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.
December, 2012 - Development Initiatives, SIMAHO Outreach Effort
No doubt you are aware that relations between Kenya and Somalia have been strained during the collapse of that country's government and the subsequent incursion into Kenya of terrorist elements that have endangered the lives of Kenyans. Garissa, near the Somalia border, has borne the brunt of a clamp-down that has unfortunately disrupted life in and around the area. Though we have been unable to travel to that region for some time, our projects and partners there continue. Through our Kenya Health Partnership, we have continued to support SIMAHO (Sister's Maternity Home) in their outreach efforts among surrounding marginalized communities. A recent delivery of 2.5 tons of immune booster porridge and 800 LLIN mosquito nets to SIMAHO to boost their programs has been timely.
November, 2012 - OOCT Development Initiatives, Masai Mara
In keeping with our development objectives to assist communities while at the same time conserving natural environments, we recently partnered with Olare Orok Community Trust that works in the Masai Mara ecosystem to conserve the environment by working with local Masai groups toward sustainable development. One of the risks for the Masai are lion attacks on their cattle. We donated a power post hole digger and other equipment to the trust to help communities to construct "lion proof bomas" (enclosures) where their cattle are kept at night. This lessens the conflict between humans and animals and prevents retaliatory attacks on lions when lions inevitably invade poorly constructed bomas.
October, 2012 - Development Initiatives - Amani Ya Juu
In October we were privileged to celebrate the donation of a closed canopy generator for the great work of Amani Ya Juu. This organization has long been a friend to Africa Exchange and we saw how their work was being hampered by frequent power outages which prevented the proper operation of their Cafe which serves as an income generation project of Amani. Now their work will proceed unimpeded by the several times daily power cuts experienced in parts o Nairobi. We are grateful that with the help of our partners, we were able to be a part of this vital work.
September/October, 2012 - Development Initiatives - Psigor Bridge
Two years in the planning, the Psigor bridge is now serving the people of Sangat and Sisit as they cross over the Wei Wei river which will soon be at peak rainy season levels. In the last year, four people have been swept away trying to cross the Wei Wei at this very spot. We are grateful to the 3 donors who made this bridge possible as well as the many hands that worked on various stages of construction. Our partner, Bridging the Gap, provided the plan and expertise, especially for the unique drum anchor on the Sangat side.
Thanks to the Hayes Barton, First Baptist Raleigh team who helped us finish and open the bridge last week!
August, 2012 - Change for Children - ICDC seminar
Our annual seminar involving project staff from each of the 8 Integrated Child Development Centers scattered around Kenya took place at the BTL conference center in Ruiru. This meeting has proven invaluable towards the sharing and processing of lessons learned as well as building the capacity of each center to reach its potential through development initiatives.
Following the two day seminar, the 20 participants embarked on an immersion tour of three ICDC sites located in Central and Eastern Kenya - Ruiru, Ulungu and Kilifi. Sharing information in the context of actual field work has proven essential as we seek to understand best practices for sustainability and growth.
August, 2012 - KUTANA - Passport Kenya, 2012
Despite some logistical challenges due to flooding of Lake Baringo, this year's ministry site, Passport Kenya 2012 was a resounding success! This year's format was somewhat different with more energy and effort being expended towards ministry excursions following the completion of an abbreviated camp at Brackenhurst. An environmental component at Lake Nakuru National Park followed by outreach at Loongeiwuan near lake Baringo, made this year's camp unique.
The help of Kenyan chaperones and speakers was invaluable in challenging the 45 campers from both Kenya and the US to live Life Together as a community.
July, 2012 - KUTANA - Student.go
We have been privileged during our "winter" months in Kenya to welcome three wonderful university students who spent their summer working with Africa Exchange on a number of projects from water filters and kitchen gardens to participating in the activities of several Integrated Child Development Center units. We are grateful for their hard work and beautiful spirit and grateful also for the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship for making their stay possible.