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Archive for March 25, 2009

Day 21

I went to our Mumias office today, Mumias is a town about 50 km away from Kakamega in the heart of sugar country. All of the area fields are sugar cane and there is a huge sugar factory in the town. There are many huge cane trailers barreling down the road overflowing with sugarcane. Boda riders will grab onto the back of the trailers to catch a free ride. In this area most of the farmland is contracted for sugarcane and not used to grow food crops.

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One specific problem with the cane farming is that the contracts with the sugar companies are held in the husband’s name making it impossible for their wives to access the profits. Furthermore, these profits are usually given in yearly lump sums that do not trickle down to the wives or are spent improperly resulting in the money running out before the next payment arrives. WEAEP-K is trying to work with the sugar companies to change the contracts so that women are named on them as well and can access some of those profits to take care of their families.

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The Mumias office is a new building that is not quite finished yet that will include a medical office for area women and children to access. It is still under construction and surrounded by scaffolding made out of sticks; I would definitely not want to navigate up to the third story on them! On the land is another drop-in center where there are 17 street boys that live there. There living conditions are a bit better than those at the Kakamega drop-in center and they have a person that lives with them but they also lack the necessary toys and learning materials to keep them occupied. During the day older boys who are out of school and getting trained in technical skills come for their lunch. WEAEP-K has contracts with a woodworking business and a motorcycle mechanic where these older boys are trained. The office also has a well so many area individuals come to get water.

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When I was there the area nutritionist was having a training for mothers on proper nutrition for their infants. These are women who have been identified within the women’s groups. The nutritionist does home visits to track the baby’s growth and also has them come to trainings where they discuss nutrition and the health of their infants. It was an amazing sight, a small room overflowing with women and babies.

That day I also accompanied the children’s program coordinator to a parent’s meeting at a school for mentally and physically handicapped children. WEAEP-K partners with a bunch of area schools to increase their capacity and also motivate the parents to get more involved in their children’s education. We will also sponsor children at area schools because although primary school is free there are many fees involved with a student attending such as books, food and uniforms. We were able to tour the classrooms, view the boarding rooms (in Kenya many students board at school), and meet the children. Besides being taught regular school lessons, the special needs children are also taught how to weave and make handicrafts that are then sold to help support the school.