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October 2010

We were in Kenya for 10 days at the end of October. The weather was unusually wet which made driving quite hazardous at times, especially on the mud roads. We’re considering a 4×4 driving course! We took with us Dave Pilkington, retired deputy head of The Kingsway School, Cheadle, who came with us 2005 and his wife Ros. Both were excellent company and a good help in the schools. We drove up from Nairobi so that they could see the rift valley, tea plantations at Kericho and go round the wildlife park at Lake Nakuru. We were disappointed not to have seen any rhino as they have been moved down to the Mara from this breeding sanctuary so we turned back and a mile from the gate came across three huge rhino at the side of the road. As we were watching them we saw a leopard literally a few metres behind our vehicle. It was so exciting as we were told the leopard hadn’t been spotted in days.

Everline’s badly burnt arm has healed well and she thanks everyone for their thoughts and prayers.

We went to Kisii to check the new project there which we discussed in July. Joseph, our filter manager, was finishing the teaching. How ironic that he should fall ill last week with typhoid he must have contracted whilst in Kisii. Luckily he recognised the symptoms early and dashed to the dispensary for medication and he was recovering well when we left. We met an amazing American woman in Kisii who has initiated all the projects there and who found our website and asked us to do the filter workshop. She has started small businesses, one of which is ladies sewing washable sanitary kits for girls and women. They had just taken receipt of 3 sewing machines from Nairobi and only needed two so we bought the third to start up a similar small business in our area.

A blind man from Tanzania has his three children in the school founded by this woman and has asked us for a filter project at his home so Joseph is looking forward to his first international trip.

Just before we left we received a donation from Luton Rotary which will enable us to fit guttering and tanks on at least two feeder primary schools. Costs have increased considerably since last year so we are looking for funding to complete the 10 schools. The concrete tanks are being built by a local lady named Sarah who is very skilled.

The school well still had all its bolts in place but now the handle is broken. Maintenance!!! It’s a redundant piece of vocabulary. The part of the maram road which the students filled for us last summer has held up well through the rains – the benefit of an engineer’s instructions.

Our Form 4s are doing exams just now so there was a hush about the school. All the invigilators are imported – teachers can’t be trusted not to tell the students the answers! – and there is an armed guard under the tree! We took with us hundreds of pens and pencils and pencil cases sewn in the textile class at The Kingsway Cheadle.

The library floor is just amazing now it has been tiled – what a difference. We managed to squeeze in taking individual photos of our 73 sponsored students. More sponsors will be needed for the new Form 1s in January. If you know of anyone who might be interested, please get them to check out our website or contact us.

Dave worked hard with the Principal and Deputy on policies, timetables, assessment and revision strategies and established the communication links with teachers and staff at The Kingsway, Cheadle.

We have been able to buy new uniforms for 22 primary pupils but more are still needed which will maybe be donated as Christmas presents.

The new latrine block to replace the one which sank in the last rains was duly opened. The photos are amusing with us in short sleeves and the headteacher in an anorak! They are feeling the cold!

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 coming year but we anticipate another 8 starting from this year’s Form 4. Local people think this is one of the best things we do but it is a huge drain on resources and not always the most attractive for donors. I have had some very moving emails from Mildren who was librarian until she went to college in September. Her place has been taken by a young man from the community, Godfrey. Ros worked with Mme Diana to initiate 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.

We had the immense pleasure of opening the new classrooms at the five feeder primaries and the pre-school block at Orera. The latrine blocks will be finished soon too. We did have quite a rough ride getting to some of them. I drove down a very rocky 35 degree track only to discover I couldn’t get back up it. Steve had hurt his back and was in quite some pain but he had to gingerly get out and into the driver’s seat. I don’t like to be beaten by a man at anything but when it’s my man I don’t mind so much. Steve examined full receipts from every project. It’s well understood now that we must have receipts for everything spent.

We took the 50+ little shirts and t-shirts donated by Bramhall Methodist Pre-school to Oogo Primary, a particularly needy school only to find that not only were they the school colour, green, but we had just enough in three styles and shades for the three separate pre-school classes. What delight was on the pupils’ faces and we were told that normally uncooperative parents came into school in the afternoon to thank us. Such small things can change a community’s whole attitude.

We visited Lwanda Secondary, the school partnered with Moorside, Swinton. They were overjoyed to receive the Inter Milan football strip and the money to build at least the foundations of a new science block.

The girls are always proud to show us round the hostel where they can sleep during the week.

I was contacted by APHRC (African Population & Health Research Centre) before we went and asked to attend a dissemination day on mooncups in Nairobi at the end of November. Two researchers met with us at our guest house the evening before we left. They have been doing feasibility studies for ages and wanted to know what I had done. It was a bit embarrassing to say I just had 2 control groups for three months at a time and then handed the mooncups out to all the girls at school. My main issue wasn’t funding but simply getting the girls into school for the whole month. Of course I can’t make a special trip out to the meeting but I shall be sending a Powerpoint presentation and the teacher who has taken responsibility for the girls will be travelling down in my place. It will be even more impressive to have a ‘local’ at the meeting. We are the only people already with a mooncup programme and were suggested to them by the manufacturers. Until the price comes down or, better still, mooncups can be manufactured in Kenya, the sewing business will fill that gap – it could be some time. We don’t have endless funds to donate them to everyone.

We heard Joseph was ill at the dispensary and visited him only to find that the female ward was full. One friend, Carolyn, has both typhoid and malaria and has been referred to Matata hospital in Oyugis. Edwin knows his limitations. Edwin was about to extract a tooth when we arrived and had to be about his business! 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. Urgent request for dressings. We must have taken almost 1,000 pairs of glasses by now, all of which have been used and we are asked for more. Edwin uses the machine we gave him to test vision and matches the result with the glasses which have been tested here with a focimetre which tests focal length. Thanks to Helen for doing that for us.

The Family Planning Clinic is well used as are the HIV testing facilities. Edwin will finish his counselling training next year and the dispensary will then be given antiretrovirals. The dispensary has been given a trainee nurse for a three months’ practical which is a great help and recognition of the effectiveness of the work there throughout the community. Steve again spent time with Charles, the treasurer.

Small Businesses
These are still doing quite well, particularly the donkey cart, but some are 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 chickens are producing lots of chicks. Unfortunately the chicks die in the ‘cold’ – all relative! We suggested they just sell eggs for most of the year and produce chicks during the warmer times. Not rocket science but a novel idea! We were introduced to the idea of fish farming in Kisii so ponds of tilapia are a distinct possibility for a new small business.

Karowley still has bats in its roof between the tin sheets and the tiles! The building of the new bedroom is starting as I write and the builder has been instructed to seal off every potential ingress for the dratted creatures. We are taking two teachers with us again next February and the new room will mean that each has a bed in the house rather than one with a tent on the verandah! It also means we can more easily house larger numbers although transport then becomes a challenge. Students brought the roof tiles down from school which was the furthest the truck could deliver them.

Thankyou (repeated paragraph but still relevant) 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 usually 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, community teachers and mainly the Hope Beyond Form 4 Scholarship Fund.

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