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.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Before writing this I always regretted not getting the macbook pro as it had the backlit keyboard feature that would be ideal for Kenyan nights, a kerosene lantern though is quite a bit cheaper and works equally as well. After a few slow days in Khwisero due to holidays, weddings and rain I was finally able to get more than a few kilometers away. I went to visit an acquaintance from last trip named Jill Inyundo. Jill is an odd sort, who we first met while I was walking down the dirt road from Emwaniro Primary, one of the schools that had received a borehole. After being in rural Western Kenya for two weeks you become pretty accustomed to being gawked at as you’re the only white person that some people have seen before, and if they have seen a white person that person was rarely seen walking. As I was nearing my turn off I notice a grey-haired seventy-year-old white British woman driving a small SUV my way. This was Jill. We were forewarned of her before we left, but none of us had met her. She invited us to her house, lectured us for hours on everything from international aid to local politics to religion. We learned a lot and I kept stopping back to visit her and her Kenyan husband, Weboko, who sports trousers nearly up to his armpits and a salt & pepper beard. The couple had met as students at London University and then married and moved to Nairobi where Boko was an economist and Jill was an English teacher. They had two boys, with whom I have been corresponding via email over the past months. They both live in the UK and are deeply involved with African aid projects directed out of Britain. I met one of them, Boko, the youngest, his wife Sarah and his two children, Abbey and Moses, for the first time. Sarah is Ethiopian and moved to the UK, I believe, at a young age and attended Birmingham University where she met Boko. Abbey, age four, was cruising around the house in a pink tutu and Moses, at 14 months, was toddling and drooling about. Boko and I were able to chat for several hours about the nature of foreign aid, local issues, and some of the projects that we have planned, one of which is a fellowship program. We are looking to get more young Kenyans involved with our project as we recognize that, despite our lack of fiscal resources, we have vast technical and social networking resources that would be incredibly valuable to any youth who is willing to work as hard as our current Project Coordinator Jackson. During our listening sessions last summer Jackson and I were faced with questions about the discouraging community issue of unemployment and it’s subsequent effects on the youth of the area who turned to crime or drugs without anything better to do. We promoted the idea of apprenticeships as something of an immaterial value that could be given to the youth when finances were scarce, essentially providing an advantage to leverage in ascertaining that rare “good job,” while at the same time catalyzing local involvement. Boko, a marketing executive had some helpful recommendations and we plan to have a process in place by our departure. A rather busy day, I’m sun burnt for the first time in a long-time and am going to finish my tea then retire under a bed-net. Qwahara Mano.



Anonymous said...

Beautiful writing, sounds like a productive meeting with Boko! Keep up the good work,

Anonymous said...

Thanks for great storytelling. It is a blast to keep up on your adventures. I enjoy the interwoven descriptions of the people around you. Keep on postin'
Patty Inskeep

Anonymous said...

You never really got into the details of what it is that you would be doing in Kenya so I find this really interesting. I've been keeping up with the blogs, you guys are doing something great over there. Thanks for sharing it with the rest of us! Have a great day! ~Irali

Anonymous said...

Matt - You're a Star and forever welcome at our place in Khwisero! Your understanding of how critical it is to understand our social and cultural dynamics in order to maximise the potential for your technical capabilities to make a difference is key! I laughed at your description of my mum as an 'odd sort', however, isn't she amazing!? More people should meet her! I'll clearly have to have a word with my dad about his trousers though, at +70yrs of age, I'm sure he's not too fussed! Keep up the good work and do encourage Montana State University to understand just what a golden asset Jill and Weboko Inyundo are! Perhaps a more substantive involvement with our charity Khwisero Water Development Project (see www.kwdp.co.uk) offers a mutually beneficial opportunity to make a difference at home?! Hope this is your 2nd of many more visits! After all, your President's Kenyan, so we're now even closer!? Hope you enjoyed the David Halpern book, 'The Hidden Wealth of Nations'. Speak soon, Boko