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, December 12, 2014

Mutsulyu fishpond and Nametsa well

Things have quietened now. Johnstone is resting up in Nairobi.  The well at Nametsa and the fishpond fence are just about finished as are the composting toilets. our contractor and his 'fundis' have done a good job again for us.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Attack in Mandera

Confirming the attack. Johnstone just called to say he is leaving with some others tomorrow.
Not such great news. Our former student, now a Clinical officer in the north (Mandera where the bus massacre took place), has called to tell us 38 Christians were killed as they worked in a quarry yesterday evening. Muslims were again spared. This is not official news but we do know that IED's are frequent in the area. There is great unrest in the country over insecurity. Yesterday as we travelled an hour out of Kakamega to a Virtues training we were stopped at two roadblocks by heavily armed police units (not the regular traffic police) . We heard that suspected terrorists had been arrested between here and the Uganda border.

Great news!

The funding for the fencing for the fishpond is assured thanks to generous donors. There may even be a little over for feed or for solar lights for the night watchman, who cannot sit by the water because of the mosquitoes. Thank you! Asanteni sana!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Water and sanitation

water and sanitation projects are going on well. The labourers working with us are learning good construction skills.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Some difficult and sad news. There have been riots and killings for a while in Mombasa as the police (sometimes heavy-handed) try to find instigators in the mosques. A few days ago one of the parishioners of Rev Charles (those in Christ Church, Victoria, Canada know him) lost a son. The mob apparently rampaged through town demanding those they met to recite the Muslim affirmation of faith. Those unable to do so (because Christian or other) were killed.
This morning our young doctor in the far north called to say that a group from his community (medical or security people is not clear) were traveling from Mandera to Nairobi. They were ambushed and the non-Muslims killed. He says things are very tense.

Thursday, November 20, 2014


These stats and the article will explain why our Clinical Officer serving in northern Kenya is so distressed. What the article doesn't mention is the radical FGM practiced in the region.
At the national level, Kenya loses 488 mothers out of every 100,000 births. In real numbers, about 7,700 women die in Kenya every year from pregnancy and childbirth-related complications.
Unfortunately, statistics are hard, cold figures often bandied about by experts in global or national reports, seminars, or workshops, but are difficult to relate to in the day-to-day reality of life.
We are talking about 7,700 women, mostly in the prime age of 18 to 45 years, dying each year as they try to give life to another human being.
This translates to approximately 21 women dying daily.
How did things get so bad for North Eastern?

Checking construction of composting toilets

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Fish pond at Mutsulyu

Mutsulyu Primary, one of my schools in Vihiga, was chosen to receive a government financed fish pond. The launch was yesterday with the County Governor as guest of honour. Unfortunately he ran very late and we had to leave before the ceremony started due to another commitment.
The school will receive 1500 fingerlings

This pond will need fencing for secu

The girls get ready to dance

This and that

In the news: an audit of government employees appears to have uncovered 12,000 'ghost workers.' The  salary payments have stopped but the next step is to find into whose bank accounts the money was going. These things take a very long time. Files disappear, records are missing, witnesses fear to come forward.

Another report reveals that only 20% of food aid appears to be reaching those suffering from hunger. Let's hope that the leaks can be stopped.

Three women were stripped in public over the last week for 'indecent dress' (according to the young men who instigated the attacks.) Many protests both in real time and on the web.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Math Tutoring Centre

Our math tutoring centre is beginning to pick up steam as children return home from boarding schools. We expected to focus on elementary or lower secondary children who are having difficulty in Math. Those are coming in, but we also are receiving high functioning students from private or National (top level) schools for reinforcement or enrichment

Friday, November 14, 2014

Things are fairly quiet now exams are over and the schools have closed. The universities continue into December. We did a Virtues training last weekend at a college in Kisii. It's half a day's journey away, so we broke into three days.

Wednesday was devoted to a check on the sanitation and water project. All is going well. You can see from the pictures how rocky the terrain is and why these toilets will be of such benefit.

Our one water project, a well at a school that can only be reached on foot, will also be successful. The first dig hit rock not too far down, so they are trying again in a different place. If this doesn't work they will have to blast.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Virtues in the university

Saturday was devoted to a Community Virtues training for some 30 plus students at the university. They were mostly from 4th year chemistry and their professor is a strong advocate of Virtues. The university is adopting the Virtues project campus wide. Here the students and their professor concentrate on a Virtues Pick.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Now Nametsa

Wandega's blocks are curing and the workers shift to Nametsa to start replacing the toilets there. There is no road access to this school, so the last part of transporting materials is done on foot. Local people will carry sand and gravel in baskets and bags of cement on their heads. The classrooms in the picture below are being replaced as far as I know.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

work starts at Wandega primary school

Composting toilets start with the making of blocks from earth and cement and with laying out the foundations for the new units

