This is a huge Thank You to the inspirational Anupma Sud, an ex Oracle developer and someone I'm proud to call a friend. Anupma spent some time in a host village of ours, Uhundha on the shores of Lake Victoria 4/5 years ago and - well - made some impact - brought solar power - taught the youth group there how to email, how to push themselves, how to graduate in business. Anupma is responsible for bringing OSRAM to the area too, to duplicate their Mbita project, with the help of OSRAM's Gerhard Mair. More details here: www.osram.com/off-grid
As Anupma wrote, back in 2012, "the village pretty much lives hand to mouth every day".
Most of the men are fishermen who rent their boats and nets and a major expense for them is kerosene for using lights to catch OMena at night.
OSRAM provide both a lamp and charging station rental service. Article here fore further info. The energy stations are themselves self-sustained by solar power and employ locals to run the service - charging fees cover employee costs, recycling, maintenance, etc. Of course the charging station is also used to keep mobile phones and other electrical devices charged regularly, AND <drumroll> provides clean drinking water AND <bigger drumroll> existing WE! Hubs (Water Energy Hubs) can produce enough energy to run ICT-training rooms and Internet cafés which can also serve as a facility for entrepreneurship training and seminars on hygiene, health, environmental awareness.. all funded by the European Union - more information here: www.we-hub.org
Anupma also linked in SMEP to provide microfinance for the initial rental costs of lamps. SMEP has provided other business loans to members of the community too for various activities.
We now have another volunteer going into the village later this month for a follow-up and to also experience the wonderful Uhundha. Perhaps also to help David's plans. David was (once) a youngster from the youth group, but with help from another volunteer, Katalin, managed to get a full scholarship to the Earth University in Costa Rica and is developing his own sustainable development initiatives to aid his community back home. We're all so proud of the community and I'd also like to add an equal huge hug and thanks to Charles and Prisca for their many years of support to our volunteers, including their home.
Asante sana xxx
I've been chatting with Jackson today via FaceBook and the rains are here and the completed storage unit is filling up.
We wish it could have a football-field-sized collection unit but we must make do with its relatively small roof, to provide at least some assistance to storing water that falls naturally, but infrequently, for the villagers.
It was around 2 years ago that Robyn kickstarted the project with her amazing video and now we have a result, which is just so inspiring. Life goes on in the village and we also have had many others involved in the building, I'd personally like to thank them all for their invaluable contributions to this project and hope their experience will enrich their lives in many years to come; Ashe Oleng Oleng:
Petr, Siobhan, Emma, Ingie, Lorraine, Kort, Caleb, Robyn, Tori, Poppy, Verena, Matthias, Julia, Felix & Julie, Cari & Oscar as well as all of AVIF's volunteers that have given their time and energy for almost a decade now.
Cari has recently published her shots from her trip this year, available in fine print or calendar form. Simply click the beautiful photo of Kaisii and her baby Ntitiyoo. The prints, calendars and also all jewellery made by the Mamas are available on the Etsy shop set up by Robyn, a way for them to fund their own children's education - sustainably. If you're still stuck for Christmas presents then these are truly empowering gifts.
Today was hard for the village though. Despite the rains a lioness killed 5 of the cattle from a neighbouring village and they had to kill today after it came so close to Nkiito as to kill a goat. The men had to prevent her from attacking the children. The maasai live in symbiosis with the wildlife but conflicts need to be addressed as we would have to in that same situation but they are disheartened by it. Conflict is hard but at least no one was hurt, least of all the children.
I wanted to wish every one of our supporters a wonderful, safe and healthy Christmas and to hope that your New Year 2016 will be exceptional.
The Very Best of Wishes and Thank You for your support,
Julie and Felix are back from Nkiito with some stunning shots. Here's a link to their blog and a selection of photos.
More to follow.
This post comprises the words and work of 2 extraordinary people. Katalin is a long-term 7+ year volunteer of ours who first met David in Kenya in 2008. She has guided him ever since. I'll let her explain:
.. "the ENORMOUS difference education can make. Just THIS alone, the creation of this video, is AMAZING! The boy I met in Uhundha had never even seen a computer, let alone understand the power of the internet or know how to type. A few years later (and a million miles on the road of persistence) he creates a video in order to be able to give others a similar experience he is having. Not ever having any kind of training in how to do all this, he researches it on the Internet and creates a video! THAT is mostly the power of willingness and motivation, but ultimately it is all education. The very first step for you to be able to apply for any kind of scholarship, your family had to ensure you remained in education and finished high school. To make that jump from high school to EARTH [David is now on Fellowship at the Earth Institute, Costa Rica], is all you. But any of the remarkable students of Uhundha would have a chance for a scholarship if they get to finish high school. Your project is GOLD".
This is David's startup and video:
Help a child succeed and to pass that favour forward.
[Photo from Earth University]
So much happening now!
The Geek Girls 2015 Festival happens next weekend (April 25) hosted by the fabulous Akirachix and we have 3 really special attendees making the trip from central Kenya, Kiambu county, Kikuyu consitutency. A tiny place called Kamangu where the biggest problems, aside from health and basic water & food supplies, is connectivity. If you're lucky enough to own a reasonable text-only phone and can reach Facebook's basic message platform, your next problem is getting enough airtime, affording airtime (sometimes over food). Your next NEXT problem, the one that eclipses all others, is having enough charge on your old phone to stay in touch.
You know that feeling when you're mid-conversation and your battery dies and you're out, you're nowhere near your car - sheesh - these amazing folks don't have cars!?? But they are learning to code!
We're setting up the first code club in rural Kenya. We're still negotiating but it will either be in an existing internet cafe, or a new one or the local Girls School ... either way it will happen. Heading the campaign is a force to be reckoned with. Irene.
One of the strongest women I know. She's been through more than you'd ever wish on a person and you know that phrase: "whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger" - she takes it to the next level!
Once the event is over the girls start to learn code. They will go to a local internet cafe, bump the gamers out the booths and log in to Udacity or Coursera or any one of the Ivy League US colleges now offering free online courses in every aspect of coding, from introductions to the basics, to deep machine learning with GPU's.
With just a few shillings these girls can learn to code and teach others to learn to code, or even just to access more vital information.
Irene and her daughter and niece will go to Nairobi next week and mingle will some of Nairobi's tech crowd, and industry experts, bridging the gap between tech and those that REALLY need it most. Tech can literally save lives. Tech can definitely change lives. Tech is enabling progress. But what if there's no electricity?
"Only 19% of the population of Kenya have access to electricity which means 34 million people are living without power. 92% of rural households rely on kerosene for lighting but it is expensive, unhealthy and takes up a huge proportion of family budgets".
Because girls are so good at multitasking the Tekkie Three will also become agents for SolarAid's Sunny Money startup, distributing solar lamps that have the capability to charge phones freely. They'll be eradicating kerosene from their own homes - and the fumes from their lungs - and enabling others to do so too.
All in a days work x
If you'd like to help then a small donation in western currency goes a long long way.
SolarAid's country report gives incredible results that you can help improve even further:
£3 pays for hours of mobile airtime
£10 pays for hours of internet time spent learning to code
£20 pays for a Mobile Sunking
Any contribution will enable others to prosper. Simply click the donate button top left of the website if you can help.