Read below for the latest on the ground update from our intern, Calum. He's been doing some great work with the students at Jitegemee. Also, consider donating to help support the completion of the new "green" educational center on March 16th, via GlobalGiving. GlobalGiving will be matching all donations at 30% on this day, so your contribution will go even further! Thank you for all your support thus far.
After my hottest week in Machakos, it rained. Really rained. It started Sunday afternoon and it actually only stopped raining earlier today. Now there is heavy mud everywhere, or “ndaka” in Kikamba, which a man in the matatu told me I had collected lots of on my shoes .
Unfortunately the rain has come several weeks too late to save the crops. But a few weeks ago my family was able to harvest a massive sack of beans and some thumb-sized bananas from their shamba farm. Many of Jitegemee’s families are hit hard by the increasingly unpredictable rains so it was a good time to talk about protecting the environment with the students.
Two Saturdays ago, all of the primary school students came to the center. We talked about what the term environment means, the interdependent nature of ecosystems, and why it’s important to protect it. I tried hard to make it relevant to their lives. Not just “recycle used peanut butter jars and decorate them for fun” as my Google search had suggested. I wanted the students to understand that pollution and dwindling natural resources pose a serious threat for our generation. If we throw our litter on the ground, livestock/a small child could mistake it for food and choke on it. We could further pollute the water. Climate change affects the rains. We will eventually run out of fossil fuels.
With Jitegemee about to start the construction of a new, “green” center, we wanted the students to understand that it doesn’t mean it will be painted that color, as one primary school student suggested. The new building will have solar panels for electricity, a solar hot water heater for cooking, toilets that use little/no water, a roof designed to collect water, and a large shamba.
I organized 3 activities: an environmental scavenger hunt, the “taka taka challenge!” (just a rubbish pickup), and some typing and drawing activities on the computers. The kids excitedly ran around the center looking for the different things I had asked for. One group even found a turkey, which I didn’t think lived in Kenya, let alone Jitegemee’s grounds.
As mentioned on our Twitter feed and Facebook page (you are following those aren't you? :)) Jitegemee welcomed its first intern to Machakos a little over a month ago. Calum is taking a gap year to travel the world, experience life, and hopefully make a difference along the way. We're happy to have him working with our students and staff at Jitegemee, and we are excited to hear about his time there. Throughout the course of his stay we will occasionally be sending you updates from his blog "Merry Go Round." Below is the first such post, ENJOY!For over a month now I’ve been working with the NGO Jitegemee in Machakos, Kenya that rehabilitates street children through formal and vocational education. I’m their first long-term volunteer and I’m working on developing a basic computer skills curriculum, a networked computer lab and a litter management program. Living with a local family has given me an opportunity to fully experience life here. They have made me feel like their son always referring to each other as “mom” and “dad”. Many of our conversations are spent comparing our cultures and asking each other questions. What I’ve found most interesting is how surprised they are when I explain how different life is back home. I remember their shock when I explained I didn’t know how to make chapatis because I don’t eat them back home. But they’ve made sure to teach me and now I’m pretty much an expert- I’ll post some instructions soon.Over the first two week of January, we had many visitors to Jitegemee. Two Columbia graduate students studying international development came for 10 days to research the impact of the formal schooling programme. Not sure how they got anything done as we spent most of our time together dancing with all the students. Their findings fully support the huge, life changing impact that Jitegemee has on children’s lives. Just read "REFORMED", a poem written by several vocational students, and you’ll know what I’m talking about. Last Friday we had three donors visit from the US who shared a day of performances and celebration with us here. Hopefully soon I will be able to find the internet power to upload some pictures.Slowly I’ve been making progress teaching the students how to use computers. We have five (if we’re lucky and they all decide to work) in a mini-lab that is now decorated with some posters the students made about the different parts of the computer. Since the most of them had never touched one before, I start by teaching them about the parts, why its important to learn computers, and how many jobs can benefit from using them. Then we move into turning them on and off correctly, and how to hold the mouse and use the left click. My first major activity involves the paint application and they have all loved learning how to draw and color on the computer. It’s a fun way to learn about interacting with the computer using the mouse. Some of them have been able to create really detailed portraits, maps of Kenya and Africa, and 3D houses. It’s amazing to think that a week ago most of them had never used a computer before and now they’re able to do all that. This week I’ve been introducing them to the keyboard, going through what all the keys do and having the students practice using them. In the next few weeks we will continue to work on typing and formatting. I’ve also been working with the teachers on typing, word processing, powerpoint, and video editing. Hopefully by next week we will have the entire center connected to the internet so everyone can start playing with it.For the litter project, we now have five bins for <del>taka taka</del> trash and a bottle of soap. I made some posters about keeping Jitegemee clean and healthy and put them up all over the place. I’ve started to explain it all to the students and already I’ve seen many people putting their trash into the bins instead of throwing it on the floor.And we’ve nearly finished the bottle of soap. Great success! Hopefully we’ll be able to get hand sanitizer dispensers which I think will be better for the limited water supply.Now I’m off to Nairobi to spend the weekend with my host brother. What a crazy life!-Calum
On behalf of the Jitegemee board members, staff, and students, I would like to wish you a Happy Holidays! 2010 has been a tremendous year of growth for Jitegemee both in terms of finance and community. I know many of you who are receiving this update had never even heard of Jitegemee at the beginning of this year. However, do to your support we have been able to make tremendous strides toward or goals constructing a new school and expanding the opportunities for the street kids of Machakos, Kenya. Because of your support we have had a record year of fundraising!
