December, 2013 - Director's Christmas Greetings!
Friends: What a year this has been! I have been on off-field-assignment for the past few months in the US, meeting with many of you and telling the story of our work. In our absence, Mark Okello has ably taken care of matters on the ground and all projects report progress as the year comes to a close. How thankful we are for program, project and community leaders!
Much has been accomplished in 2013. Take a look at this link to see the story of Change for Children published recently in the "fellowship!" newsletter of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.
We look forward with excitement to the coming year. 2014 will see a rebranding of the Africa Exchange logo and website to make news of our work more accessible and interactive - so keep your eyes peeled! More importantly, we hope to initiate new projects and programs in partnership with local communities. These will be focused on "development initiatives" that will make a difference in the lives of people and in the environment upon which so many lives depend.
As always, we appreciate your involvement and support of our work. We hope you will continue to reach out and work with us in meeting the many needs that present themselves as well as appropriating in your own lives and communities the wisdom that we learn from people communities that we are honored to call partners.
May blessings abound in 2014!
Sam Harrell - Executive Director
September, 2013 - Westgate Attack, Nairobi
Many of you have emailed to express your concern at recent events in Nairobi surrounding a terrorist attack at the Westgate shopping center in Westlands, Nairobi. We are all shocked and saddened by this cowardly act and grieve with many of our friends and acquaintances who were themselves wounded or who lost loved ones. In these days of recovery, the Kenyan spririt has proved indomitable and shines as an example for all of humanity. Unprecedented blood donations, feeding programs for victims, volunteers and emergency workers, reaching out beyond religious, ethnic and class distinctions - all of these are characteristic of the Kenyan ethos.
Please be aware that Kenyans of all backgrounds have been suffering for a long while from the acts of extremist elements, including our Kenyan Somali brothers and sisters in the north of the country. Our partners in Garissa live under daily threats, grenade attacks, shootings and threats and have done so for the last two years. Random bus bombings, church shootings and grenade explosions have been happening sporadically in Nairobii for some time. Without a doubt, the Westagate attack was on another level and, as a result, has received widespread coverage from international media. Nevertheless, it bears keeping in mind that the average Kenyan often suffers in silence without such attention and concern fromthe global community.
Our prayers center around the safety and well being of all Kenyans, especially the most vulnerable and those without a voice. And yes, even for our enemies who's despair drives them to committ such unmentionalble acts. May we be instruments of the One God, creator of all of us as we seek healing and reconcilliation for all of creation.
Sam Harrell - Executive director
June, 2013 - Ngerenya/Sokoke Partnership
In an effort to insure consistent enrollment at the Ngerenya Integrated Child Development Center, Africa Exchange invests in a primary school building at nearby Sokoke Primary School. The additional classroom creates the space necessary for kindergarten graduates to proceed to first grade in the public primary feeder school. Previously the overstretched facility could not accommodate all applicants but now the double stream created by the new building forms a building block for school expansion.
April, 2013 - Assistance to Flood Victims
Our partner project in Garissa, North Eastern Kenya - Bulla Iftin ICDC - suffered flooding from the Tana river during an extended rainy season. Fortunately, the school is built on high ground and becomes a refuge for flood victims. Makeshift housing takes over the playing field and the area outside the fence becomes crowded with neighbors fleeing flooded homes. We were able to supply emergency porridge supplement this year that went a long way to alleviating hunger among vulnerable children in the area.
February/March, 2013 - New Kitchens!
During the next three months beginning in March, 3 ICDC units will undergo minor renovations and a facelift. This exercise includes the installation of a more durable floor surface for the classroom areas. At least two units will receive a new kitchen building which we are in the process of designing. We are grateful to Hayes Barton Baptist Church for making this a possibility!
February, 2013 - Development Initiative Grants
Four ICDC units qualified to recieve development initiative grants based on their performance and accountability during 2012. These grants are utilized primarily for income generating initiatives such as fish farming, agricultural production and sales or other enterprises that bring modest profits to the unit enbabling them to meet their financial obligations such as teacher salaries, maintenance, etc. Congratulations to Baraka, Ruiru, Wamaganga and Ngerenya!
January, 2013 - Change for Children in its 7th Year!
What began as a comprehensive project with a 3 year funding and implementation cycle has just entered its 7th year. The capacity building and sustainability elements of Change for Children have taken longer than anticipated. This year's major development will be the establishment of a Coordinating Committee (CC), comprising one member from each Integrated Child Developement Center unit and chaired by the coordinator for Change for Children. This CC will focus on the areas of education, health and development for each eligible unit. For a unit to remain eligible to sit on the CC, it must continue to turn in termly reports and attain sufficient performance scores. So far, 5 of the 8 units have qualified. This self-governing mechanism will be what carries each unit on into the future.