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Kenya - Children and Youth Empowerment Centre - Danielle Robertson

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Posted: November 3, 2011

Last spring I spent the semester researching different crop varieties that would grow well in Kenya but I never imagined what my experience in Kenya would actually be like.

When I arrived in Nairobi on May 18th I did not have a great picture of what I would be getting into. I knew that I was going to be staying at the Children and Youth Empowerment Centre, that I would be spending a lot of time with the kids and experiencing something extremely new; however I did not know what that new experience would be or anything else. 

My time in Kenya was some of the best weeks of my life. I spent my time working in the centre on an agriculture enterprise based project. A microfinance fund was set up through the Zawadi Fund to provide small loans to the youth in the centre. My group and I were in charge of helping the youth get their agricultural projects in order so that they would be able to apply for loans from the Zawadi Fund. The five separate projects were goat, bee, chicken, rabbit and crop production. The students were separated amongst the projects, each project had one student, while crops had two, considering there were a variety of crops being looked at. I was specifically in charge of goats.

In regards to goats, the main objective was to make record sheets that would allow the youth to keep track of the inputs of outputs of the production cycle. I worked with John Thumbi, who was in charge of the goats, on what his daily schedule with RobertsonKenya2.pngthe goats was. This allowed me to see what activities needed to be tracked and what activities were not accounted for. We also needed to look at the infrastructure that was already existing and figure out whether it needed improving or not. We found that the goat pen really needed improvements, which turned into an entire dismantling of the goat pen and the construction of a brand new pen and goat area. The construction of the pen was one by the youth, with a little bit of help from me, but not much. I got word from the centre that the goat pen was finished days after we left and the goats are no longer running around aimlessly.

After all of the reports were put together a binder was created so that we could house all of the papers in one area. We thought this would make it easier for the youth and also prevent them from loosing the papers as well. Each project had a specific binder and they were all being kept in the main office building. Since we have left, we have learned that the youth are using the binders and are finding them very useful!

Not only did we do work in Kenya but we also had a lot of fun! Spending time with the kids was always a lot of fun. The kids love to braid hair and play with our watches. However, when I say, “braid our hair” there was a lot more pull of hair than actual braiding. But when we left the centre we went on a couple different adventures, including a two-day safari, a trip to the equator and the giraffe sanctuary in Nairobi. The safari was so exciting! We saw a lot of different animals including water buffalo, impalas, zebras, elephants and of course a lion. At the equator, we saw water spin in different directions on either side of the equator. The giraffe sanctuary was super fun. Each of us took our turns feeding the giraffe pellets and getting kissed by them. The giraffe kisses were not the most glamorous but it was sure a lot of fun!RobertsonKenya1.png

We did a lot of work and we also had a lot of fun, but there is definitely more work to do. It would be great to work on the milking schedule for the goats and get the rabbits more organized to make breeding easier. I trust that in time the youth will get a hold on the different issues and get everything straightened out. But in the mean time I would love to return and lend a hand. I hope that I will be able to return in the future and have another amazing experience!