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New year, new students, new Project Officer

Tuesday, 16 February 2010 — Hi! My name is Rebecca and I have taken over from Alex as the new Project Officer in Nicaragua, so beautiful La Bastilla will be my new home for the next year.

I can’t believe it has already been three weeks since I arrived! The first week was relatively quiet around here without the students who were enjoying the last week of their summer holidays. All that suddenly changed, however, in week two when the new school year started. This year we welcomed twenty-seven new students into First Year, bringing the total number of students across the three year groups at La Bastilla Technical School to fifty-eight. This is a significant increase from last year’s total of thirty-five students, though, there were only two year groups last year. There are a lot of new faces about and new names to learn but I’m getting there.  All the students and staff arrived enthusiastic and ready for the new school year to begin. What a positive start!

Nicaragua

Wednesday, 18 November 2009 —He all, two months have passed and it’s time again that I give you an update of what is going on here in Nicaragua. Things have been moving along quite a bit out here.

Just to bring you up to speed

Friday, 18 September 2009 — Well here I submit the first update of our educational project in Jinotega Nicaragua. The project is well on its way, but the updates have been lagging behind. So this is going to be a quick resume of what has been happening here over the last 5 months.

The school project was initiated in 2005 by La Bastilla coffee estate. It started off as a primary school for the workers of the coffee estate and the local community. In 2008 a new part was added and that was the technical agricultural school. We as TAMTF fully stepped into the project in the beginning of this year and that is how I ended up here.

March on

Tuesday, April 6, 2010 — March has been a busy month for the project and an exciting one for Ondati village. With the completion of the ‘zero grazing dairy unit’, otherwise known as a cow shed, the time had come to locate and purchase 3 beautiful animals to call it home. However, this was not as easy as first thought. Information flows in mysterious ways in these parts and the farm that was identified by our crack team of project staff and government livestock officers as a sure bet turned out not to want to sell.

Starting to feel like home in Ondati

Tuesday, March 2, 2010- My first two weeks in Ondati have flashed past like a thirteen seater Matatu flying down a hill carrying thirty, plus luggage. But while I still have much to learn, including the art of eating ones’ weight in ugali during one sitting, I am starting to feel at home.

Getting off the plane, bleary eyed, then stumbling across Russell Brand in the airport was an interesting, if a little alternative, first experience of Kenya. However, a taxi ride through central Nairobi and a night in a safari style tent with the sounds of the night to lull me into a deep sleep was enough to make me know I had arrived.

New plans, new students and much more

Wednesday, February 3, 2010 — It seems like a long time since my last blog post, and in fact I’m now in my last month in Kenya and lots has happened since I last wrote.

Making professional plans
During December we made use of the quiet during school holidays to do lots of planning. Many of the previous business budgets had been done without consultation from experts. This meant that they were inaccurate and couldn’t be a good basis for us to decide which businesses would be most profitable and which should be started first. So during December we met with: a livestock officer from the ministry of agriculture to rework the dairy budget, a horticultural expert to discuss mango seedlings, tree seedlings and pineapple and an apiculturist to work on plans and budgeting for a bee keeping project. These meetings gave us a good basis to sit as the committee and make plans for the coming year.

Bull encounters!!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009- The highlight of the month has been the school Harambee. Harambee is KiSwahili for ‘lets pull together’ and a Harambee is a type of community fundraising event. The school committee, in conjunction with the chief and clan elders, decided to organize one to raise funds for the second classroom. The committee predicted that we would raise around ksh 70,000 (GBP 600). As they have a tendency to overestimate and exaggerate I was privately expecting something closer to Ksh 40,000. But the reality exceeded all our expectations when the actual total was over Ksh 200,000 (when the value of materials donated are included)! This is brilliant not only in terms of the actual money, but also in terms of what it shows about the desire of those who come from Ondati and the surrounding villages to see a girls’ secondary school established. The main event on the 15th Nov also provided a good opportunity to promote the self-sufficiency vision of the school. Many excellent speeches were also made highlighting the broader importance of girls’ education.

A New Arrival!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009 — Mary’s first month at Ondati Girl's School, September 2009
A game of cat and mouse......

Keeping out the rats!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009— The teachers have agreed, at the request of the students, to continue teaching throughout the August holidays in order to cach up on the lessons missed in term one. Again, this shows how the opportunity of an education is something that the students are all completely committed to.

The rain subsides and the roof gets built!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009 —  It has been a very busy and productive week. The rain I think, has finished as we haven’t seen any now for almost two weeks and the road to Ondati from Homer Bay is very useable. Myself and Justus went to the nearby centre to buy the materials for the roof [45 iron sheets, fifty wooden planks and a bag of nine-inch nails]. The builders we employed to build the roof were excellent and the job was finished within four days. A slight problem was that the estimate for the number of iron sheets was a little low and we ran out and were five short! This is not too much of a problem as we will continue using the primary school building for the foreseeable future. I will collect the extra sheets when I next head back to Kisumu. But overall I am extremely happy that, with a roof on, the school now resembles a school!

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