In The Shadow Of Kilimanjaro: Week 4

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View Of Kilimanjaro From Sidai Sanctuary

I am back to update on the events that have occurred over the last two weeks. I understand that my first post did not really get into the specifics of what I am doing, but the first two weeks was really learning about what I posted and now I am more heavily involved in the actual work.

Before I get into what I have been doing, let me first discuss a little more about Just One Africa. JOA is a non-profit organization based in Alpharetta, Georgia. Their main focus is to provide clean drinking water to communities across Kenya. Many rural communities in Kenya retrieve water from contaminated creeks and ponds, hand dug wells, boreholes and springs, as well as roadside ditches. Many of these sources have been contaminated by human waste, animal waste, agricultural waste, pesticides, worms, and diseases. Dysentery, typhoid, and other water borne diseases plague entire regions. Just One Africa is committed to ending this pandemic. They work with partners across the country, one of them being the Hope Beyond Foundation, and build teams of local leaders called Water Ambassadors. These ambassadors identify the locations with the most need for clean water, decide how the allocation of filters will be divided, and decide when filters can be distributed. These ambassadors are critical for allowing the communities to identify their own needs and methods of solvency. JOA provides their partners with Uzima Filters. These filter systems are essentially two buckets, one for gray water and another for clean water, with a filter in between. You pour gray water in the top bucket and you retrieve clean water from the bottom bucket. Occasionally the filter has to be backwashed, but all in all the system is simple and easy to learn. If you take good care of your filter it will out live you. The filters themselves are distributed following a large group training session and a small group training session. Recipients are required to register for the filter beforehand and water ambassadors are responsible for distributing information about upcoming distributions. After the filters are distributed, a follow up team will visit the homes of recipients every so often to make sure everything is running properly and that the owners still remember how to use the system. Should the owner break part of the system, a replacement can often be obtained from the follow up team at a small cost. Thousands of filters have been distributed at this point changing the face of healthcare and waterborne diseases in the communities that receive them. Many families have been able to take money they have saved from doctors visits and put it towards a variety of things like entrepreneurship, education, and community development.

Just One Africa is incredible and over the last two weeks I have been able to go out to communities with them and train people on how to use these filtration systems. The community response is overwhelmingly positive, and especially now that communities are hearing about the results of previous distributions. I have really enjoyed working with them so far, and i can see tangible results for people in the most need.

So, what are the projects that I am specifically working on. Like I said I have been a part of the filter distributions and trainings in communities, but there are also a bunch of other things. Currently, I am designing a training program for the police and for doctors on how to correctly report and diagnose FGM. We discovered that even though we have been working diligently with the police on combating FGM, the cases they have handled never get reported as FGM, they always get reported as child marriage or defilement. This speaks to an underlying belief that child marriage and defilement are worse crimes than FGM, but also to a lack of training on the way to file a report as FGM and the importance thereof. Also, we have noticed that many doctors at the local hospital are not from this region, are young, and do not have much experience diagnosing FGM. Doctors are a critical part of combating FGM because they preside over a victims healthcare and can confirm or deny the presence of FGM to the police. These shortcomings have led us to conclude that a training of the police and healthcare professionals is necessary. I am currently doing research and gathering information regarding the best practices for reporting and diagnosing FGM and the considerations that should be given when handling a case. I will write a sort of profile on the topic that we will discuss with police chiefs and hospital administration. Together we will decide the kind of training necessary and then will design the training itself. We will bring in partners from across the county to do all of the training in one day. In our subcounty there were zero reported cases of FGM in 2018 despite us knowing of well over 50 and handling many of the cases ourselves. We hope our training changes the amount of cases that are reported so that we can see a major improvement in 2020.

Another project I am working on is training victims of these practices to be better public speakers. Many of these children want to speak out, but have never had any formal training in communication. I plan on starting with abut 10 children and teaching basic public speaking principles and doing lots of practice. Hopefully it will allow some of them to be more confident and have a stronger voice when telling their story.

Besides these two larger projects I am editing the policies and bylaws for the Hope Beyond Foundation, doing an audit and revamp of all of their social media platforms, setting up a new email system, working on a team that is building a new website, attending county level Charitable Children Institution meetings, gathering survey data for a baseline study being conducted by Equality Now on the understanding of FGM laws in the area, teaching music at the school, and assisting in setting up community dialogue meetings in order to educate the public on FGM laws among many other things.

There is a lot of breadth and depth to the work that is going on here. I am just trying to keep up while also trying to be the largest value add possible.

If you have any questions or comments, feel free to email me at cmbonds@email.wm.edu. And, stay tuned for another update in two weeks.

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Parade Celebrating the Day of the African Child in Kimana, Kenya

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