Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Home

I arrived in Portland yesterday afternoon. It doesn't feel real that I am back yet. I will post pictures and more info once I get settled in. Overall, I had a great time in Kenya and miss it already. I have made lifelong friends and have a new family now...who could ask for more!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

My Last Week At Daisy


This will be my ninth week here in Kakamega. My last week to spend with the Daisy community. I have my exit interview on Tuesday and my final reports are due by the end of the week. It is a sad realization that things are really ending for me. There is so much work that can be done to improve the school. I wish that I could do more. I will surely miss everyone that I have gotten to know in Kakamega. However, it is just the beginning of many activities at Daisy, which is very exciting. I plan to come back in the future to see the progress of the new programs.
Another good thing is, everything I set out to do was accomplished! I started a garden, renovated the cow shed, purchased a cow, revamped the tailoring program, and generated ideas to start a computer training course at the school. I feel satisfied with the work that I have completed.
I want to thank everyone that has supported me, both financially and emotionally. You are all blessings in my life! The staff and students have told me to pass along a "THANK YOU" as well.
Tutaonana! We will be seeing each other....soon!

Jackie Mroz

Saturday, October 30, 2010

What A Week!

This week started out very slowly. In fact, on Tuesday I was getting worried about accomplishing everything that I wanted to before I leave. Wednesday changed everything. Wednesday was going to be a normal day but turned out to be much more. We hired a fundi to renovate the cow shed. I went to several different farms to look at cows. I even went out to Malava (about an hour away) to view a cow in a small countryside village. Turns out that is the cow we ended up buying. I spent that evening running back and forth from school and home to discuss purchasing that cow on Thursday. We needed to act fast because they were going to sell her at the market the next morning. We decided to leave early and purchase her on Thursday.
Thursday morning came around and we headed to Labao. We found our friends and bought the cow. We walked 12km back to Kakamega in the hot sun. It was quite the experience. We arrived just in time for Parent's Day.
The Parent's got to see our new cow. I gave a brief presentation on my project and my hopes for the school. They were all very appreciative. I asked them to encourage their students and to continue the program through their financial investments once I am gone.
On Friday, I gave the same short speech to the Board of Governors who are definitely happy about the program. They will be there to support it when I leave. Everyone is very pleased!
These next two weeks will be full of meetings and signing documents. I will wrap up my work on the garden and then leave it in the hands of Daisy. They will do great!

It has been requested that I show where the fundraised money is going. Here is a breakdown of cost so far. The money that I have left will go to purchase a few remaining items for the garden. The remaining money I am trying to encourage the school to use to pay the groundsman extra. He will now have to come in 7 days a week to care for the cow, versus his usual 5 days. Unfortunately, because this is seen as his "duty" as a groundsman, he will not get a salary increase. I want to change that. I will let you know if it works out.

Animal Keeping
Cow $440
Stock Sale Fee $6.67
Permit to Move Fee $0.67
Market Fee (Entry) $0.40
Spray $36.67
Spray Pump $62.67
High Phosphous Salt $19.73
Multivitamin Injection $3.33
Milking Jelly (500g) $18
Desmodium $2.66
Dairy Meal (3 bags/1@1300) $156.00
Sweet Potato Vines $1.33
Grass $20
Medicine (Adamiacine) $3.73
Vet Bill $4

$789


Cow Shed Renovation
Materials (see breakdown) $60.00
Transportation of materials $5.33
Labor $32.00

$97.33


Materials (Cow Shed)
Nails $5.33
Cement $36.00
Waterproof Cement $6.67
PVC Pipe $12.00

$60.00


Garden Planting
Labor $40
Panga $3.47
Watering Can $4.93
Rake $2.66
Slasher $1.87
Fertilizer (DAP) $39.47
Pesticides $19.73
Collards $4.80
Cow Peas $6.67
Spring Onions $2.13
Avocado $2.66
Green Grams (6kg) $11.60
Irish Potatoes $6.80
Sutza $4.00
Saga $4.00

$155
Transportation
Cow Research $40.00
Fertilizer Transport $0.40
Napier Grass Seed Transport/Cutting $8.67
Desmodium Transport $1.33
Seed Transport $3.73
Grass Transport $72
Transportation $22.67

$148.80


Other
Log Book $2

$2


TOTAL $1,179.13

Friday, October 29, 2010

Didn't get a chance to contribute??? You still can!

