Home visits begin

My name is Michaela Rowan and I am a nutrition student from the University of Prince Edward Island. I have been in Kenya for two weeks now working with the university partnered with Framers Helping Farmers in Naari, Meru County. I will be spending three months here for a summer internship under the QE II scholars. The work I am helping with involves projects aimed at improving nutrition for families and school children.

 

Image may contain: 7 people, people smiling, people standing and outdoor

The nutrition team heading out on our first day.

This past week, the nutrition team began visiting the homes of women from the Upendo women’s group. During these home visits, we ask a series of questions that assess diet diversity (how varied the diet is), food security (having enough money to buy sufficient food). We are also trying to find out if the Farmers Helping Farmers projects and nutrition training  in 2016 is making a difference.  Being invited and going into the homes of these women has been an eye-opening experience. In some of the houses, there are not enough places for everyone to sit and, in several situations, we have sat on tables or even tires in the yard. When compared to most homes in Canada, I think about just how much we have in excess- from the furniture and possessions in our homes  to our access to food.

 Image may contain: one or more people, people standing, tree, outdoor and nature

This is me asking questions about one of the women’s shambas (kitchen garden).

The women we have visited have also shown us so much hospitality and generosity. Many of the times when we finish the questionnaires, we are offered Kenyan tea (Chai) and food. We have been given bananas, avocados, eggs, chapatis and more!

Image may contain: 3 people, people sitting, table and indoor

Mireyne , a nutrition intern, interviewing one of the women with Grace, a Masters of Education student at UPEI.

In Kenya, much of the outcome of the crops and harvest comes from having adequate water or rain to nourish the growing plants. If there if not enough rain, unfortunately the crops will not provide as much food. One if the projects Farmers Helping Farmers has done has been to install water tanks and drip irrigation into the kitchen gardens of these women. This way, when it rains heavily, water can be saved and then used specifically for the growing gardens. During one particular home visit, one of the women thanked me for all Farmers Helping Farmers had done. Although she could not speak directly to me in English, it was translated that the tanks and drip irrigation had helped improve her garden and the growth of her food by a significant amount. Hearing this woman thank me and other Canadians was very touching and inspiring. I can’t wait to continue working with the women’s groups of Naari and finding out what else is in store during my stay in Kenya!

From guacamole to “Duck, Duck, Goose”: a summer in Kenya begins

FHF julia 2

Kenya Blog 1

By Julia Kenny

May 8, 2017

 

Hello!  My name is Julia and I am a third year veterinary student at the Atlantic Veterinary College.  This summer I am participating in an internship with the Queen Elizabeth Scholars that is focused on working with Kenyan dairy farmers in order to help improve animal welfare and production.  It is hoped these improvements will translate into better food and economic security in these communities.  In the upcoming weeks, I will be blogging about my experiences here in Kenya.  This reflection is the first of many recounting my adventures this summer.

We arrived in Kenya a few days ago. We have been at the house in Naari for two full days now.  I do not know where to begin.  We have seen so many things in the past week that have opened my eyes to an entirely new world.  It took almost six hours to drive from Nairobi to the house in Naari.  The countryside is breathtaking.  The trees and the grass are a vivid green and the flowers are abundant. The sky is a rich blue draped in majestic white and grey clouds which carry brief but heavy bursts of rain after which the sun emerges from the mist. The mountains are always looming in the background, often shrouded in the warm haze.  The roads are red-black and bumpy due the volcanic rocks, and driving on them is like riding a rickety old roller-coaster.  The countryside is hilly and serene but it is alive with the chattering of wild birds and the soft swaying of the gentle breeze.  As we turned off of the highway onto a red dirt road, some trick of the mind reminded me of Prince Edward Island.  I smiled and knew I was heading home.

