It is an absolute delight to report that the Jim Owen Computer Classroom at the St Gorety Secondary School in Nyatike District of Kenya is built.
Friends and family of Jim Owen, who passed away early in November, wanted to remember him with something lasting. Jim was always interested in computers and things electronic. He could spend hours just wandering the aisles of the Canada Computers store and if you had a problem with your laptop or anything else electronic he was happy to spend hours tinkering to get it fixed.
It was appropriate that a memorial to Jim be directed toward a planned computer classroom that the CanAssist African Relief Trust was about to fund. Donations flooded in – he was well-loved – and I am happy to report that the building has been constructed and four complete computers purchased and installed.
The school is delighted. Students realize that they are in a much better place to acquire post secondary employment if they have some computer familiarity. In rural areas like Nyatike this is to easy to achieve. Most of the students at the school may not have electricity at their homes let alone a computer.
CanAssist is happy to report this progress and thank all who donated to this memorial. The school has mounted a plaque with Jim’s photo on it in the classroom.
I met Edward Kabaka a couple of years ago and we have worked together on several projects in the Migori region of Kenya. On the weekend, Edward came to pick me up and we went to Migori where I was able to visit three CanAssist project partner groups.
After dinner entertainment
On Monday, Edward invited me to his home for dinner and his wife prepared a huge spread of food. After dinner the three youngest girls daughters and some of their neighbour friends sang and danced and recited poems for me. I thought how similar kids are all around the world, remembering my own putting on “shows” after dinner and thinking of my granddaughter, Emma, twirling around and showing me ballet moves.
I took the opportunity to get a photo of the food before we dug in. I am often asked what i eat while in Kenya. This meal had many of the common staple foods that i am offered here, although not usually all together as in this spread. In addition to rice and beans which were on another table we were served chapati, chips, tilapia, sukuma wiki (shredded kale), tomatoes and onion, indigenous greens, bananas and papaya.
The other common staple for Kenyans which we did not have this night is uglali, a corn meal boiled doughy mixture that replaces our bread and is usually served in a huge mound. In addition to being a filling basis for a meal, uglali often acts as an edible utensil. The dough is rolled in one hand, a thumbprint cavity is made in the ball and used to scoop up other foods. It all pops into the mouth.
I came away stuffed with food and friendship and lots of smiles.
No wonder English as a second language is challenging. Sometimes I have trouble with it myself.
I wanted to write a blog item about two projects that CanAssist has funded recently in Kenya and Uganda. Both were to construct a roof on a building. So there are two roofs. Does that seem right? When I say the word, it sounds like “rooves” – but then that doesn’t look right either. The plural of hoof is hooves; thief, thieves; half, halves; but rooves? My word processor spell checker rejects this spelling. So I looked it up. It turns out that either spelling is correct, but that “rooves” is the archaic form. I’m not sure whether to take that as a complement on my historical knowledge or an insult that I am getting to be…archaic.
Regardless, it seems that the roofing business has been stimulated by two projects in Africa, thanks to CanAssist.
The first was for St Gorety Secondary School in Nyatike District of Kenya. As often happens in Africa, this community received some funding for a needed classroom at their school from a local governmental initiative. CanAssist was already building one classroom so they thought that they would add the second at the same time to save costs. Unfortunately the grant only covered the cost of the floor and walls. The second classroom was left without a roof and the community did not have access to the $3500 needed to put one on.
They became worried. Bricks that are used to make these buildings are all locally made and if not protected with a roof when the rains come, the structure may become damaged. Students at Loyalist Collegiate and Vocational Institute (LCVI) and Kingston Collegiate and Vocational Institute (KCVI) heard about the plight of fellow students in Kenya and took up the cause. Through their fundraising efforts, CanAssist has received donations that will cover the costs…and cover the building. It didn’t take long for the Kenyan school to get moving with this once they knew the funds would be available. This week I received notice that the roofing is completed and the classrooms are able to be used. The Kingston secondary school students, through their Quarters for Classrooms campaign were able to raise the roof!
Volunteers from Queen’s Health Outreach celebrate the completion of CanAssist funded classrooms at the St Gorety School in Nyatike District, Kenya. Students from LCVI and KCVI in Kingston raised the money to “raise the roof” on this building.
In addition, in early June, a group of CanAssist supporters from Kingston and Whitehorse Yukon (yes we have supporters across Canada) headed to Eastern Uganda to visit two communities there where CanAssist has funded projects at schools and a clinic. These travellers managed to raise about $9000 in donations which were spread between a secondary school in Kyabazaala, Uganda and the Olimai Health Centre. The clinic needed equipment but the priority was to put a roof on a new building for the facility. Like the St Gorety School, walls had been constructed but the money to roof the building was not there and the concern was that the structure would become degraded by rain and weather the longer it was left uncovered. In early June, I sent the money for the project. The Olmai Clinic in Uganda was quick to put CanAssist money to use to roof their new building. Last week photos arrived of the roofing completed. When these folks get to work, things happen quickly. The new structure, along with other improvements that have come through CanAssist, will raise the status of this facility from a Level 2 to a Level 3 clinic – thereby qualifying it for increased programming for the community.
The Olmai Clinic in Uganda was quick to put CanAssist money to use to roof their new building.
So, the work has been done. The school and the clinic have new buildings completed thanks to the generosity of Canadian supporters of the CanAssist African Relief Trust. Now all that is left is for me to decide – roofs or rooves in the report. Since my spelling checker rejects the latter, I will go with roofs. And bring myself into the 21st century.
As a reward for making it to the end of this post, here is a CanAssist Youtube video about the St Gorety School roof project with music by the St Gorety choir. Mission Accomplished.