The Community Barazza, gaining support from the community and official representatives, and hiring of a mason (contractor):

Our goals this past week were to gain the support of the Water and Sanitation of Vihiga, the county, the village elders, and most importantly the community. We also wanted to hire a mason, also known as a contractor, who will be building the fence, the repairs to the pipe of the water springs and building the stairs.

This past week we decided to add one more spring into the pilot project. We want to ensure we are able to monitor and evaluate the success of the pilot project. From speaking to officials and village elders we realize to obtain quantitative data of the entire catchment population of Wasundi village, we need to include all three springs. The third spring is called Iskira. Iskira water spring is in quite good condition compared to the other two springs, which was initially why we thought we would only include the two springs.

 Iskira water springs:


We began on Monday with a meeting in Sabatia with the Water and Sanitation official. The gentleman we met gave his approval for the pilot water springs project. He let us know he was very pleased we had come to gain his support and advice. The Water and Sanitation representative agreed to give us proper sketches of each of the water springs. We will share these sketches with the mason to ensure the springs are not altered in any way when he repairs the pipe. Also, the sketches and village elder will help the mason know the perimeter for the fence of each spring without building on anyone’s private property. The Water and Sanitation official also agreed to attend and speak at the barazza.

 Secondly this week the local Alison and I are working with helped us find a mason (contractor) who had done similar work with water springs. We met with the mason on Thursday to view the springs, discuss labor costs and sign a contract. The team and the mason walked to the view each spring so that he would be able to get a better visual of the work to be completed and whether or not he feel confident taking on the job. After viewing the springs we sat down and discussed the needed supplies, cost of labor and a work plan/timeline. On Friday the mason sign his contract. This Monday the mason and his team will begin working on the first spring- Wakidamane. We are estimating that Wakidamane spring will take about three weeks to complete, and then we will move onto Keneswa spring.

 On Friday we held the community barazza to let the community know about the project and gain their support. We also wanted to provide an opportunity for them to voice any concerns. The barazza was held outside, in an area that was central to all three springs in Wasundi village. We had representatives from the Water and Sanitation, the Ministry of Health (MOH), a village elder from each of the springs, and the chief of the area. Each representative introduced him or herself and gave a small speech about the water springs project. Many community individuals came up after the barazza to communicate how happy they are for the work to be completed on the three springs, which was very reassuring.

 Some pictures from the barazza:

The mason and village elders:






The chief and village elder

Image The team: village elders, chief, representative from the MOH, representative from the Water and Sanitation







The Water Springs: Initial viewing and Planning:

This past week we chose the two water springs that we will be focusing on this summer. The springs are called Kesenwa and Wakidamane and they are found in the Wasundi village of Vihiga district. According to the village elder we are working with the springs are used by approximately 30-50 households each day, sometimes twice a day, which we estimate there are about five people or more per household. We visited Kesenwa and Wakidamane water springs last Thursday to see the initial quality of the springs to better visualize the work to be completed this summer and develop a work plan.

 Wakidamane water springs:



Wakidamane spring is in the poorest condition of the two springs. As you can see from the pictures, it is on a very steep incline to walk down and up to with a full 20-liter jerry can. Secondly, there is water leaking from either side of the faucet/pipe. This indicates that there are holes in the pipe causing the flow of water to be decreased. Thus, when people fill up their jerry cans it takes a long time, while they could be tending to the cows, their garden, or taking care of the house and their children. We are also seeing the springs during the rainy season, when the water table is high, and therefore in January during the dry season the flow of water is decreased even further. The pipe has started leaking because people are using the pathways directly above the springs, and also cattle are grazing above the pipe, which is compacting the ground and causing pressure on the pipe, resulting in the pipe to burst and have small holes. Thirdly, the area around the spring is not restricted in any manner. This leaves people to access the spring from all directions, and also people allow their cattle graze closely to the spring. Then the cows sometimes use this area as a bathroom, and unhygienic material seeps into the ground and into the water. Finally, there are no proper steps down to and from the spring and this provides the opportunity for people to slip and fall and potentially break their jerry can or hurt themselves, especially during the rainy season.

