November 2006 Newsletter
Greetings from Kisumu, Kenya!
We are about half way through the fall edition of our African mission. Our days have been very long and hard but filled with hope for a better future for the orphans in rural Kenya. Since arrival, we have met with the school committees and head masters of three rural primary schools in dire need. Of course, we traveled to Mbaka Oromo to see first hand the work that you have initiated through your generous hearts. All of the latrines have been replaced! This was a serious health issue that threatened the health and well-being of all the children. The classrooms we started February are completed and we have initiated plans for the replacement of four early childhood classrooms and a new kitchen. Again, all this is being accomplished through your generosity and compassion for the least fortunate in the world.
We have identified two other academically high performing schools in the Western Province of Kenya that desperately need our assistance. First we traveled to Iranda Primary School. This wonderful school of beautiful children was inspected in June by the government and told that they had two months to begin building classrooms and replace the latrines or the school would be shut down. We will need to begin immediate action here. Closing the school is not an option as the students would be transferred to other distant villages many kilometers away only to overcrowd already overcrowded and dilapidated schools. Joanne and I met with the school committee and they will have families buy bricks and donate labor to support our efforts to save their school. We will be there for them.
Our next stop was Lufumbo Primary School: another wonderful school with very serious needs. Lufumbo has a few good classrooms and others that are falling apart. In addition to classroom problems, their latrines are the worst I have seen in Kenya, and that is a comparison beyond imagination, as we have already replace the latrines in Mbaka Oromo that formerly we believed to be beyond compare. Lufumbo also has a water shortage. They collect rain water from the school house roofs, but it is not nearly enough. And all schools have serious issues with their kitchens. In Kenya, school kitchens consist of mud and stick buildings with a tin roof and no ventilation. They start a fire in the fire pits inside the building and the smoke completely fills the room and escapes out of a window and the door way. The people cooking inside can hardly been seen through the smoke. This is a catastrophic situation as it is killing those doing the cooking, it is terrible on the environment and it is stripping the land of trees through the use of charcoal. Nearly everyone in Kenya, including families cook with charcoal.
So, we have our work cut out for us and we are beginning plans to replace classrooms, latrines and kitchens. Through our friends Bob and Cindy Hunt and the Rotary Clubs in the Rochester and Kisumu area, we hope to initiate a water project next spring. Joanne and I will be meeting this week with two Rotary Clubs, the Kiwanis and Lions Clubs in Kisumu and Kakamega respectively. In order to slow down the use of charcoal and improve the health of families, we have purchased solar cookers and are distributing them to schools to teach their parents about them. These are amazing devices made of aluminum foil (reflectors) and cardboard. The total cost of the solar kit is less than $10. A large bag of charcoal costs 450 shillings or about $ 6.00. The cooker pays for itself in short order. This amazing device cooks over two pounds of meat, vegetables, rice, ugali or even bakes a cake in about 2 hours. Of course you need lots of sun, but that is not a problem here in Kenya. The solar cookers are great for the environment, they use free reusable energy (the sun) and they are made in Nairobi and assembled right here in Kisumu. This is very good for the economy and sustainability.
Another project we are involved in is a dual-purpose goat program. Farmers in rural western Kenya have joined in cooperatives to breed exotic milking goats. Exotic goats produce twice the milk of local goats. The cooperative consists of about 6 to 12 farmers. One farmer breeds about 6 goats and shares the kids with the other farmers in the cooperative. Milk is sold and profits are turned. When too many males are bred, they males are sold for meat, thus the dual purpose. Through your generosity, we are able to start a goat cooperative in the community of the schools where we are working. Again, the key to Kenyan progress is sustainability and the goat project is self-sustaining.
We have met with medical personnel in the Kakamega area to discuss the possibility of bringing health clinics into our schools. The vast majority of the children in these three schools has no vaccinations and has not been screened for any diseases. This clinic will bring in doctors and nurses and screen for every known disease in the region. The next step will be to provide vaccinations for typhoid and hepatitis B. We will start this program in Mbaka Oromo and then move to our other schools.
On November 14th we are taking two suitcases full of Braille materials so generously put together by Judy Joslin from Monroe #1 BOCES, to St. Oda School for the Blind in Maseno, Kenya.
This week we are visiting all of our scholarship students and bringing them “care” packages of food and useful household items. Most importantly, we are bringing them letters from their scholarship benefactors in Fairport and the Rochester area.
It’s time to say kwaheri (goodbye) for now. Our children here send you their love and deep appreciation for bringing them hope for a better life. I have wonderful photos and video clips to share. The Kenyan children will be honored to have you see a bit of their wonderful, rich culture.
Asante sana, Mungu awabariki…… Thank you very much and God bless you!
~Bill and Joanne Cala