On our first day in Naari, we spent a great deal of time with the members and administrators of the Naari dairy cooperation.  I was immediately impressed by their love for their families and community and their passion for trying to do whatever they could to create a better future for themselves and their children.  We discussed our summer projects with them for a few hours and then shared a delicious cup of tea with chapati (a delicious Kenyan flatbread).  After our meeting at the dairy, we went for a walk around the town of Naari.  The town is quite small and filled with brightly colored shops centered around the town square.  The townspeople seemed very relaxed and unhurried.  People were lounging on chairs and on the grass.  Most were dressed quite nicely.  Women were wearing colorful skirts and dresses while some of the men were wearing suits.  They were all very kind and curious about us.  We were asked where we were from, how long we would be staying and where we were going.  Naari is also different from home in that animals wander freely wherever they chose in the village, with their care-takers somewhere nearby.  Goats, sheep, cows, and donkeys grazing around the shops and the town center is a common sight.  Like the people, the animals seemed in tune with the unhurried pace of life.  We wandered around the town for about a half an hour before we left to go home.

The second day of our stay in Naari began with some delicious Kenyan pancakes and fresh fruit.  We planned on visiting the Naari Dairy in order to pick up our guide early that morning.  I am learning quickly that planning schedules in Kenya is tricky business as things can come up.  Our guide had to make an emergency milk pick-up run. A while later, we were rattling along the rocky dirt roads up the mountain to visit our first Kenyan dairy farm.  Kenyan dairy farms are, of course, quite different than Canadian farms but there are still many similarities.  The farmers were warm and kind and welcomed us with the most beautiful smiles.  They were eager to help with our project and quick to offer us a chair and a cup of Kenyan chai tea.  Their farms were situated on a hillside overlooking lush farmland that was keeping the encroaching jungle at bay.  The houses were modest but neat and well-kept and they possessed a quiet serenity that seemed to emanate from the land but also from the people themselves.  I admired the quiet courage and warmth of these people and it is this that I think impressed me most.  

Overall, it has been a very exciting first few days in Kenya.  I am looking forward to many new adventures in the days to come, and I cannot wait to see what Kenya has yet to teach me.

FHF julia 3

“One our first farm visits – a typical Naari farm”

 

Kenya Blog 2

By Julia Kenny

May 12, 2017

 

The days have passed swiftly and already almost another week has gone by.  This week was our first full week here in Naari working with the dairy farmers.  We have been to many farms and have met many new people.  Our days begin early in the cool freshness of the morning when the world is beginning to wake.  Eggs, chapati, and fresh fruit are often on the menu for breakfast.  One of my favorite things to do is to sit on our front step with my breakfast and a cup of tea and listen to the sounds of the morning.  The trees and sky are filled with birds, some of which are singing, others are chattering, and still others are making some indescribably strange sounds.  Roosters are crowing at regular intervals, dogs are barking and sheep are calling to each other.  Our neighbors are also beginning their day.  There is often a chatter of people from behind the hedges or the sound of a radio or two rattling off the morning news.  The soft breeze gently rustles the trees as the hot African sun climbs quickly higher in the sky and beckons us to begin our day’s work.

Our days consist of visiting various dairy farms in the Naari region.  Our goals at each farm are similar, namely, to explain to the farmer the projects we will be doing and then to do an assessment of the cows, their management, and their environment.  In doing this, I have learned a great deal over the past few days.  I have been able to apply some of the many things that I had studied in school that I had never had the opportunity to practice.  I have also begun to build my Kimeru vocabulary.  Kimeru is the local dialect that is spoken in this region.  It consists of combinations of vowels and consonants that do not exist in the English language.  Consequently, I often struggle with the pronunciations.  We have started greeting the dairy farmers and the people we meet in the Kimeru language which never fails to bring a smile and a laugh to their faces.  I’m not sure if they are smiling because they are pleased that we know a little bit of their language or if they are amused by our (probably) horrible pronunciation of the words.  I somehow have a feeling that the latter is the case.

I am continuously amazed by the generosity of the people here, as they want to thank us for what we are doing to help them.  The other day, we were given about fifty avocadoes, a large bag of carrots, several ears of corn, a large stalk of sugar cane, a bag of oranges and a bag of tree tomatoes.  We were wondering what on earth we could do with so many avocadoes but the predicament was soon solved with a guacamole making contest.  The results were quite delicious and made an excellent dinner.  

