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Feb 11

We’ve been back from Kenya just over a week now but life caught up with us so the report’s a little later than usual. (I’m writing this in Milan on a weekend visit to our first grandson, William.) The weather was unusually dry this time with just a couple of late night rains with some magnificent lightening storms. Out tank was almost empty so water was being brought up from the river by donkey. We’re so grateful for the filters which mean our drinking water is safe. We took two teachers from The Kingsway, Cheadle, who majored on teacher training and policy-writing for the High School. They worked so hard and were absolute stars as well as being fun company! We drove up from Nairobi again so that they could see the rift valley, tea plantations at Kericho and go round the wildlife park at Lake Nakuru. We had several starry nights when we gazed in awe at what John Simpson calls ‘the low-slung skies of Africa’.  On the return journey we drove through smoke from fires in the park at Nakuru due to the ground being parched. What a coincidence to bump into friends from England (read later) at the stalls in Nakuru!

Water
We arrived late Friday afternoon and early Saturday were off to do bank and book-buying business in Kisumu. We then drove to Maseno, on the equator, to introduce members of the Rotary Club there to the idea of a water filter workshop to be funded by Hazel Grove Rotary Club. They were so delighted that they drove the almost 3 hour journey to Nyandiwa later in the week to confirm the arrangements.
One of our feeder primaries has had gutters and a tank fitted since October and we have funding for another two. Thanks to Luton Rotary Club. Sarah, the tank lady, visited us to sort out costings.
The school well is still providing some water, enough to fill the tank on the girls’ latrines.
Steve visited Nyakach – on the top of the hillside across the Sondu valley but a long drive round – with Joseph our water project manager. A water project has been in operation there for a year or so but again marketing is the problem. Steve took the opportunity to speak with the local school PTA which just happened to be meeting at the school at the time. They’ll also be using market days.
 
Education
 
Our Form 4s’ final exam results came out this week. They improve year on year but we can still only fund 8 of the successful for scholarships to college and university. They should have been published whilst we were there but the government was in debate about a new Minister of Justice and results were delayed!
We again took with us hundreds of toothbrushes, pens and pencils and pencil cases sewn in the textile class at The Kingsway Cheadle.
We photographed the 22 new sponsored students in Form 1 and Angela had a ‘chat’ with all the girls in the school, handing out mooncups to the new students. More sponsors are still needed for some of the new Form 1s. If you know of anyone who might be interested, please get them to check out our website or contact us.
We took a set of Kingsway games T shirts to the primary school which proved ideal for the girls’ scout troupe. There are a boys’ and a girls’ troupe at the primary and two boys’ troupes at the High School. We still haven’t found a source for tents for them. Any suggestions?
 
Chris Reveley and Helen Underhill established excellent email links between the two schools, Nyandiwa and Cheadle, and shared good practice with the staff who were very keen to implement the suggestions in their lessons. They also helped the School Management to write policies for all sorts from Punctuality to Student Pregnancy.
We handed over a large bag of trainers for needy pupils at the primary school. Helen, a member of staff, identifies those pupils who are in need of a school uniform but can’t afford one and passes on details to our sewing workshop. We photographed the Form 3 girls at the High school receiving their new uniforms (All Form 3 and Form 1 get a new uniform, not just sponsored students.) and we watched the form 1 girls being measured for theirs.
Some of our 24 students from KKHS at University or Teacher Training College through the Hope beyond Form 4 Scholarship Scheme will finish their courses this summer but we anticipate another 8 starting from last year’s Form 4. One still wants to be a pilot and is applying to Kenya Airways. HbF4 is always our main outlay but the least glamorous when it comes to people donating. You may like to know that Elijah, the student who had a complete breakdown during his teaching practice 2 years ago, went back to college last September and is doing his practice again this term, so far successfully. Mme Diana is initiating an alumni system called ‘The Kings’ Fellowship’. There will be an annual get-together for past students and they have been encouraged to keep in touch with us. A gathering of sponsored students already takes place during Christmas week so we are looking to combine the two. Whilst at the bank in Kisumu we got chatting with one of the managers and asked if he would come up to Nyandiwa to give a talk to our students about careers in banking. He jumped at the opportunity to help and suggested the bank might sponsor him to do it. We are looking to arrange a ‘Careers day’ for Form 3 and 4 students with people from other fields to help our students widen their horizons.
We visited Nyandolo, Abuoye, Ponge and Alaro primary schools to exchange letters and poems and drawings from the pupils there and those at schools in England which we have partnered with them. We also visited Oogo pre-school to deliver jigsaws and books donated by Bramhall Methodist pre-school. All the new classrooms have lovely big notice boards for display and the latrine blocks are completed and in use.
We visited Lwanda High School which is twinned with Moorside High School Swinton, to check out the building of the new science block being funded by Moorside. The roads to these schools are quite appalling and to get to Ponge we had to leave the vehicle in someone’s compound and walk the rest of the way! At Abuoye we had an amazing experience when the vehicle wouldn’t start! What do you do at the back of the back of beyond surrounded by curious pupils? Well, we prayed and Steve opened the bonnet! Not recognising very much, he jiggled what leads and connections he could see, got back in and the engine started and gave us no more trouble at all!
The girls are always proud to show us round the hostel where they can sleep during the week and this occasion was no different. They were just washing up after dinner when we arrived. After dinner they return to school to study using the solar lighting and a deadline of 11 o’ clock has had to be imposed! They each have a bed (bunks), and a suitcase to keep their belongings in. It’s a huge contrast with their home surroundings and they love it. Many thanks to Carnforth Soroptomists.
The dissemination day held by APHRC (African Population & Health Research Centre) in Nairobi in November was a huge success. I sent them a Powerpoint presentation about the use of mooncups in our school and Mme Diana went down to speak about it. She took with her the attendance registers from the last 3 years and girls simply no longer miss school. Ample evidence for their effectiveness. Providing mooncups for our school students will be an ongoing cost but is an unrealistic outlay for the whole community so we are setting up another sewing workshop to make washable sanitary wear. For information about these check out www.clayforearth.com and click on days for girls. Diana was so excited that our small school in rural Kenya is leading the way in this field. We have suggested that mooncups might be manufactured in Kenya-we’ll see.
In Kisumu we bought a large box of text books for the primary school and started on the list of equipment for the Science department at the High school.
Health
 
