Linda’s Journal- 2014 Ellen and Linda’s Kenya trip November 11 to December 16
Thursday December 4, 2014 2:00PM
Today we Ellen and I have been deciding the most important tasks to try to complete before leaving Kisumu in one week. We have also been waiting for a driver – Elly- not the Elly I usually refer to. The driver Elly is from Usoma village but drives all over Kenya as a hired car. He is the driver that we used most of the time during my 2012 trip and is an excellent driver. However he stated he would arrive here about 11AM and now it’s after 2 PM. I thought he would be about 2 hours late- the “normal” late time for Kenya. I guess we won’t be going anywhere major today. So frustrating.
OK- when I last wrote it was Monday night and we were heading to bed.
Tuesday 12/02/14 was a very good day. We had the Rom Wandera Memorial Scholarship award ceremony in the morning. The five finalists arrived with some of their family members. Connie Wandera, Rom’s wife was coming to present the actual award and Paul had arranged for Peter, the tuk tuk driver we usually use, to pick Connie up. She was to arrive around 10:30 AM. We decided to go ahead and start the event. The 5 girls entertained us with songs, dancing and poems. We shared refreshments. Paul, Ellen and I all gave remarks and reviewed all the requirements of the winner. By this time it was 12:35PM and Connie had not arrived. She was still waiting for Peter. Very unreliable of him. We decided to go ahead without her and present the awards. Just as we were to announce the runner up- we heard the tuk tuk coming. Finally Connie arrived!!!. We let her relax with a soda and snack and the girls performed another song and dance for her. Then we announced Elector as the runner up. We only planned on giving one scholarship but a generous donor from home agreed to sponsor and had already paid the fees so we decided to announce a runner up. Then we announced the winner, Lucy. In addition to the scholarship, we gave Lucy a set of form 1 and 2 revision books. The students are not given any textbooks unless they buy them. FIOH-USA purchased a few sets. We will let Lucy use a set for her first two years and then she must return them so other students can use them. They do not change from year to year. She will then get the from 3 and 4 revision books to use for the last 2 years of secondary school
One of our newer goals is to provide a way for all our sponsored students to have use of a set of revision books for the 5 compulsory subjects: Math; English; Kiswahili; Chemistry and Biology. A set for the whole 4 years costs $50. It costs $30 for the books for the first 2 years but that includes English and Kiswahili books that cover all 4 years. Imagine your high school students having to learn all their subjects without any textbooks to refer to. That is what most of the students here have to do unless someone buys them these revision books. No wonder so many of our students do poorly. In spite of this almost all our students are in the top third of their class.
The celebration ended and we prepared for our FIOH-Kenya board meeting that was rescheduled from Saturday. It was to start at 1 PM and started right on time at 3:00PM – Kenyan time ☺ There are 10 Board members but only three were able to come: Paul the coordinator; Connie the treasurer; and Lillian a member. Both Lillian and Paul were sponsored for college by FIOH-USA and have certainly given back year after year.
We could not make any decisions at the meeting since there was not a quorum but I think it was a good meeting anyway. Many issues were discussed and there is another meeting planned February 28, 2015. I hope with advance notice and an agenda more people will be able to arrange their schedules to come. It is important for the FIOH-K Board to work together with clearer goals. Please keep their work in your thoughts and prayers. FIOH-K is in a position to assist many people if they use their skills and time wisely. FIOH-USA also needs a strong viable FIOH-Kenya organization to work with here so we are sure our funds are used effectively and properly.
Oh I forgot to mention, when Connie finally arrived she brought the curtains sewn by the women’s group for all the windows in our new office/house. We hung them and they look very nice. The ones for our bedroom and the kitchen were not fitted properly so Connie took them to be fixed to the correct size. Hopefully we will get them back before we leave.
One of the topics we discussed at the Board meeting was FIOH-USA’s concern about the damaged wells we are encountering. Lillian had some good suggestions regarding “water kiosk’s” and linking of natural springs to provide potable water for villagers near the city. Her mother is very involved with this project so we arranged to meet with her and Lillian the next day to find out more about this project.
After everyone left Ellen and I cleaned up the house, did the dishes and watched Ellen’s DVD of Mamma Mia. It was fun as it’s a light funny movie with Meryl Streep and blocked out the music from the mourners raising money for the funeral.
