Making a grass headband.

Newsletter July 2016

(Above photo – children making headbands from grass)

June 2016. We left England on a hot sunny day and arrived in Kenya in their cold season. We still prefer T-shirts but most Kenyans are in heavy coats and scarves. June is normally a dry month but this year the rain has continued. This brings its own problems for the children. It is difficult enough for a 4 year old to tramp 5KM (3 miles) across the bush in dry weather but in the wet, the black soil become very sticky and rivers swell making it almost impossible for the younger children to reach school. No nice pavements or Chelsea Tractors for the school  run here.

Torn sweater
Torn sweater

Walking across the bush with its thorny acacia bushes  brings other problems as the picture above shows. Parents buy a new school uniforms when the child starts school. These have to last for many years.

The thick cloud cover also hammers the school solar system. It produces less than 10% of the normal amount of electricity. We can cope with this for a few days, but once the gloom stays for 3 or more days, we turn off the computers and internet, the office become dark and the school starts to run out of water. No national power or mains water here in the rural bush.

The new fridge for the clinic.
The new fridge for the clinic.

The clinic now has a solar powered fridge for the storing of vaccines. About half the children in the community have not been vaccinated so now we can address this.  Even the most prestigious government clinics do not have fridges. They have to bring in vaccines in a cold box when required.

Having a clinic at the school is working well for the school and the local community. Each day, a few of the school children visit the doctor. This reduces absenteeism and helps to keep the children healthy. The clinic is also starting to get a good reputation in the local community and the number of patients is steadily increasing. We were heartened to receive an email saying that from now, the doctor will be training the school children on medical and health education twice per week. The children will help drip this knowledge into their own families and the wider community.

Removed from the water pipe.
Removed from the water pipe.

Who knows what this is? We were also stumped especially as we had just removed it from the 1” pipe coming down from the water tank. After much debate, we decided it was a bat. The bat was obviously not happy but nor were the people drinking from this water !

Items break down a lot in Kenya. Sometimes it is something obscure like this bat in the water pipe, but usually it is due to bad materials or bad workmanship. On this trip we had to replace a faulty Kenyan made battery (less than 6 months old), repair a flooding toilet (bad workmanship), repair a bore hole pump (early failure of a German made pump) and repair a broken thermostat in a new solar powered fridge. One of our sponsored secondary school children was recently send home for a week after an electrical fault caused the dormitory to catch fire killing 1 boy.

Kenyans tell us that the country does not produce good engineers, and this is certainly our experience. Kenyan school have very few educational materials  and the school curriculum is based around rote learning. This gives children very little experience of practical subjects or problem solving.

To help combat this, in August, St Joseph’s School from Ipswich are putting on a 2 week summer school for the oldest 3 classes emphasising learning through play and problem solving.

Waiting for the return bus home in Nairobi.
Waiting for the return bus home in Nairobi.

It’s the 2 -yearly school trip when most of the children visit an animal orphanage, a snake park and a museum. We ask the teachers what the children like most and they say the museum and the animal orphanage. When we ask the children, they all say the big snakes (Maasia children are terrified of snakes) and the lunch break when a monkey stole bananas from a teacher. Teacher Nicholas was giving out bananas to the children when a big fat monkey came up from behind, tucked 3 bananas under each arm and ran off. For many of these children, Nairobi (25 miles away) will be the furthest they have ever been from their homes and for some their first trip in a vehicle.

Helping in the school kitchen.
Helping in the school kitchen.

Maasai children are given a lot of responsibility from an early age. During our visit, one of the cooks was off sick having shredded her leg on her corrugated tin hut. How many school kitchens in England ask the children to help serve the mid-day lunch? Head Teacher Rispa also spotted the children mopping the classroom floor. In the words of the teachers, the older children “just demand responsibility”.

Another working handpump.
Another working handpump.

The work by Eric and his team to repair other charities broken hand pumps continues. Eric has just returned to the UK after 2 months working on the projects. Since starting last year, the team have now repaired 103 hand pumps; that’s around 20,000 – 50,000 people with local water. Some broke down over 10 years ago.