With our first week of work completed, I am beginning to better understand our work here for the summer and really look forward to the weeks to come.

FHF julia 1

“Julia doing a California Mastitis Test on a cow.”

 
Kenya Blog 3

By Julia Kenny

May 14, 2017

Today, I joined the nutrition students in their visit to a primary school here in Naari in order to assess the nutritive value of the school lunches.  We were greeted by the principal and were given a tour of the cookhouse.  The cookhouse is a small wooden shed with the cookware at one end and a large fire covered in large metal pots at the other.  It smelled strongly of smoke and uji (a Kenyan dish that is similar to cream of wheat) which was being prepared as a mid-morning snack for the younger school children.  The nutrition students gathered their data by measuring and noting the ingredients and through conversing with the cook.  It was interesting to observe firsthand the work that they are doing here in Naari.  I think that I now have a little better insight into the effort and, to a certain extent, complexity that is involved in feeding hundreds of students every day.

After the data collection was done, we had the opportunity to visit the students in their classrooms.  We visited the youngest class first which consisted of seven children of about five years of age.  Each wore a maroon uniform and was sitting attentively on dark wooden benches with a table in front of them.  They seemed rather shy when we first came in and were hesitant to say hello until their teacher said something to them in Kimeru.  They smiled and then one of the students suddenly stood up and strutted to the front of the classroom.  She picked up a long stick that had been lying on the floor.  On the blackboard were written the numbers one through ten.  She pointed at the number one with the stick and shouted in a surprisingly loud voice, “One!”  “One!” her classmates shouted back.  “Two!” she shouted and once again her classmates responded “Two!” and so on until they reached ten.  We could not stop smiling and laughing for the little girl had led the class in reciting their numbers with such gusto and confidence which seemed rather at odds with her tiny stature.  We gave her and her classmates a resounding applause when they finished.

FHF julia 5

“A child teaching math at Muruguma Primary School”

We visited each of the classes in turn.  We introduced ourselves and told them about what we were studying and about our work here in Kenya.  We then offered to answer any questions about the students had about Canada.  I was very impressed with the questions the students asked.  We were asked about Canada’s system of government, cash crops, agriculture and climate.  All of the students seemed very bright and as eager to learn about our country as we were of theirs.

The highlight of our visit to this school was playing with the students during their recess.  We played a Kenyan version of “Duck, Duck, Goose,” a very exciting game called “Kill the Rats” and ran a race around the playground.  Needless to say, we did not win the race.  After this, we were shown how to do some traditional Kenyan dances and songs.  Kenyan music and dancing is very lively and seems to capture the joyful spirit of the country.  The children seemed very excited to have us participating in their dances and asked us to come back again soon.  I sincerely hope that we will have the chance to do so because they were so kind and so much fun to be with.  

FHF julia 4

“School kids after their lunch program at Muruguma Primary School”

 

 

A day in Nairobi – Ren Chamberlain

Ren Chamberlain
AVC Class of 2019

 

We made it across the pond, and then, hop skip and a jump further, to land in Nairobi, Kenya. With our eager Muzungu (traveller) smiles, off we went. First stop, the Elephant Sanctuary: 13 babies and 16 adult Tempos (elephants) that had been rescued from their various demons (poachers/falling into wells).  They remain there for 3-5 years while they heal and are treated by the Veterinary staff, with the intention for reintroduction into the Kenyan wild.

We made some other friends too – we saw a family of Pumbas (warthogs) and we even saw a dung beetle….. rolling dung! I danced with a Masai tribe member (tourist trap) and even took the term “necking” to the next level with some lovely Twigas (giraffes).

Next stop, Kazuri beads. Kazuri actually means small and beautiful, which perfectly described both the beads and the business concept. The delicate nature of creating the beads provides jobs for 340 locals, as the process takes several steps and numerous hours.

