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, May 31, 2010

Returning to Khwisero

ulembe--hello and welcome once again. For those of you who don't know
me, I was the project manager on our winter assessment trip and am
returning to Khwisero again this summer to, along with fellow returner
Kalen Ramey, manage our continuing work on the MEM water pipeline

This is my third trip to Kenya, and it's amazes me to think about how
much I've learned since I first set foot on this continent just under
a year ago, how much this experience has taught me about everything
from engineering to teamwork to community development to simply
holding a conversation from someone who comes from a culture half-way
around the world from my own.

At the same time, though, I'm painfully aware of how much my fellow
teammates and I don't know, especially as we embark on a project as
socially and technically complex as the distribution pipeline. For one
thing, we don't whether the grant money promised to the project by
Khwisero's Member of Parliament, without which we cannot afford to
move forward, will come through this summer. For another, we're not at
all sure whether the community itself is ready for the project,
whether its members truly support the effort, and whether they will be
able to overcome the age-old tribal divisions that could tear the
management structure necessary for the project's long-term success
apart. All that, and so much more, remains to be seen.

As a result, we find ourselves returning to Khwisero with more
questions than answers. Which is perhaps for the best--far too many
past aid projects have entered Khwisero and communities like it with
set agendas and answers, carrying in detailed plans without being
ready enough to listen and learn. Within EWB-MSU, one of our goals is
to be different in that sense. Which means, if you ask, I can't tell
you right now whether we'll be able to help the community build the
pipeline we've planned this summer.

However, my teammates and I can and will take the time to tell the
story as it unfolds over the next several months. If you'd be so kind
as to follow us here, of course.


No comments: