After waiting for 5 months to get a visa to visit Congo, Caroline Ray, our very good friend with engineering consultancy firm Arup in Nairobi, finally made it to Bukavu last month to check on progress on the St Matthieu operating theatre. This is the building project Semiliki is financing through the generous gifts of many of our supporters and other fund raising activities.
Caroline writes: It was great to go and see the new operating theatre block at St Matthieu! Checking things on site is so much easier in person than from photos! And I was so happy to find it looks just like it’s meant to be! Engineer Akili and his team have done an excellent job turning the design into reality. He proudly showed me details which we had incorporated to bring better natural light and ventilation into the building… I had been worried those details might get missed as they are different to the way things are normally built… but he proudly showed me how he’d followed our sketches… “Look! Numero 5” he said pointing to a roof detail I’d communicated as sketch number 5!
The building works are almost complete, just wall plastering and flooring to go. Our main challenge now is to provide electricity to the building for lighting and medical equipment. There is mains electricity in town but it is currently not connected at St Matthieu and very unreliable anyway. On my visit we gathered information about solar panels, generators and other equipment to make sure that we can have a continuous power supply and avoid the outages that seem to take place at other hospitals in town. Hopefully we will be able to finalise those designs and have power up and running in a couple of months. The Bishop would like to have a formal opening celebration at the end of July. Will it be ready by then? We will try…..