The EEY (ethically engaged youth) team from USA arrived on June 14th. We had a very productive 12 days and some of the things they did were: Playing with the kids and teaching them; built part of the perimeter fence; installed a large water tank that was donated by local business to KACH; landscaping; organic vegetable gardens; and building the greenhouse!!! They had a very good stay. This year the kids stayed at KACH, cutting down on a lot of movements and thus enabling them to accomplish a lot.
Additional activities we did with the kids: the baby elephant orphanage; the giraffe center; Kenya National Museum; Meru Museum; Ripples Rescue Center for babies;
RAC H site and Ruiri women’s groups; Wazee group; peace campfire with KEMU students; Samburu for safari and last, the Carnivore. They flew home on June 29th. Everyone at KACH had a great time working with the kids and we all gained a lot. The kids said KACH was special and hoped to continue to be in touch.
The greenhouse is causing a lot of interest and so we hope to use it to start dialogue on ways to create nutritious food for our children. And even for those with small pieces of land, we show how they can use the double digging model to maximize production. Cecilia has noticed that most kids from around KACH have brown hair – a sign of malnutrition. So at KACH they are trying to see ways they can bring in women living around KACH to talk about good nutrition for their children. When we get the 5 additional kids, 3 of them will attend the nursery school at the church next to KACH and it is from the parents of this group that kina Cecilia will get parents to talk with. They hope this will strengthen the relationship between the community and the children’s home as well as help contribute to the welfare of children living around KACH.
There is a grandmother who lives near KACH who has been very close to us. During the construction of KACH, she came there many days to participate in the construction. If she found a young man standing, she would ask for his spade so she could work. She helped in many ways at that time and she continues to show up once in a while. Yesterday she passed by KACH and found the large greenhouse and she started dancing, right there in the middle of the road saying: “Daktari has brought us a large mosquito net, we will not be eaten by mosquitoes anymore.”
This is what Mike wrote about the EEY experience in Kenya this year: “I too am incredibly thankful that we were able to do the trip again this year, and I hope to do the same again next year. Having my kids stay at KACH undeniably added a powerful component to the experience. It truly is a magical place, and I feel honored to continue to have a connect to IPI. The students consistently note how inspiring IPI and your leadership are for them, so we too benefit from the partnership. I will pass your thanks on to the kids. As soon as we got into the airport, many of them realized that you couldn't come in to say goodbye. They felt terrible about not bidding you farewell individually, but I assured them that you would understand. Sorry about our rush at that point, and don't worry about the safari. They still enjoyed it. We just need to make some changes for next year. Until then, be well, enjoy your trip to Stanford, and stay in touch. ??Mike”
This is what I wrote to Mike: “I trust you got home safe and sound. I just want to say it was wonderful to have your group here this summer and I am so glad that we were able to do it again this year. Your kids were awesome and i am amazed at what they can do in a very different environment than their own. Also, their example inspires and motivates our people to see that they too can do something if high school kids all the way from America have such a heart for our orphans and our work that supports them. It really is a powerful program.??I am sorry about the safari part (safari van breaking down), but trust you me, next year we will be more organized in that area. ??Be well and know, we miss you big here in Kenya. Everyone cannot stop talking about the greenhouse. And with it, now we have more work to do... and it is all fun and for the good.??Thank you Mike, for who you are in the world and your stand with us for the orphans of Africa.??Please thank Audrey and the kids for me and all of us. You made an incredible team this year!!! We are blessed to know you.??Peace, love and blessings.”
All the kids at KACH are doing very well both at home and in school. Morris also agreed to go back to school and he has been accepted into his old school. He has promised to take his studies seriously and so we hope this is the last time we have to deal with this issue. I brought greeting to the kids from all of you (Spring travels) and they too send me with hugs and lots of thanks and queries about when they will see you again.
Our application for tax exemption on the container was not approved. So, we are seeking advice on why we were denied the same. Will report on what transpires.
IPI College Scholars Program
Two of our college kids graduate this year with Bachelor of Education in Psychology (Prisca) and Bachelor of Education in Environmental Studies (Ben) degrees. Ben Muriuki and Prisca Mugambi were students at the Kenya Methodist University (KEMU). Both are graduating July 24th this year. Ben was very disappointed to learn that I will not be in Kenya to attend his graduation. He asked whether I could not postpone going to Stanford – which I cannot do. So, we agreed that on July 24th, we will do a small celebration party for Ben and Prisca at KACH and then in October when we have the Mt. Kenya climb event to raise money for RACH, we will hold a big dinner for them since we will have our UK, USA and Canada partners who will be participating at the event. It will be a good time to celebrate our partnership in supporting orphans. Ben’s and Prisca’s graduation is a sustainable piece of our work because they now are empowered with education and so will go out and help others. Right now, as Ben waits to get a job, he is helping out at KACH so he can earn some pocket money to keep him going as he continues to apply for jobs.
June has been a busy month for us here in Kenya. When I arrived on June 1st, I entered a training of trainers workshop that was organized by the Institute of Inclusive Security. The training was on UN Security Council Resolution 1325. We were trained on all its 6 components and also on how to train others as well as how to write a proposal etc. We were 5 women from Kenya from different NGOs and together we formed a Kenya branch of Women Waging Peace. Through this, we wrote a proposal that some donors looked at and thought very good. So, we are hoping we will get busy soon doing trainings on 1325 – in terms of creating awareness on it as well as work with government agencies to entrench it in Kenyan governance branches. This is the 10th year since Resolution 1325 was established and globally, the UN is holding events to celebrate one decade since its inception.
The weekend of June 19-20th i spent 2 days facilitating a peace forum between youth from the Maasai and the Kamba - two ethnic groups who have been fighting over animals (cattle rustling) , water sources for their animals and pasture. A classmate of mine from DU was visiting and so I went with her. She loved the experience. The peace forum was organized by the Youth Alliance. I was doing nonviolent ways of responding to violence. For groups who have always ONLY known violence as the only way, it was so very touching and powerful to see them embrace nonviolence in their resolutions at the end of Sunday. When we started on Saturday, each side was sitting separate from the other side - i suggested mixing and no one moved. On Sunday, they were holding shoulders and exchanging contacts. I shared with them the Liberia movie - Pray the Devil Back to Hell - they were so moved and touched. Being groups that think women should not talk in public, it was gratifying to see them (especially elders) over and over again refer to the women of Liberia in the movie. They also got that war is not a joke - the devastation of Liberia war shocked even the most warrior-like of them all. It was great.?
The Youth Assembly is the youth group that organized the training. They have a network of youth all the way to the grassroots - it was such a delight to find them. And in the Institute for Inclusive Security training that i did early June, i met a group of 5 Kenyan women who have grassroots links with women all over Kenya and actually doing peace work - they all agreed to join in the pre-emptive initiative.??June 21-25 2010: PACT Kenya invited me to a peace forum in Mombasa for Sudan and Kenya. Indeed we were all at that workshop to brainstorm ways to prevent referendum and election violence. PACT Kenya is funded by USAID. Their program generally deals with elections violence and are looking at this workshop in Mombasa to come up with a strategy for ensuring there is no violence during the referendums due in August 4, 2010 for Kenya (on adapting the new constitution) and 2011 in Sudan (for cessation from the north) as well as elections in Kenya 2012 - very good opportunity to share my pre-emptive idea with the people there. Many organizations are willing to partner on this important initiative.