“What we see depends mainly on what we look for”

 

 

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The spectacular view on my way to Inyali and Simboyi Primary School. 

 

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As we like to call them “old man” monkeys! In the Kakamega National Rainforest

 

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The Kakamega Rainforest from the viewpoint

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Myself, Alison and Jasmine drinking from the classiest of mugs

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The little munchkins who live on our compound that we love to play “ball” with. 

Although they only speak Kiswahili we love their company!

Karibu Rafiki! Habari za safiri?

This summer I have returned to Mbale, Kenya for another 3 months of volunteering as a project coordinator with Students for International Development (SID). As a project coordinator I will be overseeing the projects in agriculture, microfinance, health and child welfare. I will also be collaborating with local stakeholders, opinion leaders and community members to improve water quality in two pilot water springs. The SID team this year includes 6 amazing and talented project managers, who have just begun their initial meetings and budget planning for their projects this summer.

I would now like to introduce the 2014 SID team:

Alison Morley, and Aisha Hassan are the two agriculture project managers. This summer they will be meeting and working with different social enterprises that have a social impact in the community in Kenya. Through meetings and discussions they will be looking for new internships opportunities for future project managers. They will begin looking for these companies in Kisumu and Kakamega, the two larger cities around Mbale, and continue inquiring in Nairobi.

 

Arjun Deiva is the microfinance project manager. He will be working with Step and Fly to complete an in-depth evaluation of the pilot micro health insurance program, Matt Tuddall initiated last year. Following the evaluation of the pilot project he will work with a local stakeholder to strategize future changes to improve the program’s success.

 

Jasmine Vallve is the child welfare project manager. For two years now SID has been sponsoring children at Ikuvu and Simboyi primary schools. Currently, at Simboyi 55 children are being sponsored and 6 children at Ikuvu. Every year there are children who graduate from primary school and continue onto secondary school, leaving new spots in the sponsorship program to be filled. SID in partnership with the Head Teacher at Simboyi have an on-going waiting list of children who want to be include in the program. This summer Jasmine will conduct home visits at all the children’s homes that are on the waiting list for the sponsorship program. Based on a predetermined criteria she will fill any open spots in the program.

Jasmine will also be conducting an in-depth evaluation of the sponsorship program for which she received a grant for from UTHIP. This evaluation includes looking at the health, overall well-being, and academic status of the children. Jasmine will be interviewing and evaluating children at Simboyi Primary School and at a primary school not receiving the sponsorship program in order to determine whether the sponsorship program is successful and whether it is creating further inequality in the community.

 

 

The two health sector project managers will be arriving in early June and beginning project work. Once they have settled in and begun working, I will fill you in on their projects this summer.

 

This summer apart from overseeing and supporting project managers I will also be collaborating with local opinion leaders, community members and stakeholders to improve the environment, water quality and sustainability of two water springs. A SID sponsor from Aylmer Quebec has kindly donated funds to improving the water quality from water springs in the Sabatia district. In the Sabatia district there are 8 sub-locations, and in total there are 86 water springs. With the help of two local stakeholders we have identified these 86 water springs. The stakeholders have met with the Ministry of Water and Sanitation to design the most effective strategy to improve the springs and water quality while keeping the water sustainable.

     The plan is to build a fence around the springs to protect the area and keep local community members from using the area as a latrine. Furthermore, we will also build steps to and from the springs. This will create a pathway for the people to use and reduce the amount of germs getting into the ground and water. This summer I will work in collaboration with the two local stakeholders to choose the two pilot water springs. To evaluate the effectiveness of the springs, we will gather local health records of the two sub-locations prior to making any changes to the springs and then retrieve the health records one year after.

    For this strategy to be effective, useful and sustainable we need to include the community, elders and opinion leaders in the plan. I will start by attending brazzasas (community meetings) in the chosen sub-locations and meet with elders to find the opinion leaders. Then the stakeholders, opinion leaders and myself will meet to discuss the idea for the water springs and gain his or her support. We will then work with the opinion leaders to gain the communities support. Once we have the support of all major stakeholders and the community we will hire local fundis (carpenters), and buy the needed supplies and begin making the improvements to the springs.

    As I mentioned above, an important component of project planning and implementation is monitoring and evaluation. Therefore, we will gather health records prior to making the changes to the springs and the future coordinator will return in 2015 to retrieve the health records a year after the changes to the springs has been made. From these records we will be able to evaluate the effectiveness and changes in water quality. From this evaluation and discussions with the stakeholder’s changes can be made for future water spring improvement.

 

Pictures will be coming soon!