The tailoring program at Daisy is selling bags and aprons. They are tailored by the vocational students and their teacher. Please help support this program and get a nice bag and/or apron too!
Apron: $10.00











Large Bag: $25.00
Small Bag: $18.00









These pictures show two varieties of larger bags, but a smaller one can be made as well.
I am taking orders. Let me know what you want and I will pass it on. I will bring your item home with me. Email me: jackie.mroz@gmail.com

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Meet Jacqueline Maua


Our cow has made it to Daisy. I left early this morning to head to Labao with our groundsman and Minyade. I walked around the market a bit, then we arranged finances with the guys we had negotiated with yesterday, and then headed to Kakamega. After a 13km walk in the hot sun, we made it to Daisy. Her name was originally Maua, but they wanted to give it a new name. She is now called Jacqueline Maua...Jackie for short.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Cow Research

Today is not over for me. It was the busiest day I have had since arriving in Kenya. I just want to give a brief update before I get back to work. Today I went into the field with KARI (Kenya Agricultural Research Institute). We had sourced some cows from local farmers and wanted to check them out. Our first stop was unsuccessful. The farmer was asking way out of our price range.
We then headed to Malava, a neighboring town. After hiking up a hill a bit, we arrived at a small farm. A cow was brought out. After a long negotiation, we think we have found our cow. Tomorrow we will go to a nearby town market to pick her up. If all is successful, she will be at Daisy by the afternoon. Good news is: tomorrow is Parent's Day. Maybe they will have a chance to see the fruits of our labor!
We are having the cow shed renovated Thursday and Friday, so she will have to sleep outside for two nights, nothing she isn't used too.
Wish me luck!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Another day in the 'shamba'


This week was much different than the previous. The beginning of the week was filled with meetings about the budget and investment from Daisy. On Wednesday we celebrated Mashujaa (Heros) Day, so no school. I also celebrated far surpassing my fundraising goal. On Thursday I did some research on cow sheds in the area by visiting some local schools and homes that keep multiple cows. It gave me a better perspective on exactly how well constructed Daisy’s shed is.

Today I held a meeting with the administration and we have cut the cow shed renovation costs in more than half! I am very excited. Our grounds man has started making some repairs to the sleeping area. Next week, once the ‘Farming Contract’ that I am constructing is signed by Daisy and FSD staff, we will hire a fundi to make the final preparations for a cow. I am currently researching the best available cows in the area. We want to keep it local, so I will be contacting several farmers next week, looking at their record, and bargaining a price. We hope to have a cow by my final week.

Also, today we spent about an hour with Standards 7 and 8 in the shamba. They did great work. They learned how to plant napier grass that will soon feed the cow. They always have so much fun, it is enjoyable just to watch them learn and engage. I am afraid of safari ants, so I can’t say I am digging in so much…maybe next week!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

WE DID IT!

The fundraising campaign has come to an end. The total amount raised was $1,003.40! A HUGE ASANTE SANA to everyone that was involved. Daisy will really benefit from these donations. I will hold a meeting with the staff today to discuss implementation. You are all awesome! Thank you for believing in this project.

A shout out to St. Luke Parish for coming together and raising $536.21. Wow!

More updates to come.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Week 5 at Daisy

This week I will be holding many meetings with the Administration to finalize our plans for the garden and farming programs. I will be creating documents including sustainability plans and contracts with Daisy to ensure transparency and accountability in the future.

As far as progress on the garden, we will do what we can as the seeds are available and if the rains hold off.

By the end of the week, I hope to have an update on the farming project.

