Month: January 2014
As elsewhere in the world, an education is crucial to a Kenyan’s prospects in life. There’s lots of competition for limited poorly-paid work, and education opens up new opportunities as well as making a more-rounded individual. Most Kenyan youngsters are keen to learn, but education is not free – although Primary Education in state schools is ostensibly free, it’s only the tuition that is free and students need to pay for uniform, exam fees, books and miscellaneous fees. Even then, the government schools have huge class sizes and thus limited opportunity to do well (the teachers do their best, but we’ve heard of classes up to 100 children).
So many families, scraping by at (or below) subsistence level, cannot afford to send their children to school, certainly not to the school of their choice. This obviously includes families infected/affected by HIV/AIDS, for whom life is a real struggle, but there are many other families who work hard but cannot pay fees for school or college.
There are several organisations around who organise sponsorship of children and young people, but I can tell you about a few that we’ve had direct contact with during our trip.
As a general rule, these organisations prefer sponsors to commit to see a child through their education, so sponsoring a child just starting school could be a long-term undertaking, but shorter term arrangements or one-off donations are also possible. If you sponsor a young child you’ll get feedback from the organisation on their progress; sponsor an older child to high school or college and you will probably get direct feedback from the individual (Kenyans love Facebook!).
How much it costs depends very much on the “package”: paying uniform / books / exams for a child at a government primary school will likely be less than paying the same plus fees at a private school. School fees vary depending on the school, as do college fees, and transport may be required as well (or accommodation at/near school).
Imelda is here giving her time and energy directly educating Class 4 pupils at Barnabas; for the rest of us who can’t do that, sponsorship is a real way to help a child.
So here are my options for you to consider:
- Barnabas Children’s Center is the school in which Imelda is currently working. 90% of the children cannot pay fees and are educated for free. The school is run on a shoestring with money from donors around the world, and they also provide a home for 29 orphans and street kids. They need every penny we can give them, either to develop the school or to sponsor individual needy children.
- Community Light Programme, run by Edu and others here in Shanzu with support from overseas, aims to help families affected by HIV/AIDS and have an established process for placing children in schools and supporting them. I’ve seen this in practice with school reports being collected, scanned and e-mailed to the sponsors. Some of the children are at Barnabas and Fumathoka, the schools Imelda has volunteered at, others at schools around Mtwapa which I visited with Edu.
- Okoa Jahazi, run by Eunice and her committee, are similar to CLP but the Community Based Organisation is composed of people infected/affected by HIV/AIDS helping others in the same situation; they are based in Kiembeni, a few miles away. They too arrange sponsorship for children. Read Eunice’s Story to see what drives her and why she needs your help. She really is an amazing lady.
- As I mentioned, I’ve had a number of requests for direct sponsorship of individuals hoping to go to High School or College. These don’t fall under the HIV/AIDS umbrella of Community Light Programme or Okoa Jahazi, and are too old for Barnabas, but their needs are no less real. I’m hoping to get these youngsters to write about themselves, their aspirations and their needs so that they can seek sponsorship.
So there it is – there are hundreds or thousands of children here who need your help. You can’t help them all, but maybe you can support one and make a real difference to their life prospects. Do ask if you have any questions.
Our final hours in Kenya were spent… packing, doing the previous day’s blog, and relaxing. Joe arrived, having delivered Mary to school in Kaloleni. After a light lunch, it was time for farewells and to travel to the airport.
Bye, Shanique (and Tina)
Edu came with us to the airport and organised the bags.
We enjoyed a final drink with Joe and Edu, then we were on our own – into the terminal, balancing weight between bags (though we’d got it pretty close), check in, upstairs to departures, a few minutes to get the computer out… then we were called through security!
The flight to Addis left almost 30 minutes early (which was a pain, because at Mombasa we had internet and at Addis we had naff all!). 6.5 hours in Bole International Airport is a long wait, though there were beds to lie on and we had books to read.
The flight to London left on time, and arrived 30 minutes early. Luckily Mark, who was meeting us, was there when we emerged, and we were home soon after 08:30.
