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July 2010

It’s the first time we’ve been out to Kenya in July since 2004 and we’d forgotten how cold it can be, especially in Nairobi. We had planned on three weeks with Sam and Vicki out for the first two helping at the schools but they announced they’re expecting a baby and Vicki couldn’t have the vaccinations. Great news but sorry they weren’t there. A colleague of theirs from Milan, Gareth, and his 15 year old daughter, Lucy, accompanied us for the first week and did some English lessons and pre-school and dance in the schools. We even managed to catch the World Cup final on Ayugi’s tiny black and white TV. It looked to be snowing in South Africa! Then the last five days we had the whole Thornley family with us, John, one of our directors who has been out twice before, his wife Alison and three daughters. We had a slightly more relaxed few days with them, showing them round the projects and visiting the soapstone shop and quarry in Kisii. John and the girls managed to squeeze in a Business Studies workshop/lesson between mock exams. We are encouraging students to think about what they will do after school if they don’t go to college. At the end of their stay we all went to Eldoret to visit friends who are working there for two years with Open Arms International. We left them there and drove back to Nairobi.

Our first trip with Gareth and Lucy was to meet someone in Kisii, 90 minutes drive south, who has started an orphanage and school in the rural area. The Americans involved had found our website and liked the idea of filters and had contacted us. The wonders of the internet! We drove out to the area and met with the Chief and his three deputies, elders of all the local clans and the headteachers of local primary schools and the secondary school. It was most productive and they are very keen to get started. We have also decided that instead of providing a small salary for the first three months for the trainees – experience has shown that this can prove too much of a temptation and on two projects the men have simply taken the money and gone off! – we will provide a loan for a donkey and cart to transport the filters since transportation is a major challenge and expense. Kisii will be the first project to get the donkey cart business so we wait to see how that one works.

We again drove the almost 5 hour journey north to Kitale to check on the water project we started in February. It is well in production but short on ideas for marketing! We’re going to make a list of suggestions and give it to each project.

On the way back from Kitale we had an interesting day and night in Kakamega rainforest – did it rain!- sleeping in a rickety wooden place surrounded by colobus monkeys. (This is a teak tree.) We did an afternoon guided walk and one at 5.00 a.m. to a bat cave and to see the dawn rise over the Nandi Hills.

Later that day we put Gareth and Lucy on a bus from Kisumu to Nakuru and then met with the new president and several members of Kisumu Winam Rotary for lunch to firm up the proposal for their assistance in monitoring a project which will attract matched funding from Rotary International for the money raised by Luton Rotary. The project is to provide gutters and tanks for our 10 feeder primary schools but we are still not too sure of their interest. If it takes much longer to organise we may well just get the job done anyway.

The other two new projects in Bala at the orphanage and in the far North East of Kenya around Marsabit are going well. Joseph does sterling work teaching the men and women in different areas. It isn’t easy to understand the reticence to work with other tribal groups but Joseph deals with it very well and is quite the ambassador!

Steve was pleased to find the school well still had all its bolts in place but it isn’t functioning now for lack of a washer!! The incredibly heavy rains have made some parts of the maram roads up to our home even more difficult to navigate so the chain gang was out again filling in the deepest of the holes.

We arrived in the middle of Kolweny Kingsway High School’s first Education Day – Speech Day – and did it live up to its name!! Lunch was to have been served at 1.30 and eventually we got it at 5.15 after interminable speeches and prizes. Everyone from the Principal to the cooks got prizes. Steve was given a ram which we tied up outside our house and ate on the last Saturday for dinner! The library arrangement with screen and narrow exit etc somehow or other managed to be a cupboard with all the books locked away! That was demolished and the original idea was put in place. The librarian, a student who finished last year and is waiting to go to college, said she feels fewer books are going missing this way. The library is being so well used with daily newspapers available for the community that the floor has begun to have holes in it so we are spending the necessary money to get it properly tiled.

This time we took out 17 pairs of football boots donated by Monkhouses and Lotto Sports. Our team won the regional finals, beating Wang’apala the 12 year reigning champions, and are known as The Kings! It even warranted a short article in the national newspaper. We also took a full Manchester City strip for the girls’ football team.

Some of the money from The Kingsway School this year will be spent on more science equipment to complete the needs of practicals in all three sciences throughout the year. At present the final exam is the first time the students have done a practical themselves. It will also buy a considerable number of consumables for the practicals. The 30 wooden science stools we bought last time are functioning much better than the usual metal ones. The idea of wooden ones received a sideways glance from the principal but the drawing was well followed and they are very sturdy.

Ayugi has been transferred to Kolweny Kingsway Primary School so we have an IT person in place. We took out another laptop specifically for class 8 (aged 14+) and hope that we can get communication going between them and students in England. There are still many pupils who need new uniforms and we have asked another member of staff to identify them as the present person wasn’t really doing the job well. New uniforms will be funded through the sewing workshop at Pamela’s home.