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Drip irrigation

The first school that received composting toilets has been using waste for agriculture to good effect. On Saturday we delivered equipment for drip irrigation that will enable them to grow more crops during the
two or three months of the dry season.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Tablets in the classroom

One of the major problems in all Kenyan public schools is the lack of text books and other resources. The article http://www.nation.co.ke/news/Slum-schoolgirls-living-digital-dream/-/1056/2490374/-/view/printVersion/-/15604vl/-/index.html

 shows a brilliant way of providing much needed material to students.

before the last election a promise was made to provide all grade 1 children with solar laptops, regardless of whether there was power or maintenance available, whether teachers were computer literate and if there was sufficient digital content. That promise seems to be significantly delayed, if not on the way to obliteration. These cheaper tablets (which of course still need power) seem like a great solution to the immediate problems.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Read for the Top

Yesterday was Read for the Top in Eluhobe Primary. The compound is a sea of sticky, heavy mud and we had to stop at one point because we could not be heard over the torrential downpour. But the kids were great and had a wonderful time. Everyone got a ribbon and a pen and the winners received books and school bags. The pictures show setting up the classroom, applauding at the end of the competition and finally the winning teams with proud Head Teacher and teachers.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Caning rampant in Kenyan schools

This article will explain why we need to spread the Virtues Project (positive discipline) to more Kenyan schools.


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Sanitation project

We have selected the schools which will receive new composting toilets thanks to the Rotary District grant. The funds available will allow us to construct three sets of toilets, although all the schools on our list are very needy.

Wandega and Nametsa Primary are built on rock, which makes it almost impossible to dig a new location for the latrines, which are full. Wandega has no toilet for staff (It was capped and taken down) We put in a well for Wandega which is working well. Nametsa needs a similar water supply, but at the moment it doesn’t look as if we could include it.
The third school is Mungoye where we also installed a well last year. Their latrines are also full.

Itumbu would be next on our list if we were to find more funding. The Primary and Secondary share latrines





Nametsa water

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Read for the Top

Read for the Top contests continue as we scramble to finish before national examinations begin. Until the end of the month we shall be in two more secondary and three elementary sessions. A threatened teachers' strike looms as the exams are set to begin. we are optimistic that a settlement can be reached.

Virtues training at the University

On Friday were privileged to conduct a Virtues training for some 40 professors from Masinde Maliro University. The Vice-Chancellor (who was present) wishes to put the Virtues stamp on students and lecturers alike

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Help us implement the grant from Better World Books

Volunteer opportunity-- has Africa called to your heart, but you were unsure where to go or what you could do?  We are looking for volunteers to help administer the grant from BWB for the Read for the Top program in rural Kenyan schools. There will be two stages to the grant: one in February 2015 and one in October. We have been blessed with volunteers for October, but need two or three people to help in February. They do not need to be teachers, but should have good organisational skills. The program will last a week to ten days and will include:
- the selection and purchase of books
- sorting and labeling for individual schools
-guidance on cataloging and maintaining the book sets
- teacher training seminar

Check out the "Join Us" tab on our web site (www.tembokenya.org) for details of what to expect and how to contact us. The adventure tour we offer will be scheduled for immediately after or before the Read for the Top preparation. Why not combine the two, then add a safari to finish off the trip of a lifetime?

Friday, October 3, 2014

Ready to teach Math in a new way

Here are the three groups of Math instructors with their certificates. They all left determined to spread the word and encourage parents to send any child struggling with Math concepts.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Busy days

A busy day yesterday. We showed the Hunger Games movie to the students who have read the book in a secondary school not far from town. Then we had an excellent Read for the Top contest. The students were all bright and focussed. The teacher says they have improved in language, in confidence and in team work. In late afternoon the final training session for Math with a wonderful group of young people. Photos with certificates and tearful farewells to the trainers all round. We start our last group tonight and finish on Saturday.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Our first group of instructors

The first group started training on Saturday. If the manipulatives can hold the attention of adults so well, we have great optimism for the children who will come for tutoring.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Ready for training

All is now ready to begin training instructors for the Math Centre on Saturday.

Friday, September 12, 2014

so many things...

We have been receiving applications and interviewing prospective instructors for the math centre. We have met some wonderful young people (mostly university students) whom we would be proud to have help us. Now all we need is students!
The prep for the room is going ahead. The workmen found a nest of bees behind the far wall and they were removed together with their honey!  The wall will now be patched.
There have been a couple of VIP visits (governors of other counties) and helicopters have landed on the golf course. The town no longer has an airstrip for various complicated reasons of land title and other squabbles. Yes, they have to pay a landing fee and the children enjoy the spectacle.