Welcome to Kasiki

Kasiki is a kiswahili word meaning "water jar". For many years Peter and Caryn have helped raise funds for Church World Service (CWS) through our local Foothills CROP Hunger Walk in Littleton, Colorado. Last February (2006) Peter and 11 other volunteers traveled to Kenya and Uganda to see how CWS uses the money to help people in East Africa through many different types of development programs. This February (2007) we are both going as volunteers. Peter will be using his expertise as a hydrologist to help CWS and local Christian partner agencies evaluate community water projects. Caryn will be assisting in the water efforts, and writing about the people we meet and communities we visit.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Sand dam at Kaikungu

Kaikungu Community Water Project - Feb 15

After leaving our friends Sabastian and Gabriel at Masongaleni, we took the long, bumpy road north to Kitui, a small city in the hills. We were met by Bishop Mule of the Kitui Diocese of the Anglican Church of Kenya, the Church World Service patner in this area.

The next morning (15th) we drove north into the hills in the direction of Mwingi to the Kaikungu Community water project, where we were met by Pastor Ezekiel Matua, water chairwomen Regina Ibrahim and other community members. This day was a bit of a mixed bag, as the borehole drilled for the community about 9 months ago, had still not been fitted with a pump. There has been some problems with the driller and project funding, but the community leaders apparently thought we were coming to fix the situation. Until the pump and a solar panel are installed, the community is still relying on water holes dug in the sand of an intermittant stream, or when that source dries up, a long walk to a larger stream. There is also a small sand dam constructed in the drainage which sustains a water source for a little longer into the dry season.

This whole region of hills has extensive problems with erosion from farming on the steep hillsides. Ultimately, the longterm solution to water problems here must include tree planting, farm terracing, sand dams along the drainages and a restoration of the hillsides. Until the community can be organized and educated to work towards these solutions, we pray that their borehole can be up and running soon to alleviate immediate water needs. We'll keep up on the status of this project.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Heading back to the USA

After a couple of days in Nairobi, a big city with people of many nationalities, faiths, and cultures, and with many languages being spoken, we're off to the USA this evening.

It's been a good trip. We'll update with more details of our individual days in Kenya after we've recovered from jet lag at home.

This is the artwork at the Grand Regency where we've been staying. It replicates a Maasai headdress.

God bless.

Caryn and Peter

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Quick catch up

We're back in Nairobi after traveling half of Kenya. It turned out to be impossible to post to our blog along the way. We tried, but no luck; either no electricity or the Internet cafe was down or the dial up was so slow that it just didn't work. Welcome to Africa.

A quick run down since we last blogged follows:

Wednesday, 2/14 - Masongaleni Community Water Project
near Kbwezi.

Thursday, 2/15 - Kaimungu Community Water Project
between Kitui and Mwingi, northeast of Nairobi and visit sand dam at Excellent Development at Machakos on the way back to Nairobi.

Friday, 2/16 - After night in Nairobi and visit to CWS office, we drove to Narok in the southern Rift Valley and Maasai country.

Saturday, 2/17 - Saw Narok Drought Recovery Project borehole, 25 km down a jeep road at a community of Maasai. Were hosted in their homes! Young warriors danced and jumped for us. Stephen of CWS, who is traveling with us, jumped too!

Sunday, 2/18 - Drove north up and over and over the Mau Escarpment, nice, beautiful, cool drive to Nakuru. Checked in to the Merika hotel. Went on safari at Nakuru National Park. Saw two lions, zebra, monkeys, giraffe, water buffalo, baboons, and more.

Monday, 2/19 - Visited local water boreholes, water projects supported by Farming Systems Kenya, and met with Sumawa at Egerton University about watershed issues (oh, it was so good talking water stuff, says Peter).

Tuesday, 2/20 - Visited Gladys at Pistis School and Orphanage in Nakuru. Drove on to Kitale.

Wednesday, 2/21 - Drove north to Makutana and met with staff of Yanga't Girl Child Potential Sensitation Group. Went down off the plateau into the hot, dry country inhabited by the Pokot. Visited sand dams at Marchichi and Chakerichre. Saw camels. Was hosted by people in African hut with cow dung floor.

Thursday, 2/22 - Stopped at Elisha's Cafe in Kitale, then drove long, bumpy road to Nairobi.

Will tell all soon about the wonderful people and all the good work CWS is doing as we have time, starting below.

Wednesday 2/14 - We drove down the Mombasa Highway to Kbwezi and stayed at the old Tsavo Inn (no man eating lions were sighted or heard). In the morning, we visited the Masangaleni Community Water Project, which taps a govenment waterline near the railroad and extends water in two directions 15-25 km with a number of kiosks to which the people come with their 20 L cans to get water. Before this project was in place, people were getting water from the Thange River and were walking up many hours to get water. Every family had lost someone to waterborne diseases. With the project in place, people are healthy, the walk of the women is short to the water source, and people are happier. However, there are still people who walk a long way to reach the kiosks and the community would like to extend the lines to help still more people and create more kiosks. Thanks to our partner Community Resource Initiative, led by Sabastian Mutiso. Pictured here are some of the school children of Masangaleni who were really surprised to encounter us.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Tuesday, February 13

In Nairobi, Caryn (me) and Steve (a US intern with Church World Service in Nairobi) spent time with the women of the Women and Children in Strength Program in Mathare Valley slum. Regional Coordinator of the Nairobi Region Phyllis Kamau of the National Council of Churches of Kenya (NCCK) spoke with us and told us about the women and the program.