Our last full day in Kenya was quite low-key, thanks to Kenya Poor. The blackout started early and, having completed yesterday’s blog entry and processed some photos for Barnabas, my battery was flat, so any plan to do some last-minute website updates went out the window..
Catherine, her mum, and Eunice came bearing gift to wish us farewell, not long before Joe came to collect us for lunch. We prayed together before parting.
Joe took us to Kikambala for lunch, a White Cap, and a postprandial snooze. Then we went to Blue Sky to sit in the garden, sip sodas, and then take a final walk on the beach and paddle.
Meld’s first selfie?
Then back to Shanzu for a farewell supper with the extended family. We gathered outside the house in the falling light.
The food is ready.
Maggy complained about the cold.
Some of our hosts
Grace rests after cooking and serving
Today was Imelda’s last day at Barnabas (we felt we needed a clear day to get ourselves organised before travelling home), so I was also invited to join them for lunch and the afternoon farewell ceremony.
First, we took a look at the new temporary classroom
It still needs a concrete floor.
The house mothers were busy cooking lunch… chapati…
The kids line up to wash their hands, the big ones helping the little ones.
With Edu, the Danish volunteers and some visitors from Action Aid, we were treated as VIPs, seated with the men teachers. (Imelda in particular would have liked her female colleagues to eat with us, but that’s not the Kenyan way).
Silas shares some pictures with the kids.
After lunch, and showing Harrison the new version of their website I’d built (I’m getting to love WordPress!!) the kids were lined up outside to say farewell
The reaction to “Hands up if you love teacher Imelda” (her class 4 are the back row)
Singing and dancing
An action song (like Father Abraham if you’re a pilgrim!) – here it’s “tongues out” and Teacher Rose and her daughter Eva were caught!
Headteacher Harrison on “turn around”
Class 4 group hug Teacher Imelda
Au revoir Harrison
We were escorted, by Class 4 and others, to the road, where they waved us off as we left in the matatu.
Barnabas, kids and staff, we will never forget you.
Our last Sunday in Kenya was spent at Kikambala. For once we made an early start and were at the 7am Mass (which starts at 07:30). There were thanks to us for raising the money to roof the house (and more), and exhortations to the parish to dig deep to finish it off.
The main items remaining are floors, decoration and louvres. The ceilings are now complete throughout.
The wiring is complete, but switches and sockets need to be fitted.
The youth were prettifying the grounds.
And the choir were meeting
The ladies were preparing a feast for lunch
And washing the vestments
Meanwhile we walked to the beach and sat under a tree, letting the world pass by.
Hello Mr Crab
We walked along to Sun’n’Sand Hotel for a drink
Back at the church, lunch was served and we sat with the youth
Then Jacob drove us to the beach as the tide was returning.
While we drank our post-swim drinks we saw a lot of birds in a nearby tree, Suddenly they all flew out…
Today was the day of our big farewell party, to which we’d invited pretty much everyone we know in the area – all of Joe’s extended family, staff and volunteers from Barnabas, members of Okoa Jahazi, friends from Mivumoni…
I started the day by making mandazi ( a kind of dough nut, made with baking powder rather than yeast, and shallow fried). They weren’t bad (and they were all eaten, many by the cooks preparing our feast).
The first cooks, Cecilia and Selina, arrived and built a couple of fires. There’s a specific technique with 3 rocks to support the sufuria (cooking pot) and the wood inserted between so that the fire can be kept even by pushing the pieces of wood into the centre.
Meld landed the job of peeling 15 large garlic bulbs.
The ladies worked on the back porch, behind the kitchen.
Selina crushes garlic.
Sarah works and holds Angelina
Edu brought a friend, Rahma (you’ll also see her in the back porch shot above).
Cecilia stirs her pot.
Baby Tina has grown, but maybe not as much as we’d expected.
Tina and Ngala
Meld and Gracie share a joke.
Chatting whilst waiting for the food to be ready.
The ladies of Okoa Jahazi enjoy a Smirnoff Black Ice.
The two Danish volunteers at Barnabas chat to our local friends.
Robert looks happy.
The kids are served their food.
Eunice is happy to be fed.
Tuck in there’s lots for everyone!
