Monday, December 19, 2011

Nyumbani Cucus(grandmothers)

Cucus dance during a visit by a team led by Les Bailie, the safaricom foundation chairman.Les was on a visit to see the projects that have been steered by the Spartans team of volunteers on the Safaricom foundation's World of Difference phase 2.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Uzima Visits Nyumbani - Again

The Cucus (grandmothers), Children and Staff of Nyumbani Village could not hide their joy, after receiving an assortment of gifts including blankets, foodstuffs and other items. The donation was done by the visiting Safaricom Uzima team, a group consisting of peer educators tasked with driving the HIV/AIDS awareness message within Safaricom.
The visit was courtesy of the  Spartans team, a Safaricom Foundation World Of Difference team volunteering at the Village for the year 2011.
The donations were not all. The visitors spent time with the various groups in the village, holding talks on topics specific to each group. The groups consisted of Cucus(the grandmothers), youth past High school, High School students, upper primary kids, and the younger lower primary kids.
The Uzima team split themselves into smaller teams to handle each group based on individual skills and passion. Each group spent time with their specific UZIMA team holding talks on issues affecting them. The Uzima team is trained on Peer Education and Counselling skills.
At the end of it all, the UZIMA members were elated to have had a chance to share their valuable time with the community, while the Village groups were happy to know that someone cares.
Nyumbani village supports children orphaned by HIV/AIDS by providing them a place to call home. You can read more on the Nyumban Village, a project of Children of God Relief Institute(COGRI) by following this link

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

As a result…

As a result… Training post-secondary students and members of staff on computers has been a great experience for me, and an eye-opener on the great potential people posses in them, if only IT WAS UNLOCKED…am almost convinced that lack of efficiency is not lack of skill, but the presence of it, but in a LOCKED STATE, if only IT WOULD BE UNLOCKED. The students have demonstrated a great deal of potential in their reception of the training, and resultant application of the skills acquired. Just to highlight afew,

  1. By use of MS Excel skills, one team of students are developing a work plan project for the village to help in tracking staff working schedules, and calculate salaries based on these schedules, especially for the casual workers.

  2. Another team is working on a project that will help the Hotcourses primary school teachers do their exams analysis and report cards faster and more efficiently, again, by use of MS Excel skills learnt in class.

  3. Yet another team is working on a solution to manage stock at the Village store and for the Purchasing Officers.

  4. A team of 5 have already joined the TOT(Training of Trainers) programme, and have been sharpening their training skills by conducting dummy trainings.These will help in advancing training to the rest of the village.

This has been as a result of successfully completing their computer training, and the students are now applying their knowledge to offer solutions to the village. Talk about giving back to the village. The daily running of the village will drastically become efficient, thanks to these young minds!!!

Friday, March 25, 2011


The following morning I am up at 6 a.m., take a bath and dress up ready for the day. The day starts at 8 a.m here. I am ready by 7 a.m., and I decide to read a book as I wait for breakfast to be ready. At about 7:15, breakfast is ready, I have my share, and by 7:30, am off to my workstation, the sustainability office (this was my first location as we had stricken a rapport with the head of sustainability, and he allowed me to share his office as I wait to get a permanent station with sufficient power for my computer.)

My workstation...
I arrive to find the office closed, and suddenly remember business starts at 8. I have to wait, let alone adapt to the living here. Finally its 8 and the Sustainability secretary arrives, greats me warmly, asks for my name, I ask for hers, and soon we become friends. She asks whether I am the computer guy from Safaricom, and my answer, you guessed right! She then goes on to line up the problems she has been experiencing with her computer, and I realize, its gonna be a hell of troubleshooting here. But first things first, I ask her to allow me settle down, and I will look into her problems, to which she readily agrees.

She shows me to a table in the sustainability manager’s office, where I have a socket to plug my computer. I try switching it on but, no power. I ask the secretary, and she tells me we have to wait for the generator which comes on after 9 am. This is the generator that serves the polytechnic workshops and the Administration office block, with solar as the primary source of power for these offices. The rest of the village is served by solar power. Luckily enough, my laptop had some reserve power to take me for some minutes as I wait.

First things first...
I login and check for any updates from the office, then start on drafting my workplan. Am through with the workplan, send it over to the Foundation, and soon it’s time to hit the road! I have to establish which computer is working, which requires checking, what needs to be replaced, who doesn’t know how to use theirs…e.t.c. I first meet the sustainability manager, who hands me about 4 laptops which have issues and need to be sorted. This will be my routine the whole of the week as I go from office to office. I embark on working on them as I wait for the Programme manager to come anytime within the week for a briefing of my stay in the village.

The rest of activities...

The week generally drags along with me visiting every office and receiving the same greeting…are you the computer guy from safaricom, Yes I am, and the problems flow on, I come up with a schedule of auctioning each, and embark on resolving them. Some are solved; some require hardware replacements, which proves to be a process to procure them.

End of day...

