Report on visit to Kenya (May – June 2015)
I spent nine weeks in Kenya from April 29 to July 2, 2015. Although the visit was mainly a private trip, independent from the Fund, I took the opportunity to pay two visits to Boston schools in Nairobi (supported by the Fund) and I also met with the representatives of our partner organization – the SARE SEEP – in Kowuor.
Nairobi (Boston Schools)
I visited the Boston Schools twice: on July 11 I visited the primary school and the children’s home and on June 30 I went to the kindergarten and after the high school.
I took the opportunity to discuss daily, operative issues with the school’s headmaster Mr. Stephen Okwaro – mainly on the 11th – and we also discussed issues in relation to a list of the students. (Thanks to this discussion and further email correspondence now we have a list that contains all students of Boston Schools – from the kindergarten to the secondary school age groups. The list shows who are most in need and who are those who already have sponsors. The list will be regularly maintained to have an updated list of children who are looking for sponsors.)
On the first occasion – after the purchase of much items in the nearby mall – me and my companion arrived at the school with a lot of packages. Shopping, as always, was a very exhausting challenge and now it was even harder than usual because besides the gifts, lollipops and biscuits we also purchased non-perishable food and hygiene items from part of the 1% donations of personal income taxes – in accordance with the advisory board decision in April (No. 2015/3) – for the residents of the Boston Rescue Home. (We purchased 20 kg potatoes, 25 kg rice, 10 kg beans, 16 kg sugar, 7 kg spaghetti, 3 kg tea, 6.5 kg soap, 19 toothbrushes, 4 giant toothpastes, 10 l milk, 5 l edible oil, 3 kg cookies, lentils, banana, salt, bread, jam – and to make sure that the kids can also get hold of some goodies – we also bought some cakes and chips.)
Besides discussing the necessary matters with Stephen we naturally organized the usual lollipop distribution “ritual” (and agreed that lollipop is still the most popular gift among children 🙂 ). Unfortunately we arrived so late that the children in the kindergarten had gone home so we could only give them the several kilograms of cookies on our next visit.
After the distribution of lollipops I gave the gifts sent by Hungarian sponsors to the donated primary school children: Blessing, Erick, Richard, Moses and Melvin. (In the meantime it turned out that Jannet and Moureen have left the school so we did not spend their donations to gifts, instead, we transferred the money together with the tuition fees due in July so that they can buy gifts for the newly sponsored children.)
On the second occasion we again started the day with shopping and spent the remainder of the money. This time we purchased de-worming tablets and more non-perishable food.
Upon arrival we gave the food to Susan, who works as an attendant at the rescue home, then we distributed cookies among children in the kindergarten. Unfortunately it was Ramadan time so a couple of Muslim children could not eat the cookies on the spot. Naturally we gave them their share but they had to wait to consume them later (which was quite a challenge for them). Our lessons learned: during Ramadan we only take pencils or pens to the children as gifts… On top of this it turned out that we did not have enough cookies so we had to replenish our supplies which was really hard in Matopeni (or anywhere if there is no mall around) because small local shops do not sell such merchandise. Finally we managed to buy some cookies in one of the small shops in mini-packages (two cookies per package) where we actually purchased their entire stock (20 packages).
From the primary school he took a motorbike drive to the secondary school. We passed by the stone mine where many parents of the children work for less than one dollar per day. Stone miners work amongst appalling conditions, they crouch on the edges of the rock with only a hammer and break rock for 10-12 hours per day without food or water for less than the price of a liter of milk… 🙁
When we arrived at the secondary school there was a break before the PE lesson so before the kids disappeared into the nearby “field” we quickly distributed the lollipops (as this is the most popular gift among secondary school pupils too) as well as the sponsors’ gifts to the donated children – Somo, Claire and Luiza. (Unfortunately Brian was not at school because he had to stay home for a couple of days as a disciplinary measure because he missed a lot of classes. Actually, I do not think that this is the most effective way of punishing children for missing classes … and I naturally told this to Stephen and the responsible teacher.)
Kowuor – Waste Workshop
In Kowuor we discussed the details of the future project with the team and organized a half-day waste workshop as well. We earlier agreed with the members of the team that we should put more emphasis on environment protection issues with the use of Vitafutura’s environment protection education background.
Being in Kenya and spending time with the locals we experienced that people simply throw away waste everywhere (luckily this is not that normal in Kowuor though it is a nationwide phenomenon) and both in Kowour and the countryside many just burn their domestic waste in their backyard, which is not only unwanted from an environment protection point of view but it is also very unhealthy for the locals. The project focuses on the latter problem while we also work on waste reduction and education (mainly in the field of waste related exposures and education on possible ways to reduce waste).
Prior to the workshop we had a preparatory meeting with the participants and asked them to observe for at least for a week how much waste they generate in their households and what happens to the waste.
Based on this information we discussed the current status of waste management in Kowuor and at the workshop I gave them a presentation on packaging material types as well as their pros and cons then we talked about the importance of waste hierarchy and prevention.
As a result of the workshop we prepared a list of material and waste types that are most frequent in households, describing methods of their treatment and planned treatment in the future. This list is a starting point of all further steps and future activities of the project. (Read more about the waste project here.)
My trip to Kenya this year was very fruitful and useful. We distributed gifts and donations in the value of 105.215 HUF from the resources of the fund to the kids in Boston Rescue Home and our partner organization in Kowuor and we also launched our first project (“Taka taka” – Waste project) .