Well that’s it, 6 months over! At times it seems like i have been in Kisumu much longer but at the same time it feels like only yesterday i was stressing about flight changes in Nairobi! So i started thinking about what i have accomplished out here in the 6 months and what have i experienced. Here’s what i came up with:
The MARS Project:
- Developed a sustainable project to combat absenteeism in primary school girls
- Trained teachers and school committee members (parents), empowering them to take ownership of the project
- Mentored key teachers who would likely run the workshops to ensure they could run each session independently.
- Taught 400 girls how to make reusable sanitary towels and delivered valuable education
- Reduced absenteeism by 68% between baseline and follow up visits
- Significant increase in the girls rating their understanding of the education between baseline and follow up.
- Developed The MARS Project website to spread the word and help other schools and communities
- Radio interview with KBC radio to increase awareness and raise the profile
- Trained staff at ‘Ladies in action’ NGO who are now also making sanitary towels within their schools.
- Negotiated cost of project down significantly saving the organisation almost a third of the projected costs.
- Made valuable new relationships with local businesses for future work – Swan Carriers, Fulchand Raishi, Yatin Supermarke
- Worked with teachers and OGRA staff to formulate concept for a one off fundraiser to subsidize cost of raw material to run the project next year.
- Gave 400 girls 2 pairs of underwear each.
- Mobilised the ‘Soap you can help!’ campaign to support incentive for the girls to make 6 – included donations from large companies like J&J and Bidco Kenya.
- Campaign was so successful that we have enough soap to support the project for 2014.
- Engaged government ministers and other NGO’s at the Healthstart Conference.
- Funded the renovation of the girls changing rooms at Rabuor and painted it with pretty flowers providing a space for them to change their sanitary towels and take a shower should they wish to.
Feeding Centre and others:
- Researched and implemented soybeans project
- Developed innovative irrigation system
- Painted murals on walls of the Feeding centre and at Tamu Youth centre
- Distributed 2 rounds of clothes toys, books and stationary to the feeding centre children as well as soap and underwear.
- Donated soaps, lotions and underwear to the childrens home as part of World Aids Day.
- Donated soaps and underwear to the children at the Oasis of Hope Secondary School.
Things i have experienced (some highlights):
- Seeing a live Lion kill
- Seeing a live cheetah kill
- Crocs taking down a zebra
- Numerous animal fights including the giraffes
- An abundance of other wildlife – Just amazing!
- Hot air balloon ride across the Mara at sunrise
- Kenyan ‘hotels’ :s
- Climbing trees
- Getting hair braided
- Taking the braids out… :s
- Driving an automatic pick up truck on the roads of Kenya!
- Riding on a motorbike
- Using a ‘jembe’ to plough a field in 30 degree heat
- Ugali and Nyama Choma
- Beautiful views from Lake Elmenteita
- A wonderful journey through my parents childhood
- Seeing Mount Meru and Mount Kilimanjaro
- The abundance of elephants at Tarrangirie National Park
- Gin and tonics! 🙂
- Learning to paint Kissi Soap stone and painting masai warriors using a palate knife!
- Fishing on Lake Victoria
- Climbing rocks at Kit Mikayi and sinking in bat poo!!
- An equatorial rainforest
- Clubbing In Africa!
- Weddings in Africa
- My first Fallodah
- Cooking 7 chickens for a party where we still ran out of food – Kenyan appetites!
- Skinning the 7 chickens in preparation! :S
- Rescuing women in labour on the side of the road
- Pulling thorns out of childrens feet on the side of the road!
- Riding around in TucTucs
- Learning several Kenyan songs and dances with the girls
- Attempting to learn Swahili and Luo and completely confusing the two!
- Dancing the Luo way!
- Being part of the celebrations when Rabuor won 1st prize in the national dance competition
- Regular thunderstorms with amazing lightening – which also bring regular power cuts
- Showering for 3 months under either scalding or freezing water!
- Playing netball with school girls
- Eating sugar cane with my weak muzungu teeth!
- Feeling completely rewarded at the sight of a huge smile for a small bar of soap and some undies!
- Feeling like it was all worth it when a girl shows you how she has used the stitch you taught her to fix her uniform.
- Meeting some wonderful people and taking a most amazing journey that will stay with me always….
OGRA have been wonderfully welcoming and really made me feel like one of the family so a huge thanks to them for everything. A special thanks to my Kenyan bestie Victor for looking after me so much and ferrying me around for majority of the 6 months! I know i have said this before but huge thanks to Louise and my team back home for being so amazingly supportive through my time here, covering my work and just generally being ace!
I must say a big thank you to all my family and friends for all their support and for basically being my cheer squad! I am so glad that you were all able to come on this journey with me (especially those of you who were able to come out and visit), it was a much needed boost and i am so grateful for all the positive encouragement you gave when i needed it most!
Lastly i want to say a huge thank you to my husband, Anand for the unconditional love, support and encouragement i have had every step of the way. I am so grateful to him for always encouraging me to be all that i can be and for taking care of house moves, the puppy and a job change in my absence without making me feel bad for abandoning the team. 🙂
I feel very privileged to have had this opportunity and though my list making has helped me to reflect on the value i have been able to add here i hope the communities and children i have worked with have benefited from my work and believe that i have made a difference. I really have had an amazing time and though i am looking forward to going home i know i will miss Kenya and the people i have been fortunate to meet here. Being here has taught me a lot and in many ways changed me a lot and i will always be grateful for that.
Kwaheri Kenya, thank you for all that you have given me…