Monday, December 7, 2009

More from Makindu and Nairobi . . .

More from previous blog . . . Winnie Academy is our "pre-school" at MCC. It is set up for ages 3 - 6 or 7 and currently has one teacher. Most of the children are sponsored by MCC but we also take in self-pay children for 2,000 shillings per term, a very reasonable price. Currently we ahve 10 children who were eliglble to more on to Primary School - of the 10, 8 tested very well and will be moving on, that speaks very highly of the academy and we will use that information for marketing purposes. One of the students didn't test because of the fee and hopefully will test in January - the other student is a slow learner and will have to be placed in another environment for further learning. I hope we are able to attract many new self-paying students during the intake period in December and early January.

I am still working on IGA's (income generating activities) with the guardians of MCC. We have certainly provided a lot of training and 2010 will be or should be the year of implementation - I remain hopeful. We have two groups and some individuals doing liquid soapmaking and they have been very successful so far. It is a WINNER!!! There is a good market for liquid soap to sell and if they also make it for themselves, it lowers their monthly expenses. All groups have been trained some are slower to embrace the opportunity - that's OK, they will see other's success and that will motivate them. We have also sourced wonderful trainings in goat keeping, poultry keeping both as a business and currently we are doing our third of four sessions on Food Security (production, utilization, nutrition, preservation. Oour multistory garden training went well - a few guardians have constructed their own and we are on our third harvest of kales from the 3 we used for demonstration purposes at MCC. We are also working with WACAL (another PC volunteer's site - Erin) to bring camels in for plowing - due to a funding snag - that project will happen next year sometime. We have chosen three sites in another community called Twaandu also an area served by MCC. They are anxious to see how the project will go. They will use the camels to plow their own fields then contract them out to others. Our guardians will be trained on "camel handling", feeding etc. prior to their arrival. Should be very interesting!!! Camels will survive well in our semi-arid region . . . drought often!!

Erin and I have been doing some great walks - trying our best to stay in reasonable shape living with no gym and in a VERY flat area. We have been hiking on Sunday for 5,6, 7 hours to the next town of Kibwezi (20-25 kilometres). There is a little "hill" on our way so we climb it to the summit!!! It is a small hill but it is all we have, great view - we visit with the guards who watch the cell towers, have a break with a banana or mango some water and trek on!!! Erin is training to climb Mt. Kenya - I considered it but I am going to donate the fee to climb to KISMA in Loitokitok sponsor a child to secondary school for a year - it is about the same amount. I'll do it some time.

Currently (December 6-10) we are in Nairobi for our mid-service medical checks. We get our teeth cleaned - boy did that feel great!!!! Then they just check vital stuff to make sure we are OK. I have a funny not serious fungus that liked my left hand fingernails exited there and went to my left big and little toe . . . so . . . I have an appointment with a doc to figure out what that is all about. It could be related to the fact that I volunteer with two community groups twice a week to pick up garbage. I wear gloves but one never knows. Otherwise I have been in perfect health - I feel lucky, although I have tried to do all the right things with food and water - and it is not hard. It sure beats being sick, I know that from others.

I think that is it for me . . . I am pretty settled so life goes on here about the same everyday. I am trying to help where I can and be a good citizen, friend and volunteer. I have met so many wonderful people here and have tried to embrace the differences and share what I have. Mostly that is just a greeting or a smile everyday to everyone. I do get teased by some because I greet everyone but I like that!!

I miss you all and think of you frequently. It is hard to believe that we have been here a year already . . . it really has gone fast!! I hope to blog again before Christmas but just in case . . . Merry Christmas and the BEST to all in 2010!!!

Love to all, Paula

Happy Holidays!!!!

It has been a while . . . I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving. A few of us volunteers celebrated in Nairobi. We cooked ALL the traditional foods and ate a lot!! It was fun to share the cooking and the day with other volunteers. AND you really can thaw a frozen 15 pound turkey the same day you cook it!!! Thankfully!!!

We have been busy at MCC. The children are now out for the December break so many of them come to the centre for lunch everyday. It is good to see all of them. They have a great time together, playing and assisting with the cooking and cleaning. We think we finally have the good rains - I hope they last. Some people planted to early and lost their first seeds because we had too long a break in the rains but lately we have had rain about every two to three days so I hope that lasts through January. EVERYTHING is so much greener and beautiful. I am working on a project to do water harvesting (catchment) from the roof of our buildings a MCC - we are just waiting for the costs and everytime it rains I "cry" because so much water is "lost" that could be harvested and used later. The estimate we have is that we easily could harvest 90,000 litres from our roof - that is a lot!!!

I am in Nairobi for our mid-service medical check up and have to leave now . . . so more later!!!