|Salim (left) at his outdoor metal workshop|
|inner and outer part of a pyrolysis stove|
|The stove is made with simple hand tools.|
|visit to a woman farmer with one of Salim´s field workers|
|The maize does well with the biochar fertilizer|
|The kids are excited to see visitors.|
|the invasive water hyacinth|
|welding metal window frames|
|planing wood for customers|
|the new circular saw|
|sample school desks|
|shaping table legs in the lathe for a customer|
|We had to replace the cover of the tunnel dryer.|
|The accountant is busy keeping the books for MKICDO.|
At our board meeting I met a new board member. Mr. Munene Mputhia is the county economic advisor working with the governor of Tharaka Nithi County. We are hoping for mutual support for our organization and the county government.
|the biochar cooker in action|
|the `harvest´: charcoal|
|very suitable for the rough terrain and the steep slopes of Mt.Kenya|
The following day we accompanied Anna Gatea on a visit to the Amani Home in Meru. At this center, Dr. Karambu Ringera - the founder of International Peace Initiatives – is taking care of orphans, HIV-positive women and other disadvantaged people. She showed us some of her agricultural projects and Anna gave a permaculture demonstration to a group of women. Afterwards she showed them how to make Chili and Artemisia ointment. We decided to work together with Dr. Ringera in the future and keep exchanging ideas. She became a member of MKICDO.
|Anna Gatea giving a permaculture demonstration|
During my stay we visited several groups that I had already met in previous years. With our board member Ivonne Riungu we went to meet two of her groups.
|a lunch party|
The group Twelve Sisters had been trained by a woman from the Gaketha Group how to make fireless basket cookers. They had already sold 50 of them.
|The women have become experts.|
At the homestead of our board member Rev. Nkanya we met his Kaweru Group and one other group from the area. The women told me that their baked bananas and banana crisps were in high demand at church meetings and other functions and had become a reliable fundraiser for the group. Needless to say that they were offering them this afternoon. I had also brought something that was new to them: Sweet-Sour Banana Pith Pickles. We cut the core of a banana stem into small pieces and boiled them for three minutes in a blend of vinegar, cane sugar, garlic and mixed spices. Then we allowed it to cool down. Everybody was amused about the idea of turning a part of the banana plant that is traditionally fed to animals into food for human consumption. But everybody tested it and I got the impression that they really meant it when they said it tasted “nice”.
|dried leaf vegetables - much more familiar|
The Dongori Group lives near Anna Gatea´s place. She took me there and they told us about their plans to market products from their dairy goat project. The women had not yet heard about fuel-efficient stoves and basket cookers. Anna not only demonstrated these useful household items but also showed them how to prepare a tasty dish with the inner parts of a pumpkin that are usually thrown away. She talked about the health benefits of eating roasted pumpkin seeds and drinking lemongrass tea. In the afternoon, Mugo joined us and addressed the group. He offered them to use the billy goat of the Gaketha group for their dairy goat project.
|getting ready for the trip to Isiolo|
|setting up a Lazola solar cooker|
|learning a new skill|
In the afternoon we left the women behind for a few hours and drove to the Lewa Conservancy, a well-known wildlife reserve south of Isiolo. Sue Roberts, the owner of Sirikoi Lodge, had invited us to show her the solar cooker. When we arrived she called her workers to watch Mugo´s demonstration. Everybody was impressed with the technology and Sue bought the Lazola and the basket cooker we had brought.
|...and everybody shows great interest.|
One day we visited Hon. Samuel Mbae Ragwa, the governor of Tharaka Nithi County. He had already been at the Kiini workshop and noticed that it was much better equipped than the polytechnic training centres in the county. Therefore he suggested that the Kiini centre should offer upgrading training for those who had successfully completed courses at a polytechnic. He said he would even favour `training of trainers´ - if possible by experts from abroad – and assured us that the county government would give us full support for such activities. Some days later we had a detailed discussion about possible fields of cooperation with the county economic advisor Mr. Mputhia when we followed his invitation to his rural home. (He even ordered metal doors and windows for his new house from the Kiini workshop.) We shall keep these ideas in mind when we work out our future plans.
|our plans and hopes for the future|
|some of the board members at our last meeting - and me wearing their farewell gift|