Sunday, May 31, 2009

Running for Clean Water...

Well, well, well… We are here at Egerton University the location of our project partner SUMAWA as well at the location for our project for the Biosand Filter (BSF). Today is Sunday and we arrived here on Friday afternoon. We were able to see some wildlife along the road from Nairobi such as impalas, baboons, and zebras. We hope to book a safari in the near future where we may get the chance to see a lot more wild life at Masai Mara the most popular wildlife preserve in Kenya.
When we arrived on Friday we had a meeting with Simon the main BSF technician and three other men who have been trained to be BSF technicians but have yet to practice their skills due to lack of capacity. We have been encouraged that there is a true need here; the challenge for our team is to consider which places are the best leverage points for our intervention to a system that has already partially formed and yet needs funds, capacity, direction, and a legal entity to take it to the next level.
Saturday we travelled with our driver Inondo and Simon to a household in Teret (town next to Njoro) with 8 children to replace a leaky BSF. The man of the house, Moses Kombo is a deputy principle of a secondary school in the community and wanted us to supply the school that he works at with 3 BSFs. Once the BSF was replaced in the Kombo home we travelled to the school where we met with the Principal and discussed the BSF, and its qualities. The principal was convinced, and purchased 3 BSFs to be delivered in two weeks. Our main concern with all this is building capacity in order to build credibility and provide Simon with a more stable livelihood. We need to learn how to work with the existing system established with Egerton University and how to move this enterprise forward. We were even invited to attend a community day at the school in Teret where we could promote the BSF and our business. This would have been a great opportunity and yet we decided to pass on this opportunity because Simon does not even have all the raw materials to fill any potential orders. We are learning there is curiosity and a demand for the BSF and yet are not prepared to start operations yet. The team is optimistic as well as eager to see what kind of impact we can make in this region.
With Sanghamitra- our representative from India we have been able to eat Indian fare on multiple occasions. In case you didn’t know there is quite a sizeable population of Indian immigrants here in Kenya. Most of them are involved in the business and commerce sector.
Today we have been able to take a much needed rest, and do our laundry (by hand). The entire team went out for run around the campus as well. It was a leisurely jog, and we hope to create a Running Water International racing team soon!
We have settled into our living quarters here on the campus. We are staying in the dorms here and are reminded of our own days during our undergraduate studies where we had to stay in dorms. We have bought an electric tea kettle and have already found multiple uses for it!
We have learned that Monday is the Kenyan Independence Day, no one will be working. So apparently we will have another day to strategize for the week. Stay tuned a lot more to come!
Running Water International

Friday, May 29, 2009

RWI team arrived to Kenya

This is Aseel reporting from Nairobi-Kenya and it is May 28, 2009. On May 23rd the four of us arrived to Nairobi safely after about 20 hours in air, US is really far and it feel so good to be closer to home (Iraq). We arrived exhausted, had a drink of Fanta and tea then went to bed. I suggested not to wake up early next day but surprisingly I was the first to wake up at 5:50 am (not very much like me, but I think I was still jet lagged). We spent the last four days meeting with different NGOs and individuals who we contacted before and learned more about Kenya people and the water sector. Yesterday was an exciting day; we visited two schools in the slums of Nairobi which was very touching and sad. The kids were so excited to see (Wazungu) which means white people in Swahili. They ran to us trying to shake hands which makes them very happy and telling friends that they greeted a white person, I don’t know what is special about us, is it just that they are not used to seeing white skin or white skin means that they will have a better meal or new clothes. Whichever it is what matters to us is to see them excited and happy.
We met Mama Lucy, the volunteer school manager who takes care of 220 kids and she asked us to pray for her to live 100 years so she can be around for these kids. Whenever we entered a class the kids in a chorus started singing “Good morning our visitor, how are you our visitor”, and whenever asked to sing they praise the Lord.
Nairobi is a poor city but I believe every city is poor in a different way, may be Kenya is poor in terms of food and clean water but as a first time visitor I see the richness it has more than the poverty. It is rich in green areas; I am amazed by the gigantic green plants everywhere. On Sunday, in each street you walk you will hear songs praising God and thanking Him for their life. People are nice, always smiling and very helpful.
A miracle has happened in regards to my visa back to the US… I was able to obtain a multi-entry visa within 48 hours of my first interview that took place this past Tuesday. I am able to come back to Ft. Collins to finish my degree, as well as see my family in Iraq!!!!
With US visa in hand the team and I will head to Njoro (the region of our pilot market) where we will spend 6 weeks working on our feasibility analysis. We have a lot of work to do, and will keep you updated on any exciting news. Our pictures will be uploaded as soon as we arrive at Egerton University in Njoro.
Kwa herini (Good bye)!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Going Back to Kenya

The count-down to departure for Africa is upon us again! We have one more week to complete our class work and projects and then we will be leaving again on May 22nd. At this time we have been able to continue to grow our professional network in Kenya and here in the States in regards to other key player who are working in this area. We are continually learning- although it is stressful this is fun. Next week we will be "pitching" our enterprise idea and turning in our business plan for the GSSE program. We will keep you updated as we travel- in the mean time we have a lot of little things to do to get ready... and we hope to report soon that every teammate will be traveling.