Monday, December 3, 2018

Voices of the caretakers:Florence

Florence has been working at the Tosha 2 bio centre for the past 3 months but already had so much information about her job to contribute to our series. The Tosha 2 bio centre opened in 2007 and is run only by women. Like most bio centres, tosha 2 has a few toilets and a shower, the only shower in the area, and cost 5ksh to use. Upstairs, this bio centre has 5 rooms, which are currently unoccupied, but sometimes houses families that need a place to stay. Tosha 2 also has a large tank of water which holds about 800 liters of water and costs about 700ksh to fill each day. Florence says that her biggest challenge is that this bio centre is less popular than the others because it was on strike and closed for a long while and is not as well known in the area as some of the other bio centres. That being said, the company Shofco has a relationship with this bio centre, paying them some money every month to allow their workers to come in and use the bio centre when they need to. This increases the amount of money florence makes each day by about 200-300ksh. Overall, Florence has had a fine time working at the tosha 2 bio centre and enjoys her customers who she has formed a relationship with by seeing them so often.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Sex for Water Project

Friday morning, Umande trust in partnership with WASH interviewed ten women on the struggle and harassment they face trying to fetch water for their families. Most of these women were in their early twenties and all of them were mothers. All of these women told stories about how they had been harassed either by men on their way to fetch water or the water cartels themselves. The water cartels, the people who run the centers where water is fetched from, often take these women’s money without giving them water and beat and harass the women who complain about there being not enough water or the water being dirty. Every women who had been interviewed seemed to have had money stolen from them from the water cartels forcing them to return home without money or water. These stories were more of the tame ones when it comes to the struggle these women face. A lot of them told stories of harassment and rape by men on the street as they were heading to get water. In Kibera, there is a high rate of teen pregnancy and a high rate of abortion due to women being raped on their way to fetch water. Lots of these women have had to work hard to strategically plan when they are going to go retrieve water and often have to find new routes or go to different centers to avoid this harassment. Looking towards the future, these women are worried about the lives of their children, how they will afford school fees, whether they will have to endure this harassment, and how they will continue to get water when everyday has the potential to be dangerous.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Voices of the Caretakers: Joseph

Upon entering the Starra Bio Centre, one would assume that this centre is just the same as all of the others neighboring it in Kibera. But once you walk past the circular centre itself, you are greeted by a large tent filled with plants, a greenhouse. This is where Joseph has worked for the past two years, and like his coworkers at other centres, Joseph spends most of his day cleaning and collecting pay. But he also has an extra job, tending to the greenhouse, planting, sowing, and harvesting the tomatoes and green peppers they sell there. Joseph enjoys earnings  living this way and says that it is a much fairer job than his previous one as a servant. He also says there are many challenges to his job. He often has to deal with abusive customers who refuse to pay after using the bio centre. Joseph says that he does not want to fight these thugs and often has to let them go without paying. Another challenge Joseph faces is the water scarcity in the area, and finds it frustrating that water is such an expensive commodity. But overall, Joseph is happy with his job and feels so comfortable working at the Bio Centre.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Voices of the Caretakers: Kennedy

On an average day Kennedy spends his days taking care of the kidiot bio center in Kibera. His job description includes but is not limited to front desk work, cleaning, and making sure everything runs smoothly. One of the reasons Kennedy likes this particular Bio center is because it is so environmentally friendly. Kennedy also mentioned that this particular Bio center brought the first toilets to this area of Kibera! Kennedy enjoys being part of this effort of providing sanitary and cheap toilets to this area. For Kennedy, this Bio center has made  tremendous effect in his life because it's something he is passionate about as he has learned so much about the environment and has also helped him to earn a living wage. Kennedy feels like working at the bio centre has made him more environmentally aware and he is proud to be helping an organization that promotes action against climate change and environmental sustainability.

