Saved by the stove – and other amazing tales!

29 July 2014

Our next two blogs are a pretty good indication of just how varied an experience Harambee can be. Tomorrow we hear a bit about the lifeskills course and HIV education. But first here’s Aoife Murphy writing last Friday, looking back over a week whose highlights were the healthy schools and smokeless stoves programmes — and swing dancing…

As our final week in Londiani gets closer, it is growing harder and harder to find suitable words to describe this amazing experience. When I began my trip to Londiani on the 12th of July I had truly never imagined what lay in front of me. Of course I had heard stories and seen photographs. However, nothing could prepare me for the reality of the amazing journey that lay ahead.

I began my first week in a HECA school being involved in the implementing of the healthy schools programme. I will never again be able to wash my hands without the sound of young Kenyan children singing the hand-washing song in my mind! It’s something I will always treasure, along with an image of their beaming smiles. Being involved with these children and witnessing their enthusiasm, happiness and willingness to learn was an absolute pleasure.

Next I was involved with the smokeless stove project. The first task was to go to some houses where smokeless stoves had been installed previously to see the effects from the stoves – both positive and negative. As I went through the surveys and households I felt people were telling us what we were looking to hear as they explained how the stoves are preventing illnesses such as back ache, eye infection, burns and, in more serious cases, respiratory diseases.

However the further along on the surveys we got the more I realised that these smokeless stoves are simple yet phenomenally effective. One lady described the stove as “my saviour”. Another had ‘FOL’ engraved on the side, which she proudly told me she had had done after the installation of her stove in 2012. These people were not telling me what I wanted to hear. They were telling me what they were truly feeling.

So Kenya, you and your people have been inspirational, generous and truly amazing! Thank you, in anticipation, for the last few days on our journey. The weekend for the team includes a birthday dinner and a table quiz. However, the evening entertainment will be hard pushed to match Ned and Carmel’s swing dancing earlier in the week!