Fundraising ENDS TOMORROW 10/19, which we are all very excited about, because that means funds will be available to use for progress. Get the word out!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Ants In My Pants

Literally! Today was a perfect day except for one mishap. Let me tell you the good first. I started the day by going to the open air market with our accounts clerk, Naftali, who has been amazingly helpful. We went to several vendors whose seeds were infested or diseased, and even one vendor who was asleep! We finally came across a very nice lady whose seeds were healthy. We bought 4kg of cow peas, 15 ‘caps’ of sutza, and 15 ‘caps’ of saga. The prices were slightly lower than budgeted, which is always a sweet surprise.
I went straight to the garden with our grounds man and another Daisy helper, to learn how to plant. They said I was a “mwanafunzi mzuri”, a good student. I don’t think they expected me to be out there helping them. They warned me about the smell of the manure, but I just dug my hands right in and got to planting. It was a lot of fun and I was happy to help. One unpleasant thing about it, lunch was directly after I finished planting. Remember, we eat with our hands here…the same hands that were just covered in manure. Yuck! Made me feel like a real farmer.
Later in the day, our RODI friend Christine came by with our sweet potatoes, kolanuts, and sweet onions. We quickly gathered some students to go down to the shamba. They were taught how to cut and plant each type of veggie. The boys did the digging and the girls got to planting. They were having a lot of fun as I went around taking their photos. We were all laughing until I started feeling bites all over my feet.
One students yelled out, “look out, Safari Ants!”. I looked down and noticed my shoes covered in ants. The burning sensation I was feeling started to slowly travel up my pants. Ants in my pants!!! Everyone was quick to help, patting me down, grabbing my shoes, brushing the ants off of me. I was escorted by four lovely girls to the dorms to shake out my pants. I had at least three ants burrowed in my feet. Boy, did they sting! As I came out of the dorm the girls proceeded to tell me that these ants will make me swell and you can die from their bites. I was just an insy-wensy bit worried…then they started to laugh. As I went back to the shamba, the boys started imitating me, screaming “ahh, get them off!” as they danced around, supposedly as I did! I am sure it will take a while to live that one down. I spent the remainder of the time a ways away from the students finishing up. They were having a grand ‘ole time laughing at my hesitation to go back down. Can’t wait for Monday! Really!I am off to the Kakamega Rainforest this weekend. I have left a list of things to be done while I am gone and I have faith they will be accomplished well. More to come next week.

REMEMBER FUNDRAISING ENDS TUESDAY, OCT. 19! Read. Believe. Contribute! ----->

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Focus on Tailoring

I spent most of the day today in the tailoring classroom. I was going over the needs of the program. We created a budget and talked with a fundi (skilled worker) about the cost of repairing the 8 idle machines, and restoring the 2 working ones. The bottom line was much higher than I had thought. I am going to negotiate a lower price of labor with the fundi. If that does not work, maybe we will look at only fixing a few at a time.
This project will not be carried out by me. I am just setting up a plan for Daisy to use in the future, when funds are available to spend on revamping the tailoring vocation (hopefully, funds from my garden project will help out!).
Also, we are still holding meetings regarding the animal keeping project. We are trying to cut costs to make it more viable and sustainable for Daisy. We should be settled by the end of the week.
Tomorrow is Market Day. That is, we will go to the market in the afternoon if the rains hold off. Yay!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Commencement


The gardening project officially began as of today. On Saturday, some of the boarders spent time in the garden making holes for the anticipated arrival of the napier grass seeds later this week. 15 were made, and more will be completed as the week goes on. Getting the napier grass in the ground is imperative to having enough feed when the cow is purchased. We were supposed to have the seeds this morning but we are waiting to see if Christine, from RODI, can find some cheaper, but quality seedlings. After all, cutting costs is important, but quality is even of greater importance.
I went into town to buy the essential materials for the garden. I purchased a watering can, slasher, rake (we still need to get the handle), panga (machete), fertilizer, and pesticides. This was very exciting for me because it means the beginning of the project. It means that all my planning is actually a reality now. I cannot wait to use each of these items, and even more excited to see the children working with them in their garden.
As far as the animal keeping project goes, we are looking over the budget again. As I met with different organizations last week, the budget grew. We will assess what is necessary and what can hold off for a bit. Daisy has assured me that they are extremely invested in this program and will do what they can to invest financially. I will update you later in the week after I meet with the staff and we decide on some figures.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Maybe this post will answer your question too!

