Life is good in East Uholo, Kenya. It rains nearly every day. Not a little but usually around three the clouds begin to build and by 4 or 5 there is a major downpour. Sometimes more rain in the night. By the next morning the sun is out once more and things are drying out. This is excellent crop growing weather and the crops know it. In terms of ebola I have heard for several people: Carol it is not ebola or HIV/AIDS that is the killer, it is malaria-get it. Water borne diseases are also continually a concern. My living situation continues as previously before my landlord died. The compound remains a park and Jospehine Odera is very competent in running it day to day. Even her children admit that the compound runs more smoothly than when her husband, Peter, was alive. The picture on the right is the entrance to the compound.
|A cottage||L-R: Sarah Awor, Jane Akini and volunteer, David Pesek|
Before I begin on more serious sharing, I wanted to share that Karen and I drove into a dramatic scene at the compound today. A woman bent over and appearing to have a terrible deformity was being chased by Jane with a mop. Jane was yelling lots of abuse at her. Jane chased her yelling and waving the mop down this lane and then a gardener near the entrance took up the cry. Later Jane, who speaks very limited English, dramatized the situation. Jane through motions of her head and with her rump sticking out and moving jerkily along imitated the woman who was hiding clothes she had stolen tied around her waist under her loose dress. We all were in stiches laughing at Jane’s imitation. Jane did save all of Karen’s and my clothes from being stolen off the line.
Karen, American volunteer and nurse, and I have spent this last week in the community working on health and hygiene. We met with the staff and the community health workers (CHEWs) of both dispensaries. They have been going house to house talking about cleanliness around bodily waste. They look for homes without latrines. They actually report those homes without one to the chief and the police go out and encourage the building of one. The CHEWs are now in a new initiative. They are encouraging tippy taps being installed by each latrine. There is usually not enough money to buy liquid soap so people are now being taught to have a container of ash beside a suspended liter bottle of water. You let the rope down either by hand or foot and use the ash to clean the hands. Karen wondered about the abrasiveness. The response was that the ash was actually making the hands smooth. In addition, the CHEWs are teaching the farm holders to make a simple lid of a board with and handle and to move it over the slit to keep flies from entering. This becomes a great opportunity to talk about flies.
It certainly makes the slit toilets more pleasant for our volunteers.
Karen and I decided to visit some schools to look at what they were doing about hand washing at school. The visits went from abysmal filthy toilets to a gem of a school run by the head of our water project and head teacher at Got Osimbo Primary school. There is a schedule of classes for each day of the week to clean the latrine with chlorine. The latrines sparkled in this school. They had tippy taps for teachers and students. And also health clubs at each grade. Karen participated in a WASH exercise where a health club educated the remainder of the school in health and hygiene. At this school there were containers of water with a tap for drinking water. Each child is encouraged to bring a bottle to school and refill it during the day.
The picture on the left is of the latrine of one of our farmers with the two containers suspended by a rope. The second picture is actually the preferred model because you tip the water with one’s foot meaning that dirty hands do not touch the rope. Some education around refraining from playing with the tap has been important in that children were breaking the mechanism by playing with it. I will go to each school with a CHEW and encourage them to install a similar system. A WASH session encourages children to wash after the latrine, before eating, before preparing food.
The Got Osimbo water project is progressing well. As of today we have a preliminary plan for the system. Both time estimates have been done, the price tag was about $440,000 USD. Consistently, the government is indicating a willingness to fund a part of this system. My goal will be to raise $330K through Rotary and grants. We can now begin the exciting task of the Utimishi Nairobi Rotary club flying in to mentor the community in planning their water system. I have had meetings with the chief and assistant chief to share the coming initiative.
When I left in June I charged a woman’s group to organize themselves into village groups. I was suggesting we use these groups to raise awareness and generate support for the coming system. To my delight they have done so. Each of 22 women’s groups will send representatives to meet with me on Oct. 10th. We will plan how to do water mapping. Their members will sit at the major water points and count by the hour how many women and children draw water. This will help us to know the peak times of use so we can plan for them. Tomorrow I will go over the proposed planning process with members of the community based organization (CBO) leadership. This week I fly into Nairobi to meet with the Utimishi team of 4 around their involvement. I believe we will be starting soon after that.
An exciting development that was unlooked for is that ICEPI the founders of Push and Pull agriculture have selected our program to be a model agriculture program. They will be providing new traditional seeds of the grass to surround the plot and also desmodium. The new seeds are drought tolerant. We are to do some model farms. ICEPI has a working relationship with Heifer International. The model farms will then have access to the Heifer program. A great offer in that we have long wanted to start a dairy program. Our model farms will be on the ICEPI website. Hats off to Paskalia Shikuku and her agents.
A bit more fun, some cameo shots of Karen with our resident charmer and having tea with the CHEWs after a discussion of what was in their new first aid kits, a gift from Karen.