Thursday, September 30, 2010

Kenyan Time

Today things ran on “Kenyan Time”. That is, lets say slowly. People throughout Kenya say “better late than never”. At Daisy this is not usually the case, but I just kept running into people at the wrong time.
Last night, I received feedback on my workplan. It needs some work. This is stopping me up a bit, but it is good for my overall project. It will help me learn the development process even better. Not a lot of news for today. Overall progress: Good!

**Unfortunately, I will be unable to upload pictures due to my slow internet connection. I cannot afford the speed it takes to upload photos. I will when it is necessary to show our progress.**

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

"You Give and You Receive"

This is the statement that Mwalimu Dennis reminded the students of today at our first Farming and Horticulture Vocational Training meeting. We had a hall full of students interested in the program that the staff and I are starting. Today we briefed them on how important it is to take accountability and responsibility for the garden and animal keeping. Their enthusiasm is immense. As I talk more and more about this program I am realizing the benefits it will have for the school.
After explaining the aim of the program, Mwalimu Dennis asked the children (grades 4-7 and special students) to name the reasons that it will be good for the school. Here are some of their answers (they were not prompted at all, these are their thoughts):
--Lately their has been a lack of milk in the school. One student mentioned that the milk that the cow produces can be used in their chai and they no longer have to drink “strong” chai (a.k.a. American-style tea).
--The manure that the cow produces will help grow the produce in the garden.
--People in the community can buy the milk and make money for the school (a young entrepreneur!)
--By planting the veggie garden, the school can save money and the boarders will have a variety to eat.
--The garden will help prevent erosion.
--Over time, with the money saved, another cow can be bought, expanding the program.
And my three favorites:
--The school will look more beautiful. The air will be clean because trees produce oxygen. Water will be plentiful because trees act as water catchments. The school environment will be improved.
--The things they learn in class can be put into practice. Dennis added: The Kenyan Development goals for 2030 include self-sufficiency. By learning animal keeping and gardening skills in school they can succeed in caring for these things at their homes in the future.
--Fruit salads! Now they will have a wide range of fruits to include in a salad. (Avocados are considered a fruit here. They already have guava and pawpaws.)

These children amaze me! The staff amazes me! I am working with great people. They are encouraging. They are making this idea come alive.

Today we started the day with clearing the cow shed in preparation for renovation. Once we have the funds in place, we have a fundi (skilled worker) ready to start work on it.

I was able to make an announcement to the staff at break about my plans. They are backing me 100%. I will not let them down. My next goal is to get my fundraising proposal in order so that I can do some outreach to generate funds to continue. If you believe in this project, get the word out and direct people to my blog. I will send you a fundraising letter to hand out if you would like. REMEMBER: This is DIRECT service to an organization in Kenya. Unlike World Vision, UNICEF, Compassion, etc., all of the money raised will go DIRECTLY to this program. Ask questions, make comments, give me suggestions. I want everyone to realize that even a small act can make a huge change in the lives of these students. I truly and whole-heartedly believe in that.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Productive Day

As I walked home from a meeting with Isabel, a member of the FSD site team, enjoying the Kenyan sunset this evening, I rejoiced at the amount of work I accomplished today. I began the day with a blank screen in front of me. As the day progressed, it filled with facts, figures, and a plan proposal.
Looking at the work plan and budget, I realize we have a lot of work still to do, but the groundwork has been laid. I am impressed by the investment that the Daisy Special School has made in our project. As I crunched numbers and asked questions about achieving our goal of creating a garden and obtaining a cow for the school, the staff quickly got to work on answering them. I originally thought that there was a lack of communication between me and the staff, however I found today that I am very wrong. The staff is onboard with my idea and already working on hiring labors and quoting repairs to the cow shed. Kudos to the Daisy staff!
I am very excited about this project. Tomorrow I will be introducing it to the children and begin working on clearing the cow shed. The project will cost more than expected, but I know that it will be achievable with the proper support.
Please check back for updates. These next days are crucial to getting the program up and running.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Farming and Horticulture Vocational Training

The Goal: To expand vocational training at Daisy Special School to include interests and skill levels of a wider range of special students and also benefit the school as a whole.

My project plan has been approved by the Head Teacher, Deputy teacher, and FSD Program Directors. I will be working on confirming my work plan, timeline, and budget by the end of the week. We planned on tilling the land starting today, but the rains stopped us.

This program will give the vocational training program a chance to blossom. It is my hope that this project will be the springboard for future vocations. I want to give these unique children the chance at life beyond school that they deserve.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

It is only the beginning

My week of observation at Daisy is done. I have identified so many opportunities. However, I need to focus in on one. I have chosen to expand the vocational training sector for the special classes. I want to utilize the resources that the school currently has, begin a self-sustaining income generating project, and teach students the value of nutrition and conservation. Therefore, if my supervisor approves it, I will start a Farming and Horticulture Vocational Training course.

Let me explain.

