Saturday, June 30, 2012


On Sunday, June 10, Cale and I rode his moto up to Eldoret.

He promised not to buy another motorcycle this summer (since he bought one last summer and the summer before). I suppose, technically, he didn't buy this motorcycle. He has just entered into a long-term leasing arrangement for a motorcycle that someone else bought brand new mainly because Cale was going to use it. I say, same same.

Before I talk about our trip to Eldoret, let me just lay out the different vehicles on the roads here.
  1. Bicycles. I mistakenly thought all bicycles were called boda-boda; however, as I was typing this entry Cale and Elpharz (pronounced El-fis) corrected me. In Kenya, boda-boda is a taxi (whether it is a bike, moto, or car). The bike boda-bodas are often elaborately decorated and have large, padded seats on the back. I have not ridden one here in Kenya. I did in SE Asia.
  2. Push/pull carts. This is some sort of wooden frame being pulled or pushed by a person or a cow or occasionally a donkey (mule? I dunno). 
  3. Piki-piki. This is a motorcycle. I keep calling the motorcycles around here motos because that is what they were called in SE Asia (at least in English). However, I need to stop that because moto apparently means fire in KiSwahili. Though there is no wikipedia page for piki-piki, it is pretty clear from an internet search, this is the common name.
  4. Matatu. A matatu is most commonly a 14- or seven-seater van. They are usually the style of van that we might call a Euro-van in the US, and, thankfully, they are not the style of Ford vans that the IU Overseas Studies Office forbids the use of.* This is the most common form of public transportation between towns in Kenya. 
  5. Coaches. These are large, long distance buses. Think greyhound bus.
  6. Cars. Of all types.
  7. Trucks. Of all types.
  8. Lorries. Semis and tanker trucks. That always seem to be hauling petrol and say "danger" and "explosive" on the side. You know, for safety.
  9. Cane trucks. Huge metal frames hauled behind either tractors or semi cab typically overflowing with sugar cane on the way to the processing plant.
*When we first learned in Overseas safety training that the office forbids the use of 12-15 passenger vans, I just about lost my mind. How am I supposed to transport a program with 13 students around Kenya if I cannot use 12-15 passenger vans? Luckily, as it turned out, they only referred to Ford vans that have a tendency to tip over. I don't know if I have even seen a Ford vehicle of any sort in Kenya.

The ride up to Eldoret started out with a wrong turn (we went for petrol first and then continued on in the wrong direction for just a bit), but we managed to turn ourselves around and head in the right direction. Since it was a Sunday, the roads were not as bad as they could be. However, there were still cane trucks and lorries passing by at high speeds and us on this little 100cc bike. So in Kenya there are not really speed limits. Instead some types of vehicles have "maximum" speeds they are supposed to go and these numbers are displayed on the back of the vehicle. You can buy the stickers in the store and they come in 30, 50, and 80 km options. So, for example, all matatus should have a sticker that say 80 km and are not supposed to go over that speed. In fact, they are all supposed to have speed governors that stop them from going over that speed. My understanding is that those are frequently disabled. The big lorries are supposed to have 30 km stickers. They typically go 80 km or more (at least that is what it feels like). Private cars and piki-piki have no speed limits.

In addition to the lack of speed limits, there are also no traffic laws really. Other than the general understanding that you should drive on the left. You will often find, on a two lane road, a slow truck that is being overtaken on the right (so in the land of oncoming traffic) by a slightly faster truck, which is being overtaken on the right (so on the "shoulder" as if a shoulder existed) by a car, which is being over taken on the right (so lord knows where) by a piki-piki, as piki-piki and bikes pass going the other way even farther on the right. On several occasions, Cale has had to drive his moto off the sliver of road he was using because the number of vehicles trying to pass each other go across the entire road.

In addition to no speed limits or traffic laws, the roads are in deplorable shape. If the road is "paved" (and I used the quote marks on purpose) it will be just filled with giant potholes. Sorry, GIANT potholes. If the road is not paved, well, yeah. Cale made a video of motoing in Kenya. As soon as I get it from him, I will post it.

So anyway, we piki-piki up to Eldoret. I think it took like four hours. We didn't die at all.

When we got there we stopped at the guesthouse recommended by Hannah the Peace Corps. However, there did not appear to be any safe place to park the moto. So we went to the Nakumatt and sat on the "first floor" (which, is actually the second floor, but the first floor here is called the ground floor) and used the internet to find a new place to stay. We ended up at the Watercrest Gardens. It was really nice (and a little pricey really at 3500 Ksh per night for the two of us not including meals). We took hot showers and relaxed in the front yard with a plate of chips and some Tuskers. While we were outside relaxing, the chef (in a chef outfit) came out to ask us what we would like him to make us for dinner. Knowing that they would try to accomodate anything we asked for and not wanting to be difficult, we instead asked him what he had for dinner. He told us about a nice chicken he was making along with soup and rice, etc. It felt pretty luxurious to have the chef come out to discuss the night's meal with us and it felt even more luxurious when we sat down to the three-course meal.

