Holiday Week and Week 5 in Kakamega

Holiday Week
It was a comparatively quiet week in the Kakamega house – after Emma and Lizzie left, I was the only coordinator left. Since almost all of the Project Workers had gone to Tiwi beach (expect an update a little later on this) this just left me and the chickens! Nevertheless it was a great opportunity to get on top of some KEP administration.So far the school selection strategy in Kakamega has heavily relied on local District Education Officers (DEOs) to tell relevant schools about the project, distribute application forms or even directly recommend needy schools. Some DEOs have been extremely helpful with this process, illustrated by the steady stream of application forms we’ve received over the course of the summer. However, we would prefer to recruit more directly in future and avoid burdening the DEOs with more work. With this in mind we have set up our website to receive online applications, we have our own PO Box in Kakamega (2926-50100 if you want to sneak in some post!) and we have created a single page ‘How to Apply’ leaflet that’s cheap enough to spread as widely as possible. Many PWs have encountered other NGOs and community figures who are perfect to spread to word about KEP and we aim to distribute our name as much as possible over the next few weeks.

On Friday I was joined by Anja Rangette, the latest addition to our coordinator team. With her help, along with that of Ewan and Katie, we prepared for the Midsummer meeting on the Sunday.

Midsummer Meeting and 5th week
This was an opportunity to refocus attention on the tasks of the second half of the project. This can be tougher than the first half since PWs usually shift their focus from purchasing resources to implementing them effectively. This can be anything from making sure there are enough shelves in the library or lab store to creating an entirely new library loans system – loss of books is often a problem in schools so innovations as to how to retain them are always welcomes by schools. Many PWs also engage more deeply with school development issues in the second half. Common initiatives often include trying to shift schools away from the (illegal but still widespread) caning, dissuading Head Teachers from unrealistic or unhelpful building programmes such as the plan to build an admin block when classrooms are very overcrowded,  or even working with the school and local community to increase fee collection. Lots of excellent ideas were floated and hopefully a good many of them will be put into practice in the second half of the summer!Beth also taught the other PWs (many boys included!) how to make reusable sanitary towels – lots of the PWs are keen to implement this in their schools over the next few weeks with the help of some money donated by Lizzie’s local Women’s Institute (Hinderwell’s Women’s Institute). It will be spent on materials to get the girls started in making the pads and washing facilities to ensure proper hygiene is observed at school.

PWs had a short week in school, only Monday to Wednesday but some had the excitement of the delivery of their resources and so were busy backing books. This has been the week when Kenyan schools actually take their week of holiday since during all other weeks ‘off’ there is remedial tuition for the older pupils. Summer Team headed off for some pastoral visits, including one to Shododo, Tom and Verena’s school, where they were implementing an income generating project – they purchased 50 chicks for the school. These can be bought for about 100/- are resistant to diseases in a way broilers are not, don’t need to be actively fed since they eat bugs and leftover food and eventually sell for around 700/- to 800/- when they are fully grown.


On Thursday the PWs were off to Kisii to start their Masai Mara safari. Again, I’ll request a more thorough update from them.

Saturday saw the arrival of another new coordinator Louise who, despite being awake for about 36 hours still managed to join in coordinator circuit training. Full marks for keenness! Next week will be a busy week for both PWs and Summer Team – lots of school selection for us, and lots of resource implementation, I-Rise and school development.

Gabriel, Kakamega Project Manager