Helping young Kenyans survive and thrive in Kisumu

Apr 8, 2014

April 2014 Update

Proud of their Training Certificate!
Proud of their Training Certificate!

Some Encouraging Progress!

Paul Ochieng has done a great job with the three trainees who passed their Government Grade 3 Examinations in Carpentry. These youngsters have all opted to stay at the centre to help train the new intake whilst expanding their own practical experience, gaining confidence and improving their own skills in a sheltered environment.

It is possible for them to stay on because of the expansion of the Paluoc workshop through the addition of a second floor which has recently been completed.

They are currently planning on obtaining some power tools; this would make work easier, more interesting, bring trainees up to date, and make it easier to retain trainees. They have also recently been supplied with overalls to help protect their own clothing and make them feel smart and to aim for high standards of work. But you can tell from the photo that many have low self-esteem and are not used to having their photo taken...

Paul is also trying to set up a library area in which they will put teaching materials. There are currently very few books or training materials – but you have to start somewhere and aim high if you are going to be successful!

Having had their first successful trainees, we are hoping that the message will spread, they will find it easier to recruit in future, and the trainees will believe it possible for them to succeed, and earn an income which can help other members of their family too.

Thank you for your interest, support and encouragement.

Paluoc Building almost complete
Paluoc Building almost complete
Smart new Overalls!
Smart new Overalls!
Jan 7, 2014

January 2014 Update

Trainee Bonaventure
Trainee Bonaventure

Work on expanding the workshop by adding an upper storey has progressed well. The walls and roof are now completed, the next step is to install the windows. This should be starting this week We are still awaiting photos and will post them as soon as we have them. The trainees themselves were able to help with the timberwork for the roof, good practical experience. Paluoc also has its first female trainee so we are interested to see how that develops.

We are waiting for the exam results of the first 4 trainees who have taken their Grade 3 Carpentry Tests. They should be available in February. Things are moving along nicely and we hope that success in the exams will help promote Paluoc in the community.

We are aiming to supply the trainees, who have finished their training, with a basic toolkit. This is important in the obvious sense of providing tools for the job, it is also an incentive to attend well and stay the course – a big issue with many of the trainees. We don’t want to give them the tools too early in case they decide to sell them for a bit of ready cash, but those that do comply do need to actually collect.

A pen picture of some of our trainees:

Bonaventure Sule:

Bonaventure is aged 19. He is the sixth of seven children. His two older brothers can only find casual work. His three older sisters are all married and have moved away from home. Both his parents are alive and he lives with them. His father is a catechist (teacher of the Christian faith), his mother has no outside work.

He says he could earn a little money each week driving a boda-boda (bicycle taxi) but sees that there is no future in it. He wants to learn a trade so that he can earn a proper wage in the future. He wants to help his family financially.

He has been entered for the Grade 3 Government exam in carpentry. We are awaiting his results – they should arrive back in February 2014.

Samson: (no relation to Paul the instructor, just born at the same time of day)

Samson is 16, the second born in a family of 3 boys and 3 girls (one of whom works in a hair salon). Both of his parents have died and he lives with his grandparents. He is a very quiet young man, hardworking and keen to please. He likes church music and unlike a lot of his contemporaries has no interest in Premier League football.

He is lacking in self-confidence but hopes to have passed his Grade 3 exam which he took last year. We hope so too, it will do him a power of good.


Kenneddy is 17 years old. He finished formal school in 2012 after taking Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (Like old 11+ in UK). There was no money for him to continue in education.

His father only finds casual work, his birth mother has died and he has a step mother who has two children of her own. Kenneddy walks 5 miles each way each day to the workshop and is always punctual. His route is along dusty paths that are sometimes flooded. He sleeps in a building used as a kitchen by the family. His father's small house is built from cow dung and has only two rooms with a mud floor. He started at Paluoc in March 2013. Paul says he is very disciplined, his attendance is very good, and Paul thinks he will do well. We are awaiting his results too. We wish him success.


Trainee Samson
Trainee Samson
Trainee Kenneddy
Trainee Kenneddy
Nov 12, 2013

November 2013 Update

Some of the Furniture produced at Paluoc
Some of the Furniture produced at Paluoc

Exciting times!

It’s good to see some good quality work being produced. There are many carpenters in Kisumu, though as the population continues to grow rapidly there is plenty of scope for more. Our plan at Paluoc workshop and training
centre is to produce really proficient carpenters; capable of careful, precise work that will mean they are sure of future employment.