There was another mzungu at dinner who sat at another table and didn't say a word the entire time. We also met Geoffrey and Linda, who are the owners of the guesthouse. Geoffrey is a minister, and interestingly enough, lived in Branson, Missouri for a while and Atlanta, Georgia as well. We had a nice talk with them.

Tune in next time when I talk about our return visit to Rivatex to pick up Cale's suit and the hilarity that ensued.

— Sara

Friday, June 29, 2012

ACCT International: Project Planning

On Wednesday after the professional development workshop, the students spent two days working with their mentors to develop a project plan for their six-week internships. Then, on Friday morning, each student presented their draft plan to the group for comments and suggestions.

The projects ranged from feasibility assessments of caged fishing projects, to development of income-generating activities for women's table banking groups, to indicator analysis for HIV/AIDS program evaluations.

I immediately took an interested in on plan to work on a proposal for funding to start a computer center at one community organizations. I have a little bit of experience working with computers in a developing country, and I was a little skeptical of this organization's understanding of what would go into starting and maintaining a computer center. Most of my comments during this time were to question the feasibility of completing all the work listed. I felt that many of the project plans were very ambitious for the six-week timeframe. One student in particular had a project plan that included two projects that would have taken more than six weeks to complete (in my estimation) and expressed her hope to do an entirely different project in her free time.

I am interested to see where the students stand now that they have completed three weeks of the internships. Though we have been visiting them all along, the mid-internship retreat begins today at 2pm and will give them a chance to discuss amongst themselves how things have been going with their projects.

Just an hour after the presentations were complete, we had to say good-bye to Dr. T and Peg, who were heading back to the States. They have continued to work with us remotely and we have had several Skype conversations. They will be Skying into the retreat today.

The first students also left for their internships that day, Leslie and Rob left with their mentor. A majority of the rest of the interns departed for their sites the next day on Saturday. Only one intern remained behind. This intern was our first (and only so far) case of malaria. We had decided the intern could not head out to the site until the intern had gone 24 hours with out a fever. By Monday though, they had all fled the nest that was the Mumias Sugar Company (except for the two interning with Mumias Sugar Company) for three weeks and were out with their host families and partner organizations getting down to business.

— Sara

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

ACCT International: Professional Development Workshop (Day 2)

Professional Development Workshop

Stephen Olieka from Mumias kicked off the second day of our professional development conference. He spoke about his experience with corporate social responsibility (CSR) and corporate philanthropy. Stephen currently works at Mumias and spoke about the company’s work. In addition, he previously worked for Safaricom, which I believe has the largest corporate foundation in Kenya. He also spoke about his own personal philanthropic efforts and how he was able to get projects in his hometown funded.

Professional Development Workshop

Stephen was followed by Faye Ekong, the regional training manager for Action Against Hunger. Faye began her talk by pointing out how surprised people typically are by her age after having seen her resume. I agree that I was impressed by her resume and surprised by her age. After her talk, I was joking to Cale that I would want to be like Faye when I grew up, except I think she is the same age as me. However, later in the evening I discovered it is possible that she isn’t even as old as I am and might even be five years younger than me. Talk about feeling under accomplished.

Professional Development Workshop

After our morning break we heard from Betty Nyagoha of the Gatoto Integrated Development Program. We met Betty through SPEA professor Jen Brass who has worked extensively with the school she runs in a Nairobi slum. Betty shared her inspirational personal story. Later, a participant posed the question, “How can we make more Bettys?”

Professional Development Workshop

After Betty, consultant Clyde Mutsotso presented. His consulting firm provides fundraising and financial services to organizations.

Professional Development Workshop

Our final speaker of the day was Haron Wachitra. He spoke on resource mobilization and his unique and extremely interesting social entrepreneurship model. His company sells stock in itself to local farmers and then assists them to organization and expand into value-added products to allow the farmers to benefit from economies of scale and increased revenue from products improved beyond the raw state. These products are sold through the company. The farmers make profits from their sales and through their ownership in the company.

Professional Development Workshop

We concluded the formal presentations with a round table discussion that allowed the participants to pose a variety of questions to Faye, Haron, Betty, and Stephen. Afterwards we awarded the participants with certificates of attendance. Unfortunately, the lighting in the room was pretty bad, and the pictures did not turn out well.

