Wednesday, December 21, 2011
Coker SIFE Working on project for/in Muhuru Bay, Kenya
Children like to get in the picture nearly everywhere and these two arein what is called the CUSTOMS area of Muhuru Bay, what we might call downtown. The village is on the border of Kenya and Tanzania.
Coker College is sending a trio of students and two advisors to Muhuru Bay, Kenya, for some on-the-ground work to help establish a library in this Kenyan village on the shore of Lake Victoria. Neil Sickendick, who directs the Coker SIFE program has been working with a community activist in Muhuru Bay, Dickens Ochiel, and they have the project moving forward with tremendous momentum. Neil used the SIFE contacts to team up with a SIFE program at Maseno University in Nairobi, Kenya, to develop a partnership that is going to make a difference. During the last academic year I was able to use part of my sabbatical to visit Muhuru Bay to observe a research project that was being conducted by Eve Puffer (daughter) as part of the Duke Global Health Initiative and their WISER School for Girls and Research in Muhuru Bay. It is exciting to see more connections being made from Coker.
The Coker contingent (Students are Kaitlynn Jessup, Lindsey Allen and Cody Ellison and advisor is Neil Sickendick and videographer/photographer is Harrison Waters) will travel the first week of January and meet up with the Maseno contingent and head to Muhuru Bay. Here is a short summary of what is happening that was provided by Neil in a recent email:
We are working with SIFE Maseno from Maseno University in Nairobi. They have 4 students working on the project with us. They have already traveled to Muhuru Bay last week to begin work on transforming the facility. They have also played a crucial role in finalizing many of our in-country details including hotel and transportation. Additionally, our work with them has allowed secure funding transfers and the ability to acquire books and computers for the facility, which we are calling a Learning Resource Center (LRC).
The LRC will be part library and part classroom space to be used for vocational training initiatives. The project started as a desire to construct a facility to be used for these purposes however, upon Dickens's further research, we located a facility that could be purchased and rehabilitated to fit our purposes: a more reliable and accommodating arrangement.
This preexisting facility will be renovated to better fit our intended use. While in-country, SIFE students will work to accomplish the remaining tasks for the building to become functional. Bookshelves will be constructed, the facility cleaned where needed, and other general maintenance issues will be resolved. With any luck, there will be a grand opening of the facility at the end of Coker's trip.
In addition to working on the facility, Coker SIFE plans on meeting with community members to gain a sense of life in Muhuru Bay. They will also spend time working with local teachers and establishing ways to improve educational programming. Perhaps most importantly, Coker SIFE will explore ways in which they can continue to work with Muhuru Bay in the future.
This project is truly a great first step for Coker and Coker SIFE. By partnering with the local SIFE team in Nairobi, we can ensure that the project continues to be sustainable and successful. Our partnership with Dickens ensures this as well, and lends to our credibility with the people of Muhuru Bay. The SIFE network is massive, and though teams compete against one another, our central mission is to benefit communities in the most direct and needed ways. By partnering with other SIFE teams like the one at Maseno University, we have a much higher chance of satisfying our core mission.
UPDATES TO COME
This is a project that will pay dividends in many ways for the student of both colleges, for the people of Muhuru Bay, for Dickens Ochiel and his efforts of building community in Muhuru Bay and for SIFE, which will have a great example of the difference the organization is making.