My observations include:
-Students enjoy manual work and teaching
-There is an interest in expanding the school ‘shamba’ (large garden)
-There are teachers available with the knowledge to teach the care of a farm
-Smaller class sizes means more attention to the remaining students
-A shamba will be useful to the school in many ways, including cost cutting and/or income generating for future vocations
-The school has many resources (cow shed, time, labor, tools, water, land, etc.)
-Learning opportunities (nutrition and conservation)

The Vocation will include:
-Expansion of the garden. Currently they have Pawpaw and avocado trees. I would like to have more practical produce planted. Tomatoes, kales, and onions are a few that the cooks have identified they could use to prepare meals for the students.
-Clearing the cow shed, currently used as storage, to make space for a cow or goat. The milk can be used for meal preparation as well.
-Purchasing a couple of chickens for egg production. These can be sold or used.
-A training on nutrition and conservation.

Why this development will be sustainable:
-It expands the vocational sector
-Students will be able to apply their study of nutrition and farming practically
-The school will benefit from the food grown (either sold or used for meals)
-The resources are already there, the program just needs to be jump-started
-The entire school can be involved and held accountable for its up-keep

I am very excited about getting the project started. I have a meeting with my supervisor this week to discuss a timeline and budget. I will update you after I get word. Please give me your feedback, ask questions, etc. I would love to tell you more about Daisy. It is a very unique place to work!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

After a bit of a rough start, I am finally getting settled in Kakamega. Many people have been emailing about my experiences and work here in Kenya. I would be more than happy to share. I ask you to share with your friends and family as well. Kenya is a beautiful place, where some amazing things are taking place. Let’s break the stereotype!
For the next 8 weeks I will be taken care of by the Mulindi Family. They have graciously provided a room, food, and security to me during my stay. We are learning all kinds of new things from each other. I am adjusting to their way of life including bucket showers, pit toilets, and eating a variety of Kenyan dishes throughout the day. I am really enjoying my time with them. I promise to cook my favorite, chapati, when I get home. 
During the day I am busy at work at the Daisy School. It is just down the road from my home. Now that orientation is over, I report directly to my supervisor at Daisy. I am completely independent, having FSD only as necessary support and facilitating various weekend seminars.
Daisy School is both a day school and a boarding school. There are 276 pupils, with around 130 boarding. The staff includes 15 teachers and 15 support workers. This school is unique because it accepts physically and mentally disabled children. The teachers are trained to teach these special students. There is baby class, middle class, pre-unit, and Standards I-VIII. In addition, they have an occupational therapy room and vocational training. The regular and special students work together to create a supportive learning environment. It is a lovely place.
As an intern, it is my duty to carry out a needs assessment during my first week of observation. I am looking for places within the center where there are opportunities for improvement. Next week, I will be working with the staff to generate a work plan for the following 7 weeks. This work plan will act as a map, guiding me through the steps to achieving my ultimate goal, whatever it may be. The tricky part is finding an opportunity to work on that will be sustained long after I am gone. After all, I am a Foundation for “SUSTAINABLE” Development intern. It takes a lot of thinking out-of-the-box to differentiate between development and aid. My goal must be development, something that will create lasting positive change. The challenge is great, but I am up for it and already have ideas rattling around in my head.
Feel free to ask questions, make comments, and throw out ideas. I will try to keep you updated on my work.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

One Week Down

I left one week ago for my adventures in Kenya. I passed through Amsterdam, navigated the public transit system, and visited the Anne Frank Museum. I arrived in Kisumu on Saturday ready to start everything. Graham, another intern, was with the Program Director, Peter, to greet me. My luggage was missing. We quickly tracked it to Amsterdam. I will be able to pick it up tomorrow. I am very excited about that. I have been wearing the same variety of clothes for a week now.
Orientation has been going very well. I am anxious about getting into my host organization and seeing where I can be helpful. We are staying at Sheywe Guest House, “the hub of luxury”, which is very nice. Things will change drastically when I am with my host family though. I will meet the Mulindi Family on Saturday. I am ready to get settled and become a member of Kakamega.

Saturday, September 11, 2010


I just want to quickly update everyone. I made it to Kakamega with absolutely no problems. My luggage is still in Amsterdam. I should get it in the next week or so. Anyway, at orientation for a week. Small group of people, just three of us. I am stoked to see what comes next.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Kenya here I come!

I leave tomorrow!!! I feel like tomorrow is just another day, but really this is the day that I have waited over two years for. Please wish me luck. I plan to go to the Anne Frank museum on my lay-over in Amsterdam. I have wanted to do that since I was eight years old. This is the beginning of a very exciting trip. I have orientation starting Saturday at 8:45 in the morning. We are jumping right in...and I cannot wait. I want to soak up every minute of this trip.

Here I go!

Saturday, September 4, 2010



I have five days before I head out to Kenya. I had a very fun road trip across the country, only a few hiccups along the way. I am now busy seeing friends, packing, and mentally preparing for my trip. I had a chance to talk with one of the interns that worked at the Daisy School (my internship site) this past May. It was his first time to Africa, so most of the advice he gave me I already knew or will be expecting. This is helping calm my nerves and turn my worries to excitement.
My biggest worry right now is accomplishing something during my internship. I will be working independently, with little direction or supervision. I am used to guided and structured programs. It will be good for me to go through this, but it will not be easy. Yay for challenges!

I realized the other day as one of my friends "welcomed" me to Kenya (he is currently visiting his family there) that I have been planning and talking about this trip for over two years now. This is a dream of mine. This friend of mine has not seen me since graduation and even remembered how important traveling to Kenya was too me! It is finally here. I am going to do my best to embrace every minute of this trip. Wish me luck!