Keeping a child away from the street

Hardworking guests from Merck Darmstadt, Germany

Mgeni siku mbili, ya tatu mpe jembe. –
A guest two days, the third give him a hoe.


Nine apprentices and their instructor Stefan Richter from Merck Living Innovation in Darmstadt, Germany visited PLCC from October 2 to 9. And contrary to the Swahili saying about hospitality they started to work immediately after their nightly arrival. Their plan was to install a photovoltaic system on the roof and to build up a 190 sqm greenhouse on the field within one week.

The work started with efforts on Friday. One group began digging the wholes for the foundation of the greenhouse structure. It turned out to be very hard because of the rains during the night before and the clay soil. Two Kenyan neighbors were called to assist and they were really helpful. The second group concentrated on the photovoltaic system and worked together with staff from Kaniu & Prieske Project Management. The cooperation between Kenyan and German professionals worked out very well despite some small language difficulties. They were very busy on the roof and in the fields and every evening a positive balance was drawn excluding the unavoidable sunburns. With the growing confidence that they will make it within a week, time was set for small breaks. These were really important as you do not change the continent, climate, environment, food and habits without any consequences.

Time was created to visit Nairobi National Park, the Giraffe Centre and the Sheldrik Elephant Orphanage.

The project was started with a first contact between Volker Schmidt, Merck - Living Innovation General Manager Consumer Health Kenya and his wife Bettina and Mary Mshana and Claudia Heiss from PLCC in March 2014. The photovoltaic system and the greenhouse were chosen to be implemented out of a list of wishes. The usage of these innovations will reduce running costs and also secure electricity during power outages which frequently turn off the lights. On one hand Merck wanted to support a social institution in Kenya and on the other hand they wanted to offer their apprentices an opportunity to make overseas experiences by working for disadvantaged children.

The merchants trainees were responsible for organizing the project (orders of material, finances, flights, medical arrangements and so on) during the six months of planning. The trainees of electric, electronic and mechanic were in charge during the work assignment on the plot. The professional knowledge of all the trainees was needed and by combining it they were successful.

The warm light of the new lamps, powered by the African sun, is more than secure lightening but also an example of resource-saving energy. Vegetables which will be planted in the greenhouse are expected to bring a good harvest because of the micro-climate and independence of dry and rainy seasons. Very efficient is the drip irrigation using minimum water, leading to maximum growth.

The communication between the young guests and the PLCC girls was reserved during the first two days; no wonder as the guests were fully occupied. The change came on Sunday afternoon when they were singing, playing and dancing together. The ice was broken, questions were asked from both sides, girls and trainees were identified by their names and distance switched to proximity. The girls asked to be collected from school and they proudly introduced their new friends to their school mates.

The group departed after seven busy and exciting days with the promise that they will work on convincing another group of trainees to travel to Kenya next year with a new project and the wish to get to know the PLCC family.

The PLCC girls made new friends. Thanks to all who committed themselves on the various levels in order to make this project successful. We are happy if this turns out to be the beginning of a lasting relationship. Our wish for the Merck apprentices is that they went back to Germany enriched with experiences and insights.



Installing the solar panels
putting up the greenhouse