Briefly, this is a small micro enterprise program, which engages 120 women who live in the slums of Mathare and Huruma. NCCK, which i the local partner that Church World Service (CWS) supports there, provides small loans to the women so thay can start businesses of their own. They must pay back the loans by making regular payments of a small amount. This is very difficult for these women, who can barely buy food for themselves and their families. It has been very difficult for some to understand the concept of a loan. But, the discipline of making payments make it easier for them as time goes along. NCCK and CWS walk alongside these women, training them to run their businesses, helping them with issues and advising them.

Phyllis then introduced us to the women. Caryn and Steve then introduced themselve. Here's what Caryn said,

I am Caryn. I am from Colorado in the United States of America where we have had many feet of snow this year. I am happy to see the green of Kenya and to hear the birds singing. Last year, my husband Peter visited you. I want to thank you for your hospitality to him and to his group. I wasnt to thank you for the lovely goods you sent home with Peter. I want to thank you for the three outfits you made for me. I have worn them in the US and have had many compliments on them. I thank God for bringing us to Kenya. I asked him for a word to bring to you. After a time I received Phillipians 14:3: I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Now, I look forward to hearing your stories. God bless you. Asante sana.

Phyllis translated for me, introduced Steve, who also spoke, then we began interviewing the women, who were reluctant at first to come forward, but soon were eager to visit with us, offering their stories and their hopes for the future. I will share their individual stories with you in the future, but here I would like to say that these women start having success and then start dreaming dreams. Some of the dreams I heard from them were to send their children to secondary school and to university, to buy a plot of land and to subdivide it for the women so they don't have to pay "house rent", to go and bring goods from Uganda and Tanzania to sell in Kenya, to own and operate bigger businesses with better equipment, to help and educate all the children of the slums, and to grow out of the slums. Some of the needs they mentioned were a need for marketing of their goods and a need for help with school fees for their many children.

Peter went with Andrew and Mary to the National Environmental Management Authority of Kenya where this time they were able to meet with two officials (unlike yesterday, where we were waiting for an hour and did not see anyone). Although reluctant to share any documents or copy anything for us, these officials outlined procedures for doing environmental assessments (EAs) for water projects, including the need to hire consultants for larger projects. Fortunately, thsecond official indicated that most of the projects were small enough that no formal EA would be needed and that local district officials were available to help with expertise. "For small communities and NGOs , we do not want the EA to cost more than the project itself," he said. This was very disappointing news to a consultant like Peter. :)

When Peter returned to WCIS program, we bought small items from the women for Art at the CWS Rocky Mountain Office. Peter bargained well. Caryn did not. :)

Monday, February 12, 2007

First day on the job

Today we started out with Andrew and Tammy Mott, director of South Africa office of CWS, to Nairobi office of CWS. There we went over plans for the next several days with CWS staff members. Looks like a good plan!

Caryn interviewed Wahu Kaara (pictured) who is running for president of Kenya. She had come to Denver to speak last September for the Harvest of Hope dinner in support of the Africa Initiative.

Wahu shared some great ideas including the wild one that those who seek power should seek it to serve the people. Also, she commented that one of the greatest sins of our times is the existence of street children in the world. Caryn will write about her and share the article, if you like.

Tried to visit a government official concerning environmental assessment requirements in Kenya, but he went into a meeting when we arrived a bit late and was unavailable after that. Peter will try again tomorrow while Caryn goes to The Women in Strength Program.

While driving around Nairobi, we remarked on Andrew's skill. Peter indicated he would love to drive, but would need a car already with dents. Caryn said she could also drive in Nairobi - in her dreams, or nightmares. Peter decided that Nairobi needed bicycle taxis instead of matatus. He will discuss this with business student Robin. The new business will be called Boddie's Boda Bodas.

Ruth Mukunga, Wanji's sister, came to our hotel and met Peter. We passed on the aforementioned keyboard and other things. (Caryn had crashed due to jet lag and missed the visit.)

We picked up a book Peter had been wanting to read at Denver International Airport before we left. Caryn started reading upon waking in a state of discombobulation, and found it good reading. It was written by the head of the human genome project, Francis Collins. Published in 2006, it is The Language of God: A Scientist Makes the Case for Faith.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Arrived Nairobi

We're in Kenya! Staying at the Regency Hotel - pretty fancy for some mzumga like us. We almost didn't make it - our first flight out of Denver was delayed over an hour and we arrived at the same time as our Amsterdam flight was schduled to leave. But Northwest held the plane for Denver folks and we and our luggage made it all the way through.

We met another Peter sitting behind us on the flight across the Atlantic and he taught Caryn some kiswahili and told us not to eat beef (Rift Valley fever). He is a Kenyan and now a US citizen living in Illinois who is visiting his wife and newborn daughter. Amazingly, he ended up sitting next to us on the flight from Amsterdam to Nairobi.

The landing in Nairobi was a little interesting - as the plane swerved wildly down the runway (like Toad's wild ride). Peter B commented that the pilots must have been dodging potholes, which Peter from Illinois thought was hilarious.

We were greated at the airport by Andrew from Church World Service who drove us safely to our hotel. Thank you Andrew. To be continued...