Monday, May 23, 2011

Feels Like Yesterday....

Today marks one year from when i left phoenix to fly to kenya and begin my adventure of a lifetime. I didnt know what to expect, how i was going to live, what i would bring to my community, or even if i would make it for the two years! When i arrived in kenya, i was greeted by Amber, a fellow pcv, who oddly enough was friends with my amazing friend Nicole and had gone to NAU with us. Peeking into her calendar i saw "One year left!" written. I thought, "wow, i can't wait to see that in my calendar". Now that day has come, and its a great, accomplished feeling. This is a huge milestone in my PC service and i'm proud to say that since day one, i've had the best time in kenya. With my PC family, projects, community, and of course the beach! i've made the best memories and have never felt like "i'm in the right place at the right time" more than ever during this last year. And luckily! I get to have another year that i'm sure will fly past faster than the first, and i can't wait! xoxoxo

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

JVRC is Funded! Whoo Hoo!

OFFICIAL ANNOUNCEMENT: The Jilore Vijana Resource Center has recieved FULL funding!!! YAY! Thanks to the Australian High Commission in Nariobi. BUT! you can still donate, because we will need extra funds. SO if you were waiting...time is up! Donate NOW because the project will be off the website by the end of THIS week. Project Number 615-182

Construction logistics are already in the process of being planned and arranged, so it can begin as soon as possible. We are on a tight deadline and once construction starts, its going to be quick! I'm so happy and just want to thank eveyone that helped and donated to this project. The Posterus Foundation and the Australian High Commission were our biggest contributors and Jilore can't thank them enough!!

But, we can use all the shillings you can spare, so if you were waiting to donate or had just forgot, PLEASE do so by the end of this week!! Pictures of the construction will definitely be put up so everyone can follow the fun!


Saturday, May 14, 2011

Baby Joshua!!

The pastor and his wife's son, Joshua. 2 months old.

Baby Joshua!! 2

He enjoys all the attention i give him and i enjoy my baby time with him! Best stress reliever ever :)

Sunday, May 8, 2011


Homemade salsa in Kenya! Not from the garden yet, but this makes me excited for it. :)

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Kenyan Time Means You Are Always Late: A Long, Overdue Update!!!

Wow! It has been a busy and active last several months, so please forgive me for not keeping you updated! Where do I begin??

Well….way back when in February, a bunch of people got together and had a fun Super Bowl Party in Diani Beach. The game was on here starting at 2 AM and lasted till 6AM. It was a struggle for sure! The boys made a bunch of food like wings and dips. Then we all gathered at Forty Thieves, our local beach bar, and watched the game on a TV that had the backdrop of the Indian Ocean. We definitely stood out like Americans! I had a bet that the Steelers would win, but lost that one. At 6AM, we all staggered home, from tiredness… not drinking, as the sun came up over the ocean. But that made it pretty memorable.

The Salon Club has successfully started at the high school. The girls love the blow dryers and used them every Sunday to do each others hair. I must say all the girls are looking very “smart” as Kenyans would say. There pictures up on Facebook of the girls in action and some of their hair designs...find and friend me to check those out. The next school term, which just started, we’ll be having the girls open up the salon to the community and hopefully these girls will be able to make some money on the side and have some practice at running their own small business. Thank you SO much for those who donated the appliances and to my mom for shipping them over here!!!

The Boys and Girls Forums are in full swing at both the primary and secondary schools. They are both meeting twice a month and I’ve had some guest come in to mix it up a bit. There have also been changes made at the high school due to issues brought up by the students that would have otherwise gone unsaid and unnoticed by the headmaster/teachers. I had a young mother come in and talk to the primary girls (grades 4-8) and they got a first hand look at the struggles of being a young, single mother. The primary students got to ask their new headmaster questions to get to know him better too. Wonderful questions like where do you live?, where did you go to school?, what is your favorite food?, and how many wives do you have??...Wait..What was that last one you ask?...Yep, that is a very common question here. I also was able to get an understanding from the questions at the forums that the primary school needs to reinstate the feeding program. The feeding program is funded by World Food Program and supplies food for lunch every day for every student. They are trying to combat the issue of students missing school because they don’t have food to eat at home. These students are often sent out to look for food for not just them, but the family. Or they just sleep until dinner so they can ignore the hunger. Lunch is the incentive to come to school and be guaranteed at least one meal that day, and sometimes it’s their only meal that day. Thus, I have taken on another project of collecting data of how many absent students they are having and presenting the findings to the Ministry of Education who would oversee the program. We are also looking into forming an Education Group in the community that would deal with student/education issues like following up and holding parents responsible for their children missing school. That way we would also know more issues affecting the community. I’ll also be scheduling teacher- headmaster- chief-village elder-parent meetings addressing each of the highly absent students. I have each of their names and the number of times they were absent last term (3 month time period). This will also give us direct reasons as to why they are missing school or dropping out. The main suspected reason is hunger.

