Dalton Wilson’s, OFDC’s new Executive Director, first experience in Kenya:
The journey from America was a long one. We arrived in Nairobi late last night and had some troubles finding a cheap hotel close to the matatu station. A matatu is a minibus used as public transportation. Getting an early start, we headed out to catch a matatu to go to Suswa. The main street was relatively empty because of the hour but when we turned down the street where the matatus go to gather passengers, we quickly became immersed in a frenzy of people and shops. Weaving in and out of all the obstacles, Nia and I made our way to the Narok direct, a matatu that gives everyone their own seat and does not stop to get more passengers along the way. Our breakfast consisted of 2.5 bananas and 1 hard boiled egg purchased from street vendors. The yolk of the eggs had an interesting color to them but seemed to taste fine so of course we finished them.
The drive to Suswa took around 2 hours and was a bit of a fright. The roads are very narrow with no shoulder to pull over on, so it is very chaotic as everyone is trying to get to their destination quickly and over take cars when ever the opportunity presents itself. Our destination was in the Great Rift Valley, descending down the road that takes you into the valley is quite the sight. Along the way I saw a few baboons chasing after each other on the road, quickly retreating as cars approached.
We arrived in Suswa with the objective of inspecting newly completed latrines at Lerai Primary School. Lerai Primary has 92 students and 5 teachers; before this project they were sharing 2 latrines. We met up with Joseph Nyambane, head teacher at Lerai Primary, and walked with him to the school. The school is close to a tarmac road which reduces the cost of projects because access to the school is easier.
Nia walking with Joseph to Lerai Primary School
We inspected the latrines and made sure the project was completed as planned. One thing we found was each block of latrines had a pile of dirt in front of them from digging the pits; this will cause rainwater to run towards the latrines which increases their chances of collapsing. We told Joseph that no other projects will start at Lerai until the mounds of dirt are removed. We toured the grounds of the school and saw their classrooms, lunch room/kitchen, and one teachers home that lives on the grounds. Each building was made from wood and corrugated metal with a cement foundation. Each room was extremely small and contained very little furniture for the students and teachers.
6 newly completed latrines
Lerai Primary’s lunch room
Teachers house at Lerai Primary
Lerai Primary class room
Lerai Primary class room
After seeing the campus, we met all the teachers as well as two head teachers from other schools. We discussed additional needs that the schools have and the process involved for a project to be proposed and accepted. We require that the head teachers provide us with a detailed proposal that contains specific information of what is exactly needed, what payment schedule will be followed, how reporting to OFDC will be handled, and how the local community will contribute 20% of the project’s cost. This teaches the facilitators business skills that are essential for a project to be completed efficiently and promotes human achievement through collaborative partnership in the project’s life cycle.
OFDC’s founder, Nia Sherar, and executive director, Dalton Wilson, with primary school head teachers and the teaching staff of Lerai Primary
Our next stop was Narok, which would serve as our home base for the next few days. We waved down a passing matatu and piled in. Narok is the center of services, business, and finance for Narok County with a population around 40,000. There are only 2 streets that run through the town but has many side streets that are filled with people and shops. After dropping our stuff off at the hotel, we hitched a ride with a friend of a friend to Bomet, a town west of Narok where we have a student we are sponsoring in secondary school.
When we arrived in town, we took a piki piki, a motorcycle, to St. Mary’s Secondary School to visit Milicient. St. Mary’s is a girls boarding school for secondary education. When we met Milicient she immediately gave Nia a very long and passionate hug, as this was her first time meeting Nia. OFDC has been sponsoring her secondary education for the past 3 years and will continue until the end of 2018 when she is expected to graduate. Milicient hopes to be a lawyer one day and enjoys playing soccer. OFDC sponsors Milicient because she performed very well during her primary education and continues to do well in her secondary education studies.
St. Mary’s Secondary School
OFDC sponsored student, Milicient Magoma, OFDC founder, Nia Sherar, and St. Mary’s head teacher, Sister Mary Benedict
After visiting with Milicient, we began our journey back to Narok. We got a seat on a matatu and waited for it to be filled; matatus won’t depart until they have filled every seat. This matatu wasn’t a direct line so there were about 20 people packed into this van. It was an extremely uncomfortable ride back as everyone tried to squeeze into any available space. We received many funny looks because it is not common for foreigners to travel by this method. Driving back during night was another scary experience as it seemed every car that was driving in the opposite direction had their brights on, making it nearly impossible to see the road. We made it back to Narok safely, grabbed a bite to eat, and went to bed as we had another eventful day coming up.