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

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Imulama hand over

We had a wonderful reception on Saturday afternoon at Imulama. The dispensary has water to carry it through the dry season and the well as the back up. The community filled in the well that collapsed and planted a banana tree to grow where it will also receive the run off from the storage tank.

The Ministry of Health will now desist the threats to close thhe dispensary because of the lack of water and might even extend the facility-- the only one for several kilometres around. The only thing the community now needs is a microscope so that the nurse can diagnose problems such as malaria without guessing at the cause of the illness. We shall perhaps receive enough special donations to help them

I am posting a couple of pictures. I have some great video clips of the women and girls singing and one of the elders dancing, but I seem to be having problems posting any visuals especially video.

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

The best Christmas gift

Three communities will receive the gift of clean water before Christmas. The well at Imulama (pictured above) is completed and we will hand it over on Saturday afternoon. At the same time we will unlock the 6,000 litre water storage tank and hand the key to the dispensary. After all the heavy rain it is full. The storage tank will serve the dispensary and the well is for the whole community. The three pictures show the before and after shots . We shall have some more pictures on Saturday with the dedication plaque to the Rotary Club of Nanaimo, BC, who sponsored this project .

At Emulele our contractor, Nixon, has done an excellent and fast job in protecting the spring On Sunday afternoon we will hand over the well at Kati which will serve an orphanage.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Emmaloba community grant

I have mentioned before that we have a substatial grant from Rotary to enhance the school and community in Emmaloba. With an original grant we supplied uniforms, books and a feeding schedule for the school.

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

interviews for job training

We had a very successful day on Monday. Vincent, one of our advisory board, took charge of all the applications for assistance in further education or training. He reviewed them, contacted those he could, and called them for interview. We have forms for application, interview and an objective grid for assessment. We can also refer for a future home visit to verify need. Applications ranged from driving school, to computer studies, to hairdressing and tailoring. One lady only spoke Swahili and has two children. Others were fluent in English, having finished secondary school

The team of four Kenyans interviewed twelve candidates and finished with a deep sense of purpose and contribution. The whole advisory board will meet on Friday to help us select the ones who will be suppported by Tembo.

Sunday, December 12, 2010


We have contracted for nine water projects: three wells and hopefully six springs. The spring at Ebukhunza is finished and I am attaching the 'before' and 'after shots.

The people are happy and have promised us a gift of eggs--they have nothing else to give.

This was a difficult project because of the rock around.

It just grieves me that the women are so grateful for such a small step in easing their burden. Clean water should be their right, not a gift from a foreigner. I look at their hands, their bare feet, their wraps, let them shake my hand and embrace me, and think yet again how much Canadians take for granted.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

a new scandal everyday

I don't post much about the on-going scandals and political wrangling and manoeuvring, but a few things are happening of importance.Kenya did not set up local tribunals for finding those who instigated the post election violence in 2008, so the International Criminal Court at the Hague took over. Now things are nearing a climax there is a huge amount of anxiety in some parts and jubilation in others.
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


December is the month for circumcision. With the Luhya tribe, boys undergo the rite of passage at about the age of 13. The big ceremonies occur every two years. As we sat the other evening with the self-help group meeting the representatives of Shelter Forum, we heard the voices of boys as they marched from house to house in the gathering dusk. They sang as they were gathered food, gifts (& undoubtedly courage) for the upcoming 'cut'. They would be housed together, away from their families,, for almost a month as they healed. This is the traditional time for teaching on 'how to be a man.' Many boys used to return to the house primed never to lift a finger for any household chore which would be 'women's work.' In some comm unties there is nowadays more teaching about responsibility, HIV and education.
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.