You are most likely visiting my blog because you received an email or FB message from me (or both!). One of my friends responded to my request with some very thoughtful questions. I think they are important and wanted to share them with you. Maybe you have a similar question.

Who will continue with the project after you leave? Do they have knowledge and experience caring for and milking a cow, do they have experience or access to someone re raising the variety of vegetables that you want to grow?

The answer to this question incorporates the basis of my project. I am here to facilitate a sustainable development initiative. That is, one that does not depend on me, but accesses resources already in place just needing a bit of a “boost”. My job at Daisy is to identify opportunities where the school can grow or areas they need to work on. During my first few weeks, I spent a lot of time doing observation and asking many questions. Once I identified these areas, I was to gather my ideas, identify the schools assets (be it individual, financial, spacial, etc.), and collaborate with the staff. As you know, I saw the greatest need in nutrition, vocations, income-generation and access to resources.

Daisy has several staff members that are both teachers and agriculturalists. In fact, the school already has a club that deals with farming and working with the land headed by two teachers in particular. The school grounds has a cow shed that has not been used in 2 years. They used to keep 3 cows, but two were sold because of financial crisis and one died of natural causes. (I am currently working on ways the school can prevent selling as a means of funds in the future; such as encouraging fundraising or informing their Board of Governors when problems strike.) The school also has several acres of land that is unused. They have a grounds man who can offer his time and energy. Lastly, Daisy is well-known and respected in much of the community, therefore has connections with various agricultural and agronomy organizations.

These assets are the reason I saw my initiative being successful. In fact, I was originally going to teach a nutrition or farming seminar. However, we changed that to weekly meetings with the students, facilitated by one of two “teachers in-charge of gardening”. I found that they are extremely knowledgeable about organic farming, animal keeping, and the local foods. After all, do remember that farming was a major part of there culture. People survive off the land here. Unfortunately, less and less young people are learning such skills though as time change. However, it is extremely important to have this knowledge as Kakamega, and Kenya in general, are rural. But the teachers at Daisy are from a different generation and grew up learning how to farm. In fact, several have farms of their own. Therefore they have resources and knowledge!

As of right now, Daisy is in close contact with RODI (Resource Oriented Development Initiative) which focuses on teaching agricultural practices, KARI (Kenya Agricultural Research Initiative) which has branches ranging from selling of goods to research, to harvesting and teaching, and lastly a Veterinarian (my neighbor) who will advise them on keeping a cow should they need it.

I am making sure to let them make the decisions (under my guidance) and lead the focus of our meetings with both staff and students. They know much more than I do on this topic. I have complete faith in them. This program will really benefit the school in so many ways and I can see their brainstorming everyday for ways of making it happen. I am also setting in place steps towards accountability and transparency. They will sign a contract before I leave. The FSD site team will make random checks to the school to see they are following the guidelines that we agreed on.

Is the soil appropriate for those vegetables?

As I said above, the school had cows in the past. Therefore, a manure pile was created. This manure has rotted and made a large amount of the land very fertile. Where the land is not as suitable, we plan to move the rotted and nutrient-rich manure/soil mix to the other plot of land. I do believe the crops will fair just fine where we have chosen to start the garden.

Why did you choose a cow over a goat, chickens, or another animal?

We chose a dairy cow over these other animals for several reasons. A cow will produce more milk for the children and excess to be sold. There is a shortage of milk in the children’s diet currently and the school had already been seeking solutions to this problem. The compound has a zero-grazing cow shed (although it needs some renovations), which is suited, obviously, for cows over goats. I was told that chickens are much more time and labor intensive than a cow, and finicky. Plus, cow milk is the milk of choice at the school!

Will these staff be there for the long term and how do they feel about this project? Have you gotten input from them?

I do not foresee the staff changing anytime soon. However, my job as an intern is to see that no matter who walks onto the school grounds, could read through my sustainability plan, work plan, business plan, and/or contract and be able to pick up where the previous person left off.

