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February 2010

We have just returned from our February trip. We left the snow 6 inches deep and returned to yet more. We came back on an overnight flight which saved a stay in Nairobi and proved acceptable. We spent 10 days in Kenya, all of them again full to the brim in temperatures hotter than usual and no rain apart from an astonishing downpour one night when water blew in through the window frames. The main emphasis of our trip was to introduce our friend, Headteacher Nigel Ogden, to a secondary school on the edge of our community which he will be supporting through Moorside High School, Swinton. We were also opening the newly completed primary school, furthering the initial IT and communications at the High School, initiating a library system, visiting sites for two new water filter workshops and opening another some distance away and hosting a farewell ceremony for our two dispensary nurses who have retired.

Nigel spent time at Lwanda Secondary School where we were delighted to find a young teacher with knowledge of the internet thus enabling Nigel to set up email communication immediately. We made an assessment of the needs at the school and plans are in place to meet the most pressing quite soon. These are latrines, (always top of the list!) a science room, desks, sponsorship for students. We are hoping that a partnership between Lwanda and Kolweny Kingsway will emerge whereby they can share good practice and facilities.

We drove the rather gruelling 3 hours to Kitale to meet up with the lady we met in Nairobi last October. En route we stopped off at Kakamega to look at sand etc for a water filter workshop there initiated by the President of the Kisumu Winam Rotary Club. From Kitale we drove another 30 miles, the last seven off-road to Meuledi’s home where we found some 60 people eagerly waiting to be informed about water filters. Joseph will be setting up the workshop there this month. The Kitale Club where we stayed was an experience – ‘Would you like toast? White or brown? We only have white bread.’!  We collected Nigel from the Kitale airstrip – says it all – the following day, (He had spent the previous day on a mini safari to Lake Nakuru.) and made our way to Ayugi’s.

We again rattled our way several hours to Bala, on Lake Victoria where there is an orphanage with 800 children! We visited there in October and they were so thrilled with the filters that they started their own project, trained by Jason from our project at Simbi some 20 miles away. Steve addressed an audience of 70+ and all the children to encourage them to buy and use the filters. Clean water is a dream to these people, turned into reality by the filters so no wonder they were enthusiastic. It was another very hot day and we had to leave before lunch could be served around 3.00 to get back for an appointment with a couple of Australian farmers who have been trying to establish rainwater management in our community. Steve is hoping the ram pump might yet be useful so he also spent time with Ayugi measuring the river flow. He teased Joseph that he’d throw him in and count how long it took him to float downstream. Joseph didn’t turn up! An empty drum was used instead.

Steve also met with a representative of the Anglican Church in Kenya who is wanting a ‘mobile’ workshop in the far North East of Kenya around Marsabit – quite an inhospitable place, but Joseph is heading up there this month to do the training. He’s thrilled about all the new places he gets to visit.

We have a list of another 11 widows in Nyandiwa to whom water filters will be donated.  Steve was pleased to find the school well had all its bolts in place! However, the road leading to the school is almost impassable at one point so he organised a ‘chain gang’ from our High School, which included the principal, to fill in the holes.

We are still waiting on the Kisumu Winam Rotary to sign yet more papers to enable funding from Rotary District grants here to be released to fund gutters and tanks on all our local primary schools to enable water harvesting, rain water being clean enough to drink.

I have already mentioned the partnership being established between Moorside and Lwanda – it’s very exciting to see the work at Kolweny Kingsway beginning to be replicated elsewhere, benefiting our wider community.  The Kolweny Kingsway Primary School buildings are completed bar one room which we are match-funding with the community. However the buildings were finished enough to open officially with much ceremony. The songs and poems prepared by the youngsters were most moving. We have also purchased teachers’ desks and lockers, text book cupboards and 70 new double desks so that pupils can sit two to a desk rather than the three at present. Students who need new uniforms are not difficult to identify, dresses and shirts hang on by a thread, and new ones will be funded through the sewing workshop at Pamela’s home.
A highlight of the opening ceremony was presenting a full football strip to the Primary School team, sponsored by Stanley Green Kitchens, Cheadle. Sadly they had to remove their socks as they don’t have any footwear!

In the afternoon we also presented the High School with a full strip sponsored by Shaun Wright-Phillips of Manchester City. The boots hadn’t arrived in time so we contacted Sam’s friend, Jamie, a couple of days before we left and he gathered 17 pairs of trainers from his clients which my brother, down in Manchester from Scotland visiting our Mum, kindly collected for us from Birmingham. The students looked so smart in their new kit and footwear but unfortunately still managed to lose the much awaited match against Wang’apala 3 – 0. The boarding school boys are enormous in comparison to ours – comes from being well fed from birth!
Sport is one of the few pastimes for folk in rural Africa and our school playing field is at a rather jaunty angle! so plans are afoot to have it levelled and some seating arranged round it. Students at the Kingsway, Cheadle are funding that. It will, sadly, be a bit late to play World Cup matches on it.

We bought another £460 of text books for the library from Kisumu. We are employing a school leaver from last year to be librarian. She will stay overnight in the girls’ hostel. We’ve purchased more chairs and a table for a public reading area where there will be daily newspapers for community use. Angela also guided the teacher responsible for the library through the niceties of organising a lending system using an old date stamp and card index boxes. Diana exclaimed that she’s now a proper librarian and should have a certificate!