The day ends at 5 pm as usual, with no extending as all the offices are closed. I sit at a shade in the guest house, with my laptop, which has some reserved power to catchup with my friends, do some updates on social media, and prepare for the next day, which again is the same routine till week end…

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Not Just Computers…

The Stay... My stay at Nyumbani has been revolving around activities to do with computers, mostly training, and in some cases helping staff in troubleshooting issues, plus sourcing for computers to setup a lab that will be used for further training, skills sharpening, internet access, e.t.c. New Friends... However, this has not been the only activity that has taken my time. I have made new friends, from the top management to the child in cluster (this is a model used in Nyumbani village, which simply means 4 houses with a common wash area and other amenities), I have taken time out in the evenings and gone with friends to have some nyama choma at the nearby shopping center, Kwa Vonza, over 10 km from the village, and many others. Mine has been the normal life in the country side. My Best... But one thing that has impacted me is the interaction we’ve had with the 2010 secondary school finalists. This group has made me realize how much potential we have especially at this age of between 18 and 21 years of age. One thing to note is that this group has been very sharp in picking whatever I say in class. No comment, statement or word goes without sending a message to these young minds. It has been the best group to work with in the village, and I am amazed at their creativity. We have become friends with the students, and they are able to look up to me for answers on life issues, seek advice on career choice, have fun and crack jokes once in a while. Visit by UZIMA team... It is the same team that prompted me to request a visit by the UZIMA team at Safaricom (this is the group that deals with workplace projects on HIV/AIDS, and drives peer education in the company), where four members sacrificed their time off to visit the village and spend time with these young minds. We were able to interact on discussion forums and also play football and skip the rope together, not to mention establish lasting relationships with the UZIMA members as mentors to look up to. Am glad I Helped... Am glad I helped them where I could. Most of them are now ready to face life with confidence, having changed their view of life, having established mentors who they can look for and up to when in need of help and guidance, and having acquired skills(computer skills) that may just have been the opening to their careers. You can also help. You can be a mentor by joining their Facebook page titled nyumbani and get updated on what they are upto.You can also follow this blog and hear what they have to say...

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Uzima Visits Nyumbani....

…fast forward, to today…
I will be updating on the rest of my stay at Nyumbani, but first, lets fast forward to today....
3 of my colleagues from Uzima, the Peer educators’ team at Safaricom will be coming over to visit Nyumbani and interact with the 2010 form four finalists.

This group of teenagers is very crucial in the way future high school finalists are going to manage the period between clearing secondary school education and looking out for colleges, or waiting to be admitted to the university for those qualified. There are a number of opportunities for them to engage in to ensure they are not idle during this delicate period...because as they say…”the devil has a workshop, the idle mind…”
The visiting team, Naomi, Agnes and Consolata, are going to help us engage the students, most of them consisting of my computer class students, in various topics ranging from career to social issues. The students are enthusiastic and looking forward to tapping some knowledge, skills of living, and establishing mentors.
In the meanwhile, we have to do our class before they arrive….see you later for updates….!!!

My First Day at Nyumbani Village

The motivation
Being at Nyumbani Village is one of the best experiences I have had in my lifetime. I can describe it as a turning point for me, as I experience firsthand children orphaned by HIV/AIDS go through life’s turbulence with such optimism and hope, happy to have a place to call home, and a grandmother to look up to.
A New Experience
I have never had a chance to live among a different tribe from that of my own, and being with the Kamba has taught me a lot of things apart from giving me an opportunity to learn an extra language. The Kamba language is not difficult to learn, and I will slip in some terms here and there as we go through a typical day in the village.
The Village
Nyumbani is the typical village you find in your “shags” (countryside), with all, or most of the elements including a primary school, a multi-purpose social hall, a secondary school, a polytechnic, and a clinic, in addition to the basic unit, the, homesteads. Nyumbani village offers a refuge for children orphaned by HIV/AIDS, and destitute grandparents, who, together form the family units of 10-14 members, consisting of one grandparent and the rest being children. The family unit is allocated a house, constructed from locally produced blocks by use of the slowly becoming popular hydra form interlocking bricks. The families are also provided with a piece of land to till, and supported through various sustainable projects managed and run by the sustainability department. The children school at the local nursery, primary, secondary and polytechnic institutions.
When I arrived at Nyumbani to start off on my IT project, I was warmly welcomed by the villagers (as the people in the village are commonly known to each other, “I have become one too”).
My first stop was at the Administration block, where the Programme manager, Head of Sustainability and Homecare Manager have their offices. This is where my orientation tour would start.
The tour...
At first, due to my excitement and anxiety of joining a new environment, I didn’t notice the scorching sun, but soon I started feeling hot and sweaty all over and I realize that the sun here is scorching hot, not to mention the dust. This however does not distract me from my mission to the village, and our first day tour kicks off. Along the way, we meet children, grandmothers and staff, not in any hurry, probably due to the hot sun, and at one time I seem to be the one in too much hurry, then it occurs to me, this is not Nairobi, and I slow down. Later I come to realize that this is one lifestyle I got to have to adapt to, and the saying that goes like no hurry in Africa comes real to me. In the course of the tour, some common phrase that goes like “waacha” becomes familiar and is quickly followed by “aa” by some in our company. At first it doesn’t catch my attention much, but shortly I realize this is the local greetings, and I immediately join in the chorus. I have learnt my first two words in kamba.
We complete our tour of the village at about 3pm, and am guided to my room at the guest house where I would stay for my project duration, equipped with solar lighting and an eco toilet (this is a story for another day), apart from the common amenities.
I settle down in my room, inspect everything to ensure am set to start off the next day, as a villager in the making. And was ready to set off for my tasks.