Kenya: Na Shukuru Sana Ondati

We’ve been in Ondati, Kenya, for 6 weeks now and time is flying by!  Our time here so far has mostly consisted of creating awareness of the TAMTF self-sufficient school model.  All students and staff can now detail the main objectives for this year.  Everyone is excited to improve current projects, as well as start new ones, and we have allotted time for project training in the school day.  To date we have had multiple project meetings with students, committee, teaching staff and general staff to discuss the implementation of the model.

The past few weeks have really been an experience! As Project Officers this time has been so valuable, in understanding the Ondati perspective of TAMTF’s role here in Ondati.  We feel that we have overcome the main misconception of seeing TAMTF as a donor, and have the support and time of all parties involved.  We have started project training in all areas, in particular nursery trees, where an expert came in for 3 days to train and educate the girls on budding and grafting the fruit trees.  This will increase the sale price significantly.  Fruit trees, which were selling onsite, and at the local market for 15 Kshs, can now be valued at 200 Kshs, given the work we have done is successful.

Asides from work, we have settled into the new volunteer house very well.  It’s the talk of the town, or village shall we say, and we have planned a house warming party for next Friday.  Even after our departure, we can already tell that the house will be an invaluable investment.  We already have 2 confirmed volunteers arriving within the month of June.  It’s very exciting!  As we speak we’re compiling a list of sweet treats to bring for us from the UK i.e. hot chocolate and Thai green curry paste. And of course the skills that they are bringing are ones which are much needed.  In return all visitors will receive nutritious, varied, and filling meals cooked by us, and an overall extraordinary experience.  We consider ourselves experts in the jiko department (jiko is a clay cooking stove) although I feel that the wider community differ in their opinion. We have yet to master ugali, mandazis and chapattis.

The plans for the next few weeks our well underway.  We have interviews next Monday for the new school Principal, a very integral part of the school’s new management structure.  We hope that by creating this newly adjusted position that there will be a very strong link between the academic and non-academic staff at the school.  The job description has been written accordingly so that the candidate will be responsible to oversee all work at the school, including all the businesses and finances. 

We’re feeling very optimistic and hope that all goes according to plan.  Please keep your fingers crossed that 2011 will be a good year for Ondati.

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