TEACHING-EMPOWERING-MENTORING-BUILDING OPPORTUNITY Mission: to partner with individuals and communities in Western Kenya to support entrepreneurial activities, education and health through training programmes, scholarships, water and sanitation projects

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Emergency plans

We are now starting the last month of our ministry here and looking forward to coming home for a while. We have been very busy & I have been doing a lot of teaching, so am feeling the pressure in an extremely hot dry season. Pray for us as we come up to the general election in a week. Tribal tensions are high & the High Commission has emergency evac plans, and has invited us to a meeting in Kisumu tomorrow. We'll swing down there after interviewing bright kids in Mwiyenga (out first Read for the Top school) for bursaries for high school because otherwise they will sit at home. We'll also check the composting toilet. Never a dull moment!  As you probably know, two presidential candidates are facing trial at the ICC for crimes against humanity from the last election & are busy weaving rumours of Western plots & conspiracies. There is likely to be no clear winner under the new rules of the Constitution, which will mean a run off (for which no funds are budgeted ) and even more conflict.

Where is the hole?

A week ago we were offering a teachers training session in Virtues Project at Shichinji. The visiting teachers all went to see the construction of the new latrine. Since they are all used to dug pit latrines, their first question was 'Where is the hole?'

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Working with the blocks

The most expensive blocks are made with 12 parts of soil to one of cement, the cheapest take 18 parts of soil to one of cement. Our machine is seeing good use. Here is the crew working on the composting toilets and the blocks ready for the next project.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Virtues training

In January and February 2013 we have conducted intensive training in eight schools and three community groups, including Shikusa Borstal Inst and Shibale Friends Church. .
We welcome all the new Virtues practitioners.
Making rules at Shikusa Borstal

Feeding the local children after Virtues training at Shibale Friends' Church

Making rules for the community at Shibale Friends' Church

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Making interlocking blocks from earth and cement

The machine for making interlocking blocks is seeing good use as we prepare for building the boys' composting toilet next week. The contractor has an order for 6,000 more blocks to build two classrooms, so we expect the cost of the machine to be covered very quickly

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Secondary school dilemma

The results came out last week for the KCPE (exams at the end of elementary school) The scores are used to select students to continue to secondary education (which is not free). The government gives an amount per capita for 'tuition' but there are other fees the parents have to pay as well as uniform, boarding etc. The National schools will take the first 7,000 best performers, although these are likely to be graduates of private schools whose parents can afford close to $1000 per year. The next 420,000 who scored 50% or more will go to a range of schools from good to mediocre. Many drop out because parents cannot pay even the $150 for a day school. The remaining 120,000 have no hope of further education. To take any kind of meaningful training, a child needs a high school leaving certificate. We are seriously concerned about the children scoring high from our Read for the Top and Virtues schools. We have boosted the performance but many of the children cannot continue without help.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Birth of a nation

The nomination process is finished for candidates for the first election under the new Constitution. Many, many problems emerged, but the election is proceeding with optimism that even a flawed process is better than no process. Even though many of the old guard, accused of corruption over decades, is still standing for office, we are hoping that there will be a new mind-set.

A recent article said: 'There isn't a single sane person who thinks the party primaries .... even pass the most primitive test. Missing, or stuffed ballots, rogue returning officers, dictatorship by party bosses, blatant nepotism and tribalism, vote-buying, daylight violence, voodoo math in vote counting, and false results made nonsense of the exercise. It was a total sham.

Yet out of this there is a slate of candidates. Reporters are telling it like it is. Unfortunately a newspaper costs fifty shillings, almost half a day's pay for the struggling rural communities, but we hope the opinions will percolate. We have passed along rural roads lined with people waiting for  a politician to arrive and give them a handout of fifty or a hundred shillings for their vote. Our black SUV has often been mistaken for a campaigning vehicle (until they see the faces) We want to say to them: take his (or her) money and vote for the one you want.

There is one woman Presidential candidate and many running for other positions. Some elders of a community in the north have been telling their people that if they vote for a woman it will bring a curse on the country.

Truly birth pangs.