Friday, January 30, 2009

It's Friday . . . again!! Time Flies!!

Greetings All!

I have started a neighborhood trash cleanup project - it happens every Sunday after church. There is so much , it will be a forever task. Plastic bags are everywhere! They are the worst offender. I am looking for a community group to help - I met with the County Council and a member of a youth group, we'll see what happens - everything moves more slowly here.

The food and water situation is deteriorating here . . . food security situation is a alarm stage as of Janaury 15, 2009. The population in my district has experienced 100% crop failure, rationing is ongoing, one bag (40 lbs) per person of maize per month. People are consuming boiled maize without beans due to low purchasing power. Food prices are high, livestock (goats and cows) prices are low (they sell in bad times for oney for food) and school fees are due now. Water availability too has deteriorated; the average trek for water has increased from 3 miles to 6 miles. We are lucky so far and have water about 4 to 5 days per week, some are not so fortunate.

If you would like to know more about where I am working here is the website address It is a wonderful story, it will help you better understand how hard things are here to accomplish and how great the need. I am currently researching project potentials in village poultry raising, dairy goat keeping and beekeeping . . . who would have thought! I am also doing some counselng for the older school children about hopeful futures with an education . . . this one is the real challenge.

The teacher's strike was settled last night . . . that is a wonderful event! The teachers accepted the government's offer to pay a raise in three installments. The first promised installment is for July it represents a 40% pay increase, the highest paid teacher will now take home $1001 per month, the lowest $251 per month.

Times up . . . more later. I hope everyone is well and happy!!

Pole pole diomuendo! Paula

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Current Events

Teachers strike in Kenya; teachers are demanding a salary increase the lowest paid 183 USD per month the highest pais 1600 USD per month. The government has offered to pay the increase in 3 installments - union said no. The increase amounts to 152 USD per month for the lowest paid and 951 USD per month for the highest paid. An average Kenyan lives on less than 2 USD per day - 730 USD per year. Teachers have not had an increase since 1997. Primary teachers currently earn 120 USD per month secondary teachers earn 240 - 335 USD per month. The members of parliament in Kenya earn 10,256 USD per month and pay no taxes!!
The primary teachers as of this writing have not settled, the secondary teachers have settled but are out on a sympathy strike for the primary teachers. The children are surely the ones who are hurt by this - hopefully it will be settled soon.

Famine issues: the government must feed one million even with a good harvest year. The government is currently working on an irrigation masterplan - Kenya is very rain dependent. Past plan have failed since 1980. Volunteer organizations try to help initiate sustainable ncome producing projects that are not rain dependent. But then the rains might come and all is forgotten. This is the second year of no rains so the harvests have failed - food is scarce and vry expensive.

Tourism issues: inefficient ferry service on the south coast, mechanical breakdowns etc. From the airport to the coats is 24 miles and it takes 4 hours to travel that distance. Tourists are forced to walk 5 miles to ferry services. Frequently the tourists miss their flight and must be reimbursed so they are going elsewhere more reliable like Tanzania. Investors are looking to expand potential of Mt. Kenya i.e. tourism circuit to include 33 lakes, trout sport fishing (John and Louis!!!), MauMau caves, traditional shrines and landscapes. Country needs diversification from wildlife attractions.

Sorry about any spelling errors - I am trying to hurry to get everything in before the internet goes south again - we still cannot get yahoo at all - so I apologize to those of you who have emailed, I'll get back to you when I can.

Thanks to those few who responded for child sponsorships for education. The need is great and every little bit helps. The Kenyan Government states that education is free - that is not a true statement. I personally know children who are at home because their parents cannot pay the fees. Every little bit helps even if it is an inkind donation of any amount. Thanks!!!!
The address again is: KISMA ANGELS IN KENYA C/O Loitokitok Lutheran Parish, P. O. Box 147, Loitokitok 00209 Kenya - email me if you want to sponsor an individual child and I will get you the form and photo.

Sorry about no photos yet - maybe in a couple of months - that's really hard!!

