The Last Oriti!

It is the last oriti – oriti is the Lou word for goodbye, and this bittersweet statement is true. As excited as I am to spend time my family, tell Kim all about my adventures and see everyone at Gettysburg again, I can’t help not wanting to go yet. Over these past nine weeks, this has become more than just an internship at the Urban Livelihood and Social Protection Program (ULSP). I am treated like a coworker, not just an intern in my department, and I have formed good friendships, especially with Debby who I worked closely with my entire time here. I have a Kenya family consisting of Rose and my kaka, Dismas (Swahili for brother) and dadas, Cynthia and Vero (Swahili for sisters). I have worked weekly with communities in Obunga: Kamakowa, Sega Sega, Obunga Central and Kasarani. A tuk tuk driver even told me once that I know Obunga better than he does. Seeing the impact that Community Conversations (CCs) and the Participatory Integrated Community Development (PICD) has is inspirational! I will never forget the conversation I had at the Dunga CC with Steve who highlighted the concepts of CC and PICD without knowing it in his statement. Steve said, “Before we used to wait for NGOs to come and solve problems for us, but now we know we can find solutions to our problems. If it is sanitation, we don’t need someone else to build a dump site. We just need to organize ourselves!” KMET is one of the few NGOs that I can truly say implements sustainable change. It is hard to leave behind all the people and work that I have been doing, especially since this is exactly what I want to do in the future. Currently I am a double major, Mathematical Economics and International Affairs. Before I used to worry that I was getting ahead of myself by declaring two majors so quickly, but I realize that I do enjoy the classes I have taken and I love the work I’ve done this summer! ULSP applies my majors perfectly as we strive to improve livelihoods and to promote income generating activities in the informal settlements of Kisumu.
As I sadly wrap everything up, I distributed the business booklet to the Sisterhood for Change girls on Thursday morning. I developed this booklet a couple weeks ago on Madame Janepher’s request since she identified a need for entrepreneurial skills training. I worked with these girls in mentorship sessions, classroom lessons on business, and recently vetting the ones that applied for startup kits. I am so proud of them as they finish their course exams this week, which is why I happy that I was able to give them the booklet before they graduated and left. I will miss these girls and wish them only the best; they already have come so far!
Good news on my grant: Thursday afternoon the Memorandum of Understand (MoU) that I wrote was signed by Monica, Executive Director of KMET, the Community Leader of Kamakowa, and me, representing Gettysburg College. The first two groups that will receive chicks were vetted and formed by the community. Friday, the group made necessary preparation for the poultries arrival, and by noon I delivered the first 50 chicks to the group. Next month another 100 chicks will be arriving. The idea (in case you didn’t read the other blogs or forgot) is that groups of five people are formed with one of the group members being a community leader. Each person receives five chick, so every group has 25 chicks in total that are to be cared for communally in one agreed location. After a full breeding season, each member will take their poultry home but must give two chicks back to the community. With the new chicks, the process will continue to replicate itself until every community member in Kamakowa has poultry, The community leader has the responsibility of supervising, monitoring and reporting the groups success with the tools and training provided. KenChic, where we purchased the chicks, luckily provides free poultry training, which I attended on Wednesday with Debby and three Kamakowa community leaders. The Kamakowa community is also organizing KenChic to give a lesson at one of the meetings, as well as more trips by more members to KenChic for the weekly trainings. At first I was worried that I wasn’t going to have enough time to begin implementing the project, but I am so happy with the results! The sustainability component of this project is even better than I expected due to KenChic’s continuous technical assistance. In my department, there has even been talk of attempting to have other communities mobilize funds to begin a similar project. I don’t know if it will be replicated in other communities; I’m just glad that I was part of this project since food poverty is higher in Kisumu than anywhere else in Kenya. Not only will the poultry help address food scarcity in the Kamakowa community that named food insecurity the number one community concern, but the project also will generate income and increase access to markets. I will eagerly be waiting for updates from Debby and Agnes about the progress in the future.

Well, oriti! Wish me a safe flight. I’ll be home soon.
Victoria Pérez-Zetune’16
Kisumu, Kenya