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, December 11, 2013

Finished for 2013

We've been working with a community-based organisation to strengthen their impact on communities. Earlier they all completed Virtues and Violence Prevention training. This week we did Table Banking and Environmental awareness (composting toilets and Farming God's Way.) (Later will be specific income-generating projects.) But this completes our commitments for this calendar year. Saturday we leave for three weeks down under

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Five more communities have clean water

Today we went to look at the five water projects so far completed with the funding from Victoria Rotary, Saanich Rotary, the Rotary District and other clubs.
Some of them were quite a long trek from the road and all along the way people wanted to shake our hand and say ‘Thank you’ for the clean water. Woman and children pressed fresh sugar cane, bananas, pumpkins and eggs on us. People have so little to give, but they give generously, including the old lady who offered us one egg. This would have represented a significant amount to her. I am sending pictures of just one of the five sites. In the New Year we shall be contracting about 5 more, including at least one well.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Last message from Botswana

Internet was out again because of another storm so I couldn't send anything last night. Had a very good 2 days with teachers  Wed & Thur at a nice resort although they gave us a smaller room than requested & it was a bit cramped. TIA. but there were some managers & policy makers there. Today we had about 22 people to start which diminished to about 16. This was the prof/bus one & I was anxious about it. I could criticise it a bit but the evaluations were again glowing, so what do I know? We were at the Botswana craft market which was very nice EXCEPT it was stinking hot in the room. The A/C was so loud we couldn't talk against it. Again TIA. I had a look round the store but found it  expensive. Can get similar items cheaper in Kenya. although I must say the baskets are particularly beautiful
At noon tomorrow we’ll go to a craft fair which I hope will be more reasonable. 
This was our last session and I’m ready to go home. We've reached about 300 people/ It’s been very intense but lovely people & I’ve enjoyed it.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Saturday trip

Went out today about 50 km from Gaborone.Everything is so dry. They say they should be in the rains & everything green. But the rains haven’t come & the cattle & donkeys look in a bad way. They also said many are dying, especially those pregnant.
We first went to the Livingstone memorial. The gate was closed, but not locked, so we could go in. Apparently it’s fairly normal at the end of the month (pay day) that people don’t show and this also being Saturday. Our driver (Sylvester from Zimbabwe) had been there before & is a bright guy, so he could remember a lot. There are stone outlines of the church (first in S Africa if not the whole continent) and the house where a big rock marks the treatment table.
church site
We also saw the graves of two white missionaries who died from eating wild berries & Livingstone’s last daughter, Elizabeth who I believe was born and died on an exploratory journey.


From there we went to Bahurutshe, a cultural village where they put on dances etc but the traditional way of life no longer exists today.

 Next to a village where we saw rock paintings made by bushmen about 2000 years ago. At this place the guide had turned up for work, so we had a good tour. The medicine men would put themselves into a trance with herbs & smoke & receive visions of the animals. Some would be for the hunt, for food, and some would be symbolic omens.
rock painting giraffes
Our next stop was Livingstone’s tree that was already big and shady enough for social gatherings in the village when Livingstone arrived in 1847. There he taught (literacy and religion) treated people and; animals. There is still a nice table and seating under the shade.

 From there we went to a pottery place which reminded me of Metchosin (but at about 20% of the price) I bought a few small things & would have liked to take more if I had thought I could pack them.
Our very last stop was a crowded shopping mall exactly like those at home & which I usually avoid. I had a quick iced coffee and we left.

Tomorrow Sylvester will take me to church (bilingual service promised which will be interesting) and then to a place that does leather work and weaving.  

