Saturday, September 19, 2009

On we go . . .

Here we still are in Makindu, again jua kali na kauka (hot sun and dry. Food shortages continue and animals die. Large tree branches are being cut down for animal feed if they have a hint of green left on them. Most animals that are alive are very skinny and scavenging for food and eating "stuff" they really don't like normally. All are praying, hoping and waiting for the rains to come . . . soon we hope!!
The MCC children are GOOD!! They returned to school after a one month August break. Those in pre-primary (Winnie Academy) who don't come for lunch at the center during the breaks often return thinner, sick and unhappy. After one week, they are well fed and happy again. They LOVE school and their teacher, Peninah. Thank goodness for MCC in their lives. Their home lives are good because MCC social workers monitor that they are,they just don't compare with the life and feeding opportunities at the center. All 444 MCC sponsored children are doing well.
Winnie Barron, MCC founder, arrived on the 17th for a two week visit. She always brightens faces, everyone loves to see her. She is kept very busy while she is here attending to children's needs and administrative concerns . . . on going and future funding is always on the agenda.
Earlier in the month I attended a day long event, themed, International Adult Literacy Day, not a "Hallmark card holiday", yet. It was interesting and very well attended by the community and MANY political dignataries. The literacy rate in Makindu is 69%, in our Province (Eastern) it is 54.7%. Machakos, a larger town, halfway to Nairobi from us is 75%. While the government says it is important, it remains underfunded. Most teachers are unpaid volunteers or poorly paid part-time. But, there are success stories in some adults improving their literacy. Hopefully more focus from government leadership on funding for ALL education will come soon.
We have a new DC (District Commissioner) in Makindu. I liked what he had to say when we met, we will see if his words are matched by actions. Makindu needs a lot of help. One of his projects is tree planting which we desperately need. People continue to cut down trees to make charcoal to make money to buy food to eat with no thought about replacing the trees. People show me where there used to be large forests, now it is bare land and dust. SAD . . .
The income generating activities and food security activities with the
MCC guardians are a slow go but we have now shown them better goat keeping methods, soapmaking, value addition for food products and food security ideas and how to build a multistory garden to grow spinach, onions and kales (sukuma) at home, so again . . . it is up to them to move forward with these ideas for their own livlihood. We continue to encourage them and we'll now start asking more questions about why they don't all take advantage of the trainings we provide.
I'm now working with 2, sometimes 3, groups on my takataka (trash) clean up project. 2 are community groups on Friday mornings and 1 is an MCC guardian group on Thursday morning. We haven't had a response back to our trash bin and equipment proposal that we sent to Safaricom Foundation in Nairobi in June but we remain hopeful. Nothing happens quickly here. We do know that it has been forwarded to the Foundation Board of Trustees for approval.
I was able to pay a short visit, in August before school resumed,to my first PCV project in Loitokitok. KISMA and friends are doing OK. The addition of Fredrick and William to the KISMA volunteer staff will only help strengthen the cause of funding secondary school fees for children to help bridge the huge gap between primary and secondary school attendance. As of this writing we have 17 sponsored children and over 200 on the list (the list needed to stop here so as not to disappoint, I remain hopeful). I loved meeting the students and their families. They are all very appreciative. Loitokitok was also very HOT AND DUSTY!! Thanks to David, Susan, Joseph (just diagnosed with TB unfortunately)Fredrick, William and many others for your tireless work for the KISMA-Angels in Kenya children.
My good friend, Joshua Kilonzo, my Kiswahili teacher and a model primary school teacher and father of four, just passed the certification as a Senior Examiner for the Kenya National Exam (KCPE). That is a big deal here. He qualified 3 to 4 years earlier than he anticipated!! Kilonzo (many here go by their last name)teachs Class 7and 8 at Kiambani Primary School. Kiambani has nearly 1500 students in pre-primary through Class 8. I visit there often and try to provide the teachers with posters and information I obtain that might be helpful to them. The school is currently involved in a tree planting project on their grounds . . . over 1,000 trees is their goal. They also are trying a "shamba" small farm currently growing vegtables to supplement the school feeding program. This Sunday the 20th, we are building a multistory garden at Kilonzo's home so he can use it as a model for others in addition to feeding his family.
That's some of what is happening here . . .
Happy Birthday to my family members for September (some a little late, sorry) and October; Trenton, Vince, Clayton, Corbin, Gene, John and Paige, Zoey, Cole, Kerry and Jason!!!
Have a wonderful Fall season, treasure your cooler weather. Stay safe, healthy and happy and know that I miss you all, family and friends. Thank you each for all of your support for the children, my life and work here in Kenya!
Love to all, Paula; PCV