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.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Team Five is Alive—Passing Through Nairobi

Matt Rine

We landed in Nairobi June 28(me coming in through Ethiopia, Zach Gartner through Amsterdam, and Justin Stewart, Kendall Saboda and Ryan Olff coming in after a week in Germany and Amsterdam). Navigating around the city was an exciting, if a bit scary, experience for everyone. The unspoken traffic rules took a while to catch on to; we likened it to a very intense live action game of frogger.

While waiting for Chris Maus, our Project Manager, and Kayla Jaquet to come in, we visited the city market. This was a wonderful experience during which vendors aggressively sell their wares and bartering is still a form of business s(I got a bracelet for a pen!). We spent the rest of the wonderful day wandering around the University of Nairobi and the national museum, while Joe (who graciously endured a day-long bus trip out from Khwisero to welcome us to East Africa) got to know some of the anthropology and sociology professors.

The hostel dinners were awesome, consisting of chapatti, lentil soup, rice and samosas. We breakfasted at the Nairobi Java House, which is definitely one of the nicer coffee shops I’ve been in (though its playlist is four songs long, and all four are practically identical James Taylor songs at that).

Unfortunately, Chris’s bag was misplaced during the transfer in Europe so he, Zach, and Kayla spent an extra day in Nairobi waiting for it while the rest of us struck out for Khwisero. The Easy-Coach (Kenya’s premier bus company) ride was long and hot, but the beauty of the changing Kenyan countryside as we traveled west made up for it. After a relatively stressful matatu (local bus) ride for the last leg of the journey from Kisumu, we finally arrived at Jackson’s compound—it was a great relief to be among such fine hosts.

We’ve got quite a series of tasks before us: Ryan will work on the rainwater catchment system at Ekastumbero, as well as a paper on the local construction industry. Kendal is troubleshootng the incubator we’ve used for microbial water testing, and Justin is taking the pictures for an EWB photobook. Personally, I’m researching how to quantitatively gauge the effect of humanitarian aid on education, though I’m not quite sure that’s possible.

Today I walked to Emwaniro to talk to Harriton, the school’s head-teacher, hoping to coordinate a meeting of educators from all around the area. I was lead by two great guys from Ebukwala named James and Josek, who spent a lot of time working with Thomas, Jonah, and. It was really great to talk to two people my own age. James is planning on working in wildlife management, and Josek is planning on teaching math and science (coincidently, my own career aspiration). We talked a little about the states of our own countries and our hopes for the future. As much as there may be cultural and economic gaps, it’s wonderful to find similarities here.

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