As the daylight fell and the mosquitoes started buzzing, it was time to head back to the ACK Guesthouse. And in the words of cow wisdom, you just go home.

 

 

 

Mireyne MacMillan’s FHF journal #1

image1.jpgHi there! My name is Mireyne MacMillan and I am from Mount Stewart, Prince Edward Island. I am a third-year Foods and Nutrition student at UPEI and am currently in Naari, Kenya completing a 3-month internship from the Queen Elizabeth Scholars program. If you wish, you can follow my journey here!

It’s incredible to think that it has been a full week since our plane from Prince Edward Island took off. It is the furthest I have ever travelled, and I was very excited! 26 hours and 8000 miles later, we safely made it to the International Jomo Kenyatta airport in Nairobi. However, our luggage was not so lucky and was lost somewhere within the air travel universe. This is when we quickly applied the Kenyan ‘sawa sawa’ way of living that we had heard of, and decided that it would work itself out and not to worry. The important part was that we had all made it safely. Our Kenyan contacts who met us the night of our arrival made us feel welcome and that we were in good hands. Stepping outside into the sweet, warm Kenyan air was like a dream: we had finally made it! After resting and having our first taste of an authentic Kenyan breakfast, we set out to see what Nairobi had to offer. We initially saw how incredibly lively and busy this Kenyan city is. The amount of traffic is incredible, yet there are so many people walking in each and every direction.

We started our day at the elephant orphanage, where we had the opportunity to see about 30 young elephants and listen to their stories. Many were rescued from wells, traps, or had lost their mothers to poachers, even though that it is illegal. I was extremely moved just from seeing how beautiful, playful and curious these young elephants are and how attached they are to their passionate care takers. It’s uplifting to visit a site like this, where their main objective is to rescue and care for these vulnerable elephants while educating the public on poaching. Next, we stopped in at the Kazuri Beads and Pottery Shop-Kazuri means small and beautiful in Kiswahili. They employ about 140 local Kenyans, most of which are women. The majority of the employees are from or currently live in surrounding slums. The clay is taken directly from Mount Kenya where it is transported to this factory where it undergoes days of processing to turn into the beautiful beads and pottery. The final products are sold as jewellery and pottery within their local shop, but also shipped across the world, to destinations such as the Netherlands, Canada and the U.S. This is an admirable organization for many reasons including the large percentage of women employed, the respect the employees are treated with, and the benefits offered, which even includes daycare services. Other spots we were able to visit include the Giraffe manor and a beautiful fabric store located in the downtown area of Nairobi.

image2

Kazuri beads

On Thursday, we began our 6 hour venture Northeast to Naari, in Meru district. Our first stop brought us to a roadside produce market, where we found incredibly beautiful and fresh fruit from local farmers. We had a great samosa lunch at Karatina, where we were called ‘Mizungus’ or travelers, for the first time. We also stopped in Nanyuki and got a chance to see where the equator line is! The drive did not seem long with the surrounding landscapes and the jetlag that many of us were still feeling. We arrived in Naari in the early evening, and our luggage shortly followed. I was taken aback by how beautiful the surrounding area is. There are beautiful hills, fields, trees, singing birds and entertaining sheep. The only thing that outdid the beautiful landscape that is Naari, was the kindness of the Kimeru people. We met three young children who live next door, as they were swift to come by and make us feel welcomed with extremely infectious and beautiful smiles.

image3.jpg

Michaela visiting a market off the highway

Friday, we woke up to ‘no steama’, or no power. Sawa sawa though, we had a full day ahead of us. We met with the Naari Dairy Cooperative, where we could physically see how much Farmers Helping Farmers has contributed to this community. The chairman expressed his appreciation for the organization, as without their help and resources there would be no Naari Dairy. It was eye opening to learn the amount of work that goes into collecting the milk, testing the milk’s quality and then transporting it.  And it is amazing that they are starting a sacco- a bank that can help farmers get micro-credit that they need, particularly in the dry season.