Professional Development Workshop

— Sara

Sunday, June 24, 2012

ACCT International: Professional Development Workshop (Day 1)

Professional Development Workshop

A core element of the ACCT International program is the experience be mutually beneficial for both our students and our partner organizations. We understand the workload associated with taking on interns, and we also understand that our internships are relatively short (only six weeks). Though our students will still do valuable work for their partner organizations in that time, the program itself wants to offer something to our partner organizations. One way we support our partner organizations is through a two-day professional development workshop we hosted at the Mumias Sugar Company June 4 – 5.

Thanks to adjunct instructor Peg Stice, who joined the ACCT International team a few months before we left for Kenya, the workshop was a success. Without Peg, I am not sure if we would have been able to pull it all together. She was able to coordinate finding and confirming speakers for the workshop, create the agenda, and manage the event as it took place.

Once again, Pam and Stephen from Mumias Sugar opened the event, along with welcomes from Dr. T and Dr. W. ACCT students, Nolan and Leslie, presented on IU and SPEA to introduce our partner organizations to where we came from. I gave a brief introduction on how ACCT International came to be.

Professional Development Workshop

Our first speaker of the day was Dr. David Some of the Harambee Center on Philanthropy at Moi University. Dr. Some is an alumnus of the Center on Philanthropy at IUPUI. It was interesting to distinguish in his talk the similarities and differences between what I learned from The Fund Raising School and what is relevant in a Kenyan context.

Professional Development Workshop

Kefe Chepkwony also joined us from the Harambee Center to talk about social entrepreneurism.

Professional Development Workshop

After lunch we heard from Joseph Tinkoi from World Vision. I actually missed his entire presentation, as I had caught a moto into town to print the workshop certificates at the Cyber Café and to make copies of a handout for a presentation the next day.

Professional Development Workshop

Benson Omondi, lead consultant with MAXPOTLINKS, an organization that provides management solutions to NGOs, CBOs, FBOs, SMEs, and profit-making institutions, closed out our day.

Professional Development Workshop

This was when our only real mishap of the conference occurred. The file for Benson’s powerpoint presentation was corrupt. He had a copy of the presentation slides printed out and we had about 15 minutes before he was set to begin speaking. I ran down the street to the local grocery store, which also has a copy machine, hoping to make about 20 copies of the printouts. My intention was to hand them out and then Benson could speak off the handout. My shoes were not made for running though and half way there I kicked them off and proceeded to burn the bottoms of my feet as I ran the rest of the way. Once there, I found the slowest copy machine in the world. It took me 40 minutes to make six copies of the 20-page handout. Then I ran back to the conference center where Benson had been regaling the audience with a story for the past 20 minutes. I was impressed with how well he handled the situation. I think his story was just what the audience needed at that time to add a little levity to the day. Once I delivered the copies, he was able to cover his materials despite the limitations.

I am only three weeks behind in the blogging now. Soon I will post on the second day of the conference, I promise.

— Sara

State Department Travel Warning

Friday night at midnight, Cale and I were scheduled to travel to Mombasa by bus, but two Iranian terrorists went and ruined those plans.

At 7pm, the State Department issued a travel warning, which was sent via email to people who had registered travel in Kenya through the State Department’s STEP program. This is the relevant portion of the email:
U.S. Embassy Nairobi, Kenya June 22, 2012

This is to alert all U.S. citizens in Kenya, or planning to travel to Kenya in the near future, that the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi has received information of an imminent threat of a terrorist attack in Mombasa, Kenya. All U.S. government travel to Mombasa is suspended until July 1, 2012. All U.S. government personnel are required to leave Mombasa. U.S. private citizens are not subject to the same restrictions, but should consider this information in their travel planning.
We learned about the message a little after 10pm as we were waiting near the sketchy restaurant/bar where the bus picks up in Kisumu. The decision was quickly made that we would not travel that night with the hope that we might the next day. Cale and I hopped a tuk-tuk to the guesthouse we stayed in the last time we overnighted in Kisumu. Once we had access to the internet, we learned the Kenyan police arrested two Iranian terror suspects in Nairobi the day before. One suspect was flown to Mombasa on Friday and led the police to a cache of powder used to make explosive materials wrapped in plastic and apparently buried by the side of the road near a golf course. In addition, the authorities had stopped a suspicious container at the port. Tests are confirming if it was used to transport explosive materials.

The next day there were no new developments, and we knew we would not be traveling to Mombasa anytime soon. Instead we took a matatu back to Mumias.

Postponing our trip to the coast is not the end of dealing with the travel warning and is really the least of our worries. We have a student who is currently interning at the coast. He is not in Mombasa and is safe where he is staying, but the program must still determine the safest option for his continued work in Kenya. In addition, Kenyan news reported Saturday night that the police also found nine explosive devices in Nairobi.

