Malalani community had been eagerly waiting for the new library from the moment the container set sail off the shores of the United Kingdom, bound for Kenya. A few days to the expected date of arrival we get word that the ship has been delayed. “Ok, this happens sometimes”, I tell myself. I make a phone call to all the committee members at the Malalani community to inform them of the delay. This is the easy part. The hard part is telling the volunteers who had come all the way from the United Kingdom for the purpose of making the library dream, a reality for the Malalani community and her surrounding members that there is a dely.
A few days later, the ship arrives, we sigh in relief. “Finally, we can begin on the project as we were already two weeks late” I tell myself. Little did I know that we were in for a major disappointment. From shifting from one forwarding agent to another, moving from office to office, making countless calls, pressure in delivering what we had promised the volunteers and the community in time and very high unexpected importation taxes were just but a highlight of the list of challenges we had to overcome.
“Look for something positive each day, even if some days you have to look further!” I tell myself. This was on the day that the container had finally been released, I met with the driver about Ten o’clock in the night. Needless to mention that the community had gathered and waited for the lorry to arrive since Nine o’clock in the morning. The lorry had however been unable to cross the ferry earlier as the tide was low. We made plans to offload in the next morning and called it a day.
On the next day, the lorry made its way to the site early in the company of Dr. McAlinden. I stayed behind to make contingency plans for the container offloading in case our first option was not able to deliver. When I got to the site I was disappointed by the lack of turn up by the community. I suppose the enthusiasm had died down a little as the container arrived days later than planned and every day we thought was the day but in vain. Offloading the contents in the container was difficult. I remember at some point I had to force Dr. McAlinden to take a break as she had been doing the physical lifting of the boxes for hours without rest.
Soon more and more people joined, in no time the container was empty. The off-loader arrived and in thirty minutes or so the container was off the lorry. This was the first time we had been able to get a container off the back of the lorry in such a short period of time. Next was the sorting out of boxes and the other charities that had shipped with us took what was theirs. The coming week was all about the container conversion. We were able to paint the container in a new record time of one day. We were however out of paint for the doors but the inside and outside was all done in a day, thanks to the Malalani Football Club members.
The best part was the official opening day. The community turned up, mostly the women and children. Speeches were given, advices issued, vote of thanks received and the ribbon was cut. What had been such an intensive and crazy few weeks were now over. No matter how prepared I thought we were, there were always some nasty surprises behind every corner. In the profound words of Edmond Mbiaka “The struggles, challenges, and obstacles that it takes to succeed is what makes success more valuable. Nothing great comes easy, and nothing easy can ever equate to greatness.” One thing is for certain, in the end it was all worth it.