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

Friday, October 30, 2009

Kakamega council

Our friend Bibiana is the only woman councillor of 13 in Kakamega. She has the second largest ward. She and some others are trying very hard to clean up the operation. They have managed to remove the former mayor and the town clerk for corruption. The stories she has to tell are quite amazing: marked bills, undercover CID, careful traps set.

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.

After that we attended the council. It was not a regular meeting but an invitation to two speakers. We were included to make a presentation on Virtues, with emphasis on leadership ethics, which matched what the DC had been saying.

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

Bukhatse spring

On Tuesday we went to the spring to be protected in Bukhatse. This community really seems to work together. The hill down to the water is steep, but it has all been terraced to prevent erosion and they have planted soy beans, red beans, cow peas, sukuma wiki (kale) and ground nuts.

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

Elephants are our symbol, but for how long?

Newspapers are reporting over 100 elephants have died in Tsavo National Park because of the drought. Elephants are severely stressed because of the reduction in their habitat as the human population explodes and seeks arable land. So many people mention that elephants passing through their area were a common sight a few years ago. (There were 6 million Kenyans at independance in 1963. Now there are 38 million--more than the population of Canada) Cultural and religious forces seem to prevent any meaningful action on population control.

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.

Stay tuned!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

well projects

Here is Nixon our contractor wearing his Tembo Kenya cap and proudly displaying his motor bike. He bought a second hand machine in good condition and took a driving course. He is now able to zip around to all the water projects, saving time and money.

We visited the Imulama site on Tuesday to meet with the committee. They are very excited about gaining a supply of clean water. The community put in the dispensary and the Ministry of Health has promised to upgrade to a health centre if there is water. (Julius the jeweler is on the left just in front of Rod) We showed you their present water source--a dirty pool-- in a previous post.

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.

Last weekend

On Saturday we left for South Nyanza near Migori, close to the Tanzanian border. The roads were good once we left Kisumu, although traffic was heavy. We made good time and stayed at the Guest House of the local sugar company, which is the largest employer in the area. The complex includes the factory of course and a school, staff quarters and the small guest house.

We were invited to a harambee (a large fund raiser) to construct a vicarage for the local Anglican church. Bishop Oketch from our diocese of Maseno Northa arrived with a delegation of priests and others from Kakamega.

We were royally entertained by Professor Akello whose home is in the area and who is from Musinde Muliro University in Kakamega and a member of the Virtues Task Force. I took mainly video while there because the church has an excellent choir, and I think I have been successful in uploading one short sequence which you will find at the end of the message.
The Harambee was conducted by Hon. Dalmas Otieno, MP for the area and Minister of Local Development. He is holding the microphone in the picture as the donations are counted on the spot and in full view. With Otieno's large contribution, they raised 300,000 shillings (just under $5,000) which is about half what they will need for the house.
On Monday before we left we drove past Migori with Bob Akello. The area is much less densely populated than here and is only recently opening up. The arrival of the cheap Chinese motor cycles has proved invaluable to these areas of the country crisscrossed with small dirt roads, allowing people to access towns, health care and markets much more easily. The countryside is lush and green (we had several downpours while there) and provides two crops a year.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

all news all the time

We read the Daily Nation most days. It is consistently well written and doesn't pull any punches when it comes to criticising the government. I thought you might like to see a sampling of the headlines from Oct 14. It will give you a taste of this amazing society:
-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

political connections

There are always so many demands and so many rewards. Our friend Bibiana is a councillor for a ward (constituency) on the boundary of Kakamega. She spends a great deal of time and energy trying to organise the women (mainly widows) On Tuesday we were invite to meet a group of widows. They have learned how to make cow dung fuel and liquid soap and we will include them in other activities. I tried to upload a video of their exuberant greeting with no success, so here is a picture

The meeting was held in a nursery school classroom started by the community. Today we returned to give the class a few supplies from our stash. The children sang for us and recited a poem.

Bibiana has c0mmunciated with the deputy Prime Minister from this area. He is interested in the Virtues project so we spent this evening with prof Akello (MMUST) and Bibiana drafting a letter to him from Virtues asking for his help with funding and referral to key people in various ministries.

He has gone to China but will return next week when we hope to meet with him.

Also this evening we had a brief meeeting to begin a proposal for workshops on domestic and sexual violence. Never a dull moment!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Two wells: Imulama and Muluanda

In addition to the three springs needing protection mentioned earlier we are hoping to install two wells.

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.

In Muluanda the small stream that supplies water looks clear but is in fact severely contaminated by houses on the hill. In the rains the stream will flood and the pollution increases as contaminants are washed down from the pit latrines. Many people suffer from cholera and dysentry. We will place the well part way up the slope. The estimate for this one is also reasonable.

The Muluanda children were very curious to see what we were doing. The 'big sisters' have the latest baby on their hip.

Is polygamy bigamy?

In Kenya, it might be, depending on how you choose to marry.

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.

Protected springs in Bukhatse, Mwitua and Mvilingi

We have visited and selected a few sites for water projects
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

adopt a village

Here are pictures of two little ones at Maseno College where we stayed the night and a group of children from Emmaloba Primary.
Victoria Rotary Club 'adopted' the village of Emmaloba last year and provided books and feeding as well as other community assistance. We visited the school on Friday. I met with the Head Teacher who is now a Rotarian and proudly wears his pin. He has done an excellent job of maintaining feeding supplies and I gave him $100 for his last bag of beans. He has enough food now (including the school's own harvest and small contributions from parents) to carry the school until closing at the end of November.
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 gave out some of the pins for 'Virtues for Kenya' to trained teachers.