Here in Western Kenya, where the majority of us our staying, we feel incredibly safe. However, it is important for us to monitor the security situation in the country and take appropriate actions to ensure the continued safety of our students.

I will keep you all informed.

— Sara

Thursday, June 21, 2012

So About That Malaria

I apologize blogosphere, I have been remiss in my blogging. I went and declared I had malaria and then failed to blog for a week. My failure to blog is not from malaria. In fact, it is unlikely I had malaria. My fever only lasted for two days, which is not long enough to have been malaria. Mostly likely I was suffering from some other illness. Based on the diarrhea, some other intestinal illness.

When Cale and I returned from Eldoret (which I promise to write about soon), my body was aching all over. I thought it was because we had been mini-kidnapped the day before and had spent almost 12 hours in a car driving to rural primary schools. I had spent most of that time balancing on one butt cheek on Cale’s lap or on an edge of the seat in the back of a station wagon where we were trying to fit four across. I was also very tired, but I chalked that up to the 12-hour day the day before and the four-hour moto ride home that morning. I laid (Lay, lie? Lay, lie? I have lost all my copy editing skills) down in the bed to take a nap and soon thought to myself, you know, I think I feel a little warm. I quick confirmation with a thermometer provided I had a 100 degree fever. Since one of the students had recently just recovered from a case of malaria, I thought that I had it too. Unfortunately, it was too late for the blood test to confirm at the clinic (the lab was already closed for the day). The doctor put me on the medication regime for malaria anyway (I think this is how we create drug-resistant bugs) and once you are on the regime any malaria blood test will come back negative, so there was no way to test at that point. He also gave me a shot of “fever-reducer” into my lower back. I would like to take this opportunity to say that he said it was going in my butt cheek. When I asked if I needed to drop my pants, he said yes. So there I was with my pants around my knees while he lowered the waistband of my undies like an inch and proceeded to inject it into my lower back area. Thanks, doctor man, I feel a little ridiculous right now.

That night my fever got up to 103, but a shower and a panadol fixed that problem. I spent all day Thursday in bed. Cale made me mashed potatoes. Two doses of mashed potatoes and I was cured! Well sort of. In addition to the fever and body aches (Which, by the way, the biggest body ache? In the spot where the doctor had given me the shot. Thanks again doctor man), I was also suffering a little of the gross belly and the leaky butt. That continued on through Sunday (when we went to the Impala Sanctuary in Kisumu with the entire AFC Leopards football team [more on that later]).

Today is Thursday and I am feeling fine. Cale and I head to the coast tomorrow. I will try to catch you up with all the weeks I am behind in blogging soon. The main problem is how far behind I am in posting pictures.

More later

— Sara

Thursday, June 14, 2012


Yep, I have it.

— Sara

ACCT International: Mama Obama

Mama Sarah Obama

Mama Sarah Obama, is President Barak Obama's paternal step-grandmother. She lives in Kogelo, Kenya (not far from Lake Victoria) where she runs a foundation for OVCs (orphans and vulnerable children). This is a term we have heard a lot while in Kenya. It is hard to comprehend what HIV/AIDS can do to a country, but the constant reference to AIDS-related OVCs helps to underscore the impact of the disease.

The children Mama Obama supports live with extended family or foster families. However, on this weekend a group of them had gathered on her compound to spend time with her. We did not interact with the children, which I preferred. The developing world is rife with orphans as tourist attractions, and I would prefer to not participate in that. Instead we sat with Mama Obama as she answered questions through an interpreter (she speaks Luo).

For a majority of the time, my attention was actually distracted by an amazing specimen of a turkey that was wandering the compound.


I learned some important information about turkeys. For example, did you know that the red "gobble," or what ever it is called that hangs down from his face, changes color? Yeah, neither did I until I saw it happen. In addition, that long flesh flap that hangs over the beak? It totally retracts! When he bent down to peck at the ground it would shrink into a small, almost horn, on top of his beak. Craziness.

— Sara

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

ACCT International: Mbita


Thursday, May 31, we made a trip to Mbita, a town on Rusinga island in the northern bay of Lake Victoria. Though there is a causeway that connects the main land to the island by bridge, we opted for the ferry, as it meant we did not have to drive all the way around the lake.

Dr. T has a friend who runs an NGO called The Village Experience. My understanding at the time was that this was a voluntourism operation that takes people to various places around the world, one of which is Mbita, and that we were going to see their operations. I am not so clear on that now.

When we first arrived, Jackton (our contact), took us to a local primary school that was partially funded by The Village Experience. This was when the group got to experience what some of them coined "poverty tourism." We were divided into groups and taken to each classroom in turn where the students stopped their studies to sing a song to us. We then "helped" serve lunch.