As a result we are planning to build a fence as far as possible around the water springs without going onto anyone’s property, and building a gate into and out of the springs. This will ensure no livestock can graze around the water springs, and people must follow one pathway reducing the compression on the pipes. This will allow for the best quality, flow, and sanitation of water. We also plan on digging up the pipe and either replacing, or fixing the pipe so that the water springs can return to its maximum water flow. Finally, we plan on building proper, and safe steps to the springs to reduce the chances of people hurting themselves.

 Kesenwa water springs:



As you can see Kesenwa springs is similar in needing the pipe to be fixed and a proper fence and entrance into and out of the spring. However, this spring has a relatively proper set of stairs to and from the springs.

In the upcoming two weeks we plan to meet with the local chief of the area to propose our idea and gain his support, and plan for a community barazza (meeting). At the community barazza we will propose our idea to the community to gain support, and ask whether there is anything we are missing and need to include in our proposal. Finally, we are planning to meet with the local Department of Water and Sanitation to also propose our idea and gain their support and any further guidance.

Wish us luck!

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




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



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



The Kakamega Rainforest from the viewpoint


Myself, Alison and Jasmine drinking from the classiest of mugs


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!

Overview of this summer’s activities:

I feel as though I need to apologize to all donors for not posting pictures or blog posts in the last month. To say in the least it has been busy. I have completed the deworming campaign for this summer and the amazing community health workers will continue administering the medication and data collection every 3 months for the next year. I also had both medical camps! More details and PICTURES below!

Medical Camp at Walodeya, Chavakali:

On Thursday, July 4th I held my first medical camp in Chavakali at Walodeya Church. Overall, things went very smoothly. All nurses, community health workers, clinic officers, lab technicians and public health officers showed up on time and worked hard through out the day. Four SID teammates: Lauren, Becky, Greg and Josh came along to help where needed. Lauren weighed, Becky took blood pressure and Greg and Josh helped record malaria testing. When we arrived at 8AM to set up the church we already had about 50 people standing outside the church waiting to be treated. I realized then that all my fears of people not showing up would not be a problem. Around 10AM I realized I was going to run out of medication!! Through out the day we continued to run out of various medications. At 4:30PM we had to stop allowing people to enter the church and at 5PM we stopped diagnosing and treating patients. Although it was very hard to inform the crowd we would not be able to help them today, I had to remember the people we were able to treat.
When I received the final report of the medical camp I learned we treated 452 people in total. The services provided that day included: general diagnosis, various medications for diarrhea, cough, pain, and malaria, HIV testing and counseling, cervical cancer screening and malaria testing.
This past Friday, July 19th I held my final medical camp and SID project of the summer. The medical camp was a new location called Mudete, Ezava PAG church. This time around with advice from my host I changed the lay out of the church and the flow of people in and out of the church. This made a significant difference and the day and flow of people was much more calm. I also ordered more medication and this time I did not run out! Actually, I have extra of certain medication, which I will be donating to the dispensaries this week before I leave. This time we diagnosed and treated 420 people.

Nurses dispensing medication to community members.

Everyone who worked at the second medical camp! This includes: SID Project Managers, Nurses, Clinical Officers, Community Health Workers, Lab Technician, Public Health Officer, and VCT counsellors