We again took out with us the usual thousands of paracetamol, ibuprofen, aspirin and cocodamol capsules/tablets, bandages, plasters, needles, gloves, small instruments, spectacles and the requested laxatives and multivitamins. We must have taken well over 1,000 pairs of glasses by now, all of which have been used. Apparently people travel from as far away as Sondu – 20 miles- to pay just the 100 shillings Edwin charges. (Some are given them free of charge.) This is about 90p and the money goes to dispensary costs. Our friends working with Open Arms in Eldoret have made several visits to Nyandiwa to deliver spare dressings etc to the dispensary which are very useful and for which we’re very grateful. They have also brought some baby clothes which Edwin uses as an incentive to new mothers to bring their babies back for immunisation when he gives them an item as a gift. We had the thrill of filming two mamas and a woman bringing 2 day old twins back for vaccinations only to discover when we asked that the children had been named Steve and Angela!
 
The Family Planning Clinic is well used as are the HIV testing facilities. Edwin will finish his counselling training soon and the dispensary will then be given antiretrovirals. We had a lovely visit from our friends Dave and Linda from Eldoret who brought with them a couple of doctors, and their two teenaged daughters, from our church who were out visiting them. They were very impressed with the facilities and Edwin’s expertise and Gordon would like to teach Edwin to perform minor operations. We think ‘dispensary’ gives the wrong impression and it should be called at the very least a ‘clinic’!,
 
Small Businesses
 
The bad weather has meant that the small businesses are struggling. The vegetables are a dead loss and the group has opted for two cows. There’s no grass for the cows so they aren’t producing much milk. The chickens aren’t laying well either! Steve had to be quite harsh about repayments as we don’t intend starting any new businesses until the existing ones are functioning properly. The sewing business will be started hopefully during our summer visit as the product is required urgently by the girls and women. There is a distinct possibility of fish ponds. Whilst at Nyakach Steve met the government official in charge of fisheries and they will send someone to help with the starting up and teaching free of charge. Earlier in the week we had been visited by the fisheries man from Kisii but he was charging a good deal to come up and train our folk. The donkey cart business is doing very well.
Karowley We think we have just one lonely bat in the roof now but it doesn’t half make a noise at night! The  new bedroom is completed but the toilet is not quite what was asked for! No further explanation but we will sort it during our next visit. The bedroom was really useful with only one snag – the drain in the bathroom allowed in the resident frog which managed to frighten the life out of Chris one night!
Thankyou   yet again for making this work possible by your donations, interest, prayer and insights. Thankyou from everyone in Nyandiwa and indeed many miles afield. We attempt to be culturally sensitive in everything we do and our watchword is sustainability. Sometimes we discover aspects of local culture which take us aback but which we have to deal with as sensitively as possible.
Please, if you are receiving this by post and have an email address, just send me a message to let me know the address angelarowley@ntlworld.com and we can save on postage.

 

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