Village Experience School

With Dr. T and Andrew washing kids hands and other students serving up the heaping portions of rice and beans.

Village Experience School

The whole experience made me very uncomfortable.

After visiting the school, we went to our guesthouse, The Mbita Tourist Hotel. I was under the impression that the guesthouse was also affiliated with The Village Experience. However, that turned out to be another confusion. We did learn it was owned by a host family one student would be staying with during the six-week internship. We had lunch at the guesthouse, which had a lovely view.

Mbita Tourist Hotel

Afterwards, most of the students, Dr. T, and Peg left with Jackton to see the widows' homes and handicrafts. I believe that The Village Experience clients can come to Mbita and build homes for widows as one of the voluntourism projects. The Village Experience web site isn't working for me here in Kenya, so I am not sure on this. When I arranged our logistics with Jackton over the phone, he had told me that groups typically build one of the houses as a project and the cost is $350 USD for each house. It is also possible that the handicrafts the widows make are sold in The Village Experience store, which is like a Global Gifts. However, a search of the store's merchandise doesn't reveal anything from Mbita. There are several items from Kenya, but I am not sure where they are made.

Cale and I did not go with the rest of the group so we could relax by the shore and enjoy our anniversary. I was also supposed to help Dr. W monitor a K300 exam that was taking place back at IUB. However, the internet connection was to slow to really load anything. The TA for the class said that everything was going fine.

After dinner that night, Jackton and other members of his organization shared a powerpoint presentation. That was when I learned that Jackton was not part of The Village Experience. By the end of the presentation, it seemed clear that they were all members of a local CBO (community-based organization) that works with the kids and the widows. Interestingly enough, a lot of the presentation was about empowering women, though there was no indication there were any women in the leadership of this CBO. There were four or five representatives from the organization at the presentation, all men. When the presentation was over, I was still not sure what the name of Jackton's organization was or its relationship to The Village Experience. I was left a little confused.

The next day we were up early to catch the ferry back to the mainland and make our way to Mama Sarah Obama's.


More Mbita pictures here.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Ninth Wedding Anniversary: Burrito Party

Ninth Anniversary Burrito Party

Cale started to plan a surprise burrito party for our ninth wedding anniversary pretty far in advance. Earlier in the week he went to Kakamega on his own under the pretense of looking for cream cheese. If he had found it, we were going to make bagels. When he returned he said he had completely forgotten about the cream cheese. However, he had secretly been shopping for the makings of burritos. Cale and Ann cooked mexican foods all day on Wednesday. There was one point there they thought their cover was blown when I came home unexpectedly during the day. However, I simply went into the bedroom, grabbed up something I had forgotten, and turned around and left again. Never aware tortillas were being made nearby.

We all gathered around the dinner table, like normal, and as each successive dish came out a collective cry of join would be raised. CHIPS! SALSA! BEANS! We were all giddy with joy. I also got a brief taste of my own selfishness. Just as we started to eat the burritos, Lauren took a call from the group over at the guesthouse. Nolan was coming over. Well that was fine. But then, I heard her say, "We? What do you mean, we? How many of you are coming over?" I started to panic. No! There are not enough burritos to go around! Tell them to wait. I must have my burrito fill! However, Cale had been planning for this all along too. He had told everyone about the surprise burrito party and there was more burrito fixings in the kitchen. Hooray!

Ninth Anniversary Burrito Party

Our host, Pam, supplied the wine and we all ate burritos and drank wine while an MTV station played African pop music in the background. It was quite the successful, anniversary eve.

The next day we took off for Mbita (which I will fill you in on soon). We enjoyed our actual anniversary on a ferry and later on the shores of Lake Victoria.


— Sara

P.S. Once, while we were in Samoa, we ordered something of a menu from a restaurant that caters to palangi. It was supposed to be burritos or tacos or something. The details fail me now. Anyway, the menu said it came with sour cream, which we were particularly excited about. However, on closer inspection, the "sour cream" was clearly whipped butter. At the time, we chalked it up to the common phenomena of things that look close to what they claim to be (probably based on a picture someone saw on TV), but are not in fact that thing. Recently, I have had to question that perception. Cale purchased containers at the Nakumatt for the burrito party that said "sour cream" on the outside. However, when we opened them, we discovered whipped butter. It is possible that the US definition of sour cream and other places in the world definition of sour cream are not the same. The picture at the top is just before we discovered it wasn't sour cream.

ACCT International: Day Two at MUMCOP

Day 2 at MUMCOP
As I mentioned in my previous MUMCOP post, we returned the following week. Many of the students were eager to discuss the organization's plastic recycling project, but we had also already agreed to join them in a football game with their girls' team. To spread the love around, we ended up splitting into three groups, the recyclers, the footballers, and a group that visited a farm. Strangely, when we have a group go to a farm and plant things, I am never in that group. I am actually not sure if I am doing this purposely. I stayed at MUMCOP this time because there were two groups I could photograph easily.

