QUARTER 1 NEWSLETTER BY PHILLIPINE KIDULAH
Moving to our New Center at Bendera
Our year began with us moving our office to our center in Bendera area of Kapenguria. Since July last year, Pini had been working in the construction of this new center with the hope that we would be able to move there in January. Despite the fact that we still do not have electric supply to this new center, it still is much better suited to meet some of our organizational needs because it possess more office, training space and a small portion of land that we began to use last year to conduct demonstration training on sustainable farming for the ladies in the income security program.
The food generated from this demonstration farm was used to provide lunches and supper to both the day scholars and boarding students in the Income Security Program and the staff of Jitokeze Wamama Wafrika. A small portion of this food was sold to local restaurants and families in order to generate a little bit of income that we ploughed back into the program. This year we will continue to use this land for the same purpose of training and rising of food for our students and staff. In addition to this land we have leased an additional 1.75ha of land that is right next to the center and another 2ha that is further away from the center which we have planted crops that we hope will facilitate us in meeting the food needs of the day and boarding students in the Income Security Program.
Visit and Learning with our New Partners, Food Resource Bank
In September of last year one of our Key partners, Covenant World Relief (CWR) facilitated us to secure a 3 year partnership with Foods Resource Bank for the financial support of our Food Security Program. Hence in January of this year Eric Mattson, the FRB staff responsible for overseeing FRB partnerships in Africa conducted a baseline visit with us together with his wife Linda Mattson. We spent some time with them at our training center in Kapenguria then took them out to visit with the rescued girls and the farmers that serve in the lowland areas of West Pokot. Mr. Eric Mattson, encouraged our farmers to pursue their own development and not think that they are doing it for Jitokeze or for the donors that support their programs run by Jitokeze, he encouraged them by saying “What YOU achieve is your OWN success and never OURS, so do it as your OWN.”
Before and after this visit, FRB facilitated our director Philipine Kidulah to join them in visiting and teach from other development partners that they work with in the Eastern and Coastal Part of Kenya as well as in Uganda and Tanzania. Two of the key lessons that Philipine learnt from this trip that she is now incorporating in the programs run by Jitokeze are principles of Participatory Rural Development that empower communities to purse sustainable development and the role of appropriate technologies in promoting food security in vulnerable communities. We have thus had to revise our new Food Security Program in order to incorporate training for our staff training on Participatory rural Development and also to give more time to the incorporation of these participatory practices in our Food Security Program.
Providing education support for vulnerable children rescued from female genital mutilation and early marriage
Mathew 25:36, “I needed clothes and you clothed me …” During this first quarter we visited with the Rescued girls at Morpus Rescue Center where we donated 53 uniforms that we made last year by the ladies in our Income Security Program. The parents, guardians, teachers and the students were very thankful for the support they received. Mr. Lodongore Lokuk had this to share with JWW staff, “We thank you for these uniforms. The rescued girls will no longer feel inferior because of their tattered clothing they have been wearing. Through your support the community have realised the importance and relevance of education other than FGM & early marriage. To the students, please appreciate this support by working hard in your education. You can clearly see that everyone is striving to assist you achieve your dreams.” Five students out of eight performed well in their last level of primary school and graduated to form one.
This first quarter we also visited with the rescued girls attending the Exodus Rescue Center at Makutano Baptist Church. Some of the girls boldly shared with us their life experiences of being rescued from FGM. It was amazing to also realize that even boys were rescued from cattle rustling. Two boys shared with us that they were involved in the murder of two people during a cattle rustling event and after that they were honoured by their community by being given recognition. Through the Baptist church these boys were rescued and facilitated to attend secondary school. Jitokeze has been holding most of its capacity building trainings in this church and has been able to pay the church some fees for the use of the venue. This has aided the church in supporting the vulnerable girls and boys.
Water Security in Murupus
One of the projects visited was the sand dam constructed on River Tatwa in Morupus which will be attaining maturity in this year. It was quite amazing to have a glimpse of how the project was already benefiting the community. Some goats were enjoyably drinking water from the other side of the dam while students and the neighbourhood have been using the bridge to cross over. One Mr. Joseph Loriwa spoke with JWW staff and Mr. Eric concerning the sand dam, “We thank JWW for the good work done this far. This sand dam here (showing with his right hand) will benefit the school but better still the nearby community. We also wish that the same project is replicated at Melewa…”
Dealing with the Challenges of Peace Building in Sekerot and Cheptulel
Among the farmers we visited with in January are those in Sekerot (Nyangaita Ward) and Cheptulel ( Kokwositot ward), these two groups of farmers have been in conflict over land and water resource around Kerio river that we were planning on supporting the farmers in Sekerot to utilize in implementing an irrigation project. Our plans seemed to have brought this conflict to the surface and we found our organization being at the center of this conflict, so much so that on the 19th of January last year, we were taking out CWR partners to visit with the farmers in Sekerot and upon reaching a place called Kona on the Junction of Cheptulel and Sekerot we were intercepted by the farmers, and youth from Cheptulel who threatened to cause violence if we were to go ahead and work with the farmers in Sekerot to implement an irrigation program. This conflict shook us up as an organization and caused us to make a decision to not go ahead with any more planning for the irrigation project in Sekerot until we were confident that implementing such a project would not bring about conflict and violence among the two groups. Hence we chose to facilitate Daemiano Morulem our Food Security Officer at the time to spend time with the elders and local leaders of this community to try and understand the roots of this conflict and bring them to dialogue about a solution.