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

new digs

We were blessed to have a week in a 5 star hotel but now we are back to reality in a delightful conference centre where we did a teacher training two days ago. Small buildings cluster around a dusty area with shade trees and seating. It is easily 36-38 in the afternoon, so I shall miss the pool, but we do have AC! We had almost 60 teachers, Peace Corps volunteers and a handful of health workers in a two day session on Mon & Tues. I have rarely seen such wonderful & humbling evaluations and expressions of determination. Tomorrow is a community workshop (one day) and it looks as if our next teacher presentation scheduled for Fri & Sat might be cancelled. I shall attend a Rotary lunch on Friday, invite some participants to next Friday's session for professionals and pick their brains as to what I might do at the weekend. The 'tourist' areas seem to be in the north about as far away from Gaborone as possible with the exception of the Kalahari Reserve. My internet has a poor signal so I might not be able to post more pictures until I'm back in Kenya

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Two great workshops in Gaborone

On Friday we offered basic Virtues training to 20+ military officers and 20+ police officers of all ranks. Botswana'a vision for 2016 is to create 'a just, caring and compassionate society' so the Virtues fit right in. As usual, people struggled a bit with the concept of positive discipline, but by the time we finished gave excellent evaluations. Many want to continue with more training. They loved their certificates!

On Saturday we went about 40k outside Gaborone to Stepping Stones which offers support to children who are heads of household, especially young. single mothers. The small group of girls and young women were an absolute delight to teach, with discussion, role plays and songs. Some leaders of the organisation will attend later training sessions, so there will be support and follow-up.

Monday, November 11, 2013


Leaving for Botswana today with an overnight in Nairobi. Master Facilitator Richard and I together with a facilitator from Namibia will spend just over two weeks presenting the Virtues project to teachers, education officials, community groups and business professionals

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Clergy seminar

Clergy violence prevention seminar on Wed & Thurs. So many lively and thoughtful discussions. Wish we had more time!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Graduation at the Theological College

Saturday was graduation day at Maseno Theological College (St Philip's) . I am now on the board but there has as yet been no meeting. Five parish choirs sang beautifully with traditional African instruments

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Auxilary Action Committee

Two days of training completed with a new group dedicated to children's issues in the community. First we did Virtues training and then violence prevention against children and youth, In the group were representatives of different professions and walks of life. Wonderful to work with such enthusiastic and committed people. They are volunteers working under the District Children's Officer.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Composting toilets

Everything progressing well for the composting toilets. (Still looking for the remaining funding!) Rod was there last weekend to help position the base for the maximum effect from the sun. Nixon our contractor is storing the blocks in a classroom.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Water sites

Here are pictures of the present conditions for the 5 sites we have selected for the Rotary District grant. The contractor will build a permanent surround, pipes and will protect the surface from pollution from run off from latrines and fertiliser.  In the new year we hope to work on 4-5 new sites. Some will mean repair to an existing well and pump which is currently out of use.

Friday, October 25, 2013

More Read for the Top

Just finished another wonderful morning with Read for the Top. This time at Ebusiratsi primary. This school was amazing! They knew their books so well we had trouble knowing who was answering the question. Usually it was a confident chorus.

Although it is great to see the children respond positively and do so well, it is heart breaking to realize that, whatever their potential, few will go on to secondary education. Even secondary day schools are beyond the reach of most rural parents at around $150 to $200 per year. The newspaper announced today a new fee for schools (which will have to be passed on to parents). An additional hurdle for those who do manage to complete High School are the final examination registration fee of $50. Incomes in these areas are often as low as $12 per month. More than half the students come to school without breakfast and if they have a meal at school (rare) it is often the only food of the day.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Anti-violence and Read for the Top

Very different things this week. On two days we travelled to Shichinji Primary to do Read for the Top for the first time. The children were brilliant! On the whole well prepared (although they can work some more on the English comprehension), delighted with their shirts and prizes
semi-final teams

waiting to compete

two winning teams

Between the two days of Read for the Top, there was another anti-violence seminar at the theological college in Maseno. Twenty-four people gave us a resounding approval and made some helpful suggestions for the future.

