Monday, 28 December 2009

Looking Back on 2009

On the whole, it has been a good year. I have been to Kenya twice, and I feel that we (that is, Kenyan Community Initiative Support or KCIS) have actually achieved something tangible.

On the first trip, in May, we cleared a small vegetable plot at the Twiga Centre, sowed some vegetable seed, with a view to supplying the most needy children with fresh vegetables all year round. OK, it didn't quite go according to plan - there is no one at the plot during the week, so if there is no rain, even for a couple of days, the plot dries out. This happened in June and we lost some of the seedlings. But we still had a fair few survivors, which as still growing and providing food.

What else did we achieve in May? Not a lot. We updated the register and put it on computer, which makes managing the files on the kids a bit easier - and we treated a couple of kids who had a ringworm infestation.

I also ended my relationship with my erstwhile girlfriend on the Coast. I got the impression that it was a give and take relationship. I did the giving and she ... well, you can guess the rest.

I am still fond of her and her kids. Children belonging to one party in a relationship can be considered excess baggage or a blessing. My two have long since flown the nest, so do not enter the equation. But my girlfriend had two and as far as I was concerned, they were a blessing. I am not saying that either was perfect, far from it, but they have really good characters - I miss them. Who knows? Maybe we'll get back together again. I sort of hope we will.

During the months between my first and second visits to Kisii, I worked on a final design for a methane generator. But it didn't matter how much work I put down on paper, I needed to build one and prove to myself that it would work.

So in November, that is exactly what we did. I didn't follow my latest design - that is for another day - but a simple anaerobic digester fed with cow slurry, and it worked. So I bought a table-top gas stove and that worked too. This is our most impressive achievement to date as it paves the way to providing free cooking fuel to the Twiga Centre as well as many rural Kenyans.

We built a swing at the Twiga Centre. This has been, by far, the most popular play equipment ever. In fact, if we had fitted it with headlights, the kids would be using it through the night.

But the swing was not all good news. It is the first time I have seen serious squabbles break out amongst the children. We are going to have to build some more play equipment on my next visit.

We planted more seed, all of which sprang up and looks very healthy. We also distributed seed to those children who wanted it and who had somewhere to plant it.

It is never good news when we have to take in more children, as it means that their families are no longer able to care for them. But, it is good to know that we are helping  them in a small way.

We took in three girls in November. This will help to balance up the boy to girl ratio. We were also able to strike off three children, two boys and a girl, as their widowed mother has finally received the legacy left to her by her deceased husband.

We also formalised the registration of all the children on the Twiga register. Each child had to get a form filled in by their closest relative or guardian, with enough detail for us to be able to help each child as an individual.

One of our new intake was born HIV+. This child is our only infected child. We had one last year, who was only three years old when she succumbed to her illness. I hope and pray that we will be able to hold on to our new little one for a lot longer.

While in Kisii, I thought it would be a good idea to revive the ailing business that I had started over a year ago. We did a whirlwind tour of some businesses and got some business, business that will bring in a regular income for a fair while. It is still in its infancy, but promises to be reasonably successful, by Kenyan standards, anyway.

Since my return to the UK, we have had a tentative offer of funding to start building the orphanage, good news indeed. We will not be housing every child on our register, only those who have no one to look after them. Eventually, we will take in more, those who are living with elderly relatives, for example. But we will still strive to keep family units together with other forms of support, if at all possible.

So that was 2009. What will happen in 2010? I can only guess, but we do have plans. We want to improve the anaerobic digester, and build more. We want to tie up with an organisation in Bungoma to look at ways that water hyacinth can be used. As I mentioned earlier, we want to build more play equipment, maybe a see-saw. And we want to start rainwater harvesting at the Twiga centre.

Not too challenging - I hope!


Antony Kamau said...

Happy and prosperous new year 2010!

Baba Mzungu said...

Thank you very much, and to you, the same