The solution brought to our table from these two groups seemed to have been the voice of the Cheptulel farmers, through this whole process the Sekerot farmers seemed to have been silenced by the forcefulness and defensiveness of the Cheptulel farmers. The solution brought forward was that we were to include the Cheptulel farmers as participants of the irrigation project and they were asking that we let the cheptulel farmers comprise 75% of the participants and beneficiaries of the project and the sekerot farmers to comprise only 25%. This solution did not seem fair to us and so we made the decision to include the Cheptulel farmers in our projects but only on an equal basis as the farmers in Sekerot. Clearly this was not satisfactory enough to the Cheptulel farmers because on the 19th of January, exactly one year after our last visit. We were intercepted again at the same place in Kona and by the same farmers and youth only this time they were joined by their local chief and a former political leader who seemed to be spokesperson of the Cheptulel farmers. Just like last year, we had organized to have this meeting with the Sekerot farmers but we could not reach them. The interception forced us to stop at Corner and have this meeting with the Cheptulel farmers instead. And as a result we have made the decision to dedicate this year once again to increase our peace building activities and utilization of participatory approaches in planning for the food security projects that we hope to eventually implement in the area. We were convinced of the importance of utilizing participatory approaches in this area also because during our visit with the Cheptulel farmers this year, a former political leader from the area requested us to form project committees among them and to hire a community facilitator from their own sub-location and not from Sekerot and to also involve all local leaders of both communities in the food security program
Some of the Cheptulel farmers that participated in our food security program in 2014 attended this meeting at Kona and they expressed their appreciation for the impact the program had had on their lives and that of their families, one of them was Mrs Relin who had this to say during the meeting “I personally thank Jitokeze for the 24kgs of green grams seeds that I received from them. When I planted it, it did well and I was able to earn KES 40,000 from the harvest even though my husband was responsible for all this income” Another lady at the meeting testified how she was able to plant the green grams seeds and after her first harvest, she saved some seeds and shared with her neighbours who had not received seeds during our distribution earlier in the year.
After the meeting with the Cheptulel farmers at Kona we visited with Joseph, one of our farmers in Sekerot who has been consistently participating in the food security program despite being directly affected by droughts. He has proven to be determined in eradicating hunger and poverty in his household. Mr Joseph shared with us how he would hire a generator to pump water to his farm but has not been able to benefit so much from it, because it is expensive to hire and is on very high demand in the area. In spite of this he was still able to produce some green grams and maize on his farm some of which he used to feed his family and the surplus he sold and made an income of about KES 10,000.
Starting the implementation of the new Food Security Program
The group of women and girls taking the tailoring training through our Income Security Program are now active participants in the Food Security Program as well. This year they are the first to be facilitated in the implementation of the Food Security Program that is being funded by Covenant world relief, Friends of Jitokeze, Food Resource Bank and the Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America. In February the ladies started spending Tuesdays and Thursdays learning practical skills of sustainable farming and nutrition. So far they have been trained on portable gardening, compost making using the stark method, double digging and introduction to food and nutrition.
Building the capacity of vulnerable women to generate income
This first quarter of the year 2015, new students have enrolled in incredibly large numbers, thanks to the sensitizations made by the previously enrolled tailoring students and JWW staff. 14 new students joined JWW tailoring programme with great enthusiasm. JWW has a plan to include catering and knitting as a course besides tailoring. Jacklyne Chemut, one of the new students who joined JWW in the month of February had this to say, “I am glad that I joined Jitokeze. My main aim of coming to Jitokeze was to take a course in catering but since the course hadn’t started yet, I decided to try tailoring. I can assure you that I don’t regret a single bit. Apart from that I have as well learnt on the agronomic practices in agriculture. I will join catering later when I graduate from tailoring.” The tailoring programme is now well established; students have uniforms, they have comprehensive school rules and regulations and prefects among others.
Priscah has been determined to achieve her dreams since she was enrolled in the tailoring school in 2012. Over this period, she has gained adequate skills & experience in tailoring. Due to her perseverance, Priscah was able to earn a commission of upto KES 26,790 and saved KES 8,105 as at Dec 12th 2014. This implied that she only requires KES 1,895 to own a sowing machine. She has confirmed one of Barack Obama’s quotes to be true, “The best way to not feel hopeless is to get up and do something. Don’t wait for good things to happen to you. If you go out and make some good things happen, you will fill the world with hope, you will fill yourself with hope.” In a few months Priscah will be able to own & manage her sewing machine for food & income generation. A mission achieved by JWW since its inception.
Building the Capacity of the Staff of Jitokeze Wamama Wafrika
In the Month of March and early April, we facilitated 4 of our staff to undertake training in motorcycle riding because this year we will be able to purchase for them a motorcycle from the grant funds provided by CWR and FRB.