Harambee 2011 has begun!

13 July 2011

Volunteers for the Harambee 2011 July project arrived in Kenya on Sunday 10th July. They spent their first night at Lake Elementita lodges in the Rift Valley where they were given an update on the tasks for the project and completed the remainder of the volunteer training programme.

An early start on Monday morning took in a quick shopping trip in Nakuru to purchase a few personal essentials. Then onward to the town of Londiani where the team had the opportunity to meet the Friends of Londiani staff - Anna Mainek (Country Director) and Deborah Runo (Office Administrator) and Martin Ballantyne (Executive Director) who is currently in Kenya. They visited the FOLK office and had lunch at St. Kizito’s church before heading off again to the village of Benditati. There was one further stop on route at the Chief’s office as he greeted the team and expressed his appreciation on behalf of the communities before completing the last leg of the journey to their final destination for the coming two weeks.

There wasn’t much rest on arrival, however, as a stove was under construction in the house next door and the volunteers were on hand to help and to see exactly what the process is. These stoves replace the traditional 3 stone open fires. They have chimneys which make the cooking process smokeless and they are at a height off the floor which make them safer and more economical on timber. There was also a marquee on site to erect which is the dining area for the duration on the project and there were meetings between the Irish and Kenyan Lifeskills facilitators to plan the two courses that are happening this week.

By Monday evening the work that had been accomplished in such a short time was phenomenal and great credit is due to the team for pulling together and making it all happen so smoothly.

On Tuesday the tasks for the project started in earnest. The focus for these first two weeks is on:

  • Two lifeskills 3 day courses, one for men &women mixed and one for all women
  • HECA, the Healthy Schools Programme - working with the HECA schools in the area to reach Bronze or possibly Silver level in the programme
  • Construction - Guito Primary school are a HECA school and are currently building 2 new latrine blocks (one each for boys and for girls) to accommodate the number of children in the school. As well as completing the building of these with the Kenyan fundi (builder), the volunteers are putting in a cement floor in one of the classrooms
  • Stoves - the Public Health Officer has a target of completing 20 smokeless stoves in the district over the coming weeks. So far, the volunteers have completed almost four with the community health workers they are working with each day.
  • Mapping & GPS - the volunteers are visiting the water supply points in the district that FOL have been involved in installing over the past few years. There are 24 water tanks and 20 water pumps and 8 newly installed tanks to mark with GPS and survey the older ones to check their condition and working order.

On Wednesday this work has continued with most volunteers choosing to go back out on the same task as yesterday. The plan for the remainder of this week involves another day of tasks; a field day on Friday where the community come to learn about issues related to health; a variety show on Saturday where 11 local schools have been invited to put on a performance with the theme of ‘what is the healthy schools programme’ and a soccer tournament on Sunday between teams of youth from 8 local villages where the volunteers have been invited to spectate and where we also hope to show our soccer skills!