Friday, October 26, 2018

Voices of the Caretakers: Stella

Easily spottable from any matatu driving in on the gravel entrance to Kibera, the Umande Trust building and attached bio-centre stands three stories tall overlooking a busy road filled with people, umbrellas, shops, and cars. While the top two floors of the building is office space, the bottom floor is a complete bio-centre with 4 toilets on each side and 2 showers in total. This bio-centre also comes with a fridge filled with soda for passersby who may want a treat. The caretaker of this bio-centre is Stella, a 29 year old woman with three children at home. This is Stella’s second month working at the bio-centre here and in her first month here says that she considers her job fair.
 Stella spends most of her day sitting on a white plastic chair outside of the steps of the bio-centre, collecting the five shilling fair for using the toilet and the fifty shilling fair to get a soda. She also cleans the bio-centre two to three times per day. While she is not sure of the exact number of people who come to her bio-centre everyday, she estimates that there are about 200-250 customers on an average weekday. Stella says that the biggest challenge of her job is the lack of water in the bio-centres. She says that there have been quite a few times where the bio-centre has been inoperable due to water scarcity and in return her customers become upset. As the caretaker, this is little she can do about the lack of water and she finds these times frustrating.

 Stella took this job because of the lack of job opportunities in Kibera. She uses the money she makes from being a bio-centre caretaker on food, clothes and school fees for her and her family. Overall, Stella says that she would describe her job as “good”. She wishes there were more opportunities for her, but she is content with being employed at this bio-centre

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Less Wood & More Biogas @ Ngaru Girls High School

On March 9th, Umande was able to send representatives to the Ngaru Girls High School in Kerugoya, an all girls boarding school a little over two hours from Nairobi. The facilities here (a bio-digester 84m3, renovated 20 toilets, biogas piping and burners) were built last fall and opened for use since November 2016. As one of the several boarding schools utilizing the bio-centers they were pleased to see the facilities up and running efficiently. Mikayla, our new intern, and Gladys, our sanitation marketer, were able to tour the property and meet with two kitchen staff members, Muthi and Mwaii, the school nurse, Pascaline, and a member of the cleaning staff, Margaret. The Umande Team were impressed with the overall cleanliness of the toilets and the kitchen and the excellent conditions the infrastructure installed by the organization were in. Through an open conversation with the staff members they were able to gather information on the success and the possible future improvements of the bio-sanitation model. While Margaret reported initial difficulties with the students using the toilets correctly, she says after several reminders the girls have been utilizing the toilets properly with no
issues whatsoever. Muthii and Mwaii both were overjoyed to report that the biogas has been a tremendous help and now they are able to cook all the staff meals using it. However, the biogas cannot yet be used to cook the students’ meals because the biogas burners are not large enough to thoroughly cook the large cooking pots the students’ food is prepared in. Despite this, the biogas project (from human waste) has enabled the school to use less firewood for cooking which helps the environment and decreases smoke inhalation for the staff as well. Overall, the staffs had little to no complaints and were grateful for our visit and overall help with the project.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

First Women's Voices Champions Meeting

Today Umande held the first of many meetings for the Women's Voices project champions. The 20 women champions met with some of the Umande staff at the Harlequins Suites Hotel. The meeting started by having all the women introduce themselves, followed by an introduction of Umande Trust, and some of the other projects that the organization is working on. After the introductions, each woman was given a questionnaire which asked questions about their local government, how involved the women have been in the local government in the past, and the positive and negative aspects of their local government. After reading the questionnaires it was clear that most of the women in the room felt like they did not have a voice in their community, or no one was listening. That is why this program, Women's Voices ICT Choices is so important for women in the community. This project teaches and encourages women to share their thoughts and ideas and gives them leadership roles within their own communities.

After a brief tea break, the meeting took a turn toward open discussion, in which the women shared and debated ways that they can engage with local leaders and ensure that these leaders are held accountable. One of the most prominent suggestions made was that the women go as a group to meet with the Members of the County Assembly to ensure that funds are being properly allocated throughout each of their wards.  However, it was also mentioned that there are numerous factors that limit women from participation, the most prominent being fear.  Many of the women expressed that there is a general fear women experience when approaching their leaders, which is why it is important that they empower and encourage each other, as long as other methods such as prayer, so that they can overcome this obstacle of fear.  In addition to discussing ideas as a whole. the women then divided into smaller groups based on the wards they each live in to further talk about how they can reach other women in their communities, then shared their ideas with the entire group afterward.  In addition to coming up with new ideas, the women's champions shared their feedback on what they had learned about the project as a whole, and were shown the online dashboard they will use to interact with each other and their communities.  Moving forward, the Women's Voices ICT Choices project will continue to hold monthly meetings with all of the women champions, hold focused group discussions, and discuss the involvement of Magnet Theater groups and the role religious institutions can play in the project.   The project seeks to make women the eyes of the community, and uniting them so that they have better chances of helping their communities.