Maggy and Meld
Mary and Gloria
Before lunch some of the men had erected two garlands, and chairs were placed by them. We started taking photos…
But we were told we were improperly dressed, so we were taken inside, dressed, and returned as Giriamas.
It then became something like a wedding, trying to get pictures of us with everyone! With Samuel and Joe.
With Joe’s siblings
With Joe’s sisters-in-law
With some of the next generation
With the Barnabas team.
With Okoa Jahazi
Me with Jacob
The Danish visitors were dressed up too.
Kids having fun
And gradually everyone departed. Quite a day…
Meld wanted to make some lemon drizzle cakes for tomorrow, and Eunice came to learn how to make them. Robert and Faith helped too.
Robert checking consistency
Faith had a rest
Teddy, who lives with Eunice, dropped by for a while.
With the cakes in the oven, and maharagwe na wali (bean stew and rice) cooked, I prepared mchicha (one of many Kenyan greens, similar to leaf spinach).
A boda boda turned up with food from Samuel for the party, then returned with more food plus Samuel himself. Jacob spread the contents to stop them sweating overnight.
As the end of our trip approaches we’ve both been quite busy: Meld being Class 4 teacher at Barnabas, and me trying to complete updates to websites and various admin tasks around and about.
On Tuesday I went to Barnabas to see Harrison’s laptop, and managed to get a photo of Imelda’s shy colleague.
Back home, the reduced dog family welcomed us.
On Wednesday Imelda finished early and we went by boda boda (motorbike taxi, also know as piki piki) to the Transitional Workshop for Disabled Young Women at Shanzu. We didn’t realise that Selina worked here, although she was not there at the time. They make a wide range of products from kikoy fabric…
…and sell them in their shop.
We then went on to Kikambala for a lovely supper with Coralis.
Thursday’s main adventure was a shopping trip in Joe’s truck to Nakumatt to buy sodas for our party on Saturday.
Friday found Shanique hitching a ride in a hand cart
And Imelda teaching drawing
Martin and the boys have been clearing the grounds for the party tomorrow. Martin and Shariff disappeared, and came back with a crab!
Sadly the crab was only to look at, as they’d also brought its owner!
Unusually for January, the nights are a bit cool here – you certainly need a sheet over you in bed – maybe it’s preparation for going home!
It’s not supposed to be a long farewell, but the past couple of days have started to feel a bit like it!
Sunday, after Mass, we went to Boko Boko, treating Fr Joe and Deacon Joseph in return for the many meals we’ve shared with them at Kikambala. Yolande, the owner, came and talked to us after the meal. I’m sure we’ll sneak back there once more before we go home!
These two musicians serenaded us with an eclectic range of songs.
Then on Monday we went to Joe’s rural home. Our last opportunity to visit this trip.
Two of the puppies, Rodney (a girl) and Lou (a boy) are moving there, and Martin made them a box to travel in.
First, and most important, task was to greet Joe’s mum. She’s ailing, and often doesn’t remember people, but at Christmas asked why we were not there!
The tent, used for the memorial service and at Christmas, was dismantled.
Joe’s truck had a puncture a couple of weeks ago, and the rather worn spare was still on with the repaired wheel in the back of the truck. I suggested that we should swap them back, and somehow landed the task for myself (assisted by Martin and encouraged by a typical African crowd).
Replacing the spare – I love how all the kids bent down to see this happen!
Truck fixed, i inspected the sukuma wiki preparations
Joe’s aunt and one of the children.
It’s the mzungu baby thief again
Lunch – Patrick’s never late!
More of the family and kids
Meld and Joe start a school
It’s quite green up here – not as dry and dusty as Mombasa
Eliza opens coconuts – don’t argue with her when she has a panga, she’s got a killer stroke.
Back to normal tomorrow…. school, laundry and websites!
We took a matatu to town and walked to Fort Jesus, looking across the creek to Nyali.
The coast has suffered erosion.
Me and the fort.
The fort without me! (Well, part of it)
Roundabout outside Fort Jesus with tea or coffee pot and cups – supposedly indicates that Old Town is an alcohol free area.
We took lunch at Jahazi Coffee House, where the friendly cats sleep.
Along the road through Old Town
We visited several curio shops and bought a few souvenirs, after bargaining.
