October 29, 2016

Building a new vocational training centre

In November 2015, Mugo invited members of the larger community to rallye support for our idea to build a vocational institute of appropriate technologies and renewable energies. Our plans were welcomed by all participants of the meetings because the new centre will provide chances for school leavers in the area to get practical technical training and enhance their chances to find employment.

 At the end of the month, the County Governor officially launched the project in a public ceremony.

The County Governor addresses the community.

Before we could start construction, an engineer had to conduct an Environmental Impact Assessment and send a report to the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) for approval. It was a very detailed document and we were quite impressed about all to factors that were examined and taken into account. What a difference in the requirements of building our small Kiini workshop as compared to a public institute!
But in December we started building the new workshop.

Deep trenches for the foundation were necessary because the soil on the slope was rather loose.
Members of the community have been employed for the work.
hard work

February 2016 - The workshop is growing.

March 2016 - almost ready
End of April 2016

Hans-Georg Klaphake´s project visit

In April Hans-Georg Klaphake went to Kenya for another project visit. Mugo had found trainees for H-Georg who taught them how to build gasifier cookers. At the end of the training, two of the young men were employed as trainers for metallwork courses at the Kiini workshop. They also act as supervisors during the construction of the new training centre.

Hans-Georg and the trainees are planning to build gasifier stoves.

practical training at the Kiini workshop

The gasifier stove has passed the cooking test.

Hans-Georg Klaphake shows Mugo´s daughters how to use the gasifier stove.

The County Governor has come for a visit and hands over a cheque in support of our project.

Before Hans-Georg Klaphake arrived in Kenya, he had ordered and collected machines, tools, equipment for building solar systems (photovoltaic and thermal) and other useful items. They were loaded into a container which was shipped to Mombasa. The county government then assisted in getting the container to Karinga ga Nkoru.
Unfortunately H-G could not stay long enough to receive the container himself. It arrived at the end of May after he had already left. Nevertheless, Mugo and everybody around him were very excited to receive such high-quality equipment for the workshop.

arrival of the container

My project visit in August 2016

The county government contributed to the progress of construction by making heavy machinery available. A bulldozer was sent to level the ground. And when I arrived in August they had started building the tuition block. 

so much easier and faster than working with hoes and shovels

the foundation of the tuition block

 At the beginning of my stay, Mugo had invited the stakeholders of the project for a meeting. Besides the MKICDO board members, there were chiefs, community representatives, retired headmasters, university lecturers, an appropriate technology consultant, a home economics teacher, a specialist in herbal medicine and a wildlife conservancy officer. We were 28 in total - there were lively discussions and everybody agreed on the importance of building a training institute in the area. They made it their project!

the stakeholders meeting

a strong support group

It is growing: the tuition block with two classrooms and one office.

a device for bending metal rods

The steel beams are made by hand.

The compound has been fenced. The gate was welded at the Kiini workshop.

Classroom chairs were also made at Kiini - in the first course conducted by our new trainers.

 In the course of my stay we won another supporter: The Minister of Education visited the new project site and Kiini. He was very impressed to see the well equipped workshops. We convinced him of the important role the institute is going to play in providing practical training and in creating employment opportunities for young people and he promised to assist us.

Mugo is showing the building plans to the Minister of Education and newspaper reporters.

MKICDO board members and visitors

Other visits


The women´s group "12 Sisters" of our board member Ivonne received a grant to buy materials for making fireless basket cookers. They sell them at a very fair price and don´t get much profit. But marketing is not easy because the women who live in the area are so poor that they can hardly afford to buy one. The group would like to start a catering and baking project.

Using fireless basket cookers saves a lot of firewood.

I had always promised the women of the Gaketha group to come and visit their homes. This year I found enough time to see some of them. Most of them live in humble conditions on small pieces of land. They don´t get enough income from farming or from their vegetable gardens and have to work as casual labourers picking tea. Only a few of them are slightly better off, particularly if a family member is employed.
I had been meeting these women for years and thought I knew them. But these visits opened my eyes to their true living conditions and I realized that their lives are a never-ending struggle. 

Joyce has a small shop in Gaketha where she sells vegetables and basic food stuff. Her shop is connected to the grid and she charges cellphones to pay the electricity bill. Joyce has three children. Her husband cuts trees with a power saw.

On her 0,2 acres land she grows kale and bananas and keeps a few chicken.

When Joyce got sick she had to sell her cow to pay the medical bill.


Wanja, 48 years, with one of her five children, neighbours and her mother who stays with her. She lives on 0.05 acres land, has two chicken and runs a small kiosk. Her husband is a pastor. Wanja used to pick tea until she had to stop for health reasons.

The kitchen: Wanja used to cook on a fuel-efficient clay liner stove. When the liner broke she went back to cooking on two stones.


Murugi (left), 45 years, lives across the valley from Gaketha at the edge of the Mount Kenya forest on a one acre piece of land where she grows coffee, tea and bananas.She has four children. Her husband cuts trees, she picks tea for a living.

Murugi has bought a good calf with a credit from her savings club. She also has four chicken.


Rose (60) and her husband (63) have 6 children and 10 grandchildren. They live on three acres land and have two cows, three goats, ten chicken and two gheese. They sell coffee, tea and milk.


Karimi (38) lives in a small house on the edge of her 0.45 acre farm. She has 4 children. On the steep slopes of her land she grows coffee, tea, bananas and fruits. From the goats project of the Gaketha group Karimi has bought a goat that has produced two offspring. She and her husband (49) go picking tea.

Karimi´s children have to walk down this very steep slope and up again on the other side to go to school.

My friend Margaret Owino came to visit us at Gaketha for the first time. She has a wealth of experience in managing developmental projects and working with women´s groups. After seeing our projects she participated in our discussions and gave us valuable ideas and advice.

Sightseeing with Mugo, Margaret and Micheni. On this side of the Mount Kenya forest you have a spectacular view across a very deep valley.
  During may stay in Kenya I visited many more people. I made new friends and met old friends again. We discussed new ideas, inspired one another and - most important to me - shared our hopes and dreams of a better future for the people in this beautiful country.