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

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

A losing battle for some

Our Clinical Officer 'son' is a Luyha (W Province tribe) and is doing a year's internship in Vihiga south of Kakamega. The Gen Hosp serves many Luos (tribe from Nyanza Province on Lake Victoria). A few years ago the HIV infection rate in Nyanza was around 25% of adults. Pascal says many Luos he sees have 'given up' the fight. He blames a lot of it on wife inheritance. If a man dies, his brother is supposed to have intercourse with the widow on the day of the funeral. If the death was from AIDS, and the wife is infected, it is passed on to another branch of the family. This is not the custom amongst the Luyha and anyway Pascal says the Luyha girls are 'too smart.'

Friday, February 10, 2012

Corporal punishment

Caning and all forms of physical punishment are illegal in Kenya but it is still the main means of discipline in schools. Some senior girls on scholarship from a Canadian NGO were recently caned (15 strokes) for 'poor performance'. Some children finish in hospital and two recently died. We have been teaching the Virtues project in schools and communities to offer an alternative with positive discipline, but it is slow progress given our funding limitations. We have approval from the local Education Office to offer training and several District Education Officers have requested sessions for their schools. A reporter from the Daily Nation has taken an interest after an article warning teachers of legal repercussions, and we are hoping he will feature Virtues Kenya in another article. He has already interviewed a number of our associates. We also intend to contact KNUT, the teachers union, for support.

Getting ready for Read for the Top

Emmutsa Primary has 72 children in grade 6 (in one class!) and they all have their books for Read for the Top

Clergy workshop on domestic violence

We had two days where our clergy faced the issue of Domestic Violence with
humility, grace and open hearts and minds. I did a lot of group work and the
discussions were fierce. (Group work also helps those whose command of
English is not as strong) They all said we could have added time and they
are right. We had several issues of 'traditional' African thinking ranging
from male supremacy to God inflicting punishment for past sins by allowing
an abusive partner to belief in witchcraft. Of course I had tried to present
all the materials in a non-Western context.
The evaluations were good: 'an eye-opener'; 'we need more'; 'very useful to
my ministry'; 'the session was so nice and I have really learned a lot';
'thanks for imparting such wonderful knowledge to us, may God bless it' ;
'our lecturer/teacher has been so wonderful and given us more information
that will help us in our ministry.' etc etc
It is true we could have doubled the time (and doubled the costs!!)
They have requested a similar seminar when I come back about sexual violence
and abuse in families. We'll get the ok from the Bishop (he is in his group in the picture on the right) and pray for funding

Friday, February 3, 2012

school feeding program

Isecheno is a very poor rural school near Kakamega Forest (the remnants of the tropical rain forest that once stretched from the Indian Ocean to the Atlantic) The parents have rallied around to help give the children lunch. Many of the kids do not eat at all during the day and attendance is improving because of the meal. Here are the maize and beans simmering outside the kitchen and a shot of the parent contributions to date: 6 tins of maize and 3 tins of beans make a 'share' for one child. It is great to see the community pull together rather than soliciting
handouts, but everyone needs a helping hand sometimes. This little guy was about 2 and with his big sister who was all of four. She wasn't able to manage the shoe.