Day 2 at MUMCOP

The recycling group sat down with leadership and volunteers with MUMCOP to discuss the plastic recycling project. The main concerns of our students were the fumes that were released during the burning process. They had come prepared to discuss the toxins in the plastic, their effects on human health and the environment, and some alternatives to the current methods used by MUMCOP. Apparently, you can melt plastic in canola oil without releasing any fumes. Of course, the question is: Is there a ready, cheap source of canola oil?

Day 2 at MUMCOP

The members of MUMCOP also shared other recycling projects with our students. They are attempting to find some sort of income-generating project, preferably from recycled materials. The flowers above were made from recycled plastic bags.

Day 2 at MUMCOP

Dr. T, Jasmine, and Leslie joined the girls' soccer team for a game.

Day 2 at MUMCOP

Andrew was the "cheerleader." Based on photographic evidence, Andrew only owns blue shirts and luckily we have spent a lot of time with school children with blue uniforms. This allows him to be surrounded by color-coordinated children in all sorts of extremely photogenic moments.

Day 2 at MUMCOP

As I mentioned, the third group went out to one of MUMCOP's farms and planted some seedlings. I don't have a photographic record of that.

— Sara

Friday, June 8, 2012

ACCT International: Phase 1 (or is it 2?) Wrapped

I just wanted to post about the completion of our time here at the Mumias Sugar Company (with details to come). Our professional development workshop was a success. The students completed draft project plans. And the first two have left for their internship sites in Kisumu. Many more will be leaving tomorrow.

— Sara

ACCT International: Second Visit to SAIPEH


In our second week in Kenya, we returned to SAIPEH on Tuesday. Once again we divided into two groups. Dr. W joined the group going to visit Mama Judy so he could translate, so I did not get the opportunity to visit her farm. That group was also able to visit a fresh water spring and do some tree planting. My group headed out to a more rural area with the theatre troupe where they performed some of their educational songs and the skit I had seen the previous week related to cell phone usage and pregnancy. There was a new addition of some giant puppets. I am not 100 percent clear on the giant puppets. I think they are an attention-attracting device.


We were supposed to leave the site at 11:30 am so we could go to the bank in town by noon before returning to the guesthouse for lunch at 1pm. However, as 11:30 approached, things had just barely begun. I decided that we would leave as soon as the skit ended. However, after the skit, the troupe immediately broke into song, and I was reluctant to leave in the middle. However, our driver insisted it was fine to leave. The group that was with me that day now likes to make fun of my attempts to corral them. They too were concerned about leaving mid-performance as I instructed them to smile, wave, and walk away. Just smile, wave, and walk away. I was able to successfully load them all into the van though.

Earlier in the day, when we first arrived at the SAIPEH offices, Leslie and Meredith discovered that the tailoring students first practice on plastics before moving to fabrics.


More on MUMCOP soon.

I am more than a week behind on blogging now. I apologize. I should be able to catch up soon.

— Sara

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

ACCT International: Week Two Guest Speakers

Second Week of Classes

On Monday of the second week, Edward Wanyonyi, Program Manager of our partner organization SOTENI, came to share one of his program's logframes with us and answered questions about the program structure and funding.

Guest Speaker Grace Jowi-Jobita

On Wednesday, we heard from Grace Jowi-Jobita, consultant and Executive Director at EDEN Community Development Organization. Grace spoke on a Community Partnership model used by the Ministry of Health to develop programs and interventions.

Guest Speaker Grace Jowi-Jobita

We were actually connected with M. Jowi-Jobita through Megan Dooms, and IUPUI Master's student who was in my online HR for Nonprofit Organizations course last semester. Megan is finishing up a year in Kenya with her husband working for a Luthern organization, Diakonia Compassionate Ministry.

More on the way. Still a week behind on blogging.

— Sara

Sunday, June 3, 2012

ACCT International: Eldoret

AMPATH Hospital

On Thursday, 24 May we went to Eldoret to visit AMPATH. We set out at 8 am with the goal of being there by 10:00 am...we finally pulled into the Imani Workshop (our first stop) at 11:30 am. It took a little longer to get there than we anticipated.

