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.
Sometimes in East Africa, health care is not readily available due to the distance to a Clinic or Hospital. People lack means of transport Ambulances are few or non-existent. Very few people have cars and “roads” are often bumpy overgrown pathways. This results in people waiting until they are very ill before they look for competent care and by that time it is even more difficult to transport the sick person to a clinic. Many die en route to finding a qualified health care provider.
CanAssist has helped with construction of clinic buildings and provision of hospital equipment, sanitation and water for clinics in
Gembe East, Kenya
and Nyatike District, Kenya.
One of CanAssist’s first projects in 2008 was to complete a laundry facility for a hospital in Tanzania.
In 2012/2013, CanAssist has helped the Kared Fod Women’s Group in Nyatike District of Kenya to build a clinic/dispensary. A nurse and two community health workers have been supported by grants from the Stephen Lewis Foundation but they had no building from which to work. CanAssist constructed a clinic building with examining rooms, a small lab and pharmacy in 2012. In 2013 CanAssist put rainwater catchment and latrines in the clinic which opened to serve the public late in October.
In the week leading up to Giving Tuesday, CanAssist is happy to show some examples of infrastructure support work done by the CanAssist African Relief Trust in East Africa in the past several months with some short YouTube videos. Please share them with your Facebook friends. And on Giving Tuesday, December 3 (or any time, for that matter) please keep the CanAssist African Relief Trust in mind. Your support keeps us moving ahead and helping communities in Africa.
Today we highlight work that CanAssist has done in Nyatike District to help women and girls in that community be safer and more productive.
Our July 2013 drive to fund two water projects in East Africa went over the top!
Students at the Nyandema Secondary School have to walk about 5 km every day to get water… and then it is from this muddy river. CanAssist will fund four rainwater catchment tanks at the school to provide a clean accessible water supply.
Earlier in the month, we were challenged by the Sasamat Foundation, a charitable organization in Vancouver B.C. with the offer that they would match donations received by CanAssist in July that were allocated to a rainwater collection projects at the Olimai Health Clinic and the Nyandema Secondary School in Nyatike District, Kenya.Well, our supporters rose to the occasion and as of July 31 we have collected $6708 in donations toward these projects through our 2013 Sasamat Challenge. Donors will be pleased that the first $5000 will be matched by Sasamat. Even better, Sasamat has offered another $10,000 toward these projects. Great news for CanAssist and the project partner communities in East Africa.
CanAssist will fund construction of guttering on this building and provide rainwater storage tanks to help the Nakiwaate community acquire clean water.
The good news doesn’t end there. With the money donated this month toward rainwater collection projects, we are able now to fund THREE of our approved 2013 water projects at the Olimai Clinic in rural Uganda, the Nyandema Secondary School in Nyatike District, Kenya and the T.A.Crusade Institute of Professional Studies in Nakiwaate Village, Uganda.
We are all excited.
We are in the process of signing the Memoranda of Understanding with the groups and will forward the money to them by mid-August so that the projects can be started as soon as possible (and before the anticipated rainy season in October and November).
CanAssist extends thanks to all who supported this effort and to the Sasamat Foundation for their generous funding and confidence in CanAssist to get this work done!
Here are some responses we have received from these groups when they were notified of this funding availability on August 1.
From Amuge Akol at Olimai Clinic : “I woke up to heart racing news. We are so hapi with the successful fund-raising drives. We shall write directly to supporters to express our our sincere grattitude. I will go to town tomorrow and process the MOU and return it. Thx a million.”
From Ronald Lutaaya in Nakiwaate Village, Uganda: “We are so happy to hear this great news! Thanks so much for your effort in making this dream project come true. You have saved life in this poor community. I have just passed on the news to our Staff Members and some of our beneficiaries. They are all thankful and happy about this news.”
From Hellen Omollo, Nyandema Secondary School: “We are very happy indeed to hear from you.Once againwe do say THANK YOU for considering the life and health of our Nyandema students and the local community a priority. Good luck, good health and Gods peace and Mercy be part of you in yourdeserving work to East Africa.”
Canassist has had an ongoing relationship with the Olimai Clinic for the past three years. Here, some Canadian CanAssist supporters visit the clinic in 2012.
I am always happy to be part of a win-win situation. Last year I enjoyed one that was win-win-win. If I think about it I could add more win’s but you get the point, I am sure.
The St Gorety School is a secondary school in a small village called Mikei, Kenya. It is pretty rurual, about 20 km inland from Lake Victoria and in Nyanza Province, one of the least advantaged districts of Kenya.
Through CanAssist, and with my Canadian friends, Virginia and Suzanne I met Edward Kabaka a couple of years ago. Edward is a founder of a local support group called Rieko Kenya. Well, to make a rather long story shorter, Edward brought the needs of St Gorety School to our attention. Basically the school, serving secondary students from the surrounding region, was overcrowded and needed more classroom space.
So in 2012, CanAssist agreed to construct one classroom and complete another which had been partially built with Kenyan government funds which dried up before the roof could be put on the building.
Virginia and Suzanne, secondary school teachers themselves in Kingston, promoted this project to some of their students who responded with fundraising to help with this building.
At the same time, the Queen’s Health Outreach group, university students whose mandate is to promote Health education to students and youth in various parts of the developing world, were looking for a new district in Kenya to work. I have been an ad hoc mentor to this group for the past several years and it seemed natural to put them in touch with Edward and the St. Gorety School.
QHO students visited several schools and community groups in the Nyatike region in 2012.
Last year the QHO group spent several weeks in the Mikei/Nyatike community, living in a house overlooking the rolling Kenyan hills and interacting with schools and women’s groups in the region to educate and promote healthy living practices. Another group of six QHO students are excited to be returning to the community in May/June this year.
When I visited the St Gorety School and other groups in the region in February, they all lit up with smiles at the mention of the QHO students and were ecstatic to hear that there would be a group returning this year.
So where do all the “win’s” come in?
CanAssist has been delighted to be able to provide infrastructure support to the school (and three other community groups as well…more about those in later posts).
The QHO group has found a welcoming community where they are able to do their outreach work to promote education about health to young Africans.
The community which was actually quite neglected and off the beaten track for development has been excited to welcome visitors from Canada who are eager to help them improve their living circumstances. Kenyans love visitors.
Edward Kabaka has found support for his dream of improving well-being in the community.
Some of the students at KCVI and LCVI in Kingston have established pen-pal relationships with students in Kenya and have the satisfaction of having been able to help their peers in Africa.
And I sit back and smile. It’s all so good.
Treat yourself to the joyous music from the St. Gorety school choir in the Youtube video below.
Food security is a major issue in Africa. The cost of living in East African countries has risen substantially over the past couple of years and, coupled with erratic climate changes, this has resulted in a situation where people who are already living on the edge are having trouble affording basic foods, let alone nutritious diets.
The CanAssist African Relief Trust has sponsored school garden projects that have been very successful. Our first project related to this was with the Kanyala Little Stars school on Rusinga Island, Kenya. The first step in starting a garden here was to put up fencing to keep hippos and other grazing domestic animals like donkeys and goats out of the garden. If you think think squirrels and rabbits are a garden nuisance, imagine the havoc that can be created by a family of hippos lumbering up from Lake Victoria to graze overnight. For the Little Stars garden, CanAssist also arranged appropriate irrigation through a pump and sprinkler system and set up a work shed, toilets and provided seeds and fertilizer. The garden has proven to be a great boon to the school and community, now producing fruits and vegetables that supply the school children with better nourishment, and provide a bit of extra income to help with other school expenses, provide nutritious supplements to needy families in the community at reasonable cost. It has worked well.
In other schools in Kenya and Uganda we have supported similar projects which are also proving to be equally successful.
Earlier this year, we also helped a local youth group in Migori district of Kenya and this week we received an encouraging report from Edward Kabaka, director of Rieko Kenya, a local development organizaton.
The Nyaruanda Youth group provides the manpower to till and maintain their local garden.
“The Nyaruanda Youth Development Group is a community based initiative started in March 2010 in south Kadem Location, Nyatike District in Kenya. It was started by a group of orphaned youths who were left behind as head of households in their families. When they were 10-12 years old, many of them lost their parents to HIV/AIDS. They have graduated to replace their deceased parents in roles of fending for their siblings. As they grew up together, they realized that they were facing the same challenges and started organizing themselves in small groups. They need to provide food, clothing, shelter, medical care and above all schooling for their families.
A first harvest of Tomatoes, Watermelons and Sukuma wiki (a staple African green rich in iron and vitamins) from the CanAssist-supported Nyarunda Youth Group garden.
In the beginning of 2012, Rieko Kenya had the opportunity to be visited by John Geddes, the Executive Director of CanAssist African Relief Trust (CAART). Rieko Kenya considered Nyaruanda Youth as one of the groups to be visited by John. John agreed to present an application to CAART to help support the group, through Rieko Kenya, with small scale irrigation equipment and materials. The support from CAART was realized with Rieko Kenya providing training and facilitating the purchase of the irrigation equipment and materials (Water pump and pipes) and presented to the group. After a period of a half a year and following this life saving and transforming support, the Nyaruanda group is very excited and happy to report a huge financial gain. They are now able to be self reliant and meet their financial obligations.”
CanAssist is delighted that these local agriculture projects are not only providing better nutrition to communities; they are helping to stimulate economic development.
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.
We may have been busy celebrating Canada Day in Canada but would you imagine that it is a special day in some African communities as well?
I received some great pictures from the Hope School in Kenya this week. This school is the one I blogged about last week – the Canada Day Challenge. I spoke with the Director of the school on the weekend and advised him of the generous donation from the Sasamat foundation towards classrooms at the school and he was ecstatic.
“We will all celebrate Canada Day and the generosity of your Canadian friends at the school on Monday when I announce this gift to the staff and students.”
Children at the Hope School in Mbita Kenya, celebrating Canada Day 2012.
On Monday the children gathered to celebrate their Canadian sponsorship and express appreciation. With home-made signs they gathered for juice and acknowledgement of the help their Canadian friends have offered.
But there are Canadian flags flying elsewhere in East Africa as well, thanks to CanAssist.
A group of CanAssist supporters recently returned from a visit to Uganda and sent me photos of their trip. Included was one of the Canadian flag that flies proudly over the school compound. When I visited the school last year, the principal laughed and said “That Canadian flag is made of nylon and it flies well in the breeze. Our Ugandan flags are heavier material and it takes much more wind to get them going. So Canada is always brightly represented even when our flags are limp.”
The St Gorety Secondary School receives a Canadian Flag, and support for two new classrooms at the school.
When I visited the St Gorety High School in Nyatike District of Kenya last year, I took with me a flag for the school – one that was sent by Virginia Puddicombe, a teacher at KCVI in Kingston. Virginia also sent along photographs and letters from Canadian students to their counterparts in Kenya and the Africans have sent greetings back. A kind of pen-pal relationship has begun. We hope that, in this digital age, some face-to-face interaction can happen through Skype and the Internet.
While we proudly celebrate Canada here, there are people around the world who also pause to be grateful for the generosity and support that Canada and Canadians offer to them.
P.S. We have raised about half the $2500 necessary to get the Sasamat promise of another $5000 for the Hope School. If you have not yet takent the opportunity to help us reach this goal in July, more information about how to contribute is available on the CanAssist Hope School web page.
The children at Hope School celebrate Canada Day in appreciation of the generosity of their friends in Canada who have supported the school.