Friday, March 8, 2013

A busy month!

Wow!  As I was pulling out pictures for this blog post, I really got to appreciate how busy we have been so far this year, and how many exciting things are happening here in Takaungu at the EAC.  Let's get to it....

This year has been filled with visitors.  We were very happy to welcome one of our board members, Matthew Merluzzi, to Kenya for the first time.  Last year Matt traveled to the Ivory Coast as part of his job as a comodities trader working with cocoa farmers.  He had such a good experience on that trip that when Jen and I told him to come out to Kenya, he jumped at the chance.  He stayed with us for 6 days and had a great time learning more about our programs.  Matt has been instrumental in raising money for our capital projects since joining the board, and we were excited for him to see what all his efforts have accomplished.

While Matt was here, he helped us to distribute shoes that had been donated to the nursery school children by 'Thousand Pairs of Little Shoes', a Caymen Islands charity started by a longtime visitor to Kenya.  Thanks to Renata for the donation of the shoes!

As an avid fisherman, Matt was also interested to hear about the grant just awarded to the Takaungu Beach Managment Unit from the Constituency Development Trust Fund.  EAC staffed supported the Unit to write a grant for a cold store room and ice processing center.  We were so excited when we found out last year that the group received the grant for 5.4 million shillings!!  We took Matt to meet the fisherman and see the current storage space.  

Unfortunately, the weekend after Matt left was the launching of the project (pictures below).  It was a beautiful day and a committee was chosen by the community to implement the project.  We can't wait to see the progress this brings to the fishing community of Takaungu and will support them throughout the process.

This year also saw the return of Tony Hillier, community poet extraordinaire!  Tony had visited our school last year and held a 10 week poetry class for the Class 7 and 8 students.  He also encouraged teachers and staff to participate.  Tony had such a great time here at Vutakaka that he went home and created a beautiful book of the students and staff poems and art work.  As Tony and I debated how to use it for fundraising and also how to pay for printing, he informed me he was funding the printing of 50 copies and coming back to Kenya to deliver them himself!  We were so excited to see him two weeks ago, and everyone is very proud to see their work published.  Thanks Tony!

Just a few quick, but still exciting last notes before I sign off and save the rest for another blog.  We want to give a shout out to intern Shanie Holman from Seattle, Washington, who is doing a great job tutoring our students in Math and Science (she is even holding an election time tutoring program!) and working on updating our XO laptops and helping teachers to further integrate them into their classroom learning.  Thanks Shanie!  Below is our new headteacher Mr. Jumaa, who will be profiled in our upcoming newsletter.  We are excited to have him and can't wait to let everyone get to know him, at least online.  Welcome Mr. Jumaa!

I'll close here, even though there is more to share.  Right now we are in a holding pattern, waiting for election results.  Kenyans seemed determine to keep the peace, despite a lot of reasons for them to be annoyed with the systems and politicians in this country.  Despite a still unstable situation, I am as ever impressed by the patience and dedication to a better future of the people of Kenya.  Let's keep hoping for a peaceful future, near and far.