"AMPATH is Moi University, Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital, and a consortium of North American academic health centers led by Indiana University working in partnership with the Government of Kenya." AMPATH has a long and interesting history. It originally began as a partnership and exchange program between Indiana University and Moi University in an effort to create a medical school at Moi. According to one partner university's handbook:

The Indiana University-Moi University partnership was formally established in 1989. At its inception, the partnership focused on exchange of manpower and ideas, with the expectation that cooperation, mutual understanding, and the collective creative energy of the participants would grow the institutional partnership and enable it to achieve its mission. The initial goal of the partnership was to develop the systems of medical training and primary care delivery at Moi University and its affiliated delivery sites, with the expectation that these systems would establish a strong foundation upon which to build a robust and sustainable research collaboration.

However, in the late 1990s and early 2000s, the founders of the partnership noticed a dramatic change at their facilities. The hospital beds were full, the mortality rates were skyrocketing, and Moi medical students were dying. HIV/AIDS had found Kenya. In response to this, AMPATH was created. At its inception, AMPATH stood for "Academic Model for the Prevention and Treatment of HIV/AIDS" with three "vital components":
  1. Care programs that foster HIV treatment and prevention, and are capable of hosting research and training missions
  2. Research programs that enable the development and evolution of “best-practice” strategies for prevention and treatment
  3. Teaching programs where a wide range of health professionals and outreach workers can learn to implement these strategies
As the consortium worked to address the issue of HIV/AIDS, it began to understand the importance addressing health and economic needs beyond just HIV/AIDS.  Today AMPATH stands for "Academic Model Providing Access to Healthcare" and incorporates a wide range of programs from primary healthcare, to nutrition, to income-generating activities.

For more information on AMPATH, try the links above and here and here.

When we first arrived, we went to the Imani Workshops, which is a income-generating project of the AMPATH program. Imani trains HIV positive craftspeople and produced a wide range of products available at Global Gifts in the U.S.

Imani Workshops was established in 2005 as a branch of the Family Preservation Initiative (FIP) under the IU-Kenya Partnership’s AMPATH program...FPI provides avenues for HIV positive patients and their families to achieve sustainable economic security by increasing their skills, knowledge and productivity and improving the quality of their life. Imani Workshops is a revenue-generating social enterprise focused on producing high quality crafts by HIV+ artisans in western Kenya. Due to stigma associated with HIV/AIDS, many AMPATH patients have a hard time securing a job or accessing credit for a business loan. Imani employees all earn a living by producing high quality handmade goods. Imani workshops aims to expand its reach to the vulnerable individuals in other sites in Kenya by providing capacity building and markets to other HIV positive artisan groups. It is laying foundation for an Imani Training Institute and testing a “work from home” Model called Kazi Nyumbani to develop contract manufacturing relationships, incorporate those with disabilities and provide business ownership opportunities. Imani Workshops is currently comprised of 30 full-time employees and 220-100 part-time employees...100% of the income earned through sales is reinvested in the Workshop through which artisans benefit from employment, skills training and other forms of empowerment.

I actually missed the Imani tour because I was with Dr. W at the bank exchanging USD for Ksh. We caught up with the group in time for me to pursue the gift shop and find a couple of presents.

After the workshop, Bornice Biomndo, head of AMPATH Communications and Public Relations, give us a tour of the hospital and explained its operations. She then took us out to see a demonstration garden, which is one of many AMPATH farms.

AMPATH Demonstration Farm

Following our tour of the AMPATH facilities, we found ourselves at IU House, which is a guesthouse compound for visiting doctors, students, researchers, etc. We were lucky enough to be visiting AMPATH during a time when both AMPATH Director, Dr. Bob Einterz, and Founder and Field Director, Dr. Joe Mamlin, were on site. I was lucky enough to see Dr. Einterz and Dr. Mamlin's wife, Sarah Ellen Mamlin, present at the Women's Philanthropy Conference I helped organize as part of my summer internship with the IU Foundation last summer. Ms. Biomndo and Dr. Einterz arranged for us to meet with Dr. Mamlin in his home after dinner. It was a great honor to speak with him.

Dr. Joe Mamlin's House at AMPATH

Listening to Dr. Mamlin speak was inspirational. He has lived an amazing life. His family was part of the original Peace Corps and they were posted in Afghanistan, where he helped start a medical school as well. He was extremely confident in AMPATH's eventual ability to eliminate HIV/AIDS as a threat. Several interesting points:

