Friday, June 16, 2017 Blog 1: Naivasha – Gilgil

My name is Maison Leitch, and I will be updating a daily blog for the June 2017 Kenya-Tanzania monitoring trip. This is my first direct involvement with A Better World Canada. It is also my first time in East Africa, or to set foot on the African continent!
Recently, after my September plans failed to materialize, Eric Rajah took some time to discuss opportunities through ABW with me. After talking about the organization’s vision, he suggested: “Hey Maison, want to go to Kenya with me next week?” I was initially quite intimidated, having had no prior experience with NGOs, or any relevant experience to offer on a monitoring trip. However, I ultimately decided to go along. Humanitarianism is not about what ‘we’ have to offer ‘them,’ but rather, entering a partnership that moves towards the good. I was also inspired by past initiators of ABW projects. Many individuals (much younger than myself) have made a tremendous difference despite a deficiency of expertise and limited access to resources.

The goal of the June 2017 monitoring trip is to visit some of the current ABW projects in Kenya and Tanzania to ensure they are operating efficiently. This trip also involves assessing the needs of the various project sites and reporting the most-needed future improvements to donors. Our small team consists of Eric Rajah: co-founder of ABW, Lawrence Mathea: the Kenya project manager, Rama Kaoneka: the Tanzania project manager, and myself.

Our flight arrived in Nairobi rather late last night. Although not yet adapted to the East Africa time zone, we set out early for Naivasha to meet with a local grower as model for future projects. The grower has created employment for over a hundred people, and exports his produce to Europe. Logan, the owner has agreed to consult with us for future agricultural projects.

After meeting with Logan, we travelled north to the community of Gilgil to visit the township school. We were pleased that the classrooms and toilets funded by ABW were in very good shape and kept clean. It was very fulfilling to see so many happy students benefitting from the facilities.

Eric and Lawrence sat down to discuss potential future improvements with the principal Peter, and another school board member, Eva.


Eva at Gilgil with a bag handmade by Joy Layden from Red Deer


Before heading off, I chatted with a group of grade 8 boys. We talked about our favorite sports, music genres, and school subjects. Much to my pleasure, many of them remarked that they love the sciences. In general, it was satisfying to see the next generation growing academically, socially, and physically in a safe and positive environment.


Students in Gilgil with ABC Books made by Emily Allen from Saskatoon, SK


Students at Gilgil wearing handmade dresses from Anya Delafield in Lacombe, AB


After wrapping up at the Gilgil Primary School, we travelled to Lake Naivasha where Rama and myself had the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to go on a hippo safari. Our guide, John, took us on a boat tour where we saw Zeebras, Giraffes, Waterbuck, and over a dozen hippos (from a safe distance). Although it might not appear so from the image, the hippos were kissing.

Tonight, our group is staying at the Sopa Naivasha Resort. For supper, Eric and Rama met with Charles Rioba, owner of Solar World ABW partner for drilling wells. We made plans for drilling future wells in Tanzania as well as Kenya.