Oh man! I can’t believe how much is happening for Nuru right now. Things are really moving. It makes me feel good. It’s really easy for a new and budding organization like ours to stagnate for lack of funding, dedication, etc, so I’m really excited that that’s not happening to us. In fact, people keep commenting on how well we’re doing. Here are some of the things we have managed in the last few days:
On Monday, we went and bought a huge sufuria (a stainless steel pot) for Marycliff Primary to cook their food from the World Food Program. Prince, Bobo, Pudus and I spent a good chunk of the day going to different places to find a good one for a good price. I had to force them to take me along actually cause they thought I would get too tired. I was annoyed that they thought I couldn’t handle it, so I told them I didn’t come here so I could sit around and let them do everything. But of course I did get tired. And sunburnt. So now I can add that to my list of discomforts. Still, I was much happier doing something useful, and it was nice to spend the day with them.
On Tuesday we went to a meeting of the board at Marycliff and formally presented them with the sufuria. They couldn’t believe it. Here in Africa, you can be promised something for ten years and never get it, so they couldn’t believe that in less than a week, we had obliged their request. Lots of “thank you”s and “our pleasure”s were exchanged, and we took a picture of all ten or so of us who had shown up to represent Nuru passing the pot over to the headmistress and the senior board members. The kids were also really excited and they all wanted to help carry the pot for us. I have some cute pictures. The kids here really make me smile. They get so excited about things like shaking hands with me, carrying a pot, going to school. Things kids don’t really get excited about at home.
Meanwhile, Bobo’s friends Payne sold us his computer for about $200. It’s almost new, about a year old. It’s decently fast and has all the programs and everything we need. We got a portable modem that runs off a sim card from a phone, so we have internet now as well. This is going to be a big asset for Nuru, cause we will no longer have to pay for internet cafes for keeping our record and files and sharing pictures, updating the facebook group and, hopefully soon, the website. When we have an office, we will put it there.
Speaking of offices we haven’t managed to get a meeting with the mayor yet. I don’t think we’ll have a big problem getting an office, but the mayor has been busy. The municipal council started charging taxes from hawkers. It makes sense to me, cause the shops can’t compete when the hawkers don’t have to pay rent, tax, labour etc. The hawkers were not amused and they rioted Mombasa. Don’t worry, I stayed away ;). In any case, that turn of events has occupied the mayor, understandably, so we’re still waiting for that meeting.
The Drainage System
This is a pretty awesome piece of news. Obviously, sanitation is a problem in the slums here. That’s why I was originally hoping to start a project to build some proper washroom facilities. The Municipal Council of Mombasa, it turns out, has some funding that they have allotted for cleaning up the area, including two drainage projects, one sewage disposal project and one for public bathrooms. But they haven’t done any of them. Meanwhile, the Prime Minister has recently begun an initiative for job creation in Kenya. This initiative requires that projects like the aforementioned ones be delegated to youth groups who can take on the planning, engineering and labour using government funding. You can see where this story is going I think.
This morning (Wednesday), the Municipal Council of Mombasa invited community-based organizations from around Chuda and Kachongo to discuss this. Only two organizations turned up for the meeting, ours obviously included. This is a really great opportunity for us. We have to write a proposal for the drainage project by Friday to present it to the council. Because there is only two of us, there is an excellent chance that we will get the funding (600 000 shillings, or like $8000). We will also have a chance to work with the Mombasa Municipal Council, and hopefully form a good relationship with them.
Prince was especially excited about this project, cause he loves working the bureaucracy and organizational stuff – going to meetings and asking questions and making proposals. One of the great things tis project has going for it is the variety of skills and interests. We have people like Prince and the Chairman Jay who are all about meetings and letters and amending the constitution and stuff like that, and then we have people like Bobo who hate that stuff but love the hands-on doing of things. None of us has a lot of experience though, so of course we need lots of advice, but we are getting a ton of support from people in the community who work with NGOs and international organizations. This evening, we had a meeting with a local man named Jimmy who works for the Kenya branch of the International Center for Reproductive Health, and a colleague of his that is an expert in finding funding. They both gave us some excellent advice about running the organization, where to go for funding and how to approach our proposal for this drainage project. We’ll be struggling to get this proposal done by Friday, I think, but it will be an interesting learning experience. And there is much more to be dome once that is finished!
Ok that’s enough I think.
That blog was probably kind of boring for some of you. Those who aren’t really interested in the inner workings of an organization, that is. But a lot of cool things are starting to happen so I hope you will continue to tune in anyway. And I’m going to try to upload some pictures so that should make things more interesting as well. Right now, I have to go watch the finals of British soccer between Manchester United and Barcelona. But I will write again soon!