Love to all, Paula

My Work Life

I am working at Makindu Children's Center from 8 to 5 six days per week. The center supports 400 orphans and vulnerable children. The center has a nursery school for 15 currently, the balance are im primary and secondary schools in the district. Lunch is prepared 6 days, if the child is within an hour walking distance they come for lunch everyday. This insures one healthy meal everyday except Sunday. The children are in the care of a guardian. Due mostly to HIV/AIDS the children have no parents. Their lunch meal varies little everyday but is very nutritious. Sukumawiki everyday (kale,spinach, tomato,onion) then either corn and beans or rice and beans or ugali and beans (ugali - maize flour the consistency of thick mashed potatoes) sometimes we have fruit grown here - bananas or mango.

My typical day . . . up by 5:30 or 6 a.m., heat water for a bucket bath (I have a single burner paraffin jiko for cooking) bathe, dress, make chair (tea with diluted milk) or coffee (a luxury) and cereal with a banana; sweep house and fron "patio" and dirt yard - NO grass here, few trees and bushes (none) then wash breakfast dishes, clean outhouse then walk 20 to 30 minutes to the center for work. I eat lunch at the center. I'm currently focusing on learning Kiswahili, Kikamba and planning income generating projects for the guardians including dairy goat raising for milk, cheese (new to them) and yogurt ( almost non existent here) also poultry raising for eggs and meat, cotton for seed oil - focus needs to be on projects not rain dependent. I start for home sometime after 5 p.m., sometimes I stop for a cup of chai and talk with the cafe staff or stop by the Sikh Temple to rest and study in their shady oasis a cool spot - it is VERY hot here in the p.m. I'm always home by dark - a PC rule!! I prepare dinner, sometimes it is just fruit as lunch is very filling and I usually don't eat until 1:30 or 2 p.m.; sometimes I'll buy veggies on the way home and fix rice with them. If I can find raw peanuts (another luxury) I eat a few of those for protein. Without refrigeration your fruit and vegetables only last a day or two so you have to buy everyday at the market but that is pretty easy - the stands are everywhere. I study and write then go to bed. On Sunday, I try to attend the early "youth" service at church at 8 a.m. then return to home to wash clothes, that usually takes a couple of hours - all by hand of course. Then I take a walk to get some exercise - no mountains or hills here to climb - flat and desert! I am starting a garbage clean up project this weekend in my neighborhood - our compound is very clean but outside the gate is a bad scene. I am going to pick up the plastic, trash, dead batteries, etc. that are all around - they are supposed to go into a pit and be burned - yes, everything!!!! You name it, it goes in the pit for burning. Goats eat the fruit and vegtable scraps, in fact they roam free and eat about everything with a hint of green. I hope the project is successful and send a good message. Some people are really good about trash others not so. The African people are very clean - they are ALWAYS cleaning either themselves or something so the trash thing puzzles me. More later . . . just in case I lose you again.

Home In Makindu

Finally . . . the internet here has been unavailable and unreliable for days. I think it is hard for you all to even imagine that but it is VERY frustrating, but I am lucky to have it at all. I share a compound here with 3 other women and several children. I'm still unsure exactly how many. There are no fathers around that I have seen anyway, this is common. My space is big for here, I'm guessing just a little smaller than my Winter Park apt. maybe 800 SF. I have 2 bedrooms (one for storage??), small kitchen, bothing room and sitting room. I have puchased 2 hardwood chairs and a small table 3x2 and a mattress. The space is more than enough for one person. The outhouse is close by. Water is also near. I have electricity but no running water inside the house but the tap is nearby, I share this with the others. Water is available 5 days per week so you have to plan ahead a bit. I have a 100 liter storage tank that I bought for days with no water. Life is simple but everything is "hard" i.e. it takes much more time and effort for anything to happen. People move at a sloer pace but everything gets done in it own time. I'll post this now in case I lose the connection. More later . . .

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

New Contact Information In Makindu, Ke

Here is my new mailing address for the next 2 years:
Paula Dorney; PCV
c/o Makindu Children's Centre
P.O. Box 101 - 90138
Makindu, Kenya

My cell number from US; 011-254-722-370-165
Your calls and letters are welcome, please keep in mind the 10 hour time difference if you choose to call. I'll not call you, sorry!!! It is unaffordable . . . but you are all in my thoughts.

