Monday, December 21, 2009
Richard will be heading a small subcommittee to look at our guidelines for putting in water (wells or protected springs) His past experience and expertise will help us avoid pitfalls over land titles and negotiations with committees.
Reuben is willing to donate the use of his brick making machine for producing blocks from compressed earth. After the meeting Tembo gave some funds for cement, transport and labour and the team set to work on the earth that had been thrown up out of the dug well at Imulama. we'll have pictures soon.
Grace will be our education contact and will help with student monitoring while we are away.
Isabellah, Carolyne and Bibiana will cover micro finance and income generating projects such as rabbit keeping, while Julius will continue to work onsetting up fish ponds.
Last week we heard that we have received the Rotary Grant for the 'adopt a village' project at Emmaloba. We will continue to work with the Read for the Top and Adult Literacy projects which we had already started with Tembo funds. This money will come back into the Tembo account as soon as the funds are transferred to Maseno Rotary Club.
Some aspects of the grant will have to be deferred until we return because our time here will grow short. However, we plan to set up as many structures as we can before we leave. the grant has a two year life span, so next fall should see things in full swing.
We held very successful Virtues training sessions in Maseno the week of December 14. The first welcomed twenty participants who have done the basic training in Virtues. They returned for a ‘deepening’ session, to share their experiences and to support each other. Without exception all participants testified to the positive effects the Virtues has given to their schools in terms of discipline and performance. We had hoped for more participants, but the problems with school funding made it difficult for many head teachers to send their staff members.The serious problems with primary funding were a topic of one of our ‘examples’ during the training.Apart from direct benefits to schools, we also know that the Virtues assist us in conflict resolution and healing.
The second session involved fifteen new members for Virtues, mostly teachers. They went away as changed people and determined to spread the word about how Virtues can improve schools and communities.
All the news about Virtues in Kenya can be found at www.virtuesinkenya.blogspot.com
Friday, December 11, 2009
The lodge sits on a rise above the lake and was once the home of a British army officer who settled there in colonial times. The carefully cultivated grounds were full of lush plants and exotic coloured bougainvillea.
The area of the lake is now only 85% of what it was and a few remaining birds huddle close to the out flow of the Kariandusi. The two pictures below give an idea of what could be seen just a few years ago as the surface was totally covered with pink flamingos. The third picture shows it today
The second tragedy is also man made. December is the traditional season for girls to be 'circumcised' . Unfortunately efforts to eliminate the practice have met with mixed success, most especially in the traditional, rural areas. Last week two pregnant girls of 15 and 16 were forcibly 'cut' in preparation for their marriage. In the Pokot community it is a taboo to marry uncircumcised women and girls who fall pregnant have to be initiated before giving birth.
Some 140 under-age girls have been circumcised in the larger West Pokot District since the season started last week.
One organization (unnamed) that fights the practice has written to the UN to force the government to intervene and save 350 girls expected to be circumcised in North Rift province this season. It is possible to even have the cut performed in hospitals, supposedly with less risk of infection and complications than with the traditional dirty knives and unsterilised sewing equipment.
Some courageous girls flee their community and take refuge with religious or other institutions. However, this normally means that they can never return home to their family.
FGM promises a future of gynecological and obstetric complications for women. Canadian MP Keith Martin wrote a few days ago to the UN and to the African Union condemning the practice and urging the government to take more forceful action.
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
Monday, November 30, 2009
A number of years ago, under President Moi, large parcels of land in the Mau forest were given out to political favourites. This forest is the water source for most of Kenya. Over the years grants of land and a blind eye to squatters (some government authorised) have decimated the area. Together with natural climate change, the rivers and lakes fed by Mau catchment area have begun to dry up. A short while ago the government began to evict the squatters. They will be followed by those who have title deeds (mostly forgeries or illegal) Huge cries of protest are now coming from the owners of vast estates- some as large as 60-100 hectares-, claiming to be sympathetic to the evicted peasants, but really fearing for their own holdings. This is developing into a political battle between the Rift Valley Cabinet Ministers and the PM who is directing the evictions. There will be a showdown next week with a threatened vote of no confidence in the PM and it won't be pretty.
Ruto, a cabinet Minister and leader of the Rift Valley politicians is supposedly coming to Kakamega on Dec 6 for a fund raiser. This is Odinga territory (the PM) and we are thinking of keeping our heads very low.
This story has eclipsed for a while the ICC investigation.
