In the lead up to the fabulous star-studded Conservation Tusk Awards we have celebs all over Twitter wearing wristcuffs made by the mamas of Enkiito Village. Thanks to the dynamo that is Robyn Forsythe, one of our volunteers, we may even have a certain Patron of the Awards adorned in jewellery on the night (Tuesday November 25, 2014).
If you'd like one of your own the jewellery is all authentic, made by the women of the village and 100% of proceeds go towards education for their children and support of projects like the current rainwater harvesting storage facility being built right now. Please support us if you can via Enkiito Maasai Jewelery. Ashe Oleng x
Today is another one of those serendipitous days of cross-connections and parallel thinking that Isaac Asimov was talking about way back in 1959.
I'm about to become a trainer for Code Club Pro, bridging the tech-knowledge divide between the UK's fabulous hard-working primary and secondary teachers, and Headteachers, and the UK's enhanced new national curriculum for Computing. Teaching kids to code.
In the meantime, for over 6 years, the San-Francisco based org, World Possible, have put their Cisco-based genius together with the uber-awesome Raspberry Pi crew to produce the innovative and world-changing RACHEL-Pi, an offline server, run on a Raspberry Pi, full of educational content from teaching curriculums, Khan Academy materials, Wikipedia, classic literature, reference material and textbooks; alongside vital community materials like medical and first aid textbooks.
RACHEL (Remote Area Community Hotspots for Education and Learning) has now been deployed in scores of remote locations around the world – delivering a world of educational content to tens of thousands of students previously far removed from the great online learning tools those of us reading this take for granted almost every day. This Raspberry blogpost details their journey so far.
Particularly exciting is the funding they've found to hire someone in Kenya to help put together the RACHEL SHamba resource (an offline package of farming resources). Boniface Masaviru has been installing RACHEL in Kenyan schools over the last couple weeks (Google map) and we hope to help with distribution, along with Code Club World.
Empowering robotics in Uganda, ensuring that Mayan heritage and language continues in Guatemala and giving every child in the world the chance to learn to code .. thats what the internet was built for!
The internet comes through again!
After brainstorming a rainwater-harvesting solution for our maasai hosts in Nkiito, Amboseli I contacted IFAW who work in the area with KWS, protecting the elephants. They put me onto the Meshanani Project which led me to the dutch Naga Foundation who employ a "specialized geo-engineering technique to stop and reverse the process of desertification through the rehabilitation of local ecosystems" and is already re-greening around the Meshanani Gate area close to Nkiito in a large-scale project covering the hydrological corridor from the Indian Ocean to the Kilimanjaro hinterland!! They are restoring "a vast area of fertile land to climate engineer and restore the rainwater infiltration capacity of the soil and sub-surface water reservoirs". I wrote about this back in April 2011 before meeting with the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Environment (MEMR) Ali Muhammed but we didn't get very far as they were too focused on the Rio Summit, which also didn't get very far! But now I've found out that we have climate geo-engineers on Nkiito's doorstep!!! They won the St Andrews Prize - here's their FB album.
"A patchwork of some 266 km² actively developed evergreen areas will extend restoration effects to an area of around 20.000 km² ..simultaneously supporting the local communities in setting up and developing sustainable businesses on the re-greened lands, advancing a sustained local economy".
I've contacted Co-Founder Dennis Karpes to work alongside them .. watch this video of their work.
Obviously these solutions take a long time but this secures our investment for our own little short term rainwater-harvesting solution, while we work towards (or simply wait for) current large-scale water-harvesting techniques. Linking Nkiito with Naga means they can help alongside in ensuring ALL rain is collected and brought subsurface. As a result aquifers are replenished and vegetation re-appears, initiating natural processes of evapotranspiration and atmospheric cooling which then brings back regular, more balanced precipitation in the entire targeted region. Naga already works with a lot of the maasai in the area "to develop simple and diverse business models that capitalize on the value of the re-greened land ... restarting local economies, raising the social and economic standard of living, and developing a situation in which good and sustainable stewardship of the local ecosystem is encouraged, by restoring a culture of prevention."
I love it when a plan comes together!
We're ramping up the design work now for Nkiito's water facility. After many years struggling to raise the funds for the monstrous well needed in the area we've decided to change tack. Maybe drilling 280m in lava and bedrock isn't the best solution here. Maybe we should be simply helping to collect as much water as possible? So we're hacking a solution right now. If you have any improvements or knowledge you wish to share please let us know via
. Here's what we've got so far:
The hope is that we'll end up with a combined design for rainwater harvesting and solar power, enough to be impactful but not inefficient. Too many PV's (photovoltaics) will lead to excess electricity which, for a society that doesn't spend half their life following the Kardashians, but just needs mobile internet access, is plain wasteful. We also have considerations to take into account such as the smell of water. You know how you can smell the rain before it even hits you .. lions can too! Creating a permanent waterhole needs certains security measures in place.
This is a work in progress and thanks to our volunteers and input from all over, we hope to get something in place before Christmas. Harvesting the short rains would be good but they should be blessing the village within less than a month....... (flashy new CAD diagrams to follow from Bryn, ashi oleng!)
Tori, Jackson and Robyn (2013)
Our volunteer Tony has been working hard in a small western Kenyan community of Eshibanze near Mumias. The school there has been supported by a young Canadian friend for over 6 years now but we need some help. The school has been reopened but teachers & 75% of parents are struggling financially. If the parents can't pay the small fees, the teachers don't get paid - its only 3 weeks into term!
Staff are not surprisingly unmotivated, exascerbated by insufficient funds to afford transport to the rural school. They are surviving on a meal of maize and beans and the children, we already know, suffer more. Back in 2010 a volunteer spent the Summer at school and literally saved the life of the grand daughter of the school cook. Already you're thinking "how could a Grandmother let this happen" .... life is different here, very different. Silvia was given a special nutritional mealplan to bring her tiny little body back to health. Silvia's mother had died when Silvia was still only able to breastfeed and was literally starving from malnutrition. Silvia's Grandmother was struggling to feed her own children, and tend her small field of crops and cook for the children at the school, and find time to sleep in a small mud hut.
Silvia couldn't walk but our volunteer Mona managed to help.
Tony, now has been able to raise funds and put into action "creating a safe and effective learning environment". Now we need your brainpower to help keep the school running.
Nobody wants to create dependencies and AVIF is a firm promoter of sustainability so we are putting together a community-wide ownership plan for the school. We need a brainstorm of ideas to keep the school - and children - running healthy. A long line of corruption has been dealt towards the school over the years but the management team is now strong, honest and proud. AVIF has already received help to secure the school for the rest of term but we need help motivating the parents, inspiring them to sustain their children's education when all else seems failed. We all know education is the key to success but the world looks different when you're hungry and ill.