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

Monday, September 28, 2015


Winfred wrote her high school leaving exams last November (2014) and received her results in Feb 2015. She did quite poorly in her elementary leaving exams, and in many cases those results would not have allowed her to go on to secondary. But she was accepted at a day school and completed her four years. Her parents must have struggled to pay her fees. She received an average of B- which is a very acceptable result. She was fifth in her class of 80 or so and the top girl. Quite an achievement!.

The grades are somehow translated to a mark and she was awarded 57 points. The cut off for a highly subsidized place at university was 58. Missing the needed score by one mark means she will not go on to further training, has no access to education loans, and will probably be married off to a man in the village with little or no income and she will struggle to feed and educate her children.

We were given some funding from generous donors this year for job training. We shall certainly include Winfred for consideration for polytechnic courses, even though what we can offer will be below her potential.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Math Tutoring Centre celebrates

Our Math Tutoring Centre has reached its first anniversary. Our results have been excellent, thanks to our great and faithful instructors, but we are actively seeking more students. Still not quite breaking even, although our aim is to improve math results, not to make money

A busy weekend

Saturday afternoon we attended the installation of officers of the Rotoract Club of Masinde Muliro University
A speech from the outgoing Rotoract President
Kakamega Rotary Club President administers the oath to the new executive

The new president receives the badge of office

Rotary pins for new member

Rotary pins for new member

Rotary pins for new member

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Teacher strike in its third week

This is a very complicated story, but in brief the teachers were awarded pay increases in 2013 as civil service salaries were 'harmonised' across the board. These increases were never paid. After legal hassles the Supreme Court ordered payment back to 2013. It should be noted that these increases are from 50-60%!

The president has said he will not, cannot, pay and the teachers did not reopen school for the third term in September. National exams are looming, children are wandering the streets (see the article below) parents have paid fees (secondary boarding) and will not get a refund.

In the meantime, an order went out to close all schools except for Form 4 (HS leaving) and class 8 (end of primary) which will be sitting exams. But there are no teachers on duty. Also the government tried to force closure of all private schools where children are still learning, but were not able to do so. (Private schools are private businesses after all).

I found this article very descriptive of the situation on the ground.

We have had to cancel the Read for the Top session scheduled for this Friday. Although we are trying to get the teachers to agree to running a Form 4 contest next week, I am not too hopeful. The three small schools scheduled for Form 2 can maybe do the contest in early January. Secondary exams start  in October, so we cannot touch the  schools after the end of September.

That leaves all the primary (elementary) schools which should start Read for the Top in October. We are hoping and praying that there will be some resolution of the impasse during the next week. The school year ends in December, so it will not be easy to reschedule the contests into 2016. Stay tuned.

Our first news from Kenya

We arrived safely in Nairobi on Saturday evening after a long, and tiring journey. No bags lost, no flight delays and two comfortable hotels thanks to our accumulated points. Paying for two extra bags on the Nairobi-Kisumu flight was a hassle as we expected. I had tried to prepay but the site would not accept the process and a query to Kenya Airways went unanswered for three weeks!. We had enough cash on hand to cover the cost (visa payment was apparently a problem) and athough the 'system' was down for a while, we had allowed lots of time and all was successfully completed. Those of you who know how things work will understand.

Our next problem was setting up internet. We left a router here which had worked well until we left in March, but everything had been 'improved' during our absence. We were with Orange (part of Vodaphone) and they sold us a new modem to use in the old router. No luck. So we bought a new router which worked fine in the office but was useless in the house. Eventually after Rod's third (or fourth?) trip into town with the equipment & his laptop, the techie guy came to the house. Only to see that the signal where we are is far too weak. We are about a hundred meters from a microwave tower (Safaricom) and about a kilometer from the centre of town. Go figure! So we have returned the equipment, requesting a refund, and Rod spent another afternoon with Safaricom setting up with their system. Which works fine, but cost twice as much as Orange.

Thanks to everyone for their good wishes as we left. We have arrived in the midst of a bitter teacher strike, which could seriously affect our plans.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Cutting ribbons for Read for the Top

With so many students  scheduled to participate in Read for the Top, we have been preparing team ribbons with help from Rotarians, members of Christ Church Cathedral Victoria and the The Wellesly retirement residence. Thanks to all who have taken a load of work off our hands.