On the picture: Irmgard W. and Peter Halloway in Sekem 1
December 2019 – January 2020: Project visit Kenya
On the outbound flight with a stopover in Cairo, I had an unexpected 24-hour stopover on 15th December due to a change in the airline’s flight schedule and used this opportunity to attend the SIF conference – Social Initiative Forum – on Sekem for one day. What a coincidence! A marathon of meetings with “old” friends from the Waldorf scene followed and with Bart Eddy from Detroit and the SIF team from Dornach. I was able to make important plans and decisions in the run-up to the Summit in Nairobi during Easter 2020.
On the following day in Kenya, I drove up to the Oseki farm in Nairobi at 9am at the same time as the CIFEFA coregroup, Tonny and Felistas, and our first three-hour meeting took place literally between unpacked suitcases: A harmonious picture for the four intense weeks that followed! I will summarize the most important topics in the following:
- Evaluation of the cooperation with the partner schools 2019
Half of the December salary has already been paid out to all 130 teachers of the 12 schools – an extra amount of 37,000 KSh, however, at the request of the partners in Kenya, was distributed for the first time on January 4, 2020 as a bonus to 5 people – 4 of whom were headmasters: Simiyu, Veronicah, Christine and Evelyne; and a staff member of the Kangemi Youth School – for their special commitment and dedication. The people concerned were deeply moved by this tribute.
The evaluation of a performance chart, which showed which of the schools/principals had worked in which area and how, played a major role in this. The areas included filling in and submitting the monthly financial sheets on time, attendance and punctuality at meetings, participation in projects and activities.
Looking back on two years of support for all teachers leading to a basic salary in the four salary free months, it can be said that everyone is really very grateful for this, but the power of initiative, the commitment has not changed significantly. How entrepreneurship and initiative can be strengthened will continue to occupy us.
The behaviour of the partner schools is very controversial. Some are very active, others more relaxed and seem to feel comfortable in their receiving role. They slow down the development potential of the network. New decisions are pending here.
- Local crisis with the Kenyan Government
The challenges posed by the many acute conditions imposed by the government are threatening. The scale of the crisis is unique. The government has already closed several schools and threatens to close others. The buildings must be solid, the plots of land must be of a certain size, the teachers must be trained or in training – the proof costs 2500 KSh per person! Rumour has it that the city of Nairobi is bankrupt and is looking for ways to collect funds. Rumour or truth – I cannot judge. The fact is that the state is not fulfilling its responsibility towards the children. The situation is coming to a head!
Wairu Kinyori-Gugu, lawyer at Oxfam, Waldorf mother and daughter of our auditor, offers to go to court in the name of the schools and the children! The first talks about this have begun.
Meeting of the CIFEFA-teachers and Miss Wairu
- The next steps of the project: Teacher Houses at KYS (Kangemi Youth School)?
The planned construction of the teacher’s house at KYS is postponed due to the uncertainties of the government, because there is no money and also because it seems better and cheaper to build with the community. Simiyu wants to put the project on hold until the summit.
We had a very pleasant conversation with Carolina from Orkid, a group of architects and civil engineers in Nairobi. She is trying to be part of the summit and to stay in touch with our friends.
Peter Halloway from South Africa is expected at the Pre-summit and Summit and has a lot of experience in involving communities in construction projects. We are curious if and what will come as a result.
- Nyendo Office Nairobi: Review and Forecast
Because the office space provided by Simiyu was not renovated and furnished, Tonny spent most of his time “on the road” at the schools or in the community. His work could be much more effective, so it was decided to renovate the CIFEFA office space with the help of Nyendo funds from Prien and then actually use it.
- New friends / partners locally and internationally
Ibra Maina from the Kibera slum community is willing to work with Tonny and Simiyu to evaluate our work in Kangemi and to work out project steps – it is all about ownership and sustainability! This is where we have a big problem.
The Lawyer Wairu Kinyori-Gugu offers to advise and accompany the partners in the slum – how is still to be discussed.
Peter Halloway could be in Kenya for 4 weeks twice a year starting this year. He brings all the experience and skills that CIFEFA and the community need. His focus is on entrepreneurial know-how and “spirit”, without becoming a capital entrepreneur, involving school leavers and setting up a “Construction Makers Space”, i.e. constructing all buildings himself.
- Plans for a “pre-summit” before Easter 2020
Peter Halloway and Bart Eddy want to arrive 10 days before the summit and together with the community, the CIFEFA team etc. prepare the water treatment and other Makers Space activities also for Construction – possibly for the teachers’ housing.
Prof. Esin Bozyazi will be joining us with a project for solar energy.
Tonny and the CIFEFA team have some Makers Space ideas such as roof tile production, sanitary towels etc. There is already school furniture production, video lab, beadwork and a little bit of agriculture.
- Further news in brief
- Josephine and Wanjala from Sifa School had a baby on December 10 2019.
- Pama School has left the CIFEFA network.
- Charles will start a kind of PR group, e.g. to deliver small monthly amounts to the monthly mirror, to keep their websites up to date and much more.
- CIFEFA is to be given its own legal entity in the course of 2020. This will help them to deal with threats from the state, among other things.
- We need the consent of all persons in Kenya who are depicted in our documentation and reports. A consent form is to be signed on site in the near future.
- The all-day workshop on Nonviolent Communication on January 7, run by my friend Rebekka Nopper, was warmly welcomed by the 14 teachers present.
- Veronicah Nduku from the Loveschool has to obtain a written communication from the landowner, stating the legal situation and the intention of the land. The December rent can already be transferred, but before we make any payments in advance, we need this written information!
- Evelyne from Evmon School is being considered as a possible next guest in Germany. As a wife and mother she should get the visa.
- Evelyne will take on more responsibility until Easter to be a worthy representative of the CIFEFA schools in Germany.
I conclude my travelogue in the knowledge that I have only touched upon many things superficially. The essential processes take place “between the lines” and can hardly be communicated.
All in all, by Kenyan standards, there was some tension and friction in the meetings, but as a German I would describe the processes as unfolding potential and development through constructive debate. Old habits need to be looked at and let go, self-responsibility needs to be practiced.
To me, it feels like tensing a bow that can shoot the arrow strongly and safely into the target. It’s about resilience, initiative, clarity and courage! And it’s about making a decision: do I run a school because it’s my job to be there for the children, or because I want to earn an income from it, in other words run the school as a business. The one does not exclude the other, but the attitude decides whether and who carries the general good in his heart, has it in mind and takes it into his hands through action.
With this in mind, I extend my warmest greetings to the group and look forward to an exciting year 2020 – it will be a year of many decisions!