Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Latest From MCC and Makindu . . .

Hello from Nairobi, I hope this blog find you all well and happy!! I am currently attending a planning meeting for upcoming new volunteer training with other Peace Corps Volunteers and Peace Corps Staff. It is always flattering to be included in planning. It is time consuming and long days but I hope what we are doing will make a positive difference to other volunteers that follow us. Peace Corps really focuses on making sure the volunteer gets the most of out this experience.

We have had some good Food Security trainings in Makindu with our MCC guardians since I wrote last. They have taken one day and learned to make cassava (local vegetable)fritters, pumpkin chapati, sorghum pilau, donuts and cake . . . ALL very tasty. They seem appreciative and excited to learn new things. This lesson will provide them with better nutrition options using locally produced food and I hope some will choose to cook for others and sell their wares. Many will try it on their own - my hope is all will but we will see. Our new DC (District Commissioner) in Makindu is on an environmental platform and lots of tree planting (much needed) is happening currently. It is a youth project which is good as they are often idle with no local work. In March a local (Nairobi) radio station MUSYI FM paid a planned visit to MCC and donated clothing, blankets, t-shirts and bread. It was a grand event with their LARGE caravan of vehicles - the event brought out a lot of interested spectators from the community. It was great exposure for MCC. One of our guardian groups had a honey harvest - that is always exciting as the honey is wonderful. That's the good news, the bad news is the harvest was small because they did not harvest all hives at the right time, i.e. late, so the bees had already consumed the honey. BUT, it is a learning experience for them and we will do a refresher course in beekeeping to help increase the harvest for the next time. We have had good rains this time around so the flowering is good which means the honey should be plentiful. MCC has been blessed with a donation of two new classrooms for the Educational Development Center (Winnie Academy Pre-School). We hope that the classrooms will be completed for the new school year in January. Marketing the school for paying children will help the ongoing support of the orphans and vulnerable children who cannot pay school fees.

Recently we received donor funding to help suport the purchase of chicken and goats for some of our MCC guardian groups to help support them in making poultry raising and goat keeping into IGA's - income generating activities - profit making businesses!!! We had an interesting time at the chicken market choosing the initial chicken stock for our first project. We were fortunate to have the assistance of the Division Livestock and Fisheries Officer - he really helped them make the right choices and pay fair prices. I am hopeful of this project as a good business opportunity for them. We have also had success in mobilizing many households in the area to vaccinate their chicken - we have to date vaccinated well over 200 in 12 households. It costs 5 shillings to vaccinate a chick that can be sold at maturity for 350 shillings each minimum some for 450 to 500 - they are learning it is a small investment for a large return. Our goal - independent living vs dependent living.

Mt. Kilimanjaro has provided us with spectacular views of late - it has lots of visible snow as we have had rain. It is visible to us in the early morning before the clouds cover it and again sometimes just before sunset. We are a long way away from it so we really appreciate how large a mountain it truly is. Beautiful too!!

Good books read lately; The Lunatic Express by Charles Miller; Standing In The Rainbow by Fanny Flagg; The End of Poverty by Jeffrey Sachs and Down Under; all entertaining in their own way.

May birthday wishes to my DAD!!! and Scott. Happy, happy days!!

Personal update . . . healthy and happy!! Missing you all! Thanks for staying in touch of thinking of me. Love from Paula; PCV, Makindu

P.S. Also in March I was asked to speak at an event in a nearby town, Kibwezi, for Internatinal Women's Day - I was flattered that they asked. The "speech" went OK. I focused on how important women are to the future success of Kenya - they are the backbone of a measurable amount of business success that happens in this country. It was well attended and I met a lot of powerful, successful women that are making a difference.

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