James Riggs: Blog for Ondati Girl’s School

Tuesday, May 19, 2009 —  Sustainable School Project for Teach A Man To Fish UK. 

My experience in Ondati exists on two planes, and as a portrayal of this internship, I shall try to highlight both the professional and personal accounts of my time here. I spend two weeks at a time in the village and then headed back to the large town of Kisumu to use the offices of Africa Now (http://www.africanow.org/) and send relevant information back to the UK. It is also here that I shall write the blog of my time in the village.

Week one: 17th March 2009 - 23rd March 2009

I got a ride to Kisumu, on the shores of Lake Victoria in an infamous Matatu which is a fast-as-lightening mini-van that threatens to veer off the road and out of sight at any moment. A young man introduces himself to me at the station with a wink and grinning says “I am your driver, nice to meet you”. As he sped along, tooting his horn at anything in his way, his friend hung out of the sliding door hollering for passengers. Kenya is a very religious country and I can see why; on my first morning I’m already praying as we hurtle along the potholed road, Nairobi disappearing behind us.

Image: "Becky Westcott copyright 2009"

A few days in Kisumu and having met Jim Stephenson from TAMTF, we are ready to head to the village that I will be living in for the next six months. The three hour drive to Ondati, in southern Kenya, is both beautiful and nerve wracking. We pass through innumerable little villages and towns that are a far cry from the bustling city we have just left. As we drive along my apprehension is replaced with an excited anticipation of the project and the people I will meet. We arrive late in the afternoon, and I am introduced to Joshua Odongo and his family who I will be living with, on their farming compound in the hut of ‘son number 2’.

After visiting the school, I met the members of the community committee who will be paramount to the success of the project. We got straight to work with them, creating the budgets for the six agricultural projects that will provide the sustainable funding for the school as it grows. When we return home, the ‘Mama’ of the house had prepared us a Kenyan feast of Ugali [maize flour bread], Talapia [local fish] and Sukuma Wiki [a sort of spinach]. Then, extremely full and content, it was off to bed in my Luo homestead with the sounds of the Kenyan night to keep me company.

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