Wednesday we were supposed to meet Lillian at Pandipiere Catholic Center where she has a good job as an AIDS officer. It is a large complex carrying out many services including an in house rehab center for homeless children- they can stay for up to 3 months while things are arranged for them to return to live with parents or guardians. They provide teaching to the caregivers regarding nutrition and how to care for the child. The center is also a large health center and they have many volunteers from other countries assisting. We met a woman from Bulgaria and a man from Holland that were volunteers. It is an excellent center and we hope to be able to offer “attachments” there for any individuals who wish a volunteer experience through FIOH-USA. Now that we have the office/volunteer house we are planning to have more volunteers come – not just Board members of FIOH-USA. It will have to unfold slowly and I will need to be patient as I want everything to happen “yesterday” In Kenya everything is “pole pole” Little by little.
Lillian showed us around the complex and then we had lunch at the restaurant right on the grounds. After lunch as we were walking across campus I saw my “little Seraphine”. Those of you who have followed my journals other years or who know me have heard about Seraphine. I will briefly recap. I met Seraphine in 2003 at the hospital where I was working as a PT. She was 4 years old and badly burned. I gave $10 for her medicine and treatment and her mom credits me with saving her life and wrote me a letter after I returned home in 2003 dedicating Seraphine’s life to me. She is now 14 years old and going to class 7 in January. I have met with her every time I’ve come to Kenya. She is very shy- at least with me. She is a beautiful young woman now. I think she struggles in school and I purchased 7th grade revision books for her to use this coming year. It was her only request when I asked how I could help her. I have sponsored her through grammar school at a cost of $50/year to help with uniform, materials and what they call remedial- however remedial is required not an option. It was wonderful to see her and her mom Jane.
We then met with an engineer at Pandepiere, who is also named Elly. Lillian’s mom was not available and Elly is more knowledgeable about the ins and outs of the water Kiosk project anyway. He was a very nice young man who was generous with his time. First we talked and he explained some of the process. On a positive note many water lines have been brought closer to the slum villages in the city. Those who are affluent enough can pay to have the pipes brought to their homes. However the people in the many slum villages cannot. As an alternative there are now many of these “water kiosks” in the slum villages. A group of people gather together and agreed to pool their resources and built a small cement structure about 5ft x 5ft. The can usually get someone to donate that small parcel of land. They pay to bring the pipes from the city to the structure and install one of two taps. Many villagers can then walk a very short distance and purchase good quality city water. The usual charge is 2 KSH for 20 liters. This is much cheaper than buying it from the jeri cans that deliver it with carts. Bore- hole wells do not work in the city slum areas because the ground water is too polluted. Building the kiosk is about the same $3000 dollars it costs to build a Borehole well and it does not break down. For about an extra $1000 they install a large Kenton tank on top of the structure to catch rainwater. This will assure water is available even when the city water “goes down” as it does once in a while. The kiosk we visited is in the slum village called Manyatta. Some of our sponsored students live in that area. A women’s group of 15 managed to fund the structure. They now earn a profit of !5,000 KSH/month- after paying the city water bill. Each member gets 1000 ksh- a little over $10. This is supplemental income not their main source. We talked the woman who was working at the kiosk that day. She was very pleased with the project both personally and because it improved access to water in her village so much.
The other method the engineer enlightened us on was using the many small springs that run underground throughout the land. As with the water kiosks this project is usually initiated by a group of people in a village near the city without water. The process usually takes up to a year. He said he and his team would survey an area to determine where the underground water is located. They then excavate and connect some of the streams with a series of pipes to flow to one stream where they install outlet pipes where villagers can collect water. This water is free. The cost for this process varies but he said is usually under $3000. This spring water is excellent for cooking, animals and gardening. It needs to be boiled or treated with chemicals if used for drinking. The city water is safe to drink right from the tap.
We visited two of the spring outlets and many people were coming to fill their containers. Paul, Ellen and I are thinking that borehole wells are not our future direction due to the high incidence of break down and stolen pumps. These kiosks are great for the areas where city pipes or underground springs can be found. We don’t have a definite solution for assisting with the need for water in the distant rural areas. Paul suggests using more of the large tanks that collect and store the sometimes-plentiful rainwater. Those are too large to steal and have very few moving parts so break down is not usually a problem. It however does not address a water supply during the periods of drought that occur during the year. In this case a well place borehole is better if it is well maintained and secured from robbers.
Seeing how the people struggle for water is so sad. We have so much water in the USA and most of the time I just take it for granted that when I turn on the tap the water will flow.
I didn’t mean to write so much about this water project. However building a well was our very first funded project before FIOH-USA became a 501c3 organization and water problems are very important to FIOH-USA as an organization.
After visiting the kiosks and springs we went into town to purchase some more revision books and I picked up the one for standard 7 for Seraphine. We then took a tuk tuk home- had supper, put materials on the computer and discussed our remaining goals.
I did not sleep well Wednesday night and I’m glad I had my iPhone with some books and games to pass the time and distract me from the constant music all night.
That brings me back to where I started this journal so I will stop here for now.
End of journal 7