Over the weekend, we continued to get settled and meet the great people of Naari and the surrounding areas. On Saturday, we had lunch with Salome, who has been working with Farmers Helping Farmers for many years. She’s an incredible partner and has been influential in facilitating essential communication between our nutrition team and the local women groups. Mary, a member of the Upendo women’s group, also joined us. She has been an invaluable in translating our home visits. During our meeting, we reviewed and translated the questionnaires for our home visits, to ensure they are relevant and correctly translated in Kimeru. During these home visits, we will be assessing the quality of the women’s food intake, household food security (food poverty) and the knowledge and attitudes and practices concerning family nutrition.

image4

Meeting Salome and Mary

Today (Monday), we began our home visits with the Upendo women’s group. The women were very patient and willing to help us with our research. We were able to see first hand water tanks and drip irrigation systems provided through Farmers Helping Farmers that really help these rural women. It has been such a huge learning experience just within the first week and I am so grateful to be a part of it!

 

QE Scholars from Kenya: Memories of a P.E.I. winter

 sarah 1

 

Four graduate students from Kenya are getting set to pack up their parkas and head home after experiencing quite a Canadian winter.

They have been studying at UPEI as part of the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Scholarships program.

Emily Kathambi, Sarah Wangeci, Grace Wanjohi and Anne Shilechei will now return to Kenya to continue their research and then return to UPEI to complete their degrees.

Safe travels QE Scholars!

Qe scholars nye

Here they are sharing some reflections on their time on P.E.I.

Grace Wanjohi

grace 1

 

Yes, the first Canadian winter has been good but sometimes confusing! Bright sunny day but terribly cold, had never thought before that these two climatic conditions can occur simultaneously.

 

I have been doing my coursework towards fulfillment of the requirements of my Masters in Education program. Have also been writing a research proposal to guide in data collection of my project, which is about investigating the impact of augmenting cellphone messaging to traditional nutrition education methods.

qe schol nye 2

 

I have enjoyed the calmness of the Island and friendly nature of Islanders. Not forgetting, snow days in Winter semester – days to sit back and relax from busy schedules.
I am going back to Kenya to collect data on my project. (Also, to be with my loved ones!)
I will be back hopefully in late August since I have classes in the Fall semester.
grace 2
Anne Shileche

I have been undertaking my masters studies in Program Evaluation at the department of Applied Human Science. I have taken 3 courses – quantitative research, action research and program evaluation principles and practices. Additionally, I have worked with my supervisors to write a research a proposal and will be in the field to collect data. Beyond studies, I have co-edited the graduate newsletter twice, given a talk about my experience with community programs in Kenya to two undergraduate classes, and applied and received a $1,500 Faculty of science graduate entrance scholarships.
anne 2

I have had several good moments on the island, but the most memorable experience is the care and love I have received since I arrived. Every one has been very concerned about me, from my professors, to my fellow students, my neighbors, people i know and even strangers on the way. Let me give some examples – one person offers to drive me to church every Sunday. Another takes me for groceries, several people invited me for a meal/celebrations over Christmas holiday. This has made me comfortable and also prevented me from feeling lonely and homesick.

grace 3

As part of the QE Scholars-UPEI project in central Meru, my study seeks to evaluate the impact of the field-based training (human nutrition & cow health management) on members of two community groups in Kenya. I am more interested in finding out whether such training is empowering and enabling participants to engage in social issues within their local area. This will take about 4 months (May-August). I hope to be back to UPEI in September.