  • They are treating HIV/AIDS like any other chronic illness
  • They are working on a new concept, FLTR, which stands for Find them, Link them, Treat them, Retain them. FLTR focuses on community-level interventions, which means getting away from hospitals, clinics, and even medicine.
  • They are in fact in the process of shutting down all of the AMPATH run farms. Instead they will be supporting rural subsistance farmers to produce their own food, the food for their communities, and surplus that the World Food Programme will buy and then donate to AMPATH (WPF current donates food to AMAPTH, but it is not purchased from local growers).
  • AMPATH is weaning itself off donors. PEPFAR is coming to an end. For this last 4.5-year grant, Moi (not IU) is the main signature of the grant. AMPATH is working closely with the Kenyan government as well. According to Dr. Mamlin, "The only disease more frightening than HIV is dependency."
  • Dr. Mamlin stressed the importance of doing, "The most important thing in development is to get busy doing it."
The next morning we were up early for breakfast. Peter Park, co-director of the Family Preservation Initiative, joined us for breakfast to share his story and answer students' questions. Then we met up with Peace Corps Volunteer Hannah Gulliford who is a health educator outside of Turbo. We were supposed to go to her town to see her do a health presentation and see a table banking activity. However, after a long shopping excursion and lunch, there wasn't enough time. Instead, we dropped Hannah and another PCV, Cassidy, at Hannah's house on the way home to Mumias.

One of the places we stopped on our shopping trip was Rivatex, which is a money-generating activity of Moi University that trains students in textile arts and tailoring. We all came home with a lot of fabrics.

Rivatex Fabric Factory in Eldoret

I am only a week behind on blogging now. More details to come soon.

— Sara

Kenya: Tidbits

We live very close to the Mumias Sugar factory. The factory has a constant hum. It isn't irritating, just a background noise. However, sometimes the factory gets ANGRY! and makes a lot of noise. I think Leslie started to referring to it as the monster from Lost, but now we all do. They send text messages back and forth about how the monster is angry today. To add to the Lost-esque feel, sometimes the factory talks. Usually at night or early in the morning the factory will be speaking in a woman's voice. I am pretty confident it is a recording and that it is repeating the same thing over and over. However, it is to muffled and distorted to tell if the words are in English, and if they are what those words are.

There is a bird (or possibly a bug) near our house that makes a sound exactly like an alarm clock. This bird alarm clock seems to go off at 5 am every morning. Hooray.

— Sara

ACCT International: SAIPEH


On Wednesday of the first week of class, we visited our second "service-learning" site. SAIPEH stands for Support Activities in Poverty Eradication and Health and offers a wide range of programming, including a HIV/AIDS support group, a daycare, a education theatre troupe, and multiple income-generating projects and educational opportunities.

On our arrival, we were given an introduction to the organization and its staff members. This was immediately followed by a group photograph. As you can tell, we have group photographs taken just about everywhere we go.


We then broke up into two groups. One group went to visit the daycare and a recipient of the SAIPEH dairy cow program, Mama Judy. SAIPEH gives away free dairy cows and goats. The owners of these dairy animals are able to supply their families with milk, and possibly make a small profit. The cows and goats are bred and the first calves or kids are given back to SAIPEH who then give them to another recipient. I did not join this group, so I do not have more details or pictures. I do know that those who met Mama Judy enjoyed meeting her, were inspired by her story, and loved visiting her farm.

The second group was to sit in on a HIV/AIDS support group presentation on an immunity-building plant and a table banking* activity. Things did not work out quite as planned. As it turned out, the table banking group and the support group were one and the same, so we were not able to see both activities. In addition, there was not a presentation on a local immunity-building plant (if I remember correctly, it is the bark of a tree, however, the name of this tree escapes me). Instead there was a health psychologist for a college in the US who had come to do a presentation on stress and immune systems. Her translator was a former Kenyan national footballer who is HIV positive himself.

*We have been trying to see a table banking group since we arrived in Kenya, as most of us were intrigued by the concept that we knew little to nothing about. However, as you will learn in later blog posts we were repeatedly thwarted in our efforts. Though I am still not 100 percent clear on the topic, here is a link to a project that has a small description of its table banking efforts.


It was clear from the conversation that the perceived need to keep one's HIV/AIDS status a secret and the stigma associated with disclosing status is a big source of stress for people with the virus. The members of this group have already disclosed their status and have the support of the other members, which is a big step towards helping alleviate stress and manage the disease. However, their lives are still filled with many stressors related to poverty, children, illness, etc.

We left the support group meeting early so we could visit SAIPEH's theatre troupe at their headquarters where we were lucky enough to have them perform several songs for us and one of their skits. The language barrier became a little bit of a problem here, as all the songs and skits were in KiSwahili. However, we had some helpful interpreters fill us in. One of the songs was a family planning song with refrain that lists birth control methods (pill, shot, condom, etc). Of course, there was dancing.


I was particularly impressed by the group's ability to make music on instruments in such poor condition.


The skit was a little confusing. Even with explanation, it is not totally clear to me what was going on. What I do know is that the daughter spoke in English on her cell phone in order to keep her visits to her boyfriend secret from her parents. Later she turned up pregnant, the family had a fight, and a mediator intervened. One person told me that the lesson was that parents should better monitor their children's cell phone usage.


More later.

— Sara