Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Back in Malindi and all is well

Well, sort of!  I came back a couple of weeks ago, and am basically decompressing after a bit of a mission.  Slowly getting back into shape and now should actually go around and do the rounds see all the people I need to see.  I have been teaching kiswahili to an italian girl (kind of an interesting artist, will post pics later!) and coaching the old rugger team.  Have got some news about some of the old projects and will go around to check on them soon!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Building the Kasimani School!

All the stars aligned and yes, we have broken ground to build the Kasimani School (formerly Che Shale Kasimani of the CSKCP project). The structure the community built in 2008 when the original structure we built with Justin in 2004 fell apart a few weeks ago, and we were worried about the kids learning under trees in the rains. With some funds coming from the old CSKCP, Terre Solidali and Marzia's brother Marco Chierichetti, we decided to build.

The school and the community have been heavily involved, parents have worked hard, ferrying the materials to the site through the sand dunes (it would have been expensive to transport the materials in these conditions with cars or tractors), are providing the water for the site from the local well, some building labour and are ensuring the materials are safe, taking shifts to guard them. Excellent commitment from the community will ensure that the school works well. We've discussed this project for years and everyone is fully committed. The school is already well attended, with at least 270 children at the moment studying under trees! There is a real commitment to education in this area due possibly in part to the previous work done by the CSKCP, Terre Solidali and CISP and this made the decision to assist with the permanent structures that much easier. Two permanent classrooms and a store/office will be built in this phase hopefully by the end of March.

In meetings with parents, we decided that we wanted the community members as involved as possible so that they could say that they in some way built the school with their own hands and that it wasn't built by some "outsider" who in the future will always run to their aid. Teachers have been trained throughout the years by the CSKCP and by CISP and the school is monitored regularly through the CISP education programme sponsored by the Malindi for Education campaign. Thanks to the efforts made by these two programmes, the school was officially taken on as a government school last year. The Kenyan Ministry of Education has placed three teachers there ensuring effective management.

The idea in the long term is to build a community centre, and Marco is interested in putting in a community library. More innovative design is planned for future projects which will be environmentally/eco friendly and hopefully more efficient given the conditions, but a decision was made to build a "classic" structure quickly to ensure that the school has a solid foundation to work with. More pictures can be found here. Please contact me if you'd like to contribute!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Malindi Music Festival for Children

I'm really excited about this festival. It's been a bit of a dream of mine since I went to the World Social Forum in Nairobi... there I saw the effect of a large number (they said 60 odd thousand but I don't know) of at any rate tens of thousands of open minded think outside of the box people descend on Nairobi, ripping apart old archaic paradigms and doing things differently. Even in terms of how they visited the city. Staying in dodgy parts of town, taking public transport (Matatus) all the way to Kasirani, making friends with people in the matatu and being invited home for dinner etc. It was great, and I think to some extent it changed the vibe in the City a bit and challenged some people's beliefs of what could be done and how one could live in Nairobi.

Here I was in Malindi, stuck in this annoying mess of chartered tour operator tourism. Where on some levels people encourage racism and fear by saying its dangerous outside (come on in Malindi!??!?!) so that they stay in the hotels and spend there money there. In these hotel's they're brought Masai dancers, eat pasta and generally don't get any idea of what Malindi or the Coast really is. (I can come up with plenty of examples but don't want to get hammered by tourism people in malindi) Generally though, everything in malindi feels negative towards locals, Giriamas are backward and have no culture, the only real culture or richness is brought by Mzungus, you can't trust locals, they only want your money, especially women... etc etc

So I thought to myself, what if we got (like at the WSF) a big group of people to change the tide of the Hegemony. What if a bunch of open minded people descended on Malindi who were genuinely interested in learning about giriama culture, eating local food, listening to the amazing drumming sessions they do and not coming to Malindi because they can't afford to go to Sardegna. Maybe something could change? Maybe even the businesses would see that there is money to be made in responsible tourism? Or at least they could think positively, feel good about contributing to a positive event and thereby perhaps, in some way become slightly less negative selfish/profit seeking and feel good about investing in the place? I think this is part of the spirit of the Festival. As well as promoting positive messages: Last year we focused on Child Protection/Sexual violence and this year we are focusing on Access to Education especially ECD.

So anyway, the thing is starting small (even though last year we were much bigger than expected) but it's nice. Local businesses are contributing as well as some large Kenyan corporations (Air Kenya, Royal Media), We've had some big Kenyan names, last year Achieng Obura, this year Nyota Ndogo and Eric Wainaina, as well as some big italian names (yes, sorry, we need to catch the attention of the Italians of Malindi so that we can educate them! :) ) Tullio de Piscopo, Paola Turci, Tony Esposito. So, all in all I'm pretty pleased, I hope it catches on, and yes, I hope malindi improves and is no longer considered a town where Italians come to exploit local women and grab all the land. There's always hope! :)

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Haiti was pretty intense, but a very interesting place. I always feel it's a shame that I didn't have a chance to explore it more and discover. You could get lost in that place it's so rich culturally. Lots of intense voodoo stuff as well as beautiful art, fascinating music, lovely people who have lived through all kinds of things etc etc... The place was just destroyed though, and that in itself made life quite stressful. Wish everyone well there though, even though it took a huge chunk out of me.

Ramadan in Malindi with my baby!

Celebrated last Ramadan In Malindi, had a great time with Sophie going to her friends houses... I suppose it's a part of malindi that not everyone gets to see! I think this picture was taken on the day of eid itself... Ironically Sophie had to write some final accounting exams on this day, so it was a little hectic. Felt a lot like christmas in many ways, people visiting family, a very familiar atmosphere in general. Ate lots of excellent food too! Hope I get invited next year!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Masai ya pwani!

I came across these Samburu Warriors in Watamu... they've shed their traditional red costumes for rainbow coloured kikoys! They were good fun though.

Friday, December 26, 2008


Inside the school, this is actually a church but we've been working on improving the quality and quantity of learning material in the "School".