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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!

Obama is born

 Thursday, July 30, 2009— I was somewhat disappointed to find that in my absence the work on the school building had not been finished. The linten was put on the walls, but the gables were not built as had been agreed. This is extremely frustrating as the rain has stopped, the road is passable, and I had hoped that the material for the roof could be brought from Homer Bay this week. We did get the gables finished by Wednesday, but it would take a further five days to dry; effectively this delayed us by another week.

The school opening!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009 — Week seven and eight: 27-04-09 to 9-5-09. The school was to be opened on the 4th of May, at the start of term 2, so the week before was extremely busy, and problematic.

Rain, rain, rain!

Thursday, June 4, 2009 — Weeks two and three: 24th March 2009 to 3rd April 2009. This time I returned to the village on my own. My priority was to organise a Harambee Meeting. This is a kind of community fundraising event introduced by the first Kenyan President, Jomo Kenyatta, immediately after independence to promote development through social responsibility [I’m told it has an almost legal status]. This sense of commitment to local development certainly seems to have rubbed off on the committee members who have been working hard in my absence. This is an excellent sign of the feeling of local project ownership that Teach A Man To Fish feels is vital for the success of the school. They have been busy conducting local market research to ascertain the selling prices of and the demand for the product we shall be offering. This will allow us to finish the projection figures for the businesses and decide which ones to begin with. A community meeting was arranged for the end of the week, which was the perfect opportunity for me to explain the role of Teach A Man To Fish to inquisitive locals. Everyone was extremely happy at the prospect of a girl’s school and very grateful for the work that the committee was putting in.

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