The girls’ latrine and staff latrine blocks at our primary school sank during the recent rains and are being replaced.

Both schools have another community teacher funded by a donor. These are qualified teachers who as yet have not been given a permanent post and work for next to nothing in comparison to get experience and a good CV.

The girls’ hostel is now being well used with 10 of the 11 girls in form 4 staying there during the week and even sometimes at weekends. They use the library at night and are then escorted by the watchmen to the hostel where Mary takes over and sleeps behind the door!! The food problem was resolved and they each cook whatever they have brought on a small jiko in the hostel.

We have been amazingly blessed with some large donations especially for local schools and were able to go round 5 primary schools to give the good news that they will be getting a new classroom and latrine block. One principal was close to tears. The dilapidation of some of the existing classrooms is hard to describe except to say that the government has condemned them. Where else can the pupils be taught? Most rural schools have only 6 or 7 rooms for 8 classes anyway and maybe 3 government teachers and 2 or 3 community teachers. We have been delighted to see how our school leavers from Kolweny Kingsway are already putting the school motto into practice – Knowledge for Service – and are volunteering at the local schools until they go to college or university.

Another primary school, Orera, is to have a new pre-school classroom thanks to a couple and their son who are fund-raising for this purpose. The present one houses 3 classes and is totally inadequate.

The link between Moorside School in Salford and Lwanda is taking shape. Moorside has raised enough money to sponsor several students and start a science building. They had a great time with a climbing wall when students paid to go up and down, measuring each climb so that by the end of the day the joint efforts would have climbed Mount Kenya.

Angela took individual photographs of all the 40 possible students for sponsorship. The photographic session took place in a classroom where several boys were sitting a Geography mock exam!

We are now funding 24 students from KKHS at University or Teacher Training College through the Hope Beyond Form 4 Scholarship Scheme. It is such a delight when they come to visit us and show us their reports. For example, Samuel Onyango is studying construction and structural engineering at Mawego and has achieved mainly distinctions and merits in his first term. Our first girl, Helen Alosi, has graduated this summer from Teacher Training College This is one of our main expenditures but we feel it is worthwhile both now and in the long-run.

We took with us more pens and pencils donated by Barclays and Rotary, yet more pens and school bags donated by Salford City College and it was good to see the bags still in use. We also handed out pencil cases made by students at the Kingsway in their textiles class. Steve took an afterschool session making solar powered cars. It was a huge success and they’re going to use them for the next science forum. A set of 60 Bibles bought from Bible Society in Kenya for CRE lessons and the Christian Union has been delivered. Shakespeare texts from The Kingsway were also well received.

The dispensary is making huge strides under Edwin’s management and has a wonderful reputation far beyond our community. We took out with us the usual thousands of paracetamol and cocodamol capsules/tablets, bandages, plasters, needles, gloves, small instruments, spectacles and the requested laxatives and multivitamins. Urgent request for dressings.

We have a new technician, Pamela, who visits 3 times a week and the two new nurses, Rose and Betty are enjoying their work. The dispensary is now a Family Planning Clinic and Edwin has delivered only 6 babies this year. He has to go to outlying regions to get mothers to bring in babies for vaccinations in order to fill his quota! It also offers Aids testing and advisory services and will be given antiretrovirals as soon as Edwin finishes a counselling course.

Steve spent a couple of hours with Charles, the treasurer, going through the accounts and making a few suggestions but basically they are fine. This is an unenviable task Steve completes for every project – no receipts, no money!

Small Businesses
These are still doing quite well but finding it difficult to repay the loans quite as quickly as anticipated. The rains have thwarted the vegetable growers again but the cow has calved and the hens are producing lots of chickens.

Karowley has bats in its roof between the tin sheets and the tiles! You would not believe what a racket such small creatures can make especially in the middle of the night. They had to go! This involved much scrambling in the roof space but we think we have plugged up the access point. It remains to be seen/heard next time whether it has been successful. The house was full to bursting with 5 Thornleys – John had the tent on the verandah. We are having another bedroom built on the back of the house to ease congestion and knocking down the wall between the living room and kitchen to increase that space. We had lots of visits from our neighbours and community as usual but it was especially good to welcome ex-students who just pop in to see us. It’s so encouraging to see so many of our young people beginning to escape the poverty trap through good education.

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 our 10 feeder primary schools. We don’t mention individual sources of income in our report because the list would be so long and we are enormously grateful to every single person who enables the work to continue. Our watchword is sustainability and we are aiming to empower the community to sustain itself in the longer term but at present there are those projects which such an impoverished population cannot sustain such as the salaries of the workers at the dispensary and community teachers.

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