I am looking forward to my new assignment . . . I'll let you know how it is going as I go. I am gettng settled in to my "new" home. Keeping very busy . . . this will be a real challenge going forward, I hope I can make a difference. The cultural differences are remarkable and very interesting. I am working with a wonderful groups of Kenyans and over 400 children and their guardians ( due to parent deaths from HIV/AIDS). There are plenty of projects so the choices are varied and there are a lot of them. I am walking everywhere so far - maybe a bike purchase later. I am only about a 30 minute walk to the school where I work. I am close to town in a small little residential area with chickens, goats, cats, dogs and children all around. My place is spacious and so far has one stool for furniture, but I am working on that. There are many carpenters to make whatever you want for a reasonable price. I am on a borrowed mattress until one arrives on the next truck - February 1st. The floor was very hard the first night!!! Cooking on a small one burner gas stove is fun and challenging, it makes for a one course dinner with fruit as a second course - the fruit is VERY good, picked right off the tree probably yesterday!!! More later . . . love to all!!!

I hope you are all well and happy!!!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Our Next Step . . . and Update to Date

January 5th . . . yesterday was Sunday, our final full day in Loitokitok town.  Saying goodbye for now was sweet sadness . . . so many friends made in such a short time.  I attended church for the final time here.  I have been attending the Lutheran Church for the last 6 weeks, it is where my business partner attends - and you DO attend church here as a cultural "requirement".  It is a very big part of the cultural experience here.  You go to church . . . it usually lasts from 2 to 5 hours depending on your choice of denomination.  Yesterday I was honored during the service with songs, photo sessions, speeches and clapping all in my honor . . . what an experience.  I was "dressed" by the mamas in two beautiful sets of traditional clothing in from of the congregation as a gift.  I said a few words of thanks in Kiswahili then a procession of hugs followed.  It was very interesting because Kenyans don't usually hug.  It was an emotional experience.  They were so nice to me and very appreciative of my effort to find funding for the education of children in their community.

This a.m. (Monday) we are loading for our trip to Nairobi.  We will spend one day driving then 4 more days of more site orientation and training, meet out site partners and find out where we will be living and working for the next two years.  I will continue working with KISMA in Loitokitok to help find education sponsors.  Later . . . I have been selected as one of three volunteers to speak at our swearing in ceremony on Thursday the 8th.  There is a speech in Kiswahili, one in sign language and I will be delivering the one in English.  Later . . .

January 7th . . . I an now assigned to Mikindu Children's Centre in Mikindu, Eastern Province, Kenya.  4 plus hours drive, due to road conditions . . . dust and not much pavement, southeast of Nairobi.  The centre (yes, the spelling is correct) focuses on education and job opportunities for at risk youth, i.e. orphans and vulnerable children due to HIV/AIDS related deaths of parents.  The area where I will live is hot and dry.  There is some agriculture BUT there has been NO rain and crops have failed for the second year so there will probably be a food crisis to deal with soon.  I will let you know more about my site later . . . when I know more!!  I'll arrive there this weekend.  There are 3 other volunteers within a few hours of me so I'll have some contact with others fairly frequently.  One other volunteer is actually in the same town.

I will provide another mailing address when I establish one - for now, keep using the one I gave you . . . the P.O. Box 30518, I think in Nairobi - mail is getting to me eventually - thanks to all of you who have written - it really means a lot!!!  Noreen and Dad - you WIN!!!  Aunt Patt and Doug, I received your Christmas card yesterday, what a treat!!

80% of Kenyans have cell phones WHILE 80% of Kenyans do not have electricity - so we are required to  
have one - I now have one BUT it is extremely expensive to call you and my budget is very slim, so. . . if you want to call me you are welcome to do so.  You dial 011-254-722-370-165, PLEASE keep in my the time difference and that I have a job to do here.  There is no voicemail but you also can text me - yes I do know how to do that now!!!  My phone does have internet access WHEN the internet is up . . . that's the question.  I can check mail about once a month maybe on a "regular" access line.

Thanks so very much to those of you who have emailed me with interest in my sponsorship project - you cannot know how much that means to these kids, parents and me.

January 8th - we are now officially Peace Corps volunteers - all swearning in is complete!!!

I'm off to my new site early in the a.m.  Love to all!!!

Tutaonana!  Paula