Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Lake Bogoria Research Trip

The St Andrews Meeting;
October 2008 will remain the busiest month for CEK. We managed to accomplish a myriad of activities raging from trips to the Great Rift Valley, visiting and cementing partnerships with several organizations…not forgetting research based Educational Institutions.
It all started with a volunteers bonding and scheduling meeting on a rainy Sunday afternoon on 2nd October. The members started streaming in at around 2pm and within the next 1/2 hour; it was already a full house at St. Andrews Apartments where Dr. Hand was residing during that period. To set the ball rolling, Kevin opened the session with introducing himself to the group and more so, to the new CEK members who had joined the organization some few months ago. As soon as he finished, it was now time for the other members to introduce themselves which was done in a round robin style. Before long, we got into the agenda of the day. Kevin read through the items in his list, followed by Brigit who read the activities which were contained in the CEKs’ October program.

During the meeting, Mr. Monroe and his three member group from Maine University joined in. After a quick introduction, the visitors set up a digital microscope demonstration which turned to be a “Wow moment”. Everyone was exited to see the new technological tool used for looking at some very tiny objects…! Before long, we managed to compare the notes, did a prioritization and at long last came out with a comprehensive program of activities which was to kick off in the next two days. After that achievement, the meeting was adjourned and the attendees enjoyed the drinks and snacks, before taking a group photo.
A group photo at St. Andrews Apartments.

Lake Bogoria Trip;
It’s a chilly morning in Nairobi. The sky is invisible, thick dark clouds are threatening to wreck havoc at the slightest provocation. The team had prepared well in advance for the over 250kms journey. As soon as the green 4x4 truck came, we quickly loaded the bags and other equipments. We finally hit the road at 10am. To beat the city traffic, we passed through the Arboretum Driveway, and within no time, we were cruising on the Nairobi - Nakuru Highway at top speed. We conversed on various issues as Justus did his duty on the wheels. It was just a matter of time before we reached the Great Rift Valley View Point at Kinare shopping center. The sky was very clear and we could see the Longonot Mountain quite clearly. The scenery was very spectacular with Lake Elementaita being seen at a distance behind the sprawling ranges. At Naivasha, we decided to pass through the busy town just to sight see, especially for the visitors and to also visit the ATM to re-load our pockets. The stop over was short and within no time we were on the road again. The stretch from the Delamere Complex to the Weigh Bridge is full of wild animals especially the herbivores grazing sometimes very close to the road. We enjoyed seeing the gazelles, zebras, baboons, buffalos, and dick dicks, not forgetting the warthogs in hundreds.
A herd of buffalos grazing at Gilgil Reserve.

As we approached Kikopey “The meat point”, we requested our driver to slow down the pace so that we can take photos of Lake Elementaita which lies a few hundred meters from the main road. The fish eagles could be seen hovering around the lake as they kept a keen eye to the algae infested water for a meal. No sooner had we started climbing the small hill towards Kasambara region, we heard a loud bang and before we could comprehend where the sound originated, our truck was reduced to a three wheeled Tuk-tuk as the right rear wheel had a fatal puncture.

The tire puncture at Kasambara, along the Nairobi – Nakuru highway

One of the scouts law says…..”Always Be Prepared”. This happened to be our driving force. As soon as Justus pulled over, we stepped out and started changing the wheel. This task didn’t take too much of our time and soon we were back on the road. Justus had to drive a bit faster since there were signs of an early afternoon downpour that we dreaded finding us way before Nakuru. Fortunately, it drizzled for a while and within no time we were driving towards Kabarak. At 3pm we were already past Mogotio “the goats’ town” and well past the Koibatet Sisal plantations.
We made a short stop over at the Equator Crossing Point in near Emening. A Mr. William Kimosop, the chief Warden at Lake Bogoria National Reserve, who is also the Director for the Equator Education & Resource Center, together with his colleagues were anxiously waiting for our arrival due to some arrangements’ that were made earlier on. They gave us a warm welcome and led us inside the centers’ building which is under construction, and to be precise…almost complete. William took us round the one story building explaining to us the proposed use of the different rooms and the big lounge, situated at downstairs in the backyard extension. There is a nice viewing point at the top floor where we enjoyed looking at the western escarpment of the Abedare Ranges, not forgetting the athletes training trails at theTurgen Hills in the kabarnet region. We could also clearly see the world famous Lake Nakuru in the south, and the thick eastern part of the Mau Forest Complex.
Mr. William Kimosop (with hands raised) welcoming the team to the resource center.

What a wonderful sight! Before leaving, we held an open discussion session outside the building where a new partnership was entered between Cosmos Education and the Equator Resource Center. Mr. Kimosop welcomed the idea of CE members visiting the center as regularly as possible and also reiterated that the center will instill an open door policy for all the CE volunteers and researchers at large

The team at the Equator Educational Resource Center in Mogotio.

We finally made it to Lake Bogoria Spa Hotel, arriving at 6pm. After the arrival, we quickly did our bookings which consisted of rooms and the camping site. Despite the tens of patrons who had done their bookings online, we were lucky to get accommodation on the spot. Kevin, Kimani & Kanja were the people in charge of pitching the tents under a nice canopy made by the tall yellow backed Acