We go to Kati this afternoon, where we have put in a well to serve an orphanage. I don't know if I will be able to post any pictures until we come back from Christmas in Cape Town. We are really looking forward to the break.
Sunday, December 19, 2010
We go to Kati this afternoon, where we have put in a well to serve an orphanage. I don't know if I will be able to post any pictures until we come back from Christmas in Cape Town. We are really looking forward to the break.
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
Monday, December 13, 2010
This larger grant is to supply computers to the school as well as incoming generating projects for the community.
The women's group here has been wonderfully faithful in paying back the small loans we started a few years ago. The 'chairlady' of the group told me what a difference the small loans have made in her life. She is a widow, 'But,' she says, ' I don't care any more, because I can look after myself'.' This group is now ready to form a recognized group (They call themselves: We have woken up) and handle their own finances and loan scheme. Our trainer, Alex, has met with them and will do so again to assist them in their organization. Charging interest (which they will have to do) is a troubling concept and Alex is guiding them through.
Last Saturday there was a large community meeting.Many of the people in the community have already formed groups and are trying to initiate projects to generate some income. We are happy at the basic initiative and determination shown, so we were able to apportion the funding from the Rotary grant into the projects that these communities already have and which correspond to the grant proposal. They will meet again next week with Alex. The rules we set were:1) arriving on time (one man arrived two hours late last week and was upset that his group did not receive a project) 2) majority of members of the group must be present(or the project will go to a 'waiting list' of groups.
We hope that the implementation of this grant might serve as a model for the smaller Rotary grants that will involve more than just handing out money or materials but will leave a sustainable legacy in a community.
The only part of the proposal that we have not yet followed up are the comnputers. The school is scheduled to receive power and the head teacher has innvolved the local MP in hastening the completion of the power line (Yes, MPs in Kenya can do that) If they have power we will be able to purchase more desk top computers instead of the solar panels intended to run laptops. We hope this will happen in the new year
Sunday, December 12, 2010
This was a difficult project because of the rock around.
Saturday, December 11, 2010
Politicians who think they might be in the cross hairs of the investigation have resorted to much protesting (that the ICC wants to crush certain tribes) or that the US (or the Hague) is seeking to overthrow the government. Some have tried to request injunctions from Kenyan courts to stop the processes of the ICC. Others have gone to the Hague to try to 'set the record straight' voluntarily.
In all this a number of senior civil servants and some Cabinet Ministers have been indicted for corruption and fraud. Most of the 'old guard' is in deep trouble.
The investigator for the ICC (Ocampo) has sailed through all this with a neutral expression and firm reiteration of his mandate, although privately I am sure he is grinding his teeth.
He has promised to reveal the names of six 'prominent Kenyans' for indictment on Wednesday this week. I think we will be careful if we go out that day. I don't think there will be any violence or demonstrations in this area, unless Raila Odinga,, the Prime Minister, is one of the six. But in other areas there could b some trouble ifff their 'favourite son' is named.
Sunday, December 5, 2010
I have said before that this local tribe does not practice Female Genital Mutilation but many hundreds of girls suffer the 'female circumcision' in other areas. Some try to flee, some fathers protect their daughters, only to be opposed by the mother, some mothers try to remove their child, only to be frustrated by fathers or brothers who want the 'bride price' for their little sister.
Refusing the 'cut' means estrangement from the community in most cases. Undergoing it inevitably means dropping out of school and early marriage.
The government is also promoting male circumcision as a means of reducing the spread of HIV. The young man we support who is training to be a Clinical Officer phoned us the other evening. He is away on 'attachment' (practical training). Things are going well, but could we send him some money for a circumcision 'kit'? After questions and deliberation, we sent him about $25 but since then his phone has been off. I'm sure we'll hear from him again soon.
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Our Advisory Commitee will be assisting us in a new round of interviews for job and skills training. We are committed to almost $1000 for those students already in a course (excluding those at university whose fees will not be required until later in 2011 and who have a commitment from a sponosr) and hope we can add another $1000 for the pile of letters we have already received. The committee will do an initial sort after applications close on Nov 30. Then we shall interview on Dec 13 & 14.
We must have received at least thirty requests for job training and we know there will be more. If you want to help a Kenyan put food on the table by acquiring a job skill, please see what you can spare. This, or a contribution to the teacher seminars, would make a wonderful Christmas gift and would make a real difference in someone's life. (firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.tembokenya.org/) Tembo will send a gift card to the recipient.
I did a short presentation on R4T a week ago at the Rotary meeting (I have some video clips) As a result of this I did another (longer) presentation Tuesday morning with 30 teachers from informal schools run by ACCES (a Canadian NGO). Tomorrow evening I shall show the same video to Rotoract at the University where they have 70 members.
This is a wonderful small project for Rotary clubs to promote literacy.
Our big initiative (which we pray is not getting out of hand) is the visit of four American teachers to our area in January to teach strategies and skills for English in Elementary and Math in Secondary. We have opened up a number of places to other schools and have been trampled in the rush! We are hoping and praying we can cope with 60 eager teachers in a session. Some schools want to send their whole staff and we shall have to put some limits.
Yes, we are looking for donations to offset costs of meals, photocopy and some accommodation for teachers based way north who cannot travel home every day. If you want to help some eager teachers who have so few resources (and classes as large as 78!) please take a look at tembo-kenya website (http://www.tembokenya.org/) if you can spare a small amount.
It costs $1 to provide a book of handouts, $2.50 for a meal, $10 for a room. You can help children such as those in the picture by helping their teachers.
As a result of this I was asked to speak in a church on Sunday (both the English service and the KiSwahili one --with an interpreter of course) I think there will be requests for full training from that community.
Now that schools have closed we are doing some teacher training, this week at a whole school session just outside Kakamega and next week for various teachers in Kakamega.
On Sunday evening we attended part of a meeting run by an organisation called Shelter Forum with a group where we installed a well earlier this year. The mandate of Shelter Forum is to help communities provide affordable, safe housing. They teach brick making and help with housing loans. What they feel is missing is the basic assistance to groups such as the one on Sunday where the people need help in formulating income-generating projects and receiving business training to start to save towards a housing cooperative. This is where Tembo can step in.
This Shelter Forum group would also like Virtues training to help them in their groups and we can probably do a full 'retreat' with them in Kisumu, because they can contribute some funds. This will enable more training for communities who cannot pay anything.
Then during the course of our discussion over a plate of kuku (chicken) and chips, we learned that they can help us with the implementation of the Rotary Grant in Emmaloba where we were planning on teaching brick making to build a poultry project. Shelter Forum can provide the instruction and also supply the brick making machine.
There is a clip on the video linked to our web site which shows brick making at Imulama. Incidentally, those bricks were used for the base of the big water tank that was recently installed.
The network is growing impressively.
The highlight of the day was the story of a small group who were inspired by Alex's second talk, went home and decided to begin their own project. They could only contribute 20 shilling s each at a time (about 22 cents) but they eventually raised 600 shillings (about $7.50). They took 400 shillings and began to make drinking yoghurt which they are selling in town for 60 shillings for a cup. They brought samples for us & we immediately bought two bottles. I think they made back their original investment in that afternoon. I didn't have my camera with me but if I meet them in town I'll take a picture.
We have now reached the stage where the groups forming will ask us for specific training on livestock, fish ponds, book keeping etc.
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Kenyan students undergo two sets of torture in 'final' exams, once at the end of primary elementary) school in grade 8, and once (if they go on to secondary school) in Form 4 (grade 12)
At the end of primary they sit the KCPE (Kenyan certificate of primary education) Upon these results hang many a scholarship, and even a place in a secondary school. Those who 'fail' (having less than 250 marks out of 500) will not be allowed to continue any meaningful education.
Now the proposal is to wipe out these exams, and not just in a couple of years, but right away. So many educational reforms, good in themselves, are implemented in haste and with little thought for the necessary infrastructure.
Secondary schools select their students according to the results of these exams. The National schools (the premier league) take the top students, the Provincial schools take the next layer and the District schools the lowest of those who have 'passed'. So how they would now make their selection is anyone's guess. There is at the moment no continuous assessment, although the students do take regular tests throughout the year. Would these be used? and how to achieve some semblance of objectivity?
Secondary tuition is free in theory, but since most secondary schools are boarding, (all the National and pretty well all the Provincial,) those families who cannot meet the demands of boarding, uniform and 'extras' like school buses, go to the the weaker day schools.
The premise is laudable: education is a right and no child should be classed a 'failure' at the end of elementary. The head teachers association has backed this proposal, so it will be interesting to see how it plays out.
Friday, November 12, 2010
Richard is shown here with his wife, Bibiana, also a trained facilitator.
Sunday, November 7, 2010
Friday, November 5, 2010
Wednesday, November 3, 2010
And this is not counting the on-going investigation in the Hague.
In other news the ubiquitous 14 seater matatus (public service vehicles) which are the public bus service and which often carry up to 20 people, will be withdrawn. No new licences will be issued and as of next month, they will not be allowed into the centre of Nairobi. Only 25 seater buses will be permitted. All licences must be held by cooperatives, eliminating (hopefully) the 'rogue' owners and drivers. It seems the same rules will apply to motor bikes which, although providing a needed service in the rural areas, are causing mayhem on the streets of the towns. Many are unlicensed and driven by youths with a fifteen minute initiation.
Monday, November 1, 2010
Last week we completed the heats and finals for the second class at Mwiyenga Primary. The children were amazing. I tried to upload a video with captions to YouTube but without success. Class six north proudly declaimed: Reading, reading reading, reading for the Top. We have read six books--four books in English, two books in Swahili---we have read for fun and enjoyment--we have read for knowledge. Reading reading, reading, Reading for the Top. yes, we have read six books. They sang 'I have a dream' with the line: I believe in reading... (instead of 'I believe in angels') Still working on the youtube upload!
On Saturday I did a Virtues follow-up training to a wonderful mixed group of teachers, pastors and community leaders. Their evaluations were so positive and they always want more time! I wish we had the funding to do it. They are great ambassadors for peace and harmony in their communties.
Friday, October 29, 2010
First of course, the International Criminal Court in the Hague is relentlessly pursuing its slow and steady course. There have been many attempts to use the Kenyan court system to expunge names or to declare that the ICC has no jurisdiction. The time for that is long past when Kenya did not establish its own tribunal. One article told us that a 'prominent person' has communicated with the Hague and volunteered to testify (confess?) to his or her part in the post election violence. There is apparently a guarantee (or at least a hope) that he will not be publicly arrested. Of course, we don't yet know who this is.
The Minister for Higher Education (William Ruto) has had to resign from Cabinet because he is implicated in a fraud case, despite his protests of not ever signing cheques, not sitting on committees, not overseeing contracts. So we wonder what exactly he is paid for.
The Minister for Foreign Affairs (Wetang'ula) has also stepped down because of a scandal about embassy properties in several countries where billions of shillings 'disappeared.'
The mayor of Nairobi has also had to stand aside while an investigation into corruption in the city goes on.
The Truth , Reconciliation and Justice Committee has been told it must do some meaningful work, basically get its act together in 72 hours, or the committee will be disbanded. This is after the second prominent person (in this case a foreign representative) resigned in frustration. This committee apparently employs 413 people as 'statement takers'. They will not lose their job, but it's to be hoped they will be used more realistically.
Now we hear that the Anti Corruption Committee is going to re-open inquiries into Anglo Leasing (where funds for new passport machinery went to a non-existent company in the UK) ; Goldenberg (where development funds were paid for non-existent exports) and the Free Primary Education (where donor funds never reached the schools).
There are some very nervous people in high places.
Friday, October 22, 2010
Monday, October 18, 2010
The logistics of running the teacher seminars are a bit difficult. Kenyan secondary schools go into examination mode about now, and will close by about Nov 15. So we have to get information to them in the next couple of weeks. Sounds as if that should be easy, but communication is ultra difficult. The Post office is basically non-functional (even if I had all the PO Box numbers and the schools would check their boxes for mail) so I'll have to deliver to the Education Offices, either myself or by using motor cycle couriers.
We met with our well contractor this morning and made some plans for finishing the water project at Imulama dispensary. This was the well that hit rock, was blasted and then collapsed. We plan to do water harvesting from the roof into a 6,000 litre tank for the clinic. We have the bricks that were made from the spoil and which can be used to make a base for the tank.
Then there is a disused well on a nearby property which we can rehabilitate at little cost, adding the pump we already have. This would serve the community.
On Thursday of this week we shall have a meeting of our Tembo advisory committee and will catch up on what happened while we were away and what plans are for the next while.
On Saturday we shall do a follow-up session with one of the business groups with Alex, our business instructor. This group left the first session in February with projects, so Alex will review and continue with them.
On October 30 we have a follow-up session with trained Virtues people. As for the Virtues, we have a contarct to train 150 staff at the big supermarket and now the whole of the Town Coucil and staff--about another 200. Our Kenyan facilitators will be very busy!
Thursday, October 14, 2010
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Plans are set for Read for the Top, the books ordered and other training sessions are scheduled.
Then at the end of last week we found that Caroline, a young woman member of the Tembo advisory board had visited a free clinic in August and had been advised to investigate a lump in her breast.
She is a student from a poor family and the cost of travelling to a centre with the right equipment plus paying for diagnosis and possible treatment would be far beyond her means.
But on Saturday she didn't look well and could hardly raise her arm. We sent her to the Aga Khan hospital in Kisumu.
Long story short: they found two lumps with ultrasound and decided to operate, then do a biopsy. The only snag being that they wanted 50,000/- (about $125) before they would admit her. So yesterday we set off for Kisumu with the cash and Tony, her very anxious fiance.
The road from Kakamega to Kisumu is very bad, so we opted for the slightly longer but better paved road through Kilingili and Maseno. That turned out to be a good choice.
As we entered Maseno, the car died. We were right outside the Total gas station and rolled into a vacant space. That was the first piece of good fortune.
But what to do? twenty minutes from Kisumu and no hope of an operation without the money. Delaying would only mean more expenses piling up.
I phoned the theological college nearby where we often do residential training and they promised to send a vehicle and driver to pick us up and take us to the hospital. That was the next positive piece in the jigsaw.
Rod phoned the mechanic we use in Kisumu and he arranged to send a tow truck.
Only 20-30 minutes behind schedule, we rolled into the parking lot of the Aga Khan. We paid the deposit (despite the computer failing at one point) and Caroline was admitted. By five another friend had driven from Kakamega to pick us up and the vehicle was safely stowed on the mechanic's compound.
We have heard from Caro--she feels fine, should be home tomorrow and will have her lab results next week.
So far the diagnosis on the vehicle if not good, is at least positive for repair. The mechanic is waiting for a part from Nairobi on the overnight bus. In the meantime we shall have to rely on friends and taxis to get around.
The network of people we have built up over the years is invaluable to us at times like this
Friday, October 8, 2010
Other news is more serious. Sexual abuse (& violence) is a huge problem and the newspapers have been reporting on the predatory teachers who prey upon girls in their care. There is a report at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-11492499
Our meeting with the Provincial Director's deputy was very productive. We have been invited to speak to all the Directors of Education at their meeting on Monday. We shall touch on all three on-going projects: Virtues, Read for the Top and the seminars in January.
I have nine schools registered for Read for the Top. One counts double, since there are 78 children in the class (grade 6). I shall meet the teachers on Wednesday and look forward to explaining how it works. The Head teacher of one of the schools from last session has agreed to release his teacher for the day to assist in the training.
Here is a picture of the community Virtues training we did last week. We met with one of the owners of the Yako supermarket, one of the biggest in town, and discussed Virtues training for all his staff, 160 people in all. Bibiana and Richard, our two facilitators in Kakamega, did a training with one small group a few months ago. It was reportedly very successful and may have calmed some unrest and a potential work stoppage. This will be a huge boost to working with businesses and community groups.
In politics. the International Criminal Court is zeroing in on a few politicians. A couple of years ago, they refused the alternative of setting up tribunals in Kenya to try those responsible for the violence after the last election. Now it seems they think that is the best option, but it is too late. There are a couple of high powered people who are really bad news. They set up a legal protest to have their names expunged from any documents. Fat chance, guys!
Sunday, October 3, 2010
We had to buy a visa on entry because we were lacking the famous 're-entry stamp' in our passports, although we had our work permit renewals. No point in arguing with Kenyan bureaucracy! We went to Immigration on Monday and received our passport stamps and the re-entry visa.
Our friend Bibiana met us when we arrived and we stayed with her daughter in Nairobi. Bibiana returned to Kakamega on the bus on Monday night and took our 6 big bags with her. We have learned that there is a small 'puddle jumper' plane that now flies into the Kakamega airstrip from Nairobi. Great for commuting, although there are likely serious restrictions on luggage. We'll certainly look into that when we go away at Christmas.
On Tuesday we met our 'daughter' Isabella, who now has a job and on Wednesday we flew back to Kisumu because our vehicle had remained there while we were away for some maintenance. Our mechanic met us, we shopped at Nakumatt supermarket and by noon were in Kakamega. We took the long way round through Maseno and Emuhaya because the Kakamega-Kisumu road is reportedly even worse than when we left. In town the intersection at the road leading to the town centre and the Golf hotel has lost its surface and is all mud puddles.
Our apartment was in good shape, although a little dusty. We spent the next couple of days unpacking and sorting. Still some office work to do with files and documents that we brought back. Our phones work and our computer modems were re-activated with no trouble. It was a remarkably smooth arrival.
Friday night our business and micro-finance teacher came up from Kisumu to talk about sessions for the women's groups. Alex is on the video on our web site. He works for an NGO in Kisumu but is aiming at branching out on his own, so working with us is good experience and exposure for him. It also allows us to use his Kenyan expertise at low cost. We have organized some follow-up sessions for the groups he met earlier this year and tentatively set up a new programme for no-till farming.
On Saturday I helped with a Virtues workshop, which I found a bit tiring since the jet lag is still hovering, but the group was enthusiastic and a joy to teach. Alex also participated since we want as many people as possible who work with our groups to be Virtues trained. (For more about the Virtues in Kenya go to www.virtuesinkenya.blogspot.com. You can also see a video of Bibiana and Richard, two of our Kenyan facilitators on You Tube. www.youtube.com/watch?v=R4Roxd_BM4g)
Tomorrow morning I have a meeting scheduled with the Provincial Director of Education. I want to give him the outline for Read for the Top which a Rotary grant will put into ten classrooms, consult him on the proposal to run seminars for teachers in January with volunteers from the US and Canada. I also need to attend the next meeting of the Directors of Education to alert them to these projects and the Virtues possibilities.
On Monday we shall be interviewing a potential University student for funding through Tembo and on Tuesday I shall be starting the new study session with clergy. I'm hoping they will bring the registrations for schools to participate in Read for the Top, since we must start the first batch of schools as soon as possible.
We shall then meet up with the community in Emmaloba for the continuing of their Rotary project, which includes computers, tree nursery and a poultry project.
I'll keep you updated on all these activities with some pictures if possible. Keep us in your thoughts and prayers.
Saturday, September 11, 2010
The meeting approved the installation of Don and Wendy Reimer as new board members. All Board members were introduced individually. (This information will appear on the web site shortly.) The new web site http://www.tembokenya.org/ should be launched this weekend. Patricia gave an overview of last year's activities and the projects planned for October 2010 to March 2011.
Expect an occasional newsletter put together by Don and Wendy Reimer and a Facebook page started by Tanya Harmon.
Nancy Carson announced that she has nominated Patricia for recognition in Champions of Change, sponsored by CBC and ManuLife Canada. If Patricia is one of the ten finalists (in the category of Education-Community-International) then Canadians will be asked to vote. Stay tuned for information.
Monday, August 16, 2010
- the well at Imulama where we were blasting collapsed and had to be filled. We will be looking for an alternative solution to supply clean water to this dispensary that serves about 600 people a month.
- we will be administering the remainder of the Rotary International grant for Emmaloba, partnering with Maseno Rotary Club. We will supply computers for the school and help the community with a poultry project, adult literacy, Virtues training and a tree nursery.
- we have received a district Rotary grant to conduct Read for the Top in ten more classrooms
- Virtues training for the clergy will continue.
- in November and February we plan to run seminars on domestic and sexual violence in communities.
We have received generous donations which will help us with water projects, Virtues and business training for women. We are still hoping for continuing donations for education and job training.
Please check our web site at http://www.tembokenya.org/ for details of projects and how you can donate.
We expect to receive charitable status from the Canada Revenue Agency before we leave.
Thursday, April 22, 2010
Sunday, April 18, 2010
$2500 to put in a well in a village
$ 500 to protect a spring in a community
$ 500 per year for 4 years to send a student to High School and approximately the same amount for some post-secondary programmes
$200 per session to conduct Virtues training in Conflict Resolution and Restorative Justice in schools and communities for up to 40 people
$200 for a woman to receive microloans ranging from $15 to $150
$500 to provide an eyetest & glasses for 100 people
Between $100 and $200 to provide triaining for a trade job such as carpentry, tailoring or commercial driving.
This does not include the many people we help with personal and family difficulties throughout the year.
Saturday, April 17, 2010
Fund raising is going to be one of our major preoccupations over the next few months. As soon as possible we'll have a web site running and have some new ideas for it.
We want to continue supplying clean water, education and, if possible, some basic simple housing for the homeless. Two of our Kenyan committee will be looking into the logistics of this while we are away.
We have been offered some land to use for a training centre where we could centralise Virtues teaching as well as instruction for small business. We will need about $2000 for buildings.
We have made a video summary of our work over the last 6 months. It lasts about 20 minutes. If you would like to help spread the word about the work of Tembo Kenya, we can give you the disc with a DVD format. Please let us know at email@example.com and we will be happy to send you a copy.
We will post from time to time while we are in Canada to let you know what we are planning for our return to Africa next fall.
Sunday, March 14, 2010
Let me tell you about our last week.
On Monday we attended the Read for the Top finals at Emmaloba. Again, a great experience as it was in Mwiyenga. The staff is enthusiastic and the head teacher is already planning how to use the same formula for other subject areas. They want to hold a contest on Science for their grade 8 –the final year before national exams. We left them the bells to use. The principal told us he received a delegation from grade 7, reinforced by the presence of their Peace Keeper, to ask when it would be their turn to compete. (More about Peace Keepers later)
On Tuesday we interviewed seven young people who had dropped out of school and are jobless. Girls wanted to do tailoring, boys motor mechanics and driving. We can make a difference in someone’s life for little outlay by helping them acquire a skill that will put food on the table. Other organizations offer scholarships for formal education, but these people have no hope unless they receive a little assistance. We are hoping very much that generous donations when we are home in Canada will enable us to continue this.
A number of people had problems, mostly cataracts, that we could not help. Some required dark glasses because their eyes were becoming sensitive to the strong sunlight (we are on the equator). We tried to pre-screen for these problems but were not always successful. In addition we spent some time dealing with people who had no real problem but were trying to con us into giving glasses. They claimed not to be able to see the chart but lenses made the problem worse. Go figure. We decided eventually that they wanted the glasses because they were free, or for resale.
We still had a problem with the hand gestures (indicating the direction of the symbol) for some people, many of whom had never been to school and had no idea what to do. In addition there is a real problem distinguishing between 'up' and 'down', 'left' and 'right' We learned to disregard the 'wrong' gestures if they were consistent. We worked from 10 til 5 with a break of about 40 minutes. So we were doing about 3 an hour. Explaining the gestures and trying unsuccessfully to fit people mentioned above took some time.
We left the remaining frames and lenses with the nurse who will be here until July. We leave Kenya next week, so figured it was best to let her use the remaining kit.
At a Virtues seminar on Saturday we saw the teacher who had brought us the children in his school with severe vision problems that I spoke about a few weeks ago. He said the glasses were making a big difference to confidence and self esteem as well as sight.
On Thursday we did our accounts and made cheques for all the scholarships and the maintenance of existing Tembo projects while we are away.
On Friday we met our Tembo advisory committee and gave cheques into their safe keeping. They will pay fees as designated, maintain the library on rabbit keeping, fish farming, poultry etc, collect information about requests for water and educational assistance as well as continuing Virtues training.
On Saturday I conducted my last Virtues seminar for trained teachers on Peace Keeper training and Setting Clear Boundaries. It was a most interesting session. Emmaloba has just established Peace Keepers and there was a report on the process. The other schools attending received sashes for their own Peace squads. The open discussions throughout the meeting gave us many insights into school culture and difficulties in implementing a positive approach to education. We hope to continue the discussion on our email list for those who have access to the internet.
So that was our last full week. The next few days will be spent packing and leaving our apartment in good shape. In other news, ten Cabinet ministers have been implicated in big corruption scandals. Each party is trying to find clues to corruption involvement in the opposing party. In the coalition governement some Ministers belong to one party, others to the other.
When we are home, we will be setting up the AGM for Tembo and doing as many talks and as much fund raising as possible. Anyone interested in supporting the work of Tembo will be warmly welcomed. Thank you all for your support and prayers. We look forward to hearing from you over the next few months.
Friday, March 5, 2010
Even while in hospital before the surgery Richard was working for Virtues. He read in the news of a school in Western Province where students had rioted, burned the dormitory and left the school. He phoned the Provincial Director of Education and set up an appointment for me to meet him Monday morning. The PDE immediately phoned the principal and gave us his blessing to present a workshop for the staff. The students (boys) were at home and due to return Wednesday.
On Tuesday we left Kakamega at 7.30 and drove with two of our facilitators 2-3 hours on rough roads to reach the school. The poor principal had no Idea who was being sent to him. In fact, at the end he confessed he was half expecting a team of inspectors coming to judge him.
He was very hospitable and gracious despite his misgivings and we conducted a shortened teachers presentation. We were well received and the evaluations were very positive. They all would have liked more time of course, but they said the strategies would definitely help them in dealing with the boys as they returned to school.
Many gave their email address so we may have more participants for our email list.
Needless to say, Richard's first phone call this week was to hear the details of the visit to Kolanya.
Monday, February 22, 2010
So I switched some of my commitments in order to teach Richard's class of police officers last Friday. I was to leave at 8 am for Kimilili training centre about 2 hours away. I was to travel with a police Superintendent..
It turned out she had to have a meeting that morning and set the departure for 10. She arrived shortly after ten to say she had to go to the bank and also the police chief had decreed that they could not put two vehicles on the road. Since some people needed to go to Bungoma (on the way to Uganda) we had to take them. After a long delay to sort out account problems (the police account was empty) we drove to Bungoma where we had lunch with the local Senior Superintendent. We arrived in Kimilili at 4 pm. and I began teaching at 4. 30.
We went on til 9 with a brief break for supper. A police officer took pictures for me but his hand was not steady and I don't think they are worth posting for you.
Two hours on the road trying to avoid potholes in the dark, and I was home at 11.30 pm.
Despite all this the evaluations were very positive although they all wished for more time. We think this may be the opening we are looking for into a government department.
(Reminder : check http://www.virtuesinkenya.blogspot.com/ for news about the Virtues Society)
On Saturday I had to finish the Virtues training for teachers. Again a rewarding and exciting day.
Read for the Top is starting the heats in Emmaloba school this week. I am at a church meeting near Nairobi so have to miss it, but will be present for the finals.
There are huge scandals in the country: the missing funds from the free primary education docket ( I told you about this a few weeks ago) and the importation of maize to relieve famine. Tons of the maize were allocated to private companies (including at least one software company!) mostly owned by friends and families of politicians and civil servants, They sold it on at inflated prices. It is estimated that Kenyans pay about double the world price for this staple food, while thousands go hungry.
Last week the Prime Minister suspended the ministers in charge of Education and Agriculture in whose offices the corruption had taken place. They were to remain out of office for 3 months while investigations were going on because they had both refused to step aside. Both these men are members of the PM's party.The next day the President rescinded the suspension saying the PM has no authority to discipline Cabinet Ministers.
We left for Limuru (near Nairobi) for a meeting today and were prepared to take our traveling bags, plane tickets and passports with us in case we could not return to Kakamega, remembering the riots and road blocks in 2008. However, things are still quiet since the PM returned form a visit to Japan asking to meet the President to iron things out.The President is reported as saying there is absolutely no problem or crisis in the country and he is in no hurry to meet.
We figure that as long as the PM is willing to stay in the coalition things might continue to limp along. If he withdraws he will be setting a match to a pile of dry tinder.
He did apparently send a letter to Kofi Annan asking him to assist, but it seems highly unlikely he will do so.
Monday, February 15, 2010
It was good to see them lift their heads and smile. Because of their vision and their shyness it was very difficult at first to have them even look at us or the charts. The teachers stayed and assisted us all the time, which was essential. Both the small girl and the older boy in the pictures could only squint sideways in an effort to focus when they first came in. The girl was unable to open one of her eyes fully. You can see her sitting up straight and happy in the picture.
We go to a rural hospital next Wednesday for testing with adults.
The testing is being done in collaboration with the Rotary Club of Maseno The teacher in the school is a Rotarian as is the doctor at the hospital.
We were assisted by two American missionaries who were very impressed by the possibilities of the kit and would recommend it for anyone coming to Africa.
BTW we tested ten children Two had no vision problems and one was so mentally handicapped that we could not conduct the test at all.
Tuesday, February 9, 2010
I am copying the letter they wrote and read out at our meeting.
COMMISSIONING OF COMMUNITY BOREHOLE
I welcome all of you to this important function in this community.
We residents of Mulwanda have for a very long time been suffering diseases because of drinking contaminated water from the natural springs you have just seen.
We have sent requests to many leaders in this area but have received no support in the past. We are grateful that our elected councillor for the ward was able to link us to Mrs. Patricia and Mr. Rod Crossley. Introduction of this couple to our community has resulted in where we are here to witness today.
I wish to express my sincere appreciation to our councillor and to the Crossleys for their support of this community.
All of us are aware that the water is life. Today's function is a special one because our families will start to drink healthy water.
This is God's gift to the people of Mulwanda.
We shall care for this borehole. We shall protect it jealously because this is a rare case where our visitors have committed their resources to care for us and our future generations.
In order to maintain this water facility it is necessary that we pay a small fee of KSh 50/- per month per household. my committee will review each household and will determine the needy cases who may be allowed free water....
We shall continue to remember you in our prayers.
Agnes Atamba Ichela
Chairlady, Mulwanda welfare self help group. 6th Feb.. 2010.