Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Update on Summer Programme

Please confirm your places ASAP.

Please contact GDS safari directly via the website if you wish to book a safari after the Programme ends, from 25 August.

Internet access can be found in local towns at Ksh60 (approx $1) an hour but mobile communications are much easier, esp. if you can access the internet too. Please remember internet access in rural locations is by poor satellite bandwidth only. 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 or SMS you back. If you want to make international calls you will need an international SIM, again, you can get these in Nairobi.

US dollars are acceptable in Kenya but you'll need small local currency in rural locations. You can pay your host for food etc in either currency, they will be able to buy a lot more for their money than you, as locals get much cheaper rates than us "muzungus".

AVIF Volunteers may be assisting with distribution of goods and literature to our hosts in the effort to eliminate Malaria. Working with KeNAAM (part of the RollBackMalaria initiative hosted by the World Health Organisation) simply by passing on information AVIF Volunteers can help prevent, control and reduce the socio-economic burden of malaria. Educational materials and mosquito nets will be passed around at Orientation in Nairobi (TBC).

We have signed an MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) with 540 Airlines for all internal flights. 540 allow up to 45kg baggage allowance for AVIF Volunteers. We strongly recommend that volunteers travel up-country by air, a much more convenient, faster and safer method of travel, though this cost must be borne yourselves. .. internal flights take 1 hour rather than 6-9 hours by road and cost around GBP60 return.

Distance-learning for Solar Cookers .. see Plans.pdf here
We need all volunteers to study these plans. A full demonstration will be given to your host and you can assist with training in simple construction and use of the Solar "slow-cookers", under the guidance of SCI (Nairobi). SCI Archive site here

Points to note :

* Woman need to be trained since women do most of the cooking
* We must gain the attention of the elders of each community, for people to follow
* We must be sensitive to how they cook and how solar cooking may affect taste so men need to be involved, since they also may pay for the cooker / build the cooker, and will most definitely eat the food
* For those that rely on gathered firewood instead of purchased wood or charcoal, women and girls usually do most of the fuel collecting. Time saved by women and girls gathering firewood must be given a recognized value, as time to earn money building and re-selling cookers, baking cakes for example.
* Less firewood is needed so solar cooking is saving the forests - Forests mean rain, crops, livestock…money.
* Lack of smoke and soot is essential to lung health for cooks and children.
* Benefits of cookers for pasteurizing milk and water.
* Free to use because the sun's power is great enough to cook their food !
* Women and children can make extra money by using solar cooking to bake birthday cakes.

The Solar Cooking project continues to grow, please read the page on the SCI Wiki dedicated to Kenya. Especially this.

We can pass on details of SafeMed medical insurance. This is a package discounted for AVIF Volunteers though you may find that your travel insurance covers most of this anyway. We also recommend taking out Flying Doctor membership (please see Join Us > Safety section on website).

For all those not already informed please see the website section on Development Education, especially if you are a UK trainee teacher.Preparing for volunteering, volunteering itself and reflecting on the experience on your return are all likely to impact on your teaching.

We are now working with MASTA. They have an online shop for travel goods. MASTA's free travel health guide is available from the website.
Please send in AVIF Medical Forms if you have not already done so. Without these your place is not confirmed.

AVIF are supporting www.mannarelief.org with glyconutrient distribution. Nick & Charlie have just delivered 6 months supply, please help with distribution (i.e. make sure the girls aren't eating the supplements like sweets !) Glyconutrients are not vitamins, minerals, amino acids or enzymes, but are in a class of their own as nutritional supplement "sugars".

Itinerary as per website :

25 July arrival at JKIA, Nairobi & Gracia Guest House

Orientation 26 July with Sharon at the Gracia

Return flights to Kisumu (book through www.fly540.com 8am NBO-KISUMU-NBO) 26/27 July

4 week programme 27 July to 24 August

Return flight to Nairobi / NBO-Mara for Safari rendezvous / own plans/ home 27 Aug

Maasai Mara Safari 25-28/30 Aug

NB. Safari is optional ~ itinerary on JOIN US > Safari section

Please try to contact your respective airlines and ask for a charitable baggage allowance if you are bringing over classroom items. Normally airlines are happy to help. I can provide confirmation if necessary, or else pass on my details. Try to bring only group items to avoid diasppointment e.g. 10 sets of pads and pens cannot be shared around 30 children very fairly.

Sharon or a representative of AVIF will meet you at Nairobi's Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. On the occasion of delays, please make a note of the following. Only the most experienced African travellers can resist the temptations of Nairobi's taxi touts !!!