The staff are overjoyed by the proposed program. I find often that they are going ahead with plans before I even asked them. I have heard nothing but good comments. However, they do challenge me, which only means they are thinking about the challenges that are sure to be ahead. I like that. They have assured me many times that they will not let this program fail because it is so beneficial for the school (and just to be sure they mean it, I will have them sign a contract).

The entire project is based on their input. They are the “owners” and beneficiaries of this project. Therefore, they must take initiative to see it through and also invest in it. Currently, the have not only contributed time and energy, but some start-up funds and lots of resources (ie. shovels, wheelbarrows, labor, space, etc.). If I make any decision I am sure that they know and I get their opinions on it. I hold daily meetings about issues/concerns/agendas with the appropriate staff members. They have accepted me as a member of the staff and I am becoming close with them. Therefore, it is easy for me to talk with them about my plans or concerns.

This week I am going to introduce the option of doing a fundraiser with the parents and community to raise a bit. Not only will this create awareness in the community, but build ownership with Daisy towards this program. Although they may not raise a lot, the little that is contributed will mean a lot more than a number, but investment and a need for accountability from the school to keep the program going.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Your Chance to Make a Difference at Daisy

My fundraising proposal has been approved by the FSD San Francisco office. This means you get the chance to participate in my project!

I am requesting that YOU contribute to my Farming and Horticulture Vocational Training Program. Whatever you can give will make a huge difference.

Here are some of the costs. Can you spare a few bucks to purchase one??? Do you know someone who would be interested in helping??? Click the "Donate" button to the right to contribute.

Animal Keeping
Multivitamin Injections: $4.00
Napier Grass Seeds: $13.33
Mineral Salts: $17.77
Vet Bill: $33.33
Some materials to renovate the shed: $50.00
Cow: $533

Garden Planting
12 Spring Onion Bundles: $2.66
Machete: $4.00
Irish Potato Seeds: $6.80
Green Gram Seeds: $12.26
50 Collard Seedlings: $13.33
Fertilizer: $40.00

You can also see my project at: http://fsdinternational.org/donate/projects


The Week Ends with a Clap of Thunder


If you have been reading the previous posts, you already know that the rain makes everything a little bit harder to accomplish here in Kakamega. The roads are dirt, which turn to mud, and make it almost impossible to get anywhere by foot. This afternoon I was to head into Kakamega Town to buy the necessary supplies for planting next week. However, with one very loud clap of thunder, those plans changed quickly. Nevertheless, today was very productive.

This morning I met several very nice workers at KARI (Kenya Agricultural Resource Institute) to discuss my initiative. I gave them an overview of the plan I had for Daisy and they were thrilled to hear them. They are hopeful and see the program as being very beneficial to the school, as well as the community once produce is being sold. We ran over my budget, which was right on, except for a few missing things. You know what that means, either cutting back, or encouraging Daisy to fundraise as well.

The head teacher has been gone this week, so many decisions have yet to be made. Once these decisions are made, I will have a better handle on the timeline for the remainder of my time at Daisy. I look forward to his return so that we can really get the ball rolling. If the rains don’t stop us up next week, at least three crops will be in the ground by the weeks end.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

A Busy Week Ahead

This morning I sat down with Bwana Minyade, the teacher in-charge of gardening (and my saving grace because I know nothing about gardening/farming) to plan the upcoming week. We will go into town tomorrow to buy the tools and materials needed to start the garden. Over the weekend, some of the children from RODI (Resource Oriented Development Initiative) will plow the land to remove the excess grass and weeds from the area. Napier grass seeds will be delivered this weekend as well. On Monday we will set aside time to start digging holes to plant those seeds. On Tuesday we will get them in the ground. I am really looking forward to Wednesday, when Minyade and I will go to the market to purchase our first batch of seeds and seedlings of the veggies we want to grow. We will spend the next several days teaching the students proper techniques for planting and getting the garden started!

We had our second meeting with the whole group of students today. We went over understanding the commitment of starting a garden, from preparation to planting, and maintenance to harvesting. They are energetic and cannot wait to be involved. Unfortunately, once again, the rains kept us from taking the children to the land and sharing with them our vision for it. However, I am working with a wonderful group of students and I trust they will care for this garden properly and make that vision come alive.