After a very intense, early morning TaeKwanDo session with Bavel (I genuinely don’t think I have ever sweated so much in my life), Cameron and I threw ourselves in the pool and we all had some breakfast. Cam then drove me and Des into the village so that we could visit the Kuruwitu Conservation and Welfare Association (KCWA) office. Apparently it was a mess and desperately in need of a clean out. I think Des had been impressed by the organisational powers that I had managed to harness to tidy Shwari house (only temporarily but it was gorgeous while it lasted) and was hoping I could do the same at the office.
We drove down and parked outside two small huts with the KCWA logo and slogan on the side.
In one there was a woman with a sewing machine, surrounded by amazingly colourful fabrics that were hung and draped across the walls.
Des greeted her in Swahili.
“That’s one of the women from the Women’s Group,” he explained, “They have this tailoring business now. They make uniforms, shirts, kikoys and all sorts,” I smiled and waved at the woman and another young girl, possibly her daughter, as we went by. The next hut along was the office. There was a thatched roof that jutted out from the building, keeping the area in front shaded, which I was grateful for as it was already a scorchingly hot day.
The office is made up of two rooms. One is the main area with a large desk, several chairs, all looking slightly tragic as the bare foam had deteriorated in many places, and a big notice board that was covered in posters about KCWA. The other room was clearly for supplies and files and I could see why Des had enlisted our help. The broken doors of the filing cabinets were overflowing, cardboard boxes took up most of the already very limited floor space and random wires ensnared the rather dubious looking electronics. On top of a filing cabinet sat a boxy computer that probably hadn’t functioned for at least ten years, the plastic of its casing fading to a dirty yellow colour. There was a lot to do and even just thinking about it made me sweat.
We started to shuffle some of the boxes out of the supply room and into the space outside. A small group of children had already begun to gather around, curious about the whiteness of our skin and the funny way that we talked. I started to look through some of the boxes that had been brought out. There were video tapes, one that very alluringly said on the back ‘This is a story much better watched than told by a second party’, papers, questionable DVDs with handwritten names scrawled on the back, a broken fin and a dirty snorkel, a computer keyboard and even a ladle. I wasn’t sure how on earth we could sort all of this stuff out. There was too much. Cam and Des stood inside talking with Dickson, the other founder of KCWA, while I was attempting to get an idea of the stuff we had.
As I stood staring at the items we had brought out my concentration was broken by the yowling of a skinny tom cat nearby. I crouched down and slowly moved towards it, hoping to stroke it as I desperately missed my cats at home. Sadly, these cats were clearly not used to being treated well by people and he skulked off. I turned back to my junk pile and just caught sight of a tail disappearing under the office. I hadn’t noticed that the building was ever so slightly raised off the ground on concrete blocks. A few seconds later I saw two impossibly tiny faces peeking back at me. Kittens. I took one step towards them and they were gone again.
‘Flora, focus on the task at hand’ I thought to myself and resumed my sifting. I took everything out of one box so it could be used to put things in that needed to be thrown away. There were a few scraps of paper and pieces of chalk in the bottom so I shook out the box a little way away from the office. The children followed me and their fingers shot out and grabbed the chalk pieces as they hit the ground.
“Chalk, chalk!” One of them exclaimed as they picked up the pieces. They looked up at me and smiled timidly.
“Can I take picture?” I asked, holding up my phone. They nodded and shyly stood waiting for me to be finished. I gestured for them to come over and turned on the front-facing camera which got them very excited.
At this point the kittens ventured out from their hidey-hole and I approached one very slowly, scooping it up into my arms… well hands. It was so small I only needed one hand to hold it. One of the children picked up the other one and they started playing around with it. They were a touch more rough than I was so I suddenly wasn’t so surprised that they weren’t crazy about humans. I put the kitten down, ‘Come on Flora. You have work to do,’ I said to myself.
I kept sorting, finding broken torches, key rings made of flip flops, whiteboard markers and calamine lotion. It was all very bizarre. Dickson came outside so I asked him,
“These torches, do they work?”
“Oh no they don’t but I will try and fix them,” He replied confidently. I looked at the bag of torches and wondered how long it had been there already. I nodded,
“Okay we’ll keep them then,” In reality what I wanted to do was just get rid of it all. Who was going to be watching a VCR of Tarzan? But Dickson said to keep them so we did. It soon became clear that this was a job that was going to need a whole lot longer than the couple of hours that we had before we went diving. I walked back into the supply room, taking in the ring binders filled with shoddy pieces of paper labelled ‘Kuruwitu 2008’, the mouse droppings and peeling linoleum on the floor. It was definitely going to need some proper work.
Des, Cam and Dickson were having a conversation along the same lines outside.
“I think we need a whole day of doing it,” Des was saying, “And maybe we can get some of the community involved as well,”
“Yeah I think we just need to take everything out so we can do it properly.” Cam agreed.
“And can we get rid of some of those files?” I asked, not sure how much use they would be now that they were over a decade old. The kittens emerged once more and I bent down to scratch them behind the ears, just the way my cats at home like it. They dissolved into little puddles of bliss, closing their eyes as I rubbed along their cheeks.
“Yes I think that’s a good idea.” Des said, “Legally, everything that’s over seven years old is obsolete,”
“And that way we can clean the floor as well and just make everything a bit nicer,” I said, down at my kitten perch.
“What do you think Dickson?” Des asked, gesturing at all the stuff we’d already brought out.
“I think it is good,” he said, nodding. So I tore myself away from my beloved kittens and we agreed to come back next week to take on the monumental task of sorting out nearly two decades of crap.
- Snorkel before breakfast
- Then another snorkel before breakfast (oops)
- Website content
- Face masks
- Watching Casablanca at the beach bar
- Website content editing
- Scuba dive
- TaeKwanDo session with Bavel
- Checking turtle nest for eggs