We hope you enjoy reading about our work in Kenya. You are welcome to leave a comment below.

Helen & Roger   July 2016

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14 thoughts on “Newsletter July 2016”

  1. I often wonder when seeing the pictures of the children in torn and misfitting school uniform, why you don’t ask to twin with schools in Britain to send there used and in good condition uniforms. I know many parents would be only to hppy and wiling to do this.

    1. The main problem is transport. We hand carry high value small items such as shoes where we can put 30 pairs into a suitcase but it would not be possible to hand carry 30 uniforms. Sending by any other means is just too expensive.

    1. Yes sweatshirts certainly would. We have asked the school to change to sweatshirts.

  2. prhaps someone in the UK or even yourself could make contact someone like Richard Branson and ask if occassionally Virgin Air could donate a small amount in their cargo holds to carry things like uniforms, SHOES, and books etc and transport them to Nairobi. I do know how things get ‘lost’ in Kenyian customs, but it would be a start.

    1. Last year, we were offered space around and inside cars being transported to Mombasa for the East Africa Rally. This made a great difference and allowed us to transport larger items that we would never be able to take otherwise. Each time we go we take 1/10th of a tonne of school equipment as our plane luggage allowance so over the years we have probably transported around 2 tonnes of equipment, uniform, shoes etc. These days we try to buy locally if possible as it supports the local economy.

      1. Hi Roger,

        If things go according to plan we may be able to offer you the support again in 2017 – however nothing is set in stone yet and its likely that the container will be 20ft, but we can at least give up some space for Osiligi. I will keep you and Helen posted.

        Best Wishes Harpal

        1. Many thanks Harpal.
          A brave man to think again about competing in the 2017 East Africa Rally!

  3. Having lived for 10 years in Africa I do understand the problems and the frustrations. The work you are doing makes a huge difference to these children and you can see the delight on their faces. Do the local ladies knit and is local wool available? We had a big knitting project going on in Lesotho and they sold lots of their finished garments too making some income for the ladies. Well done to everyone.

    1. Knitting is not a Maasai tradition. We are pushing the school to move over to more durable sweaters as knitted items and acacia trees are just not compatible.

  4. If things are available locally can we not set up the appropriate fund to purchase things there? As you say that also benefits local ecconomy. Please keep up your good work over there.

    1. These days we try to only take items from the UK that are not available in Kenya, where the UK quality is much better than locally available items or there is a large price difference. When there were only say 70 children at the school, we could take 70 school books (for example) but not there are 180 children, it’s just not possible. The suitcase allowance has not increased as the school has increased.

  5. It is amazing to see the work you do in this part of our Country. It was a privilege to meet one of the Volunteers from Osiligi come to repair our Pump without any special invite or contact. I pray God’s blessings upon the work of Osiligi. I am a Pastor serving in a rural area in Homa Bay County with a heart to help my community come out of extreme poverty and so reading the work of Osiligi, I have just fallen in love with them. I wonder if they would consider in the future expanding some of their projects to other regions in the Country, like in my region. My heart is touched with their educational and health efforts. In my region, I have championed three major projects, which still needs support to bring them to full sustainability, i.e Health Clinic, Low cost Secondary School and Safe and Clean water. I have also done some work on Agriculture. Hopefully we can touch base, God giving you grace. Thanks for the great cause. May God almighty be with you as you transform lives and gives future to the next generation. Press on for the Lord God is with you.

  6. Am pastor Alphonce Osano and I have been so much move of carrying the vision work of David after his death and may God bless you. I pray that God will continue opening many avenues in support to this projet forever because the number of people David expected to have clean water is really big but by God’s grace, all are possible, and David’s vision to household was not limited to an area.
    There is matter raise about transporting some clothes for children to Kenya, there are group who transport such from UK to Kenya when packed in boxes and their offices are here in Nairobi. Feel to share.

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