Your support has allowed us to:
Calum arrived in Machakos over the past couple of weeks, and received a warm reception from his host family. He had the following to say about his arrival:
“…The family is extremely kind and generous and have put in great effort to make me feel comfortable. I look forward to getting to know them better and to learning Kiswahili as Francisca assures me that within two months I will be able to speak the language. Yesterday, Mike, the teachers, and some of the kids gave me a very warm welcome to Jitegemee. Mike and I discussed the plan for my stay and I was able to share some of the ideas I have had…”
We look forward to bringing you more insights from Calum’s time at Jitegemee both here, and on our website. We are excited about his presence there, and look forward to hearing about his contributions.
Again, none of this would be possible without supporters like you. Thank you again, we are looking forward to an even bigger and better 2011 with you!
Clarence Wardell III
P.S. We would also like to extend a special thanks to our supporters, Elaine, Lori, Connie, and Gail, who hiked 177 miles across Wales, and got sponsors for Jitegemee for the hike. They raised more than $3,000 through their efforts. Thank you!
What a summer! With your help Jitegemee had a hugely successful summer of
fundraising, and we are currently more than 50% of the way toward our fundraising goal for our new school. This was the amount we wanted to have in hand to begin construction, so now we are moving forward with deciding on a local architect to work with and making a timeline to break ground in the coming months. We are very excited, and so are the kids.
In addition to the fundraising success, we had another huge success this summer: our first university graduate, Wambua Charles Kieti!
You guys should all be proud of Wambua, and proud of yourselves. Supporters
like you have been the difference - literally - between this kid being a 10 year-
old drug addict and him being a college graduate. Jitegemee has been his mother and father, and he is turning out just fine.
A brief background on Wambua from our Founder, Farah Stockman:
“When he was about five or six years old, he was a permanent fixture in front of the town grocery store. He used to beg, carry bags for money, and wash cars with water from the sewer.
When I met him, he was a great kid, but totally addicted to sniffing glue. We took Wambua to a special boarding school for street kids to get him off glue. He stayed there for years and did well. We would take his brothers and his mother up there to visit him. Then one day he up and ran away, without warning. He reached the little shantytown where his mother lived just in time to say goodbye to her before she suddenly died of an illness. He said he just "knew" she was dying.
He decided not to return to that school, sand to stay closer to home. He lived with his cousins and siblings in a home headed by a 19-year-old. It was a struggle, but he continued on with his schooling, and got accepted to a good high school, where he developed an obsession with computers, even though the high school hardly ever had electricity. When he graduated, he was determined to learn computer programming in college. These last few years, college has been tough for him because although we paid his room and board, he didn't get too much pocket money and was living on his own in the city for the first time in his life. But he stuck with it. This past spring he did an internship fixing the computers at a Kenyan government office. His college experience was not cheap for us. We invested probably $4,000 in him over the last three or four years, more than any other kid. But it looks like every dollar was worth it. Wambua is going to be the shining light of his brothers and sisters, and the breadwinner of a very poor family, and the inspiration for the little ones.
Once again, THANK YOU! The support from individuals like you is what made this happen
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