Friday, August 4, 2017

Weeks 7 and 8 - Molo, Olenguruone, Kokwa Island


In the first week of this internship, we visited the Olenguruone DEB Primary School and Olenguruone Secondary School. We were received very warmly, and in just a short visit, felt a strong connection to the students and their community. After visiting several other schools in many different regions of Kenya, we decided to embark upon a project with the ones closest to our hearts - Olenguruone. We went back to visit them again in Week 7 to bring them the news of our intentions. As always, we were greeted with many smiles and hugs, a light snack of banana and malted milk biscuits, and a wonderful performance by the students in their common hall. We presented our idea of creating a Pen Pal Program with Olenguruone Secondary School students. We were inspired by the relationship Olenguruone Primary School had with Dunrossness Elementary in Scotland, and we decided to model our program after theirs, connecting Kenyan students with American students from our university chapter of GlobeMed. This program stemmed from their identified need of global citizenship - the students and teachers crave connections beyond Kenya that sensitize them to global issues and an awareness of the world around them. With this Pen Pal Program, we can connect students that have never met, and foster the sense that they know a glimpse of what life is like on the other side of their correspondence. This is a project we are very excited to bring back to our chapter, and can't wait to continue cultivating strong relationships with the students that we have grown to love over a short period of time.


With the leadership of our esteemed colleague John Wachira, we embarked on a jiko training session located 20 minutes away from Molo town. This training was to learn the process of energy-saving jiko installation. A jiko is a stove made from clay and mud mixtures, with a space in the bottom for firewood placement. The jikos we installed were energy saving because they are designed such that they require less firewood because they are insulated. This is important because the women who stoke the fires will have to go out and forage firewood less often, which also mitigates the issue of deforestation. This training was located at the house of Christina, a grandmother of the Koriema women's group. This group was incredibly welcoming and warm, and shared a lesson of prayer with us before we installed the jiko. The installation included placement of rocks, a mud/ash mixture, the placement of the jiko on a level ground, and covering with mud/ash and a clay paste.

KOKWA ISLAND - Community Needs Assessment

In Week 8, we traveled back to Baringo County in order to revisit Kokwa Island. We traveled by boat in the morning, and took part in a Community Needs Assessment that included secondary school students attending school outside of Kokwa Island that are being sponsored by donors secured by NECOFA and FKSW. Our friend and soon-to-be Michiganite Raymond was also in attendance. The purpose of this workshop was to understand what these students and the greater Kokwa community perceives their biggest challenges to be. These challenges were fleshed out in small group activities, with presentations and analysis on how these problems are influenced by other factors. Many of the challenges the students identified aligned with those we brainstormed with the NECOFA staff, in addition to some great ideas that we had overlooked. We demonstrated the creation of problem and objective trees, a tool for analyzing the root causes and consequences of specific problems, and showed the students how to make their own. Finally, we heard a heartfelt speech by Raymond imploring his colleagues to work hard and not let your mistakes get in the way of a brighter future. We shared a delicious lunch of ugali, cabbage, and nyama, and headed back to Molo to use the feedback from the students to refine our budget and solidify the activities involved in our program on Kokwa Island.


Over the past few weeks, we created and refined a budget that reflects the logistics of our short-term project planning. The initial draft was completed with the help of Jane and Lucy, where we went through all our proposed project ideas and factored in costs such as transportation, materials, trainers, accommodation, and labor. We then met with Samuel and he gave us more feedback and helped us with some of the project ideas that we couldn't quite budget for. Then, we revisited this budget after speaking to the community of Kokwa, and trimmed projects here and there to reflect the identified needs of the community.  Lastly, we scaled the budget down to fit the amount of money that we have raised with GlobeMed over the past year. The interventions that will be completed this year include:

-bringing internet to Kokwa primary school to enhance global citizenship and engage out-of-school youth
-building a public toilet to reduce pollution of the lake
-expanding the library to enhance the reading culture of the island
-exam exchanges between Kokwa Primary and the prestigious St Mary's school
-educational workshops on FGM and early marriages
-exposure visits for Kokwa Primary students to navigate institutions on the mainland that the island is lacking (banks, police stations, etc.)
-demonstrations of water filters
-maternal/child health and hygiene workshops
-training on animal husbandry
-education on entrepreneurship
-education on civic rights and responsibilities
-comprehensive community needs assessment with all demographics

We were astounded by the amount of incredible interventions that could be completed within this year's budget, but have a very long list of things to achieve in the future of our partnership. We are looking forward to bringing home several ideas we have had about how we can raise more money, so that we can expand our impact even further and serve the community to the best of our abilities.

All in all, we could not have asked for a better GROW experience. We learned more than we could have imagined about the work NECOFA does and how important they are in the lives of their countless beneficiaries. We've bonded deeply with all NECOFA staff and built not only a network of respect and trust, but also of friendship. We were happy to have received glowing feedback from the staff about our conduct with communities and our active participation throughout the entire internship.

Finally, Samuel informed us that if any GlobeMedders or their families are ever in the region, they would love to be in contact and maybe share a cup of chai.

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