Sarah Wangeci 
sarah 2
My life at UPEI has been a hive of activities. I took several courses and began writing my thesis proposal which aims to evaluate the impact of a combined nutrition and agriculture intervention on food security, diet diversity and knowledge attitudes and practices of women farmers belonging to self-help groups in rural eastern Kenya. Still, I enjoyed meeting new friends and getting involved in volunteer work on campus.
I have enjoyed meeting new people and being involved in some outdoor and indoor activities was a whole new adventure. In particular, apple picking, boat rides, snowball fights, making snow angels, snowshoeing, and watching the hockey and ringette games was breathtaking.
sarah 4
I am extremely excited to be reuniting with my family and friends in a few weeks time. While in Kenya, I will collect data for my thesis project, work with women’s groups and do a few school visits. I hope to return to UPEI in the fall.
sarah 3

Donors, Partnerships and Hospitality at the Core of Farmers Helping Farmers Success

by Liz Townsend, Farmers Helping Farmers board member
FHF liz 1

The Kenyan delegation on P.E.I. in the fall of 2016

The success of Farmers Helping Farmers (FHF) for over 35 years depends on our generous donors and on long standing partnerships between Islanders and Kenyans mainly based in two communities north of Nairobi, Mukurwe-ini and Meru. Twinned schools in and around these communities build partnerships as Island and Kenyan pupils write letters back and forth supplemented by Island pupils raising funds to buy items such as solar lights for Kenyan pupils studying where there is no electricity.
In October, 2016, five Kenyan members of the Meru Assembly visited PEI to learn more about us, and experience Island hospitality in our cool weather. Jennifer Murogocho (red coat), who chairs the Meru Assembly Committee on Education, and the others visited many Island locations, for instance in Belfast where they stopped in at Peter Penny’s strawberry farm to see mixed farming and a small soy bean operation (with Reg MacDonald and Liz Townsend of FHF).
FHF liz 2
 In February and March 2017, four small teams of Farmers Helping Farmers members were treated to outstanding Kenyan hospitality.  In the warmer Kenyan climate, Carolyn Francis and Liz Townsend, FHF Board members, were hosted by Ayub, a member of the Meru County Education Committee. In the PEI photo, Ayub was in a brown parka looking like he understandably felt the cold!
FHF liz 3
Ayub took time to take Carolyn and Liz to the Gitune Sacred Heritage Forest in his home community near Meru where we met his 92 year old grandfather who started an amazing Kenyan museum of heritage artifacts and traditional buildings. We were given a rousing welcome from local women with speeches by Ayub, Jennifer, Carolyn and local women who told us about the impact on their lives of this year’s drought. Then Ayub hosted us for lunch and, on another evening, invited Carolyn, Liz, the UPEI student teachers, and Jennifer to a home-cooked dinner with his family.
FHF liz 4
Jennifer Murogocho hosted four UPEI Bachelor of Education pre-service teachers at her own home during their 6-week practicum in Meru District schools, and also hosted Carolyn and Liz there for the last week of their 3 week Kenyan visit.
FHF liz 5FHF liz 6
 Jennifer helped to set up visits and travelled with us on the Safe and Inclusive Schools (SIS) project.
SIS is a project to collaborate with teachers in using positive discipline (instead of corporal punishment which is now banned in Kenya) and to support the inclusion of pupils with special needs to get an educational start in primary schools.
FHF liz 7
Islanders who visit Kenya pay our own way for transport, accommodations, and food. But we are privileged and humbled by the time and open welcome given to visiting Islanders by our Kenyan hosts who help to organize visits and often travel the roads with us.
Thank you to our many Kenyan partners, including Gerald and Grace Kariuki, long time partners with FHF, who farm on spectacular yet difficult hills outside Mukurwe-ini. They hosted Carolyn, Liz and Wendy MacDonald for their first week in Kenya.
We continue to be overwhelmed by the generosity, hospitality and hard work of our Kenyan partners!