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.
After Emmaloba we visited Ebusyubi and saw the set up for using the donated computers. The school now has all its important documents on file and students from grade 4 are taught the Learning Games in groups of 8. Not bad for two desk tops and a laptop. One of these days we hope we will be able to provide more. I had hoped to include this school in the Read for the Top, but we'll have to wait to see how funds become available.

micro finance

On Thursday and Friday we visited the three microfinance schemes at Emuhaya, Emmaloba and Ebusyubi. All the women are doing well and always have an amount to pay back on their loans. All have completed at least two loans and are impatiently waiting for me to finalize the budget to receive more money!

Their businesses range from braiding ropes, making mandazi (delicious large donuts) and selling vegetables to gathering and bundling firewood. Some have bought goats and cows. One very enterprising lady at Ebusyubi has started making jicos with her son (see picture) She is an excellent role model for the others. After paying off loans of $15 and $30 they spent the next one of $80 on materials for the cooking stoves. They bend and weld the metal and bake the clay liner to make the stove which will take wood, charcoal or cow dung fuel. She offered me the one you see, but at the risk of flouting African good manners I insisted she should sell it for her own benefit.

The Emmaloba group is the largest and is part of the "Adopt a Village" project supported by Victoria Rotary Club. We plan to start adult literacy for them and for others in December or January. This will include basic bookkeeping and accounts.

We shall use the donated eyeglass kit I mentioned in an earlier post before we begin the classes so as to eliminate some visions problems.
A total of $250 is enough for a woman to progress through the loans, learning to plan her stock, reserve loan repayments, sent her children to school and generally provide better for her family. We have a number of women who would like to join the groups, but at the moment we are keeping only those who began with us.
All the 'mamas' send their warm greeting and thanks to all who have made this possible

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Virtues and water

We have met with Nixon, our well contractor, who is proudly wearing his Tembo Kenya cap (try for a picture next time) We think we can put in three wells (from a list of about eight) and protect at least two springs with the funds we have. Some of the proposed sites are requested by officials and it would be politically advantageous to help them, but we will first deal with the water that is polluted and causing sickness. Rod and Nixon will visit the sites on Saturday and take pictures. At that time we'll have a better idea of feasability and costs. Nixon would very much like to start to manufacture the rope and washer pumps himself. We could make the same arrangement as we did for the mould we financed for him and which is providing him with a steady income. We have an agreement to use the mould without charge for our projects and we could probably work out a similar arrangement for the pumps. He has proved reliable and diligent over the past few years and is a very hard worker.

We shall meet with the Virtues team on Thursday in Emuhaya (about an hour away) and from there go to Maseno Rotary Club to discuss the grant we are hoping for. We already have requests for Virtues training which is encouraging. We shall stay overnight at Maseno and then visit Emmaloba, the village 'adopted' by Victoria Rotary Club. We will be able to have preliminary discussions about the project. During these two days I shall also meet the mamas who are part of the micro finance schemes.

One exciting development is the possibility of Virtues based programmes for the police and the prison. Virtues facilitators around the world are helping me with ideas and experience on prison programmes and ahve offered help for police work. More later as that develops!

accidents and funerals

Although we have been busy over the past week, we haven't always been able to move forward in some areas. Funerals are all too common and time consuming for relatives and friends. Our Virtues meeting was put off for a week because Daniel, the leader, lost his mother. This was sad, but not surprising. Nixon, our well contractor, had to postpone our meeting because his cousin died in a motorcycle accident. The ubiquitous Chinese motorbikes have flooded the roads and are ridden largely by unlicensed young men who have only driven push bikes until now. They tend to be overloaded, sometimes carrying a whole family of adults and children. And of course, harldly anyone wears a helmet.

Johnstone, our medical student, says the accident ward at the general hospital is full to overflowing.

The mayhem on the main roads continues. A truck lost its brakes downhill on the Kisimu-Kericho road and took out a matatu (public service vehicle) carrying twelve people and two children herding cattle by the side of the road. No one survived. No matter how careful a driver you are, the maintenance of the other vehicles on the road is always an unknown

Friday, October 2, 2009

Movement at last on corruption and violence

The President unilaterally reappointed Justice Ringera as head of the Anti Corruption Commission. The appointment should have been made according to rules laid down, so Parliament objected and received much support. Today Ringera (who earns more that $7,000 a month) stepped down and the position will be advertised.
Kenya has also agreed to follow the protocol instigated by Kofi Annan. Those accused of inciting violence in 2008 will be investigated and possibly arraigned at the Hague. Although there was the option of an internal tribunal, many opposed it, believing that the possibility of diversion of evidence was too great. Fifteen ministers, MPs and Permanent Secretaries have been told by the US that they will not receive visas because of their involvemnt in corrpution or violence.
Steps forward indeed!

New marriage laws

The situation of women, especially in rural areas is very difficult. Most aspects of life (social and personal) are controlled by men: fathers, brothers and ultimately husband. Kenya wants to introduce some new laws, which are already causing controversy. In short they propose that no one can eject a spouse from the house without a court order. Wife inheritance (which contributes to the spread of HIV) and arranged marriages will be outlawed. Wife and husband may own property 50-50 with the wife able to keep what she brought to the marriage in her own name. Second (and more) wives will have no claim on any property acquired before their marriage, although they may share in subsequent wealth. Rich wives will be expected to support poor husbands and vice versa. Polygamy will be legal, BUT the bride must be informed that the husband intends to marry other wives and she has to give permission.

A newspaper article the other day related the story of a husband going to 'visit' his first wife. When he returned he wanted to 'visit' his third wife only to find her 'entertaining' the church pastor! There was no mention of the second wife.