You probably know Kenya lies in East Africa, and is bordered by Somalia, Ethiopia, Sudan, Tanzania and the Indian Ocean. Kenya is considered a “water scarce” country. Crop farming is a challenge because 75% of the country is arid and semi-arid. As a result many farmers rely on livestock for their incomes.
One of three children below the age of 18 years of age have lost at least one biological parent - one out of nine have lost both. In Western Kenya, 16-30% of the population is HIV infected. Many children do not attend school due to lack of uniforms, supplies, adequate health or responsibilities in their family. In East Africa, over 5,000 children die each day due to diarrhea because of water borne diseases.
Approximately 500,000 girls will miss school every month because they cannot afford sanitary protection. Girls often miss hours each and every day as they search for water sources. Then when they do find water it is not drinkable, yet it is all they have for a water source. The result is typhoid.
It is often said that women are the key stakeholders to launch any health, hygiene or sanitation initiative. They have the most to lose (their very life, their children, their family) and the most to gain (a healthy life, healthy children, and a healthy family.) Before I worked in Botswana in 2002, these facts were new to me.
Since 2003, I have been taking teams to Kenya, working in partnership with the Baptist Mission of Kenya, based in Nairobi. These times have been a journey of discovery for every team member. The work is bigger than any of our wildest dreams. It's been a joy to serve, a joy to be a citizen of the Kingdom of God, and it's a joy to share the love of Jesus in all that we do. Every part of our work in Kenya revolves around the Swahili words of Pamoja! Pamoja!(Together, Together). We have challenges AND we have opportunities to grow together.
I started Kazi Yake, a Colorado-based 501c3 non-profit to assist us in our work, in 2007. It all started as I witnessed the hungry children who were literally starving in front of my eyes.
Each year my eyes have opened to new tasks. I have changed in my understanding of “mission”. Our Kazi Yake tasks have moved from being project oriented to being a program oriented. We are raising our hands in advancing learning in health, sanitation and hygiene programs through the USAID WASH in schools and homes in the villages. We join local pastors as they serve in the villages where they live.
Because every child deserves to be in a school that offers safe water, healthful sanitation, and hygiene education Kazi Yake is partnering with communities to increase investment in the WASH in Schools programs. We are engaging local leaders, teachers and pastors in dialogues to join their efforts to provide new opportunities for children to be healthy.
Kazi Yake is focused on the United Nations Millennium Development Goals set in September, 2010. This summit concluded with the adoption of a global action plan to achieve the eight anti-poverty goals by their 2015 target date. Visit the Summit website! New commitments for women's and children's health are paramount to our work plan at Kazi Yake.
Currently we are drilling a deep water well, water tank, and 4 water kiosks to serve the people of Othoo and surrounding villages. Completion is scheduled to be in August, 2011. We are rejoicing to know that clean, drinkable water is soon to come. We join the Othoo community in saying PI EN NGIMA-Water is LIFE.
We began a WASH initiative with the local midwives groups. Currently there are over 100 women preparing for clean water access to assist them in safe deliveries of healthy babies to healthy mothers. In their ongoing training, the midwives are training their families and friends in the best practices of WASH.
What is WASH? Why WASH? What is a WASH Friendly School?
- Wash provides sustainable, child friendly latrines and hand washing facilities and adequate safe drinking water.
- Simple hygiene practices can dramatically reduce diarrhea and worms.
- 3 critical areas are presented: a) treatment and safe storage of drinking water at point of use, reducing the risk of diarrhea by 42-44% b) hand washing with soap can reduce the risk of diarrhea by 30-40% c) latrine use/safe feces disposal can reduce the risk of diarrhea by 32% (USAID)
The training of local community leaders, pastors, teachers, and community members (especially midwives) leads to a healthier school community. Students will perform better and it becomes an excellent opportunity for parent involvement. The WASH program promotes gender equality. The entire strategy of WASH leads to long positive skills learned by all participants.
Kazi Yake continues to focus on long-term, sustainable design in programming. To that end, in 2010, we opened two Aqua Clara, bio-sand filtration centers. We strive to involve women fully in planning and designing water, sanitation, and hygiene programs. Women are being trained to build the filters.
In 2011, we will utilize the wisdom of women and their understanding of the needs of children for church planting, and construction of Houses of Hope, latrines, and development of the best practices in raising dairy goats, and farming. (Both fodder and food crops). As the water flows to local homes the opportunity for girls to go to school increases, and employment opportunities expand for both men and women.
Other activities for 2011-2012
- Continued partnership development in small scale farmer coops, to increase production of vegetable crops, sending leaders to FARM AFRICA classes. Distribution of 1,000 seed packets donated for 5 farming community coops. Enabling households headed by women to pocket additional funds for school fees for children, medical supplies for ill family members, and improve the standard of living.
- Partnerships with the Kenya Red Cross Society Nyando Branch-supporting the community access to safe and adequate drinking water, and supporting the governments ministries in its efforts to reduce the prevalence and incidence rates of diseases like malaria, HIV/AIDS, diarrheal diseases that continue to kill children, the old, the sick and the orphans.
- Partnership with CB2 in the USA, development of marketplace growth with local artisans.
- Improve the infrastructure and build capacity within local markets to create new market opportunities.
Initiation of “Feed the hungry” event, Nov. 2011. We will be working with Kids Around the World to package 125,000 meals to send to Kenya. Included in the event is raising monies for a playground to be placed in the Othoo communitie. Call me for further details: 303-541-1937.
As stakeholders in the Kazi Yake work in Kenya please join us in celebrating the opening of the water well in Othoo. Continue to raise the awareness of the needs of the Kenyan people. Join a team and come to Kenya. All donations are tax deductible. By mail: Kazi Yake, 420 Lipan Way, Boulder,CO, 80303 or PayPal at our web page. I look forward to talking with you.
- Judy Pitt
“You must give some time to your fellow man. Even if it's a little thing, do something for others—something for which you get no pay but the privilege of doing it.” — Albert Schweitzer