Then a rapid tuk-tuk ride to the ferry to meet Lucy, on her last day in pwani before heading to Eldoret at 5am Sunday.
The ferry in the late afternoon sun
Hordes of people make their way onto the ferry, passing the Italian aircraft carrier Cavour, here on anti-piracy patrol we presumee.
From the ferry we took a very bumpy matatu to Bamburi to meet Harrison, headteacher at Barnabas, and join his family for supper. We had a lovely time, and discussed school and their website.
I went up to Barnabas School on Friday afternoon to meet Meld and also to see progress with the new interim Standard 4 classroom (current Classes 2, 3 and 4 are in one room, with a thin board partition separating Class 4).
The frame is mostly up, and most of the roof sheets are on (they need a bit more money to buy the rest of the sheets).
Putting in the last upright.
The classroom will have plywood half walls and a concrete floor.
Meanwhile this is the Class 4 room, with mwalimu at the back.
Meld and most of her 12 students (and a couple of others hanging on!)
With 2 of her lady colleagues.
Having procured the new power supply yesterday, I had the computer up and running again (using the PV solar system). The new power supply works like the old one – it is small and runs pretty hot (it did in UK). Here, in ambient temperatures of 30°C it gets untouchably hot. This almost definitely contributed to the demise of the original, and I don’t want a repeat. The question was, how to keep it cool when there was no power to run a fan?
My immediate thought was to construct a heatsink. Phase 1 one to strap the transformer tightly to the metal colander – I know from experience of draining pasta that it conducts heat far too well! And the holes should aid cooling.
With this set-up, the colander got hot quite quickly so I thought we needed something else, if only to raise the colander into the airflow more. So I placed the transformer and colander on an inverted sufuria (cooking pot),
Despite the sufuria not having a flat bottom (they are really designed for use on wood fires or charcoal jikos) it soon got quite warm, and the colander also was warm enough to know it was working as a heat sink.
I’m glad to report (a) that the power supply is still working well and (b) now that the laptop battery is fully charged and the power supply is just ticking over, heat is less of a problem.
So now, back to my various web projects….
Electricity in Kenya is supplied (intermittently) by Kenya Power and Light Company – fondly (?!) known “Kenya Power and Darkness” or “Kenya Poor”. On Tuesday afternoon the power was off and on, and I mistakenly left my laptop plugged in to a wall socket (without surge protection) and at some stage the internals of the power supply melted and fused the plug. Careless mistake on my part, left with 2 hours battery to last over 2 weeks unless I could find a replacement.
So I contacted Edu, who said he knew a place in town that might have what we needed, if I could join him on a visit first, so late Wednesday morning I met Edu and Noelia and we went to pick up a boy called Juma (front) and his mum to take them to Barnabas School.
On of Juma’s brothers.
Ready to go to school.
So by foot and matatu we all headed to Barnabas. While Juma was interviewed by Harrison, I disturbed the Class 4 teacher.
During the lunchbreak we inspected the new classroom being built to give room for the Class 4.
Saying farewell to Barnabas, we took 2 matatus via Bamburi to Mombasa town, where Edu visited a friend (running a graphic design and print service) who took my laptop and the dead power supply and came back a little later saying the place next door had one for 2,500 KES (under £20). We had quite a wait while the item was retrieved from store, then a hunt for the socket-to-transformer cable (the new adapter, genuine Samsung of the correct rating, had a 2-pin input rather than 3-pin).
By now we were tired, thirsty and hungry, so we headed to the Old Town.
Eventually (mainly because Noelia and I kept stopping to take photos!) we reached Edu’s favourite haunt, Jahazi Coffee House.
It’s a cat-friendly place.
Snacks and drinks
Edu made himself at home.
And I found a purring puss
From Jahazi we headed to the waterside by Fort Jesus (about 100 metre walk) and took the view.
Then, leaving Noelia to meet a friend, Edu and I headed back to Shanzu.
Now you can see the evidence that the power adapter is functioning… and the electrician is here fixing the house electrics (I’m connected to the solar).
Marius, the Norwegian intern who has been here over Christmas, was leaving this evening, so a party was planed in his honour. Marius has been a great hit here, working hard with the special school and Barnabas orphans.