Angela took individual photographs of all our 26 new Form one sponsored students. We can report that all our sponsored students are doing very well both physically and academically, some being in the top 3 in their classes and some being prefects. One girl in Form 1 last year (16) became pregnant but when she took leave to have her baby, the father was also suspended for the same length of time – a huge step forward in thinking about responsibility for pregnancy. The girl is now back in school and currently performing at number 2 in her repeated Form 1 year. Another girl in Form 3 (18) is currently pregnant but when she has had her baby she will return to school. Both girls are orphans but grandmothers are more than willing to look after the children whilst girls are educated – it means so much to them. Did you know England has the highest rate of teenage unmarried pregnancy in Europe?

We are presently funding 16 students at University or Teacher Training College through the Hope Beyond Form 4 Scholarship Scheme and this year will see another 8. In July 2010 our first girl, Helen Alosi, will graduate from Teacher Training College and we hope to be there for the ceremony. This is one of our main expenditures but we feel it is worthwhile both now and in the long-run.

We took with us pens and pencils donated by Barclays, more pens and yet more school bags donated by Salford City College and a bag of SCC sweets which proved a wonderfully fun competition to guess how many in the bag! 229 was nearest to the 222.

The school printer had bitten the dust already but has proved so useful and time-saving that we have bought a replacement. Documents such as registers, exam results and timetables no longer have to be laboriously written out every time they’re needed.

The girls’ hostel and latrine with water tank are completed but there are as yet no girls in there. There is a problem about bringing food for the week when families only have enough for a day at a time but we don’t want to get involved in that side of things. Sometimes the community just has to meet its own challenges. The Form 4 boys are camping out in the old house we built for a member of staff some years ago. This is how keen they are to study in school using the solar lighting in the library.

Mooncups were distributed to all the new Form 1 this time and we will continue each year with new Form ones. Staff and students alike are thrilled. The Jephcott Trust funded 100 and we have funding for another 60. They make excellent Christmas presents for girls and women if you’re stuck for an idea!! (Gift list on our website.) The women up in Kitale were also very interested but the essential is a good latrine with running water. Our school public speaking team is using Mooncups as its topic in a nationwide competition in which the topic has to be something which has revolutionised school life. They would like to see the government buy them for all students in Kenya but since they can’t even buy exercise books for the schools, Mooncups are a long way off!!
We visited Orera primary and secondary schools. The secondary school has had funding from Formby High School through RPs in the past. The primary school is in desperate need of a classroom for its pre-school and nursery classes so we are working on that one! At present three classes squeeze into here.

The dispensary continues to function well under Edwin’s management and has a wonderful reputation far beyond our community. Edwin described the birthing process to Nigel! It involves the mother-to-be being instructed to ‘walk up and down and sing!’ Apparently the chants are something like ‘Doctor, doctor! I am in much pain! Take it out! Oh take it out!’ To which he replies, ‘God takes out the babies when they’re ready. Breathe in and out and walk and sing!’ !! It must work as he’s delivered 240+ and not lost a single one. Edwin is feeling much more confident extracting teeth and keeps excellent records. We took out with us the usual thousands of paracetamol capsules, bandages, plasters, needles, gloves, small instruments, spectacles. Doctors, nurses and pharmacists reading this, more of the same please! A special request has been made for quinine sulphate for malaria patients and Senokot –type medication for you-know-what! We have bought a focimetre with which someone here measures each lens of the glasses donated and then the gizmo we’ve taken to the dispensary measures the patients’ eyes. Simple but effective. We took a hearing aid – Edwin had never seen one! They will also be very useful.

We had a heart-warming ceremony for Sophia, nurse, and Joice, nurse-aid, who have been serving the dispensary faithfully since it opened, indeed they tried to provide some help to the community even before that. The community and RPs expressed sincere thanks to them both and we gave them a farewell gift. We still have Esther, a fully-trained nurse, for a while and Sophia and Joice have been replaced by Betty and Rose.

Small Businesses
These are doing quite well now and some are paying back the loan slowly but surely. The vegetables are still not very successful as weather patterns become increasingly unpredictable.

Karowley was again a home-from-home. We’re no nearer to a sensible plumbing system but we did use our solar shower pack. It stays in the sun all day and heats enough water for two sparse showers but is very welcome. February’s visit was the busiest so far with little time to squeeze in everything that needed to be done let alone the things we wanted to do. We had lots of visitors who just pop in to see us which is wonderfully neighbourly and increases our sense of belonging. Each has to be offered a ‘little bite’ so juice and biscuits – or cake if we’ve managed to pack any – is the order of the day rather than chai and bread. Our 110 cm ‘double’ bed (work that out!) was proving quite a challenge on very hot nights so we have opted for two singles together which will make a bunk to leave floor space when the house is over-populated! The tent on the verandah was a success in October and will be put into use again this summer. We gave our small bed to Bernard, who had worked as Ayugi’s shamba boy a little while ago. He’s now married to Leah and lives just down from us. He has a traditional hut with only two wooden chairs which he had to ask for from Ayugi so the bed was a godsend especially as Leah was pregnant and they now have a baby, Mary-Ann. Bernard has gone to Nairobi to apprentice as a builder leaving his wife and child at home. I’m at a loss to know how she will cope but life has always been like this for millions of poor around the world. It’s so encouraging to see so many of our young people beginning to escape the poverty trap through good education. It was mentioned again at the school opening ceremony that our community has gone from being known as a ‘place of darkness’ to a ‘place of light’. We thank God for all he is enabling us, through you, to accomplish for these people in particular but also further afield.

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 who share in the water projects and now your support at another secondary school and opening links with other primary schools.  Please, if you are receiving this by post and have an email address, just send me a message to let know the address

This year’s Christmas cards were a success but please let me know if you would like us to produce a calendar again and any ideas on format.

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