masts. Kakapel’s will be a 120 foot mast. A 50 foot mast is also being
constructed at the Mission House where we are staying.
The construction process is quite different than what we experience back home. Zach has hired a local “general contractor” named
Titus, and he is someone who knows people, and is someone Zach can trust. Titus’ role is to go around finding workers, supplies,
and transportation for the project.
I will describe the effort here at the mission house so far. On Wednesday, the location of the mast and the guide wire anchors
were layed out in the backyard. The central base needs to be 4ft X 4ft and 5ft deep. The guide wire anchor holes need to
be 2ft X 2ft and 4ft deep. The four holes will require about 5 yards of concrete. Titus contracted two locals to come and dig the holes. Using
a large hoe and shovels, the four holes were dug in about 2 hours. While they were digging, Titus was out trying to find sand, large
gravel, cement, and water. NThe first to arrive was the sand in a cart drawn by two donkeys, then gravel came by truck. The cement
comes in 50Kg bags (110 pounds), and those showed up on bicycles. Finally the water had to be found and brought to the mission house.
I think it required around 60 gallons. Bicycles were used for this as well. 3 water cans were used, so it took several trips to gather
the water. No other work happened on Wednesday.
Once all the supplies were gathered, the mixing of the concrete started. The workers cleared a patch of ground about 10
feet across by removing the top layer of grass. There a layer of sand, followed by gravel, and topped off with cement were
layed down. These materials were dry mixed first, and then water was added. After the first batch of concrete was prepared,
the holes started to be filled using a wheel barrow. This process was repeated until the angle iron guidewire hooks and the
steel mast base were firmly seated in concrete. This took most of the day on Thursday.
On Monday, Titus and Humphrey (who works for the independent internet provider) will begin erecting the mast.
Later in the week, we hope to begin some initial tests.
I’ll post some pictures when I can.