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

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Power of the Virtues Project

We have struggled for years to bring the Virtues Project to Kenya, hampered by lack of funding and available facilitators. Many in the West do not see the need for such programs because in our culture we have many opportunities for reconciliation, cooperation, mediation programs. We have used Virtues to help reduce violence, especially caning in schools, to reduce teen pregnancy (keeping girls in school) helping communities work in harmony. The session the writer speaks of below was not held under ideal circumstances: (over 100 people, when we expected 40), broken photocopier, late start) but we hold on to our trust in the power of the program. I do hope that we shall be able to respond to the request of this teacher. 

I was recently among the lecturers who were invited for the VIRTUES program workshop at Elgonview College-Eldoret,Rift valley province in Kenya.Am a full-time lecturer at Elgonview College-Kapenguria campus.To be sincere the teachings were so heart-touching which turns the whole of my evils,corrupt and dirty deeds and minds into a pure,holy and humane life.I was really blessed.I specifically thank the facilitator-Patricia C for her professional teachings on virtues.I humbly request the concern Virtues program organizers to visit us at north rift horn of the republic of kenya. The region is full of cattle rustling,internal war,poverty,high illiteracy.With your grateful teachings you will totally and positively change the lifes of the resident of northern Kenya from gun-earning lives to holy,humane and caring human-nature.GOD BLESS VIRTUE PROGRAM...GOD BLESS PATRICIA-THE FACILITATOR.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Math-E-Zee tutoring centre and A/C

Saturday was a good day. The vehicle went to Kisumu to have the air conditioning fixed. What relief. With temps of 34 C and major road construction around, we have to crack the windows a bit without AC and the red dust is everywhere.

Late afternoon we met with our Math instructors from the tutoring centre. We have doubled the number of students, no one has dropped out and we have some great success stories. One girl was top in math in the district and her younger sister will join us. Another had to pass a qualifying exam because she failed HS math.She passed!. Others who are away at boarding school until April are reporting increased confidence in Math.  We are all eager to see the Math scores of the boarding students when they return in April. At the moment we have 'day' students and the school hosting us is becoming known for Math instruction. Although we have not rolled out the program into classes yet, parents are considering enrolling their children at Cherish to have easy access to the Math Centre. Here is a shot of the school and our fantastic group of instructors. (We use the Mathusee instructional program)

Math-E-Zee instructors

Cherish School
Although we never envisaged this when we set up the Math Centre, two of our instructors have achieved teaching positions in schools because of their ability to deal with 'slow learners' in Math using strategies from our program. Another who was already a teacher is setting up remedial math in his school. Building Opportunity in more ways than one!

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Why we teach positive discipline with the Virtues Project


I can access the video if I select, right click, go to

This video will emphasize why we are passionate about Virtues training, giving teachers alternative methods of (positive ) discipline. Even though some just laugh at us when we speak of abandoning the use of corporal punishment (& it doesn't only involve the cane) many are willing to try. They find their attendance improves, their academic performance also improves.

I should add that our main obstacle is lack of funding to spread the Virtues training wider. We have one Kenyan Master Facilitator here and a handful of facilitators. We are planning to target the Education students at MMUST (university) with training before they go out for practice teaching and consolidate all the bad habits they saw teachers use when they were students.

t costs about $200- $300 to provide a two day educators Virtues workshop for up to 40 teachers.We charge for materials where possible but many cannot pay.


Thursday, March 19, 2015

The last sanitation unit

On Wednesday we went to a local Primary school to hand over the composting toilets for girls. In this school of 800 pupils there are 500 girls. All through this region there are many more girls born than boys and it is now obvious with the girl child attending school. Some say this is one of the justifications for polygamy. Some say it is because of a fondness for alcohol in the fathers. Whatever the reason, it seems to me it would make a good research study.
We first gave the talk about using the eco-san and the possibilities for agriculture. The girls were hilarious. As soon as we unlocked the doors, and declared the toilets available,there was a line of 'customers' and when they emerged from the stall, each one ran immediately to the urine collection point to check what was happening.
They offered us some delightful entertainment (songs, a skit, poems and a thoughtful speech) which I will try to edit and post later.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Virtues Project and the University

Yesterday we signed the memorandum of agreement between Virtues Connection Kakamega and Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology. The university has a student Virtues Club, over 100 trained senior staff, cards and books and now one accredited facilitator. We hope for more.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

several positive only one negative

Mixed results yesterday, but mostly good. I was able to speak to a forum of 100 people who had gathered to learn of rights from Transparency International and to receive free legal advice on issues of corruption. I spoke about the Virtues project and also what we have done over the past few years to increase awareness about domestic violence and child abuse in order to encourage people to work together and have the courage to report. The Transparency International Team of advisers and lawyers have asked for Virtues training for themselves and I should be able to fit in a day before I leave. Unfortunately I will not be able to meet the Head Teachers before I leave but the Bishop has promised to set up a date for when I return. I think I shall give out info from TI to them after the anti-violence workshop. I also have the promise to schedule Virtues training for youth leaders in the diocese and I handed over the draft of the sexual misconduct policy. The first diocese in Kenya to look at such a policy! Together with Read for the Top my schedule is already filling up for next fall. .

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Violence prevention

Two significant meetings today. One to talk to a team from Transparency International about what we are doing in violence prevention in general and domestic violence in particular. Not quite sure what to expect or what they want to hear, but all contacts are good. Then I meet with the Bishop this afternoon to deliver the draft policy on sexual misconduct for the diocese, arrange for a violence prevention workshop for head teachers and give a response to a Provincial initiative on working with youth.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Shikombelo Primary

This is the school in the village of Julius the jeweler. A few years ago with a Rotary grant we put in a well on the school grounds and also protected a spring nearby. Today we were in the school and watched a line of women carrying away clean water in 20 litre containers (on their heads of course). Later a young man was busy filling more containers. It is serving the community well.

Three years ago we did Read for the Top in class 6, also with a Rotary grant. This class did their primary school leaving exam last year (grade 8) and were the most improved school in the district and in the top ten country wide. Although they no longer have the books (attrition helped by rats and mice who seem to love the taste) they still use the strategy and are continuing to improve their results.

Last September the Canadians who came to train instructors for the Math tutoring centre donated a soccer ball to the school, then left some money for us to buy two more balls. When we took the balls today we learned that the school team won first place for football in the district and today was off with the original ball,in a fresh competition. The balls we took today were greeted with shouts of joy as the children  rushed from their classrooms followed by a loud 'Asante' Thank you.

With the new constitution, schools no loner have the old British system of 'head boy' and 'head girl' but rather the 'President' and the 'Speaker'. The girl is apparently the Speaker, although I'm not sure if this is a firm rule. 

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Hamadira composting toilets

The two units, one for boys and one for girls were handed over today. We gathered in the church with grades 4-7 and explained how the toilets work and how they are to be used. We are grateful for Nixon, our contractor, who helps out with translation where needed. Several parents were in attendance which is always a good sign of support for the school.
This school is also participating in Read for the Top and some teachers recently took Virtues training. The sanitation project was funded by Canadian Nurses for Africa.

Well handover Hakedohi Pri

Today we were able to hand over the well to the school and community at Hakedohi Primary school. This well was funded by Canadian Nurses for Africa.The school is also registered for Read for the Top, so we shall stay in touch. We were happy to see parents there and the water committee has plans for using the water, maybe even a fish pond. I recommended that they speak to Mutsulyu Pri which has succeeded in establishing their pond and assuring feed until harvest. The well was dug to 78 ft and we are still in the dry season, so there should not be a problem of water.

Monday, March 2, 2015

More Virtues

taught Virtues for Educators to a small group of nursery school teachers on Saturday and Sunday. All the evaluations were very positive, attesting to the power of the program. Very humbling when someone writes; "this is the best thing that has happened to me."