Monday, October 14, 2013


Family, neighbours and friends gathered on Sunday afternoon on the compound of our Kenyan 'family'
Maureen, Melvin and Ian
Melvin and her grandmother
 to celebrate and congratulate. We have seen the children grow over the past few years. Maureen earned a degree in IT, Melvin has just graduated with a B Ed. Ian is still at school.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Violence prevention

Greetings from the tropical rainstorms of Western Kenya.
In Canada  this year I trained for the Red Cross violence prevention programme. I held my first anti-violence workshop yesterday here in Kakamega with 46 eager participants. People came on time, the power stayed on. We were truly blessed. 
We had ‘tweaked’ the basic Red Cross powerpoint very slightly, leaving out many of the stats and inserting Red Cross videos and including some Kenyan videos especially on the topic  of sexual abuse. There was a suggestion we should mention as common forms of violence specifically FGM, child marriage and child to child marriage.
I tried throughout to emphasise the need for the community to mobilise, although by some of the comments, they are looking for more workshops and discussion groups from me.
We very much need Kenyan case studies and especially some role play scenarios on how to handle disclosures. The infra structure here on dealing with such things is not uniformly supportive, so there have to be internal procedures. I think I will need to do a ‘follow-up’ document outlining in simple steps what the parish or community should do to carry this forward. 
I know that people are deeply troubled by how to approach things through their churches and communities. Taking a strong and public stand is going to be a struggle. 
I go next Wed to do the same presentation to the theological students in Maseno (St Philip’s), at the end of October a community group who will also receive Virtues training and the second week of Nov we plan to bring together all the Anglican clergy. After that we shall reach as many of the parishes as possible while I am here. The ‘follow-up’ suggestions will be important at that time

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Appeal for the children

Help us replace this:                                                   with this:


An appeal to help the children:
This morning we travelled an hour to Shisango school. Shisango has done Virtues training and Read for the Top, but today their physical needs are more pressing. A Secondary section was opened two years ago which now houses about 75 students and is growing. The Primary (elementary) sector has over 600 children from K to 8. The pit latrines which dotted a large field next to the school were in such poor shape that most have been demolished. The Secondary retained one block of 3 doors which was renovated and is in use. The primary children are left with 6 toilets for girls and four for boys. Here are the pictures. The smell of course cannot be conveyed to you.
The little girl you see is holding the door closed for her friend who will return the favour because there is no other way of keeping the door shut. The boys don’t even have doors on a couple of their units. Public Health is threatening to close the school, and rightly so, but there is no funding available right now for sanitation.
After much discussion this morning with the Head Teacher, representatives of the county government and the chairwoman of the Parent’s Advisory Committee, we have promised to put in a composting toilet of 4 doors for the girls and two doors and a urinal for the boys. This will be for the use of the older children (gr. 5-8) since the composting toilet needs some care and maintenance which may not be possible for the little ones. The school and the county will look for funds to replace the pit latrines for those children.  If we can find funding we will put in a block for the senior girls. The Ministry of Education calculates one latrine for 25 students, so more will still be needed.
Each block will cost between $1200 and $1500, so we need about $3000 for our modest proposal. We are thinking that if there is a Rotary Club, a school, a plumbing or bathroom fixtures company that would be willing to sponsor any part of this, we would put their name and logo on the unit. Any amount from business, or individuals will garner a tax receipt through Tembo-Kenya (www.tembokenya.org)

Sunday, September 29, 2013

First day in Kakamega

We always hit the ground running! After an uneventful but tedious journey from Nairobi (you don't want to know about some parts of the road) we went to the Kakamega Sports Club for supper. What a warm welcome from everyone from the askari (guard) on the gate, to the waiter, to the head cook, to our Tembo board members and good friends Richard & Reuben. Richard entertained us to a meal refusing all protests. Reuben is now a leader in the county council & probably will not have the time to continue on our advisory committee. However, we had a serious discussion about the school in his area where I have done Virtues training and Read for the Top. They claim to have ten dilapidated pit latrines (Reuben says even less)  to serve over 500 children. They are asking for composting toilets and, pending a visit to verify a couple of things, we have promised a unit of 4 doors for the girls and two doors plus urinal for the boys. This is a leap of faith since we have no dedicated funding for sanitation. Anyone who knows of individuals or companies who might support this project, please talk it up. I'll post a video after the visit on Tuesday.
The contest for Form 2 students who have read the Hunger Games will start next Thursday with a showing of the movie.
Then we launch into the anti-violence seminars.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Leaving Nairobi

Our vehicle was delivered in good shape and we leave the peaceful setting of the United Kenya Club for Kakamega today.