Technology enables many 'unbanked' to use their cell phones to send money for family, to pay bills and even hold cash while they travel. A scheme by police officers has been revealed whereby they no longer need to collect 'kitu kidogo' (a little something) from public transport vehicles at checkpoints on the road. Arrangements are made for the drivers or touts to send the money to an Mpesa account in an officer's phone. 'Contributions' are then shared at the end of the day and officers can no longer be found with a cache of 100 shilling notes.
A wave of cholera is sweeping through some areas. Nine inmates of a prison died last week and others, particularly in the slums with no sanitation and no water, are dying or sick.
Saturday, November 28, 2009
across the gullies.
Here are the first pictures and the finished spring. Two videos were taken in just a few minutes when we visited last week. It takes a very long time to upload, so I'm only posting one.
Thursday, November 26, 2009
I don't yet have my picture software loaded,so I will start to post pictures again as soon as I get time to download the programme.
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Last Sunday we were invited by a potential MP, Reuben Sechele, to attend his church where he was planningto make a large donation. It's an ACK church next to one of my schools. To my surprise I was asked to give the sermon! I hastily gathered my thoughts together and did a presentation on the Virtues, using passages from Ephesians. I think it was well received. Reuben and his wife Phoebe spent eight years in Ottawa. Phoebe as personal assistant to the Kenyan High Commissioner and Reuben at Carleton. Their daughter spent her formative years in school there and has a definite Canadian accent. She plans to return to Carleton for Journalism.
Over lunch we spoke more of the Virtues project and also learned that Reuben publishes elementary school readers. This was the oportunity to present Read for the Top. Children in rural Kenya are very disadvantaged becasue all exams are in English. They have little opportunity to hear or speak the language, or to read in it, so a special reading programme will, we believe, enhance performance all round. I have heard from oher schools how having a few extra reading books, improves language skills.
Reuben was intrigued by the idea and is willing to donate books to the elementary school next to the church in his village. Reuben will lay the groundwork and I will go out there in early January to present and help organise. This means we will have two schools on the project, although using different titles.
Dorcas really wants to do electrical engineering (she had 3 A's in sciences) but parallel prog is impossible (she had a B over all) But there is a diploma programme at Rift Valley Poly in Eldoret. I felt so sorry for her when she told us about it "but I will go for the other diploma" Rod wants to send her as an engineer even if it costs more. She's a delightful girl. We sent her off to Eldoret to get fee schedules etc.
We spoke to prof Akello at MMUST (our university) that evening to ask his opinion on Rift Valley Poly. He confirmed it is a good school, but said she should be in university. So few women choose engineering and her marks are outstanding. Long story short--he called her in to meet him, meet the bursar and the registrar. There will be a board meeting on Dec 1 and her case will be presented for financial assistance. The worst case is that she goes to the Polytechnic for two years and then appliesto enter the university programme. But she will lose another year waiting between the two institutions. Kenya is still dreadfully slow in processing colelge placements. She is already 22 and needs to get on with her studies. We think the news will be good.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
This draft was compiled by a "Committee of Experts" including three foreigners.
Everyone knows that the whole system needs to change if the country is to rid itself of 'the culture of impunity' and corruption. This proposal will put a new face on the nation:
- president is still elected but has only ceremonial powers as well as being Commander in Chief of the forces (at the moment the President has absolute power with no checks and balances)
- PM from the majority party and chooses Cabinet
- only 20 ministers (at the moment there are 48 with matching assistants)
- a percentage of these to be from outside parliament
- devolution of powers to the provinces with reduction of power from the central government
- elimination of districts created after 2004 in order to give jobs as political favours. All existing Provincial and District officers will be dismissed. They can reapply for positions in the new areas.
We were involved in a lively discussion last night at the Sports Club. Much concern expressed ranging from the choice of words (semantics) to what the repercussions would be.
The Committee of Experts has done an amazing job in a relatively short period of time. After the 30 day consultation and amendments, the proposal goes to parliament. It will be interesting to see if the MPs have the temerity to tamper with it after the public has studied it and given opinions. They will be hard put to do what they did last time, which was to radically alter the proposal before putting it out to referendum, thereby almost ensuring failure.
Sunday, November 15, 2009
I am amazed to see the date of the last post was Nov. 6. The past week has flown by.
On Sunday we took 'our' three boys to Kisumu for their interviews for the East Africa Youth Leadership Conference. They were all accepted! This is wonderful news as we aim to choose future leaders of Kenya in our scholarship selection.
