Act I Scene II: Getting lost in the K2 Maze (October 23, 2015)



Along with Scott and Nicola, we set out to K2 to tour the community with Mabie, Mdu, and CORC representative Sizwe. During yesterday’s meeting at CORC, Mabie and Mdu presented a map of their community that mainly showed the density and spatial configuration of their settlement. The tour brought the map to life as we were finally able to see the community for ourselves. After the tour, we started to make plans about how the project might play out. From our initial interactions the team is still unsure of the direction the project is going to take. However, we have started out on the right track by setting goals for Monday’s meeting.

Cast of Characters

CORC Representative: Sizwe

K2 Representatives: Mabie and Mdu and Prince

WPI Team: Paul, Cam, Amy, Veronica, Justice

WPI Professors: Scott and Nicola


As we are all huddling into Mdu’s shack, Scott sits down on a bag of fertilizer and the rest of us remain standing. The shack itself is only about 20 square metres and made of corrugated zinc. The room we are in is only about half that size. Its only source of light is ironically blinding as it reflects off the still water in the drainage trench and shoots through a 2 metre hole in the side of the shack. Next to the large pile of fertilizer, we see what appears to be the oven Mdu uses for his bakery. We can barely fit inside his home and we begin to wonder how and if we even can make this a work space for the next seven weeks. We head out to see the rest of the settlement and find ourselves in a single file line at the beginning of a narrow pathway. Continuing our walk, we feel as if we are lost in a maze. Shacks are thrown together with no apparent planning to space, shape, and safety. Paul and Cam continuously duck to keep themselves from running into jagged, corrugated metal rooftops and wires. This entanglement of shacks seems to be a major problem in the community, and seeing it first-hand helps us better understand the need for reblocking.

As we walk through K2, we notice some community members sitting in their shacks, doors closed and curtains drawn, watching television and listening to music. A few women are washing clothes and kids are running around with little supervision. After our tour, Sizwe asked everyone to discuss their observations and begin to come up with a plan. As we are discussing potential directions with Mabie we begin to talk about who our co-workers will be. Mabie had initially introduced himself as a community leader, but Sizwe paints him as part of the youth group we will be working with. Amongst this confusion, we try to figure out if the youth of K2 will actually be willing or able to work with us four days of the week. Mabie could only reassure us that he alone will be available to work with us every day.


The team reached a major milestone by visiting K2 and meeting some of the community members we will work with after researching and preparing for 7 weeks in America. However, we still feel confused about the project’s direction. We are unsure of which K2 community members will be part of our team, where we will be working, and when we will be working. After our first day in the settlement, we are not sure whether the community is even interested in improvement. After today, we think that we will not be working with youth community members but still feel we can empower and improve the K2 community. In our talk with Sizwe, Mabie, and Mdu, we planned to create lists of observations on the current conditions and ideas for improvement in K2. K2 community members had previously worked on identifying potential projects and would look further into them over the weekend. We hope this meeting produces momentum amongst stakeholders and puts ideas into action.