A near miss

A herd of these guys ran across the highway in front of us as we left the airport in the early hours of the morning . Our driver braked hard and missed the rump of the last one by inches.

Calm and quiet in Nairobi

Although we were delayed by 3-4 hours because of an engine leak on the plane in London we arrived safely in Nairobi in the early hours of the morning. We were expecting difficulties because of the destruction by fire of the Immigration section at Jomo Kenyatta airport a few weeks ago, we were favourably impressed by the area which has been set up and the efficiency of passing through customs and immigration processes. We have completed the entry requirements yesterday and have the requisite stamps in our passports. Nairobi is peaceful and orderly. There are even working traffic lights (bright, spanking new) at the major roundabouts, although it is obviously going to take a while before drivers actually observe them and the police stop trying to do a better job of directing traffic against the lights.
The news is of course still full of the Westgate Mall attack, but the atmosphere is quiet and letters to the newspapers and editorial comments, though full of sorrow, are united in their determination not to let it affect the smooth running of the country. There are many questions to be answered in the next months about intelligence information and organisational responses. One police commander was shot dead in 'error' by a supposedly cooperating force.
Our vehicle should be delivered to us this afternoon and we drive to Kakamega on Saturday to start organising projects

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Terrorist attack at Westgate Mall, Nairobi

The chair of our Kenyan Committee, Richard, has let us know that his family is safe in Nairobi. Although they are faithful customers of the Westgate Mall, they were not there this Saturday when the terrorist attack occurred..

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Leaving September 23

We shall arrive in Nairobi on September 25 and hope to be in Kakamega on 26 or 27. We have a substantial grant for water, enough to continue job training and materials for Read for the Top. Mid-November we hope to launch the Virtues Project in Botswana. Follow us on Facebook (TemboinKenya) and on Twitter@TemboinKenya.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Read for the Top in Secondary!

Our idea paid off! We have sent ninety-two copies of the young adult novel to the secondary school with two eager classes waiting to read. Thanks to the Calgary school who donated and bought copies for us and thanks to Rotarians and friends who scoured second hand book shops to donate.
The two classes have started reading and the contest will be an exciting one in October or November. I look forward to posting pictures!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Adventure tour

We have interest from some adventure-hungry travelers for a tour to rural Kenya to meet the people and see the projects in February 2014. Check out the 'Join Us' tab at www.tembokenya.org. And have a look around the projects while you're there.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Read for the Top!

I’m all excited about an idea. Shichinji Sec did Read for the Top with Form 4 and for the first time ever, English topped all their results. As you know, English  scores in the rural areas are usually poor.

I think it would be great to do R4T with ‘story books’ in Form 2 in order to promote or continue the reading culture from a primary start. I'm thinking of using The Hunger Games and would need about 100 copies. Anyone out there with ideas or contacts that might help?

Saturday, March 16, 2013

A sad story

 Our colleagues at CHES gave a scholarship for High School to  a needy, bright girl. Her father, who seems elderly and dressed very poorly, sold his crop and borrowed money to pay for her 'shopping' (mattress, linens, trunk etc) When she went for her medical check up, the doctor found she was pregnant. The father wept in the CHES office. We shall try to find a way to help him repay his debts, but more devastating is the fact that this bright girl has lost her opportunity. We have no idea what will become of her as she sinks back into the culture of the village.

Composting toilet for boys

Explaining how it works

On site tutorial in Swahili

Curious parents