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Archive for April, 2009

Day 35

This week I parked myself at the FSD office to work on my grant. FSD offers a grants program for interns that stay for over three months to apply to. They have a small pool of funds and the board reviews and approves those they deem worthy. Although I have lots of experience working with grants through my fundraising work, I’ve never actually written one so it was good practice doing the research, collecting all of the data, and organizing the budget.

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I requested funding for a training for the women’s group leaders on how to prepare balanced, nutritious foods. High levels of poverty in this area of Western Province in Kenya result in high rates of malnutrition. Given the limited number of resources and funds, many women and children do not get the nutrient-rich food they need; they are maintaining themselves on ugali which doesn’t have a lot of nutritional value. Training these women on the preparation of nutrient-rich affordable meals will help reduce the malnutrition rates in the area while staying within their budgetary constraints, usually less than $1 per day. The women’s group leaders will then be able to go to their individual groups and train them on this. Hopefully making it a sustainable program.

Day 32

This past weekend all of the interns headed to Kisumu, a city a couple hours away from Kakamega. I was so ready to go have a meal with familiar foods and a hot shower. The first night we were there we went out to a dance club and had drinks with ice blocks in it. Yes, even ice is making me ecstatic at this point! We had a great time dancing at the club, it was awesome to see a bunch of Kenyan men rocking out to Shania Twain, Avril Lavigne and Dido. That weekend we also hit a coffee shop; an iced caramel latte made me so happy. What’s funny is that they grow coffee in Kenya but they only drink instant coffee. The house is a now busier and crowded once I get home, which is a nice thing. My host mother’s brother and her son are home from boarding school for a month break.

Day 29

The rains have begun. Living in Seattle did not prepare me for rains such as these. It literally gushes. The roads and ditches fill with water and many places become giant mud pits. I’m pretty positive I will end up flat on my back covered in mud before my time here is up. The earth here is primarily clay so it makes it very slick and sticky. The dirt’s red-orange in color and provides a great contrast to the lush greens when it is wet.

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Everyone is so grateful that the rains have begun because the economy is primarily agriculturally based. The majority of individuals here have plots of land, shambas, where they grow staples such as maize and greens. Their culture revolves around the shamba; inheritance and wealth are connected to the land. One is even buried on their shamba when they die. Although many people are now based in town they still maintain their shamba at their ancestral home.

A couple unpleasant aspects of the rain besides the massive amounts of mud are that the electricity always goes out when it rains. This is on top of the other random times it goes out throughout the day. It’s pretty much guaranteed to go out at least once a day but the rains have compounded that. It also makes the sewage overflow on my road, filling the ditch with raw sewage. Yuck.

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