It’s been the long-held wish of both our school’s director and the trust to help the long-term sustainability of the school by finding our school staff a permanent place to live. Currently the staff use rented rooms which are small, not well maintained, lack many facilities, and are not very secure. The rent for the staff accommodation – which is part of their salary – is a cost to the school, and landlords are increasing rates all the time.
Finally, in February 2022, we got the opportunity to buy a property, its latrine and the piece of land is sits on. Close to the school, it is a perfect house to convert for staff accommodation, so a price was negotiated and we set about making plans for the building’s renovation.
We applied to Meeting Needs charity for help with this project and, as they have in the past for our school latrine projects, they agreed to support us very generously.
Heavy rains delayed the start, but in December 2022 we put the project into the hands of our local builders who set about re-modelling the building with just hand tools…and their almost tireless energy.
The building’s walls, roof and foundations were sound so more windows and doors could be fitted to separate the house into seven individual apartments. Ceilings were installed, the floors were concreted and levelled while the whole building was plastered inside and out. The skilled plasterers have left their mark by adding small decorative areas of plastered cornice work with a different design in each of the apartments. A lovely touch.
The building, situated on a slope, had a precipitous set of rustic steps at the rear so the surrounding area has been part levelled and part sloped. The steps are now remodelled and safe, and a good rain skirt at the base of the building protects the walls from the heavy tropical rain.
Some new roofing sheets and a coat of paint have made a real difference to the front of the house – now it has kerb appeal! Very soon seven of the 15 Uphill staff members will be able to move in…
During the course of the project we were offered another small piece of adjoining land which we were able to purchase. This leads us to the next stage of the project. Which involves new buildings.
With this extra land, we now have space to build two more rows of two-room units which will be accommodation for the other eight members of staff. A further unit will be added to these to provide a kitchen space for all the residents to use.
The existing latrine building on the property has been revamped, as a temporary measure, and is now a clean, functioning building. A temporary shower is also being built. These amenities will be moved and expanded eventually to the lower part of the plot. There will be a shower building and a laundry space beside them.
The central area behind the original property, lying between the two rows of new units, will be available for all to use. Despite the extra works, there will still be garden space for the staff to grow a few vegetables, if they wish.
In the coming months, and for the first time in this community’s history, a piped water supply will become operational in the village. Users pay for a metered private connection to a standpipe on their property and the water is of drinking quality. This has already been agreed and paid for as the water provision for our staff accommodation block.
The staff have chosen to have their rooms painted white inside and once this is done the first of them will move into the new accommodation. They will pay their own bills and furnish them to their own taste. A first small, but significant, step in saving money for the school.
The last two tasks in this phase of the project will be to secure the front and side of the site – to keep opportunistic thieves and the neighbours’ cows at bay – and to install electricity.
Our fundraising will continue for the building of the additional rooms and the new latrine and wash area. The plan is to erect the new units and kitchen area in a modular way so that, as money becomes available, the buildings will expand.
UPDATE January 2024 – click here for more exciting news about this project!