‘Living an episode of Plant Earth’: UPEI Education students have a safari weekend

We are sending this blog post specifically about our trip to Sweetwaters Game Park for a 3 day long safari on the weekend of March 3,4 and 5. We had a great time spending the safari weekend with Carolyn, Wendy and Liz. Faces from home are always nice to see and they made for really great company. The journey there took about 2 hours, and along the way we had some great views of the Kenyan countryside. On arrival at the Game Park, we elected to head straight out for a nighttime game drive. The views were absolutely stunning! Throughout the course of the weekend we had the opportunity to see many animals such as giraffes, elephants, black and white rhinos, baboons, chimpanzees and many more – at times, it felt like we were living an episode of “Planet Earth.” The accommodations and food were top notch, and we took the opportunity to enjoy all of the many amenities that Sweetwaters had to offer. Three of us elected even to take a camel ride! As we draw this post to a close, we have to mention our safari guide and driver Peter from Sportsmen’s Safari. He was absolutely wonderful! He was so knowledgeable and was very enthusiastic for the entire drive. He did an amazing job ensuring that we got the most out of the safari weekend that we possibly could. Hopefully the groups that go in future years will get to have a drive with him as well. In summary, it was a fantastic experience and one that I hope to have a chance to partake in again!

Alex, Christina, Helen, and Nikki

En Route to Sweetwaters Game Park

 

C:\Users\Alex\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\INetCache\Content.Word\20170303_181144.jpg

Water Buffalo gather at a watering hole during our nighttime game drive Mar 3rd

C:\Users\Alex\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\INetCache\Content.Word\20170304_184020.jpg

A tree full of baboons!

C:\Users\Alex\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\INetCache\Content.Word\IMG_0868.jpg

Helen and Nikki feeding a rhino!

C:\Users\Alex\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\INetCache\Content.Word\17124395_10154638815257800_1637791977_n.jpg

Alex, Christina and Helen take a camel ride

C:\Users\Alex\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\INetCache\Content.Word\IMG_0852.jpg

Alex, Christina, Nikki and Helen on the equator!

C:\Users\Alex\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\INetCache\Content.Word\IMG_0855.jpg

Wendy, Carolyn, Liz and our excellent driver Peter

C:\Users\Alex\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\INetCache\Content.Word\20170305_141154.jpg

A beautiful giraffe enjoying a drink at the watering hole

Safe and inclusive schools part two: Meru workshops

sis 1a
Safe and Inclusive Schools (SIS) is one of the latest of Farmers Helping Farmers projects. The purpose is to support Kenyan schools in their efforts to eradicate corporal punishment and promote social inclusion of pupils with special needs. Teachers, head teachers, and a member of the Board of Management gathered for the first workshops in Mukurwe-ini almost 3 hours north of Nairobi. Lively discussions energized us all, including the SIS project team and Farmers Helping Farmers Board members Carolyn Francis, Liz Townsend, Wendy MacDonald.
SIS 6a
Carolyn, Liz and Wendy held the 2nd round of workshops in the Safe and Inclusive Schools (SIS) project in Meru. About 20 teachers, head teachers, and a Board of Management member came together for 2 full days.  We started with prayers before class and at meals to wish us well for holding workshops that were similar to the 2 full days held in Mukurwe-ini.
SIS 9
As in Mukurwe-ini, participants were enthusiastic and amazingly open about the struggle to stop caning students when tradition, parents, and even pupils expect caning to be a regular part of school discipline.
SIS 3
The focus was on engagement with lots of flip charts, sticky notes for everyone to express ideas, and everyone having a chance to speak. A group photo is always required to mark the gathering!
SIS 1
Jennifer Murogocho, Chair of Education for Meru County  Assembly is a long time supporter of Farmers Helping  Farmers. She took time from an incredibly busy schedule to join us for most of the first day of our 2-day Meru workshops.
SIS 5
The four UPEI students in Meru to do their Bachelor of Education pre-service teaching spoke with great passion against corporal punishment which has been against the law in Kenya since 2010. Participants were keen to talk with the students who facilitated exercises and generally mingled with everyone. A great collection of bright minds!
SIS 6
In both Mukurwe-ini and Meru, Carolyn, Liz and Wendy met with 10 youth to hear their views on corporal punishment and special needs. We were so lucky to meet them and gradually hear their stories of school life. Group photos were a great hit!
SIS 7SIS 8

Making new friends

Hello Again!