I visited during the day when preparations were under way. Gloria was in the bath…
And Shanique hopped in with her, fully dressed!
We got spruced up and joined the party in the evening. Lydia is not yet used to Jacob’s extended family!
Shanique loves an audience
Marius was given a cake – naming him “MJ Charo”, i.e. one of the Charo family.
The tradition is that he has to feed everyone cake, then be fed by everyone,with much chanting!
With his new wazazi (parents)
With the whole family, and new intern Noelia
The Charo Brothers
Fed by mama
And then, everyone departed to see Marius to the stage on the way for a night flight to Nairobi (first of 4 flights over 48 hours to reach the Arctic circle in northern Norway – that WILL be a shock to hs system!)
Fr Joe works a 3-weekly cycle: Week 1 he says Mass at Kikambala, Barani and Bomani; Week 2 at Kikambala, Vipingo and Kolewa; Week 3 at Kikambala, Vipingo and Shaurimoyo. (See map). So, over the 10 weeks we’ve been here we should have visited all the outstations at least once. But 3 weeks ago there was no Kolewa mass (the big Legion of Mary event at Vipingo), 6 weeks ago we were in Eldoret, and 9 weeks ago we stayed for Mass in Shanzu. So today was our last chance to visit Kolewa.
We were enthroned at the front!
The choir were wonderful, no electronic organs, just drums, karamba and voices.
It’s quite a big, traditionally built, church. The makuti roof makes it the coolest of all of the mass venues, but the dark mud walls and bright sunlight outside makes it challenging for photography.
After lunch we walked to the beach, the men swam, and we took drinks at North Coast.
Friday afternoon Joe came and collected us and drove us to Kikambala, then we went to North Coast for a swim – the tide was actually HIGH!
Lucy and her maasai boyfriend
On Saturday we went to Bombolulu Workshops and Cultural Center. This is a mijikenda kaya
In the Luo homestead.
Lucy looks for her Maasai boyfriend
And Lydia tries too
In a Luhya home
Making Giriama music
In the Swahili house, not very elegant but surprisingly comfortable
Thank you Lydia
Jacob and Lydia
The traditional dance show
Time to join in (badly)
Meld escaped the dancing, but Lucy got her with a hat
On the way home (via Nakumatt) we bought a plant – seemed like a good idea, but it was rather heavy and we had a mile to walk!
Back home, treating the puppies for ticks with big dollops of Vaseline
Today we collected the desks that Martin has been making for us and delivered them to Barnabas School.
The desks were ready in the workshop.
Carried out to the road
Loaded into Joe’s truck
Driven to the school and unloaded
Tried for size outside the classroom
With a crowd watching
Tried out inside with Meld teaching
Counting in kiswahili?
Chatting to teacher Silas before we returned the truck to Joe.
New Year’s Eve morning we visited Martin to see progress on the desks for Barnabas School.
We all had to try them for size.
Back home, Meld had a visit from a horde of local kids who know her from Fumathoka School next door – she always said she’s never work at a school close to home…
In thee evening we went up to Kikambala for a New Year Vigil mass, after which they burnt a scarecrow to symbolise the end of last year’s ills, wiping the sate clean. I think Joe in not keen on this “witchcraft”, so it happens after the mass.
After Mass we went to Boko Boko (the Seychelles Restaurant) for a family party. The tables were arranged around a pool, and the kids danced across the walkway.
The kids loved showing their moves.
One boy did a hilarious dance wearing a Barack Obama mask.
The dancers got bigger.
Meld was encouraged to join in
A performance for our table
Lucy and Deacon
Coralis, Anthony, Joe, Meld
The dancing got more cosmopolitan
We eventually left about 2:30 and drove home in Joe’s truck through Mtwapa (very interesting at this hour!).
New Year’s Morning we drove to Kikambala then up to Vipingo for lunch with some of Joe’s parishioners. After lunch, Joffrey cooked nyama choma to accompany the beers.
Deacon and Joffrey’s brother in law (deaf / dumb)
The house, you can see where we sat in the shade with our beers, sodas and nyama choma.
Meld and Joffrey’s wife, Grace.