On Tuesday we had two profitable visits in Kisumu. One to an organization that offers post secondary scholarships to needy students. The student (or a sponsor) must supply living expenses. We figure this would be about $500 per year, about the cost of a secondary scholarship. We will send Justus (financed by a friend in France) who has been waiting at home for two years hoping for fees. His marks are good enough for university, but the costs are too high even for us.
The second student is Dorcas who scored A in Physics, Math and Chemistry in 2006. She too has been 'at home' since then. Rod says with marks like that she should be an engineer, but again we do not have the resources. However, if these two obtain a good diploma thay can then go on to other things.
The other organization we visited is the ARC, a Norwegian NGO. They have a microfinance section and their officer will come with us later this month to Emmaloba to speak to the micro finance group. We hope that at some point these women will become independent enough to run their own group.
On Thursday we met a couple of people who were at the Virtues presentation to the town council and want training for their communities.
In the afternoon Pat did a community workshop on cooperation in basic income generating projects. This is not as profound as it sounds! We did an interesting game which we know will stay in the minds of the women as they look for projects and how to organize them.
On Friday it was out to Lunada and a couple of schools way off the main road. Both still use the cane freely and the head teachers have promsied to send a couple of their staff members to the Virtues training in December. The young priest who is the liaison with these two is really pushing for whole staff training in January or February. We shall see.
On Saturday Pat gave a Virtues presentation (the first strategy) to a large group of fairly influential people in the community. (The local MP is a member) They all said most emphatically that they want to take the full training. One of the participants is a senior provincial police officer. She wants to try to bring the Virtues training to the police academy and the Kenya institute of Management.
Friday, November 6, 2009
We set off for our rounds at 9 am. Our microfinance ladies are doing well and we handed out some new loans as smaller ones were completed. Rod is designing a simple machine to shell groundnuts and we hope each microfinance group will use one to shell their own nuts (a slow process by hand) and to make money for more loans by selling time on the machine. Eventually we would like each group to become self supporting. We left the groups with a request for them to consider how to organise themselves if they receive a shelling machine.
At Emmaloba we were able to take a preliminary list of women wanting adult literacy. The head teacher says he could easily fill a class. Most of the women in the micro finance also want to learn simple bookkeeping. We arranged which days would be best for them and have the promise of space in the school. A young teacher lives close to the school and is as yet unemployed. She would be delighted to teach for us. It only remains for me to find some suitable materials and I will do that in Kisumu next week.
The principal and I also discussed the Read for the Top project. He has given me the list of four English and two Kiswahili texts which I will also look for in Kisumu. On Nov 26 I will visit the school and set up the teams in the Standard 5 class. and explain how the whole thing works.
After Emmaloba we stopped by Maseno Polytechnic and met the welding teacher (deputy administrator) who gave us a tour. The principal is called the Manager. He was absent, but we learned he trained in New Brunswick. Equipment is very simple, but there are 400 students, all working well in orderly groups. The grounds are very well kept. Tembo would like to help students learning serious trade courses, so we left an application form for the deputy to copy and select candidates for interview. It costs about $500 for a two year programme ending with a nationally recognised certification. They are also willing to help us build some of the simple machines Rod is planning for earth blocks and nut shelling. We would provide the materials and they would give their students a good learning experience.
Carolyne, the young woman who helps with the microfinance loans, keeping accounts and translating while I am here, is studying to be a social worker. She needs an 'attachment' (a practical course) in December and we stopped off with her at the Golf Club to meet up with Bibiana the town councillor. Bibiana is also a voluntary children's officer. The attachment was arranged and we chatted to Prof Akello and others to hear how the graduation had gone. While there we were joined by Wycliffe Oparanya, Minister for Planning in the central government. He noticed we were all wearing Virtues pins and asked what it was about. Here is his picture wearing his own pin!
After a few minutes the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Local Government arrived, Musalia Mudavadi. He had already received some information about Virtues and had promised to meet with us and Bibiana for more information. Both Ministers listened carefully to a brief presentation. Mudavadi promised to look at the folder of information we had already submitted. We hope that some funding will become available from the government to enable us to accomplish more.
Today, Saturday, we are taking a rest!
On Sunday we will take our candidates to Kisumu for their interviews for the Youth Leadership Conference.
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
The workmen have dug out the shallow pool we showed you before and are filling it with rocks. Our contractor came today because the pool is larger than estimated and every rock has to be carried down. So he needed more money! Fortunately we have a little in reserve.
One of 'our' boys has been at home for two years unable to pay fees for further training after high school. He had a very good mark, but no means of continuing. We heard about an organization that will pay fees and books for needy students. He went to see them and is applying for a two year diploma to begin in March 2010. We will need to pay his living expenses which will amount to about the same as a year at school (roughly $500) Not the university course he wanted but much better than nothing.
Last March we did a two day training for Virtues for an organization in Nairobi. They let me know they are sponsoring a Youth Leadership Conference in December and three of our high school students applied. I heard today that two of them are to go for interview on Saturday. This will be tremendously exciting for them.
As we make small steps in combatting poverty one person at a time, we shake our heads at the continuing nonsense in government. The ICC team is arriving and many are squirming trying to invoke nationalist pride in rejecting any international intervention in settling the issues that arose in 2008 after the election. Kenya agreed to set up an internal tribunal, has not done so, and by the terms of the agreement with Kofi Annan, the International Court now steps in.
At the last budget it was agreed that all Ministers would give up their expensive cars and would be limited to VW Passats. Any MP receives over 3 million shillings (about $50,000) to buy a tax free vehicle and then has a generous mileage allowance. Some have handed over their Benz but others are clinging to the status symbol. Incidentally, Uhuru Kenyatta has handed over his vehicles, but has imported a large number of Passat's ready for his colleagues to buy...
Friday, October 30, 2009
On Monday morning we paid a courtesy call with Bibiana and some others to the District Commissioner who is the chief administrative officer of the area. He also is very outspoken about the need to clean up the town (both literally and figuratively) and is strong in his support of people rejecting the attitude of waiting for 'help' before anything happens.
The short presentation was well received and we hope to receive a date to do a full training.
Corruption is very much on everyone's mind as the US has made good its threat to deny a visa to "a top Cabinet Minister" It is generally supposed to be Amos Wako, AG for 18 years with the proud record of never a prosecution for any of the massive scandals that have broken.
Ocampo (International criminal court) arrives next week!
Thursday, October 29, 2009
At the stream, they cut away the overhanging branches and vines and revealed an excellent spot for the spring. You can see they will have two outlets. The area behind the wall will be filled with rocks, (being carried down one by one by young women), covered with thick plastic, then with clay and earth. The contractor will make a safer path to cross the streams (where Rod is standing)The other pictures show two of the possible sources of water which are still being used.
Friday, October 23, 2009
Today will be full of meetings This morning we start to plan the Sunday School conference at the end of November. Then at noon Rotary and Lions are joining together to launch a project . They will be supplying sanitary pads to girls who otherwise miss many days of school in a year. One 'kit' to serve a girl for a year costs 300/- (about $4.50) We are collecting sponsors and Tembo will make a contribution. A group will come from Rotary in Nairobi and after Kakamega will pass on to Eldoret.
After the Rotary group is over we will be meeting with the town councillor, Bibiana, to plan more on a proposal to run workshops on domestic and sexual violence. Bibiana's interest coincided with that of the Bishop and she believes she has a possible source of funding. A recent newspaper report indicated that our province (Western) has one of the highest incidences of violence against women. At the request of the Bishop we brought materials with us that will enable us to offer seminars for clergy and community leaders to equip them with an understanding of the problem and strategies to cope with it. Yesterday we met with the Bishop and received his approval, so will now make the application for funding. It should cost around $2,000 to run a full day workshop for 30 people with accommodation and handouts.
Thursday, October 22, 2009
On Wednesday we went to the site at Mvilingi where we are protecting a spring. The pictures show the pipe in place, the dug area where plastic sheeting and clay will be laid on the rocks to prevent contamination. The spring should be finished today.
Thursday, October 15, 2009
-Community Development Funds used to pay census clerks (the census was conducted over the last month or so but those hired were not paid until they held a demonstration. Now development projects are on hold.)
- PM puts bosses on notice over tribalism at work: heads of public institutions ordered to maintain ethnic (ie tribal) balance when hiring
- Teenage sex study shock for parents: Girls as young as 12 are selling themselves for food, mobile phone airtime and even sanitary pads.