Two of the trainees are bringing in a bed and some chairs that they have made and put outside the workshop whilst waiting for the varnish to dry.

Notice in the background the good use being made of the barbed wire fence.  The fence is really there to keep the neighbours’ goats out of the small vegetable patch that the night-watchman’s wife is cultivating, and a small mango tree which we hope will eventually bear fruit for the trainees’ lunches.

Storage of completed work is an issue and training and working areas are also needed, plus a small office to store progress reports, training materials, invoices etc. So the workshop is being given an upper floor.  The pile of sand shows the scale of the task.  The work has started and is planned to be completed well before the rainy season starts. Three HATW volunteers are visiting this month to help with the work and to report back on progress. They are also looking at ways to recruit and retain more trainees when the extra space is available.

Another important issue is the safety of tools. At Paluoc this problem has been resolved with a very solid storage room, with heavy duty locks should any potential thieves penetrate the metal doors and window frames. In an ideal world that wouldn’t be necessary but the tools of their trade are very valuable and have to be protected. The photo
shows some of the individual toolboxes that the trainees make to hold their tools. Our aim is to provide each trainee with a basic set of tools once they know how to look after them.

Thank you for your support and interest!

Building more Useable Space
Building more Useable Space
Tools Storage
Tools Storage
Jul 12, 2013

July 2013 Update


Building your reputation as a trainer and producer of good quality items.

The plan is to train youngsters to develop the sort of skills that will earn them a living in the future. There are lots of carpenters out there. Paluoc’s plan is to produce tables, desks etc of a better than average standard.

You can see from the photos that they are moving along with this aim. Two of those who have been at Paluoc the longest, Evans and Bornventure, take pride in delivering their desks to the customer.

Fred, Keneddy, Kelvin and Geoffrey are relatively new recruits. Like many Kenyan lads who have not had a good experience with education so far in their lives, they still need convincing that staying the full course is a good idea. These are the youngsters that Paluoc targets. It is important to give them a bit of success to boost their confidence.

They can be tempted away by the lure of money in their pockets now, even if the sum involved is very small. To try to overcome this, Paluoc has purchased a planing machine. This can be used to generate some money for the training centre and also a bit of pocket money for the trainees. You can see some of them here posing shyly alongside the machine. This is still at an early stage but will, we hope, provide a useful service for many local  carpenters who would otherwise have to go to Kisumu market to get their wood planed.

The other aspect to the training centre is having to sit down and learn about different types of wood, different joints etc. The centre is desperately short of instructional materials for these tasks but they get by with what little they have. Books are surprisingly expensive in Kenya, and are very well looked after. The trainees are given 30p (50c) per day for lunch, this is a definite inducement to stay. Many Kenyans in their situation get no lunch at all.

Please do continue to help us in helping them. Thank you.

Apr 3, 2013

April 2013 Update

This is an important phase for Paluoc carpentry workshop. They are hoping to increase their number of trainees from the current 5 up to 10. They have been obtaining work from local schools, repairing school desks, and have made tables for meeting rooms at a local conference centre. This helps finance the training and is good practical experience for the trainees.

They have a planing/thicknesser machine which will also help generate income to help fund training. They have had a major setback with this due to the widening of the Nairobi to Kisumu road.  It has meant that the whole area has been without electricity for an extended period of time whilst all of the power cables and poles have been moved. Hopefully this will be resolved soon.

Their reporting system, keeping sponsors informed of trainees' progress, has been working well. It also provides the trainees with a small insight into the capabilities of modern I.T.

They still need more sponsors so that they can continue to provide training free of charge for those who are not in a position to fund themselves and often have no family able to help them.

There are some thoughts about extending the provision so that a greater number can be helped in the future, but that is a problem for another day.

They currently have a good selection of refurbished hand tools that have been supplied by UK charities. It is good to have some decent quality tools to train with. Though they have a good stock currently, as they successfully train more youngsters and send them off into the world to earn a living, they will need to replenish their stocks. They hope to give each trainee a basic toolkit when they graduate. Before they get to that stage they have to persuade Paul, their instructor, that they know how to use the tools and also, very importantly, how to look after them. For some of the trainees that is a very new experience.

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Project Leader

David Steiner

Chief Executive
Monmouth, United Kingdom

Where is this project located?

Map of Helping young Kenyans survive and thrive in Kisumu