Friday, July 20, 2007

Message from Menengai

I just received this via Raul, and Nicholas in Menengai :

"We have discussed this issue of security with Boniface [advisor, assistant and local artisan in Menengai] and the committee. Their [the volunteers] security is assured. Menengai also does not have a history of thuggery. Two, the place the volunteers will be staying is walled all around with security lights at strategic points. I will talk to the village security team who patrol at night to be extra vigilant.
Assure them of their well-being.
Greetings from Boniface and my wife.
Kindest regards,


It is with great sadness that I have to inform you that JNMCC, in Maseno, Kenya was robbed last night. Ksh500 (USD7.5 !!!!!!!) and Nancy's mobile phone were taken.

Security guards are being brought in but the damage is already done.
Everyone at JNMCC has been scared and disheartened.

I am informing you all because THIS HAPPENS.
With the huge divide in wealth in Kenya, it happens less in the rural areas but news travels fast when "muzungus" arrive. People hear you are all arriving and have lots of money and mobile phones and some people are
so poor they see no other option but to steal.
We all know it ruins opportunities for everyone else, especially the Kenyans.
It ruins lives, the lives of the children especially, because this crime affects us, scares us and we stay away.

If any of you decide not to join us in Kenya we will fully understand but I hope that none of you allow these men to ruin your experience or the progress we are already making to the lives of some of the good, kind Kenyan people.

As per our website, I wish to stress the importance of resilience, self-reliance, and innovation. We must separate fact from emotion & balance necessary levels of protection whilst preserving reasonable levels of risk. AVIF cannot prevent this type of occurrence. We cannot stop the burglar entering our own homes, either, but we can lessen the risk and empower you to take more personal responsibility for risk since you are best placed to manage it.

There will be additional security guards on the grounds for the duration of the programme.
JNMCC was the only host not to have security, or to think they did not need it. They are just as saddened by this as we are.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Earthquake update

An up to the minute and zoom-able map of earthquakes in Africa can be found here on the USGS website, updated every 30 minutes.

Details of each event are available by clicking on the squares, or through the "Earthquake list" option at the bottom of the page.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Feedback from Maseno

... great to hear from you! [Matt writing from UK about to join Nancy in Kenya]... Our girls at Mercy home are so wonderful and actually live a fairly middle class life in comparison to others in the community. Now, I am referring to Kenyan rural middle class.  I am getting them all mosquito nets before I leave - and if I knew no-one was bringing backpacks, I would get them all one too. They are so wonderful and carry these bags that break, some have little bags. But that would be my gift if you can get some, 2nd hand or they cost about 300 shillings here [USD4.5]- which is why I would get them. Also ponchos and/ or umbrellas. The younger girls don't get shoes for school- they use flippers- and I am getting a couple of pairs.  It rains here a couple of times a week and pours and they get soaked. Lots of coughs here.
It is warm, I think I have put a light jacket on twice. 
Schools: As a teacher I could cry thinking of these teachers as my heros. They need the most for their schools. I brought 4 blow-up plastic globes, and 2 world maps and wish I had 50. Our girls have maps and a globe from volunteers. I bought paints and brushes and paper for the art classes I have- only 16 brushes (then I borrowed 13 from the girls at Mercy- last years volunteers brought them) so have 29 and each class has 45 or so students. We use feathers and the stick brushes from trees.
They have no science things - secondary do. They [teachers] and the students work so hard, I have such respect for them. I am planning on sending my science-for-teachers reference book to Gerald, one of the teachers, and simple science experiment books that they could use with really simple items that don't have to be purchased.  A thermometer, wind vane/sock, etc. would be great but bring more than one as you will visit schools that are so poor and will just want to give them supplies.
My favorite school- mark this down- is past the local school I work at- Susan, who you will meet knows which one- its across the river and up the hill - all walking- they plant trees and plants for the children to take home, have rabbits, make their own charcoal from a felled tree, etc. None have elctricity ! I gave them a solar cooker and a blow-up globe and they are really enjoying it as they're very scientific.
Pens are at a premium- stupid rules, must use pens, which cost more than pencils (they use both). They get 3 per year which is not enough. Also, exercise books which they write in- oh, you'll see. 

...I miss fruit the most- I can't just buy for me so have to buy for 15 and that means we each get 2 bites of whatever ... ask Susan to show you the different schools in the area as you might prefer to teach at another one. Now, they have vacation starting the friday the 3rd (?) of august and then after a week they go back to class to study for when school starts the first of Sept. You might want to work in one of the high schools or my favorite the environmental school ... I haven't seen one real ball since I've been here- the kids make them out of plastic bags and tie with rope...if parents can send food monthly they [the children] get lunch, which is beans and corn everyday- they each bring a little container to put their food in.  They all know how to cook- ugali and greens daily and the little ones can cook too.

[Many thanks for this, Nancy]

AVIF Update 15

Re. communication, to avoid confusion please remember that ALL mobile phones use satellite signalling, the difference is whether your phone is dual band / tri band / is set up for international roaming and masses of other jargon & labels etc !!!

Go here for full information; a prepaid Kenya SIM card with a GSM international cell phone is the most convenient and economical solution while you travel in Kenya. All incoming calls while in Kenya, regardless of where they originate, are FREE! Pay the local rate for local calls and use a cellular phone in Kenya like you do at home. And unlike home, your Kenya SIM card and cell phone service is prepaid so there is no need for a contract.

You can send an SMS people can call you back, SMS you back.
If you want to make international calls you will need an international SIM, again, you can get these in Nairobi.
Forget landlines, there may be one available, maybe not.

Recent events

I want to keep you informed of recent geological events, namely the tremors felt in Nairobi.
The world can be a very scary place when these things happen, things we have no control over, but its best to simply remain calm and stay informed.
For further information I include these articles :

Text : A strong earthquake has hit northern Tanzania, with aftershocks felt as far away as the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, the US Geological Survey (USGS) said. The quake hit with a magnitude of 6.0, about 100km (60 miles) from the northern Tanzanian town of Arusha. Some high-rise buildings in Nairobi, about 155km away, are reported to have shaken gently for several minutes.
The quake is the latest in a series to hit the East African region in the past several days.
There were no immediate reports of casualties or building damage in either Tanzania or Kenya.
East Africa's Great Rift Valley runs along a geological fault line, but has largely escaped major quakes in recent years. The Kenyan government is expected to make a statement on Wednesday on the findings of an investigation by geological experts into the recent tremors.