Thursday, September 25, 2008

Orphan Support Program

Project Kesho has been working to support the Orphan and Vulnerable Children (OVC) population at the Ulonge and Lundamatwe Primary Schools since the fall of 2007. The need in both these communities (as well as the rest of East and Southern Africa) is great. *Currently 12 million children in Sub-Saharan Africa are orphaned as a result of HIV/AIDS, and this number is expected to rise in the near future. *The percent of children in Tanzania under the age of 18 who have lost at least one parent to HIV/AIDS is 11%, while in the Iringa Region, where Project Kesho works, the percentage is 16.2%. *More than a quarter of the students attending primary school at either the Ulonge or Lundamatwe Primary Schools are orphans. Last fall we sponsored 35 students to attend secondary school who were unable to pay either because they are orphaned or vulnerable. This year we have been expanding our work to focus on the entire OVC population of the Lundamatwe village (which includes the Ulonge community). This program will consist of three distinct facets. The first will be the identification and training of local village volunteers to conduct home visits. Volunteers will be self-selected and suggested by key community leadership, including church ministers, school officials and council members. Project Kesho’s program associate and program staff member will use their contacts with the school and local churches to recruit willing volunteers, with the Tanzanian staff member serving as the program coordinator. The program coordinator will be responsible for managing the network of volunteers and providing administrative support to the network. Training will be provided to the volunteers. The second facet of this program is the creation of a sustainable animal farm to provide a source of food, education and income for this population of orphans. The goals of this farm will be to supply a sustainable and self-replicating way of providing nutritional support to both the orphans and their foster families and to provide a means for income generation for the orphans and their foster families. The third facet of this program will be to provide for the educational, health, and psychosocial needs of the orphans. The needs will be identified by the network of volunteers. Once the needs of the OVC's are identified they can be brought to the attention of the Program Coordinator and Project Kesho. We will then work to address these needs. The construction of the farm started in early July. The farm consists of building to house chickens and supplies, a fenced area for goats, and another fenced area for growing premium vegetables, which will be sold to local expats. The building to house chickens and supplies is now finished: The following picture shows the farm building under construction: We all pitched in to dig the hole for the bathroom at the farm (yes, this is becoming repetitive, but I think it highlights the lack of sanitary facilities all across Africa). This pictures shows summer volunteer (and all around cool guy) Sam Ziegler doing his share: The following are two pictures of some "helpers" that showed up: To begin to recruit volunteers for the home visiting network, we invited Furaha Dimitry, who is the Chairman of the Executive Committee of African Communities, a network of community-based organizations (CBO's) in Dar es Salaam to conduct a community meeting in Lundamatwe. Over 80 people showed up! Of the 80, 10 people expressed interest in joining a volunteer network to address the needs of the OVC's in their communities. Over the next couple of months we will be holding more meetings in other communities so that the network can be up and running by early 2009. Abbas is currently in Dar, training with Furaha and his CBO so that he can conduct future community meetings. Over 80 people in one classroom! This is Furaha leading the meeting:

Classroom Construction

This fall Project Kesho is facilitating the construction of two new classrooms. We are working with the local communities to construct these classrooms. A deal was struck between the respective communities and Project Kesho detailing how the classrooms would be funded. The respective communities were (and will be for future classrooms) responsible for securing bricks for building (either by making them or purchasing them), gathering large stones that are used for the foundation, and responsible for digging the foundation. Project Kesho is responsible for the rest of the supplies and paying labor for the construction. The local communities are responsible for roughly 15-20% of the construction costs and Project Kesho is responsible for the rest. Community support, either in terms of money or volunteered labor is important because it creates community ownership over the project. The community is able to take pride in its accomplishments and will be more likely in the future to support repairs or upgrades to existing projects. Also, by providing money or volunteering time, the community shows Project Kesho and our donors that they think the project is important to them and they do not view the project as just a handout, but rather a partnership. One classroom is at the Ulonge Primary School, and one is at the Lundamatwe Primary School. The classroom at the Ulonge Primary School also incorporates an attached office for teachers. This gives teachers space to plan lessons and grade papers. This classroom will house the students who are currently in Standard 5 and who will be moving up to Standard 6 in January at the start of the new school year. The construction of the classroom at Ulonge is almost complete. Currently at the Lundamatwe Primary School, students in Standards 1 and 2 share a classroom with one grade coming for a morning session and the other coming in the afternoon. Once this new classroom is completed they can both attend school for a full day. The residents of the Lundamatwe community are currently collecting money and gathering supplies to support their end of the bargain. We anticipate that this classroom will also be completed before the beginning of the new school year in January. The bags of cement needed at the Ulonge Primary School are pictured below. The price of cement has risen almost 25% since this time last year. As the global price of oil has increased it has had a trickle down effect on many parts of the local economy. Transportation costs to bring supplies from Iringa to the construction sites have more than doubled, and the price of lumber has increased because it costs more to bring the lumber to the mills. This pictures shows the trenches that the local community dug for the foundation of the school. The classroom after just a week of construction work. In this picture the office for the teachers is on the left and the classroom is on the right. The rest of the school is on the opposite side of the rooms.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Abbas Doing Manual Labor!

Our work in Africa would be nothing without Abbas. He does so much more than just translating. He is actively involved in every step of every project. However, Abbas definitely prefers to not do manual labor and get his clothes or (especially) his shoes dirty. So when he picked up a hoe I couldn't resist filming, and Elliot also egged him on for the benefit of the video. We love you Abbas!!!

Borehole and Pump Update

Update: Here is a picture of the final pump setup. The borehole is on the left in the picture, a child is pumping in the middle and on the right in the picture is the output hose where a lady is filling her bucket. As discussed earlier, we have been working to bring clean water to the communities of Lundamatwe and Ulonge. We are please to say that the borehole and pump have been completed at the Lundamatwe Primary School, and is being heavily used. The setup consists of a hand-dug well about 18 feet deep, which was then bricked up on the inside to keep the walls from caving in, and then the top of the well was capped to prevent foreign objects from getting inside. A platform was then built next to the borehole for the pump to sit on, with one hose going down inside the borehole and one hose that brings the water to a filling station. The video below shows several steps along the way. The end of the video shows our opening ceremony, were the borehole and pump were officially handed over to the school and the community. So far the water appears to be clean and safe to drink. Elliot and I drank it on several occasions with no side effects. When the rainy season is over, and the water table is at its lowest (late November), we will get the water officially tested. Plans are in the works to facilitate two more boreholes before the end of the year. One will be at the Ulonge Primary School. The water table in Ulonge is lower than Lundamatwe, so we are waiting to dig until the end of the dry season so that we know for sure how deep we have to go. We are also planning on facilitating a borehole in a different part of the village. However, this will be more of challenge. Since the pumps we are using are designed for Africa, they are lightweight and portable, which makes them easy to steal. Having the pumps near schools means that a teacher can be responsible for bringing the pump out every morning and taking it away at night. So before a pump can be put in a more remote part of the village an organization will need to be created that will be responsible for managing the pump. The following pictures show the various stages of construction:


I apologize for not posting to the blog while I was in Africa! The computers in the internet cafes that we have used in the past for uploading pictures and videos all seem to now have viruses on them. Elliot got several virus on his computer as a result. So we just decided to wait until I got home to post to the blog. The next several days will see many posts go up!