Blogger Andrew Murray arrives in South Africa and soon finds that some aspects of construction work are the same the world over.

Sunday, 26 March

Arrived at Durban Airport and travelled to Khayalehie at Cato Ridge, outside of Pietermaritzburgh.

Khayalehie includes a crèche, a theatre for the choir and tribal dancers, a swimming pool, rhondavels - accommodation for volunteers - a pre-school and accommodation for the orphaned children. However, this list belies the hardship.

Water is intermittent as a new pump has caused a pipe to burst and the demand here outstrips supply. But we have electricity and that means I can use my laptop to e-mail my blog.

The plans for our work have changed and now we will help to finish a rhondavel and start the foundations of a home for orphans. At first I was disappointed that we wouldn't build a complete House of Hope. But I soon realised that, just like projects at home, keeping to the critical path is more important than individual elements of the project.

Monday, 27 March

The water returned overnight so today I've had a shower and there was enough for the rest of the group too.

After breakfast we started work. I went to pick up supplies of concrete and blocks with a driver and two of our group. It's physical work manhandling 300 blocks and a tonne of concrete in 50kg bags. The others worked with local supervisors to fix door frames and bag-wash blockwork walls.

After our evening meal I joined two of the other volunteers to visit the babies who were being prepared for bed. We played with the children and met their gogos (surrogate grandmothers) who care for them. A five-year-old girl wove a plait into three coloured strings and gave it to me as a present.

All of the children are extremely lively, running, laughing, shouting, playing with each other and loving the attention they are being given.