- Kibaki (Pres) and Raila (PM) shielding chaos perpetrators-- and on the same page: Ocampo (ICC) coming next month
- Officer shot MP in self defence
- 300 camels stolen on the border recovered
- Receipts forged says witness in case against a sitting MP charged with defrauding the government of 40 million shillings (about $700,000)
- Second case of drug resistant TB identified
- Mother on three years probation for killing her daughter
- Rape of girl earns man 15 years in jail
- Kibaki appeals for climate cash: President says rich nations must aid poor nations to get clean technology
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Monday, October 12, 2009
Imulama has a dispensary but no water supply. The water is either harvested from the roof or taken from the pool pictured here. The one nurse that serves the community estimates she deals with 200 people per day. We have received the estimate for a simple well and should be able to start digging after the rains. If funds permit, we shall consider piping the water directly into the nursing station.
If a man celebrates his first marriage under the African Christian Marriage and Divorce Act, the Marriage Act or the Hindu Marriage and Divorce Act, he becomes a bigamist --a criminal-- if he marries another woman or women unless the first marriage is legally dissolved. (Incidentally, there is a case in court right now of a European woman who married under the African Christian Marriage Act. Since she is not African, her marriage may be null and void.)
But if this hypothetical man celebrates his first marriage under the African customary law or the Mohommedan Marriage, Divorce and Succession Act, he remains a law-abiding citizen even if he marries another wife or wives.
However, after undergoing the African customary law marriage rites, as many Kenyans today do, if he then celebrates the first marriage in church or in the office of a registrar-general of marriages, in which he gets a marriage certificate, he will automatically convert the customary law union into a monogamous one.
Then if he marries another wife or wives, he becomes a criminal, a bigamist, liable to be jailed for five years.
On the other hand, if he marries in church or registry office, he cannot convert this type of marriage into a customary law one by performing customary law rites.
The written laws regard marriage contracted under the African customary law as inferior, which is why such unions can be 'upgraded' but not the other way round.
(Taken in part from the Daily Nation : article by Peter Mwaura)
In a classroom for student pastors last week I saw a list on the board of seven types of marriage including substitute marriages. For more information go to http://www.patriciacrossley.com and scroll down to the link for marriage customs.
One lot of funding will be from San Bernadino Rotary Club in California, one from the Rotaract Club of the University of Victoria, BC, and one from a friend at Christ Church Cathedral, Victoria. We hope to be able to protect three springs and build two simple wells. (For more information about wells, go to http://www.patriciacrossley.com/water.htm)
BUKHATSE is a village where the water is highly contaminated by run-off. It has a few pools, several of which are difficult to access. One seems suitable for protection, which means improving access, building up and cementing the surround to prevent pollution and installing a pipe. Because of the ground fomation and steep access we expect this one to cost just over $700
MWITUA is the home village of Johnstone, who is studying to be a Clinical Officer. He is pictured here with the water source for the community. This one will be simpler estimated at about $600
The last spring is at MVILINGI.
Fetching water as you can see is a slow and laborious process. This one will be the easiest, coming in at just under $600
In all cases, as for the wells, we ask the community to feed and house the diggers as their contribution. We also ask them to improve the steep and slippery acces to most of these springs by digging out steps.
Saturday, October 10, 2009
Here are pictures of two little ones at Maseno College where we stayed the night and a group of children from Emmaloba Primary.
He says that the community is supportive--to the extent that no one has tried to break into the building to steal the maize and beans stored there. This would be very possible in other places and shows the extent of the poverty and hunger.
He was delighted to report that his school (grade 6 students) placed first in the whole district in Science. First time ever to be top of the list in anything! He attributes this to the books we gave and the feeding programme.
He also tells us that use of the Virtues positive discipline programme has enhanced his school. They no longer use the cane and their relationships with children and colleagues are very good. He is rightly proud of the atmosphere in his school and says it now pains him when he sees physical punishment in other places.
I went through the two projects that we definitely want to do whether or not we receive the full grant:
Read for the Top: the head teacher will provide a list of titles in English and Swahili. We decided to do the project with next year's grade 6, beginning in January, with book purchase before Christmas. He has 34 children in that group.
Adult Literacy: to provide skills for the microfinance group and others. A Rotarian is running a programme in the neighbouring community, so the Head Teacher will ask for curriculum and supplies needed. We hope to start this in December or January. I plan to use the eye glass kit donated to us before we begin, since many of the women have vision problems.
Rod has some plans for making a small machine to shell ground nuts. Most of the women grow them and spend many hours shelling a few kilos by hand.