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.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Women's Voices ICT Choices

Umande Trust is in the process of launching a new project that aims to increase the representation of Women's voices when making decisions about their own communities, specifically within Kibera. To do this, Women Champions will be selected from the community, and these women will be trained to be liaisons between local governments and the community they are representing. The Women Champions will provide other women in the community with relevant information and facilitate group discussions on the issues women want to discuss and share ideas about.

On Friday, October 28th a meeting was held at the Tosha One biocenter in Kibera to discuss the Women's Voices ICT Choices project and specifically, how to choose the women champions. Project representatives from Umande Trust lead the meeting, and it was attended by around 30 community members and representatives from other local organizations. At the meeting, they discussed the project, and who exactly the women champions would be. There would be five champions chosen from each of the four wards in Kibera: Laini Saba, Lindi, Makina, Sarang'ombe. Also, it was decided that certain biocenters would serve as information hubs for the project, and would be the meeting place for the community discussions.

This was the first of many community meetings to discuss the project, and Umande Trust hopes to start the process of selecting women champions soon.

Benazir Omotto of Umande Trust listens to a question from a community member in regards to the Women's Voices project at the Tosha One biocenter. 

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Global Handwashing Day 2016

Yesterday, October 15th, schools and organizations in various countries around the world celebrated Global Handwashing Day.  This campaign is dedicated to increasing awareness of the importance of proper hand washing with soap and other basic hygiene practices.  This past week, Umande Trust traveled to a Bridge Academy school within Mukuru  to participate in a Global Handwashing Day celebration and the opening of a new Biocenter within the community.  The afternoon was filled with games, songs, and educational activities to teach the children about the proper way to wash their hands and at what times one should wash their hands.  

After our celebration at the school, we turned the corner to take part in a ceremony for the opening of the first stage of a new biocenter, equipped with toilets and handwashing stations for men and women, and the service can be paid for through Mpesa.  Prominent members of the community and organizations that helped make the construction of this new biocenter possible were in attendance, with different community leaders making speeches regarding the progress that has been made. 


Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Upcoming Events: Global Handwashing Day Campaign

Global Handwashing Day is this Saturday, October 15th! This week, Thursday through Saturday, Umande Trust will be hosting numerous events in celebration by visiting various schools across Nairobi and other regions of Kenya teaching children about health and hygiene! By partnering with these schools we hope to fulfill this year's theme: Make Handwashing a Habit.