from UPEI Education students Alex, Nikki, Christina and Helen

teach again 1.png

In this blog post, the teachers have teamed up with the other group from Farmers Helping Farmers (Carolyn, Liz and Wendy) as they carry out their work on promoting safe and inclusive schools in Meru (a continuation of their work in Mukerwe’ini). We attended the workshops on Thursday, Friday and Monday (March 2nd,3rd and 6th respectively) which were held at the Kaaga Synod MCK guest house in Meru. These sessions included teachers, headteachers, PTA members and representation from the County Assembly (our wonderful Kenyan Mom and great friend of FHF Jennifer Murogocho). We are sure that the ladies will have much to share about the exciting work they’re doing during the workshops in future posts. From our perspective, the workshops that we attended were quite successful and a very big step in beginning to foster a safe and inclusive learning environment in all Kenyan schools. Way to go Carolyn, Liz and Wendy!!

On Thursday, Alex had an opportunity to spend the entire day getting to know a student from K.K Indege primary school who arrived at the workshop on the wrong day. Kelvin is an exceptionally bright class 8 student with an awesome personality.

Making the best of the day, Kelvin and Alex visited the Kaaga School for the Hearing Impaired for a couple of hours on Thursday, as it is right next door to the guest house where the workshops were being held. It was an incredible experience for Alex and Kelvin, as neither had ever visited a school specifically for those who need to communicate using sign language. For Kelvin, it was the first time he had ever met someone who talked using sign language. It was an eye-opening learning experience for the two, and one they are unlikely to forget anytime soon. To see the caring and dedicated teachers at work was quite inspiring.

Alex spoke so highly of his experience that Christina, Helen and Nikki made a visit to the school the next day without hesitation. Incidentally, Kelvin was asked to speak to his peers about his experience the next day at school, where he told Alex that many were quite interested to hear about how similar, yet different the learning environment was to their own. We have now run in to Kelvin on several other days, and are always happy to see our new friend. He has told Alex that he would like to be an author when he grows up, and we are looking forward to reading his work in the future! Alex has also asked Kelvin to stay in touch and hopes to receive a letter from him sometime in the coming weeks or months. We think that the two have become fast friends!

teach again 2

Above: Masonry students at the Kaaga School for the Hearing Impaired pose for a picture with their work.

 

teach again 3Above: A picture of the carpentry workshop in the vocational area at the Kaaga School for the Hearing Impaired.

 

teach again 4

Above: Christina looks on as cheerful students from the school have a look at some pictures.

teach again 5

Above: The students are full of energy as Helen and Nikki give out some stickers to the class.

A new cookhouse – and more!

FHF open 5It was a very exciting weekend in Kenya as our Farmers Helping Farmers volunteers and UPEI education students participated in the opening of our newest cookhouse, thanks to the incredible efforts of the Souris Village Feast.

The cookhouse is located at Michaka Primary School – which is twinned with Stratford Elementary School. FHF board member Lydia MacKay is a teacher at Stratford Elementary and the chair of the Education Committee so we are sure this cookhouse is especially exciting for her to share with her students!

FHF open 6

FHF board members Carolyn Francis, Wendy MacDonald and Liz Townshend were also on hand to experience the opening of the cookhouse.

Carolyn Francis was at Michaka in July 2015 with the P.E.I.-Kenya Youth Tour and presented a map of the world, on behalf of the students and teachers from Canada who were on that tour.

FHf open 4 map

 

The students at Michaka also received some books-thanks to the 2016 Farmers Helping Farmers Holiday Campaign.

FHF open 3

To finish up the day, girls in the upper grade levels were presented with Days for Girls feminine hygiene kits. They were prepared by Jean Hume and her volunteers in Guelph, Ontario. They will help these girls to be able to stay in school and study when they menstruate, as compared to the past where they often had to miss valuable class time.

Here, three of the UPEI Education students explain to the girls how to use the kits.

FHF open 7 days for girls

 

It was another weekend of exploring and learning about Kenya for the UPEI Education students.

FHF open 1

Asante to all who made this a very special day for Farmers Helping Farmers in Kenya!

FHF open 2