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.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Returning to Khwisero

Joe Thiel, Project Manager

It’s good to be almost back.

Our first travel team for the summer has officially touched ground in Nairobi, and the experience has left us excitedly looking forward to Khwisero.

Don’t get me wrong… Nairobi is a lovely place. Although not exactly therapeutic, this cataclysm of a city does carry a certain charm (I especially recommend the city market, the perfect place for remedial lessons in bartering). No, Nairobi is not the problem. Rather, I think we’re all chomping at the bit to start the work that for which we have spent the last year preparing.

Those preparations, I think, are going to pay off, as we are entering this summer better prepared for an increasingly ambitious array of projects than we have at any point in the past. We hope to construct four more composting latrines, conduct wide-ranging sociology research into Khwisero’s people, culture and daily life, develop a better understanding of past development efforts, research future development plans, run eye glass clinics and much, much more.

Most importantly, it appears that we might be able to finally, finally, finally begin construction of our first distribution pipeline, three years in the making, which will provide clean water to five schools, two health clinics and a market.

None of this, however, would be possible without the incredible dedication of a whole host of EWBers. I’d like to highlight just a couple, my teammates on this particular adventure. Return traveler John Rios, our group's token vegetarian, will head up the summer’s sociology research, including a new collaboration we’ve started with Project WET, a Bozeman based non-profit that creates education materials related to water use. Jonah Barta, the baby of the group, is also planning to use his time on the ground to research Khwisero culture. Jeff Moss, our chapter president, hopes to apply his education in bio-resources engineering as we construct composting latrines this summer. Rounding out the team is me, Joe Thiel, a chemical engineering student serving as one of our three project managers this summer.

Over the coming months, we are tasked with empowering communities, providing them with those resources that allow them to achieve their own needs. It’s not an easy thing to do; indeed, it’s a complex challenge that we’ve each put in countless hours trying to better understand. However, I think if we focus on how these communities change us, it simplifies a great deal.

Khwisero is composed of interwoven communities that contain many deeply beautiful people. Getting to know them, working with them, sharing our mutual interest in each other’s lives and culture is in itself a great time and an exercise that creates trust and friendship. In the end, that is our goal: to share with the people of Khwisero both our skills and our friendship so that we can both become better.

1 comment:

Laura said...

Hurray! So glad you all got there safely. Eat lots of sim sim for me (those sesame candies they sell on the bus). Hugs!