The soko (market day) is doing well for just getting out of the drought season. Arizona has been in a “drought” for how many years?? And I’ve never seen any effect of a drought there, but here…it’s a big difference from the landscape to the food quantities available. The chief and I are having some meetings in the next couple of weeks to reactivate the mamas to keep selling and to bring in different veggies to sell. There is an irrigation scheme that is down by the river and they grow many different types of veggies, but then take them to Malindi to sell there. We will hopefully be working with them to have small amounts of each veggie kept here in Jilore and sold on Tuesdays. I’m hoping this will encourage and show the other farmers/sellers that other mboga (veggies) do and will sell here and it will expand the soko.

This has also inspired me to have my own shamba (garden)! Pictures are up on the blog in a previous post to show the before and after. My goal is to grow veggies so that I can make salsa on a regular basis! I’m going into Malindi tomorrow to buy some more seeds to plant and hopefully with the rains just starting I’ll have a garden in no time!

Girls field hockey team took 3rd in the provincials in their first year competing. We are looking forward to next terms competitions. The Tae Kwon Do Club took 3rd out of 9 schools in a tournament in Malindi that they first performed at which is great exposure and encouragement for them.

A bunch of PCVs got together and played in an Ultimate Frisbee Tournament down in Mombasa a couple of weeks ago. That was fun and it was great to see everyone together and play against these very serious (practice 3 times a week) teams when we just had a couple of people that play and then formed a team. We had some intense rain delays on the beach with a huge lighting and thunderstorm (which are rare already) that came in with hurricane force winds. Not ideal when we are camping in tents on the beach…..some tents didn’t make it out the next night. Some of the people were old Peace Corps volunteers that served in different parts of the world, but now live and work in Nairobi. We were at lunch one day and a older man came up to our table (of 5 current Kenyan PCVs) and told us his wife was in the second Peace Corps group to come into Kenya back in the 1960’s! I thought that was the coolest thing! PS…Peace Corps is 50 years old this year too. Above all we met some fun people and had a great time!

Camp GLOW: What a huge success and one of the best experiences I’ve had here in Kenya!!! 12 PCVs took 46 girls, ages 14-20, from all over the country to the coastal town of Kilifi. Camp GLOW is a girl empowerment camp and we teach them about issues that girls deal with, health and reproductive health education, leadership, goal making, choices for careers, etc. Of course we have fun in there too! It was a week long camp and we split the girls up into two groups. By the third day, we really saw that the girls were learning and retaining things. They had so many great questions and for me it was a success just to give them correct information instead of them believing the myths they hear. For some of these girls, just the experience of going to and staying at a university was the big experience for them. We had some girls that had never had or used a western style toilet or a shower. For fun in the evenings, we showed them movies, had a talent show which was awesome to watch, and a disco and award ceremony on the last night. We took them to the beach one afternoon and some of the girls had never been swimming in the ocean (or any water for that fact) or some had never even been to or seen the ocean before! They clung to us for dear life in the water, but they enjoyed every minute of it! It’s the little parts of it that the girls will really remember. As PCVs we were completely drained by the end of it. There is another set of camps being planned in August to do the same thing but for girls from western Kenya. I brought 2 girls from my secondary school and I’m going to have them teach the rest of the girls in school about what they learned during the Girls Forums. The condom demonstrations should thoroughly embarrass them, but they will be great teachers! They will also be teaching the boys! Ha! Pictures are up on Facebook of the last couple of days of the camp. The Part 1 will be coming soon!

JVRC: My big project….still keeping me on my toes and busy with work. The Posterus Foundation had a fundraising event in London on the 14th of April which raised around $900 for us which is awesome! The first of two New York events was this past weekend and I’m waiting to hear how that went. I think a marathon type event is up next in May sometime. I have been working tirelessly harassing people here in Kenya for funds, and it’s actually been quite fun. They can’t get irritated with the outsider, right? Haha But it actually has connected me with some great people and made some good connections. I had a meeting with my Member of Parliament (MP) which went really well and even though he is a politician and they lie more here then in the states, I believe he will help the project. He is also up for re-election next year and will need some votes from Jilore. I’m currently bothering the County Clerk and coming at him from new creative directions. I have some great people in good places helping me in Malindi with some other leads. I’ve applied for some more grants that I’m waiting to hear back on, and we are beginning to advertise to the community so they start to want and own this project. We will be planting trees on the land boundaries soon as well as putting up a sign for the proposed site notice. I got the group registered with a ministry here, so we are official and hopefully tomorrow I’ll be having a bank account opened for the project so the money can start pouring in! This project has gotten a ton of response and support from everyone I talk to, but the issue is….everything runs on Kenyan time and things just take forever here…..It’s teaching me wonderful patience. :) As always, you can still donate at project number 615-182.

I challenge everyone to collect $100 at work, church, synagogue, birthday parties, etc through spare change in your pocket or skipping one delicious lunch at Taco Bell (Oh…how I miss it so….) and donate that in the month of May. That $100 goes so far here and can add up so quickly. You might not think so, but give me time and I’ll prove it. Check out the JVRC project and see some pictures of Jilore. Let me know WHEN you donate that $100 that you so selflessly raised, so I can add you to the list of names that went to supporting my project. Don’t you want your name to be forever written in Kenya?! Again, thank you to everyone who has already donated!

My newest little project is to get a Newspaper in Education program in my primary school. It’s a program where newspapers are read and used in school as tools to increase English comprehension, awareness of current news, and debates on topics in the news. The school is given a subsided rate to buy the newspapers and each week the students have an activity using the papers. One of the issues here is that we don’t get newspapers unless they are brought from Malindi and few people do that. Two teachers from the school will be trained in running the program and then newspapers are bought each week. So...I’m looking for a grant/donor to fund the project so we can gain access to this great resource and educational tool. From my calculations so far, for only about $1,500 this will cover the training of the two teachers and buy 3 newspapers a week for a whole year! Then after the primary students have used those newspapers, they will be given to the community to read, and soon they will be reading them in the resource center! So if you have any contact of someone, or someone who knows someone, who works at a newspaper in the states, I’d love their info. I’m starting there and still looking for some education grants that could fund this project.

Welp, that sums up my last 3 months pretty well. The next 4-5 will be very busy also with continuing to work on these projects, a visit from my mom in July, and some trainings. The weather has finally cooled off and big clouds have returned to the skies. The rains have started which makes everything super green and lush. It also brings out flying bugs, tons of mosquitoes, and snakes that are very annoying, but I’ll deal with it. My neighbors and close friends, the Pastor and his wife, Pauline, had a baby boy that I get to see, hold and play with everyday. It's my stress reliever and my way to spend time waiting for meetings to happen. Baby Joshua is very cute too and keeps me happy! My dispensary is expecting money any day now to begin renovations and to install electricity, but again…everything runs on Kenyan time. May 23rd will be my one year anniversary from leaving Phoenix, and a couple days later will be my one year from leaving the states. It’s a very exciting time in my Peace Corps life. My first big milestone! I know this second year is going to fly by faster than the first, so I need to enjoy every second of it. Including living so close to the beach!!!

I will keep better updates coming on a more frequent basis now that I’m caught up on things. Hope all is well at home and I miss and love everyone!


Sunday, May 1, 2011

Shamba la Mboga: Before

This plot is right outside my back door. My goal: dig and make a kitchen garden (shamba la mboga) and grow some basic veggies. It also will make me even more Kenyan, so i have to at least try!

Shamba la Mboga: After!

This is the finished shamba. Now i'm just waiting for some seeds to arrive to plant in there and will (hopefully) watch them grow. Fingers crossed! I want to be able to make my own salsa from the veggies i'll grow. I'm such an Arizona girl!

Shamba la Mboga: Blisters...Ouch.

This is my evidence of some hard work. It's well worth it tho, but they are a bit painful....