Everyone patiently waiting to enter the church

Greg and the Lab Tech conducting malaria testing

I have completed the deworming campaign for this year! The deworming campaign is taking place in 4 ECD Nursery schools, which include: Kibaala, Bo-yusuf, Kisangula and Nadanya. These nursery schools are located in three different sub-locations: Munoywa, Inyali and Nadanya. We have held information sessions for both 2012 case and control groups. At the 2012 case information sessions, we have explained why this year we will not be continuing providing medication and data collection. I believe I have explained this in a post before, but for those who have not read above. The Ministry of Health and Ministry of Education have now partnered and started a national deworming program in the schools for all nursery schools and class one to class eight children biannually. Therefore, SID does not want to interfere with this and so we have stopped administering medication in these nursery schools. As for our 2012 control groups, we want to provide the medication they did not receive in the previous year. In early June at Munoywa, I would give the children take home notices to give to their parents and come to the information sessions at the schools the following day. I realized after my first information session and consent signing process that it was going to be difficult to get as many parents to come to the information session as possible, as only four parents showed up. However, with the help of the Munoywa community health worker we had almost every parent sign the consent form and we gave the first dosage of deworming medication and completed the first data collection. As I began at Nadanya all the teacher’s went on strike. That threw a wrench in my plan! However, my contingency plan, plan B, turned out to be a much better plan! This time around, I had the Nadanya community health worker call every parent the day before the information session and then call the parents who were still absent once again the day of the meeting. Calling parents the day-of seemed to work much better, and we had a much better attendance rate. I continued with this plan at both Nadanya and Inyali. Through out completing the deworming campaign I have learned the importance of listening and learning from different community members.

Munoywa community health worker measuring a child and Joel recording the measurements


The success of both the medical camp and deworming campaign would not have happened without the help of the Ministry of Health, nurses, clinical officers, public health officers, community health workers, and the support of all the project managers. Thank you also to everyone who donated, your money went towards providing basic medical care and medication to those in need, and providing many children with deworming medication, which will help them to be present and focus better in school.

Week 5 – Halfway Point (wow)

Project Work:
This past Friday, June 7th I held my first consent/information day at Kibaala Nursery School. With a few hiccups it went well and we had many of the children’s parents sign the consent form. There are 26 children at Kibaala who participated in the research study last year. We will try to reach all children’s parents to give them the opportunity to sign the consent form and offer their child the deworming medication for this year. This week the Community Health Worker for Munoywa area accompanied me to Kibaala Nursery School as we gave the first dose of deworming medication and completed data collection. The measurements being taken are: weight, height and arm circumference. We also ask the Head Teachers whether the student has been absent and the reasons behind the absence. It was exciting to see the planning of the last few weeks being put into action. We also set up the consent/information day at Bo-yusuf Nursery School for early next week.
In regards to the Public Health Camp we have chosen a place for both Mudete and Chavakali Public Health Camps. In Chavakali we are going to be holding the camp at Walodeya Church near the Primary School. In Mudete we have proposed to hold the camp at PAG Church, which still needs to be confirmed. We will be holding the first camp July 4th in Chavakali! I know it is still 3 weeks away, but we are starting to get both excited and nervous! Next week we will be hiring Community Health Workers, Nurses and Clinic Officers. Then we are almost ready for the camps to occur!

The Weekend Trips:
This past weekend we spent in our hometown, Mbale. Friday afternoon Becky, Lauren and myself decided to walk around the Market and see what other than food they had to sell. Being three girls we found ourselves at a lovely lady’s clothing pile, looking through all the tops. We found ourselves purchasing each a few new tops to spice up our wardrobe! It was a lovely start to the weekend.
On Saturday we took a matatu to Majengo and then piki pikis to the Maragoli Hills. We had a guide take us to the top of the mountain where we took many fun pictures! We then went into the Maragoli caves! Caves are probably one of my biggest fears. When we were first entered the caves, I watched Greg’s, Mary’s and Becky’s bodies disappear under the rocks… I nearly peed my pants! There were about 14 kids and teenagers who also came into the caves with us and I don’t think we could have done it without them! They were so helpful, helping us know where to put our feet, how to get under the rocks, and pushing/pulling up the massive rocks. I was so happy I conquered my fear and made it through the 120 meter cave!
This past Sunday the SID team had a unique graduation ceremony for the 3 Project Managers and our Project Coordinator who were unable to attend our ceremonies in Canada. At the graduation ceremony we had the dean, a keynote speaker and key people to hand out diplomas. Both the keynote speaker and dean brought laughter and wisdom to their speeches! Well it is off to Uganda tomorrow for some extreme river rafting and sight seeing! So excited.

Project Work + Weekend Shenanigans

Project Work:
These past couples of weeks I have spent meeting with community health workers and people from the Ministry of Health. I have also finalized my budget and sent in my proposals for the SID executives back in Canada to approve.
This year I will be organizing and conducting two, one-day public health camps in the Sabatia district during July. Our proposed locations within the Sabatia district are Mudete and Chavakali. We chose these locations because they are easily accessible, highly populated and government facilities are a far distance away. The closest dispensaries to Mudete and Chavakali are about 6km walking distance, and for many individuals piki piki’s (motorcycles) are not a feasible option. We are expecting to have about 1000 individuals attend each camp. During the camp these attendees will be diagnosed, given medication, and then finally there will be information workshops to help provide necessary information to stop further illness. The month of June will be spent planning and lobbying different organizations for donations of medications.
As well I will be continuing with a research study started last year by a previous SID research associates. Last year a pilot research study was conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of deworming children 3 to 5 years old. It was a randomized control study, meaning there was a case and control group. The deworming medication was given every 3 months and data collection was also completed every 3 months. This year the children who were in the 2012 control groups, who did not receive the medication last year, will be given the deworming medication this year. The same data collection measurements will be taken and the results will be compared from when the children did not receive medication and when they did.
My colleagues in the health sector are also organizing an anti-jiggers campaign. We hope to treat and fumigate as many households and families as our budget allows. As well we will be completing unique infrastructure proposals at each of the dispensaries SID works in. This includes: Munoywa, Inyali, Nadanya and Linkindu.

Today, June 4, 2013, I have just received my executive approval to move forward with my projects. For my deworming projects we will be working in three regions: Munoywa, Nadanya and Inyali. At each region we will be working in one or two schools, depending on whether or not they received the medication last year or not. This week I will hold my first consent information day at Kibaala Nursery School in the Munoywa region. This is a time for the parents of the 2012 control group children to ask any questions and then sign the consent form giving permission for their child to receive the medication every 3 months for one year and have their weight, height and arm circumference measured. We also check whether they have been absent from school and why. This week we have also contacted possible organizations for medical donations.

Weekend shenanigans!
Two weekends ago on Friday afternoon, the SID team got together and played a quality mini soccer game! During our game many kids who live in the neighborhood came out to see if they could join. We then started a big game of the SID team versus the children. Guess who won? The children, by far!
On Saturday Mary, Greg and myself decided to hike the Maragoli Hills. We took a matatus (similar to a mini van) to Majengo and then piki piki’s to the base of the hill. While I thought I was well trained to hike mountains from growing up in British Columbia, I had no idea we would hike straight up the mountain. Our guide got a good laugh as we were huffing and puffing up the mountain and he made it seem like a Saturday stroll in the park. The view at the top was absolutely breath taking. You could see a 360-degree view from Kisumu and Lake Victoria and all the way to Mbale and well beyond. We spent the entire afternoon climbing the big rocks, taking pictures and enjoying our lunch. I should mention that we had spent the morning preparing a delicious lunch of avocado and egg sandwiches, pineapple, bananas and cookies. However, at the top of the mountain we 6realized we had forgotten the eggs at home in the pot (opps!). Nonetheless, we had an amazing day hiking and exploring new areas of Kenya.
Sunday was spent in Kisumu. We had an absolutely fabulous and filling Indian meal in Kisumu. After that we went to the Masai Market, where all the girls found beautiful bracelets. Before we headed home we went to Tusky’s, a favorite, to load up with peanut butter, instant coffee, and different goodies. The matatus ride home was a very bumpy, cramped ride. Boy was I happy to finally arrive in Mbale!
It is now back to work this week!
This past weekend we went to Kakamega rainforest! We arrived around four on Saturday afternoon. We stayed at the Isecheno Blue Guest House in the rainforest. We chose to get up at 4:30AM for the sunrise hike. Although it was very hard to get up, and hiking up the mountain in the pitch dark was not the most enjoyable, watching the sunrise was worth it! After watching the sunrise and taking many team jumping photos, we hiked down the mountain into the rainforest in the early morning sunshine. We arrived back at our bandas and had a lovely breakfast. We then spent the morning and early afternoon playing FYB and relaxing.