Newsletter November 2021
News from projects 'Kandongu' and 'FaMoja'
(On the FaMoja farm, Br. George, longtime friend pays us a visit and explains to a neighbour's boy the characteristics of our trees)
"I don’t believe in charity. I believe in solidarity. Charity is vertical, so it’s humiliating. It goes from the top to the bottom. Solidarity is horizontal. It respects the other person and learns from the other person. I have a lot to learn from other people."
- Eduardo Galeano
If the project work in and with Kenya has taught me one thing, it is that not charity, but only solidarity can be a long-term way of cooperation. We don't always want to admit this because we like to 'help', maybe we like the feeling of being 'needed', maybe this is how we calm the troubled mind that may often wonder in this world where to start, where to tackle, with all the imbalances that surround us. For a while we still were able to maintain the "vertical" support of charity, as Galeano describes it. But I believe that now, at the latest, since this phase of constant change, which shows itself externally in a tangible way through the discourses around a virus, it can no longer be sustained. The illusion that we can decide and act in isolation is no longer tenable; (global) solutions can no longer be found within borders and nations.
I spent most of this year in Kenya, and in this global exceptional state I was able to experience on different levels that old patterns of black and white, rich-poor, advanced-developing, secure-insecure are not only obsolete, but are even being twisted into the opposite here and there. Even if financial resources from Germany have been of great importance for the Kandongu and FaMoja projects so far, I have long since recognised the resources that shine in return on the Kenyan side, which for me and – if I follow the moods in Central Europe – certainly also for one or two others, hold some invaluable, exemplary values: For example, inner strength, flexibility and above all solidarity in one's own community, in one's own country, the unconditional recognition of different opinions and world views, which can coexist here in Kenya in such a natural and respectful way.
This year was and is a special one, also for our projects, which were able to take such significant steps, also thanks to you, your solidarity, your trust and your appreciation. THANK YOU!
Let's continue staying connected – now more than ever!
- Review Beatmass: During the international Beatmasse in May under the title "Kenya – I do it my way", 2640 Euros were collected for a project house in the FaMoja project. On behalf of FaMoja, I would like to express my heartfelt thanks to the parish of Cologne Klettenberg. More information about the status of the project below.
- A year of drought: At the moment it is the rainy season in Kenya – actually. If it hadn't failed. Just like the last and the year before last. This year, all the rains that secured our livelihoods failed to materialise. Personally, I have never experienced this in my Kenyan history. Just in time, we had established a borehole for water supply at the beginning of the year, which kept us 'afloat' for a few months. But without rain, the groundwater level is dropping alarmingly. Now not only the well has to be dug deeper. The entire crop has also dried up (about 2 ha farm). Maize and beans, which usually feed the whole school for a few months can now only be used as animal feed. In these times we need support to buy food. A bag of maize costs about 30 Euros. A bag of rice costs about 40 Euros. Under the current circumstances, prices fluctuate greatly and are expected to rise further. We expect financial shortfalls at all ends, as parents also pay their children's school fees through their agricultural yields. The teachers' salaries will certainly soon no longer be secured.
- A new school bus: The school bus purchased in 2012 has been causing problems for years. It is not only too small, but has also become very susceptible to repairs and has long since become financially unsustainable. In 2020, school director Francis Macharia initiated a fundraising project with the local community and a committee of parents, neighbours and teachers. Interrupted by the 2020 lockdown, he resumed the project this year. Last week, a new school bus was bought (16,000 Euros), we were able to support the financing over 4 years with a start-up grant of 1000 Euros. I am particularly happy about the initiative from Kandongu, as it strengthens the path back to independence.
- A new gate: In August, a new, more stable and secure school gate was installed for 300 Euros, for which the majority of the parents had spoken out.
- Status Quo classrooms: In the last newsletter I announced the need to build new classrooms. In cooperation with Br. Francis Macharia and the Brothers of St. Joseph, we were able to apply for funding in Kenya and are currently waiting for the outcome.
(In Project Kandongu, preparation of meals with teachers)
- Waterproject: Project FaMoja is not immune to the failed rainy season. Even though the farm has access to a river with sufficient water, we had to decide in August to build a well in order to prevent water from having to be pumped to the fields on the slopes by environmentally harmful and uneconomical petrol pumps. However, stubborn stone layers have so far made it impossible for us to complete the well. We are currently in contact with local companies with professional drills. The urgently needed completion of the well, including water stand, water tank and solar pump, will take another approx. 2300 Euros.
- Job creation: 9 months of lockdown in the past year have resulted in a shift in the Kenyan school calendar and, above all, a huge reduction in the usual holiday periods (normally 3 months a year, which have now been cut to single weeks). Especially in this year, when our FaMoja project needs a special boost and our farm needs thorough care, the FaMoja members hardly get any free time to lend a hand at FaMoja. In August, we therefore decided to employ a member from the neighbouring community as a permanent farm worker (Ezekiel). We are happy to through this strengthen our connections to the local people and to be able to provide a job already now. (Salary 80 Euro/month).
- Farm development: In cooperation with our farm worker Ezekiel, a rice and a peanut farm have been established. After completion of the water project, a garden for medicinal herbs will be developed.
- Community-Project-House: After the completion of the water project, the construction of the community project house can finally begin. It will serve as the 'home' of the project, as a meeting place for all members and as a venue for future educational programmes. Thanks to the donations received during the Beatmesse Klettenberg Cologne in May of this year and further private donations afterwards, we have a generous 7000 Euros at our disposal for this project. I will accompany the implementation on site and keep you informed about the developments.
(In the FaMoja farm, Br. Francis Macharia, me and neighbour's kids after completing the farm's gate in May this year)
On behalf of both projects I would like to thank Akifra e.V., FAKT e.V., Ivo Masanek and the parish of Cologne Klettenberg with their Beatmessen team and every single supporting hand this year.
Stay healthy and blessed as you move to the next year!
All the best wishes, Jana
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