The latest news from the Warriors’ community Olepolos
December: circumcision time for 14 year old boys. Ouch! Surprisingly they look forward to it as this signifies that they are now men. Fortunately circumcision of women is no longer practised in this area and across most of Kenya.
Not a drop of water…….
We have often heard about the bad droughts that affect this part of Kenya but have never experienced it first hand. This year, the 2-3 weeks of heavy rain that usually occurs in late October just did not happen. The last heavy rains were in May, so without the October rains, the land has become very dry and any remaining grass has been eaten by animals. No new grass is growing. Most of the cattle have been moved to other parts of Kenya where there is a little more grass but these areas are rapidly becoming barren. Goats can survive on leaves, however, some are now dying of malnutrition. If there is no rain in the next few weeks, the situation will become desperate, with many animals dying. For most Maasai, milk from their cattle and goats, or the meat from them, are their only source of income. School fees will go unpaid and the people will have no money to buy food. All of the children at our school have sponsors, but we expect many families to start going hungry. Our mid-day school lunch will become so important. The next heavy rains are not expected until late March. The situation will be desperate by then but the Maasai are ever hopeful.
Because of the drought, we allow local goats to eat any grass at the school.
Looking after the poorest……
We only take the poorest children at our school; ones whose parents cannot afford to send them to other schools. As in the UK, poverty sometimes brings other social problems. Peninah (she looks after the sponsored children at some of the other schools) has identified 2 children who would be better off in a boarding school due to neglect. We visit some local primary boarding schools with Peninah and have arranged for both children to start at one in January. Boarding schools are expensive, but with their sponsors and some Charity funds, we hope to find a way to fund this. For entry to the boarding schools, the children have to take a test. A child, that we thought was average at our school, scores 90% in the exam. This confirms our thought, that our teachers are doing an excellent job. Long term, we want to build a small boarding house at the school to accommodate vulnerable and rescue children. It will have to wait its turn in the long list of projects to be funded!
The ever hopeful………..
Our secretary is under siege. Parents are desperate to get a place for their children and over 100 of them chase 25 places. It’s really hard trying to identify the most needy. Florence quizzes them on how many goats and cows they own and we rely on local knowledge to identify the most needy. No need for a car park at this school!
One of the hopeful intake. He is 7 and never been to school.
Plenty of water…….
When we built the school, we included a 50,000L tank for storing rainwater. Up to now, the school has survived only on this, with the odd occasional top-up of purchased water. As the numbers of children grow, we need more water, and as the current drought shows, we cannot always rely on rainwater.
We drilled a borehole in June, and during this trip, Roger supervised the fitting of a solar powered pump. As with most things in Kenya, it did not happen as easily as planned as the teachers will testify when asked to help pull out a stuck flexible pipe. Smart shoes and school suits are not the best clothing for a tug-of-war. The pump is now working well and supplying around 12000 litres (2600 gallons) on a cloudless day from a pump 500’ underground, all by the power of the sun.
Borehole & solar powered pump
The pump produces more water than the school needs, so we are supplying the community with water for a very small charge and we are starting a vegetable-growing garden in the school grounds. The garden will grow crops for the school kitchen and be used to teach the children agriculture. Vegetables become very expensive in the dry season.
The borehole and the hand pumps repairs were both funded by the same donor. Sadly this donor died in July. He led a very simple life (he was a vegan, cycled everywhere, recycled everything and did not own a car). He was instrumental in setting up the pump repair project, a recycling project close to his heart. We will sadly miss his advice and support.
In the June newsletter, we mentioned that we were starting a new project to repair the broken hand-pumps installed by other charities. The progress has been a little slower than hoped (it’s Kenya), but so far 3 pumps have been brought back to life, giving clean water to about 200 families (1000 people). Many more repairs are planned. The repaired pumps must be sustainable so we ask the communities to contribute £40 towards the repair cost and we train a local caretaker to be in charge of each pump. Every 3 months, a local person contacts each caretaker to check that the pumps are still working, and if not we train the caretaker again to make the repairs. Recycling and sustainability at its best. We hope that our donor would have been happy with the results.
One of the pumps put back into life
Helen is recruiting a teacher for our next year’s new intake. Teachers in Kenya are desperate for jobs and especially at our school as its good reputation is spreading. Odd then that so many arrive for interview an hour late.
As we approach the festive season, here is a way you can help the Charity. We must build another classroom next year and once again we have been accepted into the Big Give Challenge. During 5th – 7th December, donations may be doubled by attracting matched funding from other donors. Details here –www.osiligi.org/wp/double .
Finally, it’s the end of the school year, so in true Maasai tradition, it has to end with a closing ceremony:
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