Gracia Guest House address : off Ring Road, Kilimani Road, behind the Ya Ya Centre/ Mall, in Hurlingham area. The Gracia is a very clean, pleasant, quiet place with excellent hospitality.

Gracia Guest House, taxi fare should be absolutely no more than Ksh1200 per person.
The price for a twin room (cost shared between 2 sharing) is Ksh4250 / USD$ 62. A single is Ksh3250 .. these are extremely reasonable prices for central, secure Nairobi. We can arrange budget accommodation elsewhere but cannot guarantee your safety.

Should you require a Letter of Invitation for your TOURIST visas please let me know, they are not essential providing you give your hosts address.

Regarding educational posters, there is an instructions poster here should you wish to take some with you http://www.fourthway.co.uk/posters/pages/cover.html

Can you all please make sure you are subscribed to the Blog as updates are published there and act as an archive for information. If you subscribe (most of you should already be) you will get sent the updates every time I write something.

We were wondering if any of you wanted to plan a classroom painting day with your hosts. Paint is very cheap and as you will see walls can be very bare. Please consider this activity. It would of course involve the children in a fantastic lasting project. You can make arrangements on arrival with your hosts.

Don't forget high-power batteries for digital cameras etc. The standard AA types in Maseno sometimes aren't powerful enough to work with digital cameras.

Zemanta Pixie

Monday, June 16, 2008

Update from Nick & Charlie

The Mercy Home Foundation
June 2008 Update

I'm posting this on (summarised) from Nick & Charlie, currently in Kenya :

Hey guys,

Just a quick update from the Mercy Home to fill you all in on our visit and show you how all the money you have donated has helped improve the Mercy Home and provide a better life for all the girls here.

We arrived in Maseno last Monday ... We gave Edward, the director of the Home, a digital camera that had been donated by Simon Gardner through AVIF, and he's not stopped using it! We will show him how to upload the photos this week so he can keep everyone updated about the goings-on at the Mercy Home and show us all how the construction projects are progressing.

We've also been fetching water with the girls as there has been little rain recently and the water supply from Maseno was cut off during the post-election violence in January. Carrying the water is so difficult - we are hopeless and can only carry half a 20 litre tank whereas even the smallest girl can carry a whole one without hands! The girls have to go up to six times a day when they are not at school, and even when they get home from school at 6.30pm they have to go once again.

Sewing and Tailoring

On Thursday, Edward took us to visit two of the girls who finished primary school ... Jesca and Dezemah..are now boarding at a tailoring school ..This is really useful as the Home has been given a sewing machine by the local community which means that the two girls can teach the others basic skills and how to repair clothes. Thanks to Angela's donations, we are going with Edward to buy lots of patterns, threads and material this week, and are arranging for Jesca and Dezmah to come back to the Mercy Home at the weekend to give the other girls an introduction on how to sew.

Building and Construction
The amount of building work that has been done at the Mercy Home since the 2007 volunteers left is amazing! When we left there was a half built dormitory and now the dormitory is roofed and internally plastered ...We will send some photos next week so you can see just how much your donations are helping.

Edward has also begun to construct a permanent chicken coop for the Mercy Home with the money that Marie left with him last year, although this is still in its early stages. It is hoped that the chicken coop will provide the girls with food as well as becoming an income-generating project in the future, through the sale of chickens.

...Furthermore, the local deaf school has secured government funding for electricity to be diverted from the town of Maseno and the pylons will pass right past the Mercy Home and allow the Home to use electricity from the grid. This is great news and will be much cheaper in the long term, as the monthly electricity bill should be about half what the Home currently spends on kerosene and diesel for the generator and lamps. In preparation for this, Edward had the whole house wired last week, which means that the girls now have electric lighting in all rooms (albeit through the generator for now)! Edward has arranged to pay for this wiring in installments, and the some of the Mercy Home Foundation funds will be used to assist Edward in paying for this. It is thought that the pylons will be completed this month so hopefuly we may have 'real' electricity before we leave!

.. the girls are still as amazing as ever - Leo is still a chatterbox, Mary and Phanice still haven't stopped dancing and singing and little Melisa is a sweetheart! We have also bought a video-camera with us to record the girls for you all, we are planning a 'Day in the Life' documentary of some of the girls so everyone can see what life is really like for these girls, and also look out for a Mercy Home Foundation YouTube channel when we get back.

Thanks to you all for your support, it really is making such a difference to these girls.Special thanks to Matt and Mrs. Mcdonald who are organising a school fundraiser as we speak. Please keep on supporting the Foundation in any way you can.


Nick and Charlie xxxx

(+254) 723030933
(+44) 7703028905
Facebook Group - The Mercy Home Foundation