ECOFINDER KENYA, AN EVS EXPERIENCE (by M. Isabel Cánovas Abril)
Seven in the morning, at cock crowing, women moves water outside of the rudimentary houses, they wash clothes, they wash shoes, matress, curtains, everything.
Nearly all the children are at school, you can feel them if you walk around with their repetitive harmonies, they continuosly repeat what the teacher sais, this is a good method if the classes are crowded like 50 or 60 children. Of course there are also children for whom is impossible to go to school, the most common reason is their parents cannot pay the fees or they have to work hard with mum at home. Even thought there are always children to shout you “mzungu” everywhere, everytime.
Everyone knows the mzungu around, the neighborhood know our names, our times, our habits. Is really curious how they control our lifes so so carefully, they just feel curiosity, pure love for white skin.
Nyalenda, where we live, is one of the biggest slams in Kisumu. Almost nobody has electricity of running water at their houses; normally the latrine is shared by 3 or 4 families and also the shower where you have to carry the water to use, of course.
When darkness comes the most used is kerosen lamps to light the houses, is the cheaper option and also the more dangerous, more dirty and temporary. To cook they use charcoal or firehood or directly papyrus (the most common plant around the lake and very important to filter the water). Is basically this plant which remarks the boundary between Nyalenda and Dunga wetland that is why, most of the time, Nyalenda is totally flood.
Nyalenda is big and we live in a corner call Wewa, you can reach it walking towards Five Ways, a big crossroad where lot of mamas sell different and basic essential things. One time Nyalenda were a very clean environment where lot of water sources come out the land to nourish first the wetland and after the lake Victoria but now people polluted every corner with this eternal plastic and detergent and oil and Nyalenda now is a overcrowding space plenty of trash. This is a bitter reality, but in my opinion, nature is still alive there and just walking around you feel how people live directly in connection with natural resources and before or after people will come back to the natural life, this is my humble opinion.
The good thing is that if you walk 20 minutes towards the lake and take Dunga road you just forgot where are you coming from and you dive in a super natural environment, plenty of tropical birds, hippos, water, fish and people using the space in a natural way.
Food in Kenya is not one of his beauties, in fact people usually eat everyday the same, which is ugali, sukumawiki, some beef meat and beans with chapatti. I imagine nodoby knows what that is until you reach Kenya, but finally will love it, like crazy.
Tropical weather has this special character to repeat everyday breakfast, lunch and dinner, but they are lucky because they have TROPICAL FRUITS. You will always miss mangos, avocados, pineapple, coconuts, etc. Etc from Kenya, I can promise. And even some of the street food like chips, samosas, mandasis and all kind of fried food.
Everyone at home wakes up very early and have a big big breakfast, peanut butter, tropical fruits, coffee and bread. You need a special breakfast to come out to the sun and go to work very powerful. Energies flow very quickly in Kenya and you have to be carefully with you health unless you will be very vulnerable to infection, mosquitos, water bacteria and other strange parasites who lives around, everywhere.
My college from Murcia and me usually go to work by bike or walking, it depends the day, but always greeting lot of people in our way, Dunga community is very small and is not accessible for the rest of the world, is a very isolated place where enjoy fish, water, boat riding and work at the office.
People sais Dunga community is the safest in Kisumu and I’m very sure of that, everyone knows everyone. Our office is there, Pedagogical Centre, Ecofinder Kenya. Everyone working there is a volunteer, even the coordinator, even the Project manager. That is a good experience to be part of a volunteer team, you can feel a free spirit fighting to empowered local people to take care of the environment and to understand and take part in green economic innitiatives.
Ecofinder Kenya tries to protect the environment through social actions, education and so many different programs to keep the wetland, to clean the water, to empowered environment tourism. Lots of different initiatives focus on environment overall because poor people need a sane environment and we are in front of one of the most important ecosystem all over the world, I cannot calculate in my mind how many people depends directly of Victoria’s Lake, ¿3 million, 4 million of person? Ecofinder also works around the lake, in island and wetlands carry out different projects like ecosan toilets, ecological vertical garden, solar lamps, efficient cook stove, environment education, school visits and others technical and scientist project to protect environment.
My experience in Ecofinder and Kenya in general was a very successful, I feel irremediably connected to Kenya to África. Once you are there you have the opportunity to forget all the stupid conception about poverty or international cooperation, you can see with your eyes and feel in your skin how hard is life for this people, how governments and colonizing countries still exerting economic pressure in these countries. How beauty is life is you live with just the necessary and shared in a community.
Hope everyone has this opportunity once in his/her life, to travel to África and to shared this specials moments.