Karibu! Welcome!

Since 2004, EWB@ MSU's professional and student volunteers have worked with community members in Khwisero, Kenya to provide water and sanitation infrastructure at the district's 58 primary schools, making it easier for Khwisero's children to avoid waterborne disease and get an education.

In that time, the group has grown from a small club to one of MSU's premier student organizations, raising hundreds of thousands of dollars to fund seven borehole wells, six composting latrines and a biogas latrine that serve thousands of community members.

Thank you for joining us as we continue to work hand-in-hand with local partners to make a difference in one small part of our world. As Western Kenya's limited internet access allows, we will update this blog while in-country with the successes, stories and lessons provided by our work.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

During team two’s first week here, we researched the health care system in Khwisero. Jackson, the coordinator of EWB Khwisero, brought Dr. Erich Pessl, Jackline Amakobe, R.N., and I on a motorcycle tour of the health care facilities here. We learned that all of Khwisero’s health care facilities and patients are suffering from a lack of potable water. The old hand-dug wells that were installed by the Rotary Club of Kisumu have dried up and the cement rainwater catchment systems from Africa Now are cracking or nonfunctional. Most patients are also forced to cope with major shortages of staff, inpatient wards and essential medications, to name just a few challenges. The lack of water, though, is particularly demoralizing for the staff and compounds the patients’ ailments. For example, most expectant mothers are forced to deliver in dusty rooms, and without access to piped water and washing stations.
The next day, Erich, Jacky and I worked with staff from the Khwisero Health Centre, and Dr. Walter, an optometrist from Khushiku sublocation, on an eye clinic at Ebukuala Primary School. More accurately, they worked, and I took photos or talked with patients. Dr. Walter screened 300 patients, mostly students, in six hours. We distributed the majority of the two hundred eyeglasses that the Bozeman Lion’s Club donated to us, and Dr. Erich saw the patients who had medical eye problems, as well as other conditions. We referred the patients who needed eye surgery to the August 6th free surgical clinic at Khushiku sublocation. The eyeglasses were free for children, and we charged adults 200 ksh, approximately $2.80. With the money we made from adult glasses, we were able to pay Dr. Walter for a full day’s work. Overall, one full day of helping students and adults to address their eye problems cost EWB only $10.00. Dr. Erich left on Saturday the 25th, and ever since then I’ve been working on the proposed water distribution pipeline, and learning about other major problems that are facing people in Khwisero. In the next post, I will talk about some of those issues. Thanks for reading this!

As the awkward business student on team two I am conducting economic research and looking at community capacity building in the agricultural and business sectors. By conducting economic assessments through surveys, listening sessions and interviews we can better understand the sustainability of our projects by understanding a different aspect of the community of Khwisero. Additionally, we hope to research and recommend the use of cash-crops at primary schools as an income generating activity to raise money for project maintenance funds; assess the accounting and board practices at the primary schools and provide an economic report including basic recommendations of actions towards community economic issues through cooperative formation as well as technology and knowledge sharing. Additional inquiry into tribal and familial relations has opened up new perspectives into the Khwisero community and has provided explanations to issues that would normally be overlooked by outsiders.Thanks for all the support.

Bio-gas latrine work continues and we are several layers high on the dome construction. We have brought in a specialized fundi (~engineer) from Nairobi to assist in construction and we are proceeding well. -C

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