Half Time

It’s been a while since my last blog and i guess the reason for that is the once novel becoming normality. The things about Kenya that would once surprise me or make me whip my camera out for a shot don’t even catch my attention anymore! It’s amazing how accustomed you can get in just 3 months. I may even develop the accent by December who knows!?

My parents left at the end of September having spent the last 3 days in Kisumu with me on my project. They came to a workshop in Rabuor and very much experienced Kenyan timing. We were told to arrive by 11am to meet the government ministers who wanted to see a demo of the project. I then had a workshop at 2pm. Well true to form there we were at 1pm still waiting for the ministers to show and unable to start the workshop. It made me laugh (in my head of course, i was empathetic on the outside!) watching my parents getting hot and bothered and frustrated of waiting in an office for that length of time. I have obviously gotten used to this now and wasn’t the least bit phased but could imagine that i was probably just like that when i first arrived here! The last time i had to wait like this i just got my laptop out and Effy (the Ogra Intern student) and I watched an episode of ‘The Good Wife’ whilst we waited!

So we started the workshop and bless my dad i knew he was feeling somewhat uncomfortable with seeing his youngest girl give a talk on ‘lady things’ and sex education but he did incredibly well to sit through the whole thing without needing to hide outside somewhere! And thankfully he sat behind me which made things much easier for me delivering the education! :s As a tailors daughter, my mum got right stuck in helping the girls to cut and sew and ended up teaching them how to fold their material such that they could cut all 6 pieces in one go! Of course this then meant all the girls wanted her to do this for them! – Rookie mistake mum!

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Before they left we did an inventory of the soap and lotions currently collected….drumroll please…….so only counting individual donations not the donations from J&J and Bidco Kenya we have 409 awards for distribution!!! We still have a bulk load coming with my husband on Saturday and a huge load coming from GSK staff! Great work everyone! Really fantastic work and a great start to what will hopefully be a long running programme.

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So last week i had 4 days in the office. Very unusual for me, I am usually out in the field at least 2 days a week. Thankfully i had decided on a new project to keep myself busy for the 4 days. I have been approached by a few different people who have heard about the MARS project and want me to help the girls they support in other schools in other areas! Unfortunately since i am only one person and will return to the UK in December i cannot do this and i feel bad having to say no to these people. So i decided to design a website for the MARS project detailing everything you need to know to run the workshops! That way i can refer people to the website, they can download the curriculum and the relevant tools and off they go! Plus it gives me the chance to learn a new skill too! So far it’s been quite fun and I’ve enjoyed doing it, fingers crossed it works well now, i’m not the most computer literate!

On Friday i went and bought the last of the material i will need for the project. This week i will deliver my last 4 workshops so i spent the weekend cutting the last of the material! I should have had a mojito to celebrate! – the number of weekends and evenings in the last 3 months i have spent cutting material has been unbelievable! No wonder i have zipped through 4 seasons of ‘The Good Wife’ so quickly! But no more, I am done!

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The Oreo ice cream really helped…!

Though now we go from cutting material to sorting soaps and underwear ready for each follow up visit!

So here i am at the halfway point and what have i achieved so far?….

  • Well i am facilitating the last 3 workshops this week which means by Friday i will have taught 450 Primary school girls how to make their own reusable sanitary towels and delivered valuable education around menstruation.
  • My data shows that 70% of girls surveyed missed 3+ days of school each month.
  • Through negotiation and generous people I brought the total cost of the project down by almost 50% of the initial projection.
  • I have launched a ‘Soap you can help’ campaign which despite early skepticism from folks has been a huge success having collected over 2000 bars of soap and lotion, enough to support the project next year! (still grafting on some logistics but we’ll get there!) ;o)
  • With help from family and friends we have raised enough money to buy each girl 2 pairs of underwear each as well as large donations of clothes, books, toys and stationary to the children at the Feeding Centre.
  • I have introduced the soybeans project at the feeding centre which i am told is growing nicely with their new irrigation system and should be ready for it’s first harvest in November! 🙂
  • The incentivised farming scheme is being developed to help boost productivity of the kitchen garden.
  • I’ve had fun being creative and painting bright murals on the walls of the feeding centre.
  • I am learning new skills in web design to develop a website for the MARS project to help others.
  • I have made new friends and improved my networking skills.
  • My powers of persuasion and negotiation have definitely improved! I think i might be ready for the Apprentice now! ;o)

Not too shabby for 3 months hey…now though to look forward to hubby coming!!! 😀

7 comments

  1. Harshna,
    All the hard work done. You have taken stock and reflected on the achievements. Tasks completed, friends made, the trials and tribulations, the frustration and bouncing back, lack of resources, the pain and the joys of learning, sharing, imparting, negotiating and simply being patient. You have brought so much joy and happiness to people near and far, family, friends and complete strangers. An accomplishment indeed.
    Now for the home straight to consolidate all that has been achieved. Anand will soon be there to share your journey.
    Be proud of what you have done. I know we are.
    Love
    Mum and Dad

  2. I should say congratulations on all the hard work, enthusiasm and great results so far. You have achieved so much in such a short period of time and have empowered girls which in turn will have a knock-on effect through the community. I have to send my box of soaps to Anand..perhaps even deliver by hand as he is leaving Saturday to see you. I shall update the Brownies on the good work and request donations of clothes,shoes,etc….

  3. Harshna
    I am very happy to hear the projects you have done on those deprived innocent girls. Teaching them about sanity is so useful for them . Awareness and education they wouldn’t have known if you did not do this project. Keep up the good work. Enjoy with Anand while he is there.
    You know lastly the satisfaction you have achieved in helping these girls will leave you in such a good feeling for life.
    Very proud of you
    Madhuauntie xx

  4. Yet another great read with some lovely pics to go with. So sad I couldn’t join you to share some of these achievements with you but what an amazing list of accomplishments. I am however doing my bit from home as you know. Look forward to reading what the follow ups say. Feeling very proud of my Lil sis right now. Xxx

  5. I look forward to reading your blog every week. We are very proud of your achievement in such short time and with limited resource. I really enjoyed my time in East Africa and specially in Kisumu. I enjoyed the day I spent with you in the school showing those girls how to cut and sew those sanitary towels. I hope the girls carry on with what you have showed them and make sure they do not miss school every month and achieve great things and make you proud. I would like to thank everybody who has helped Harshna in her quest in collecting the soap, creams, cloths and cash. There are truly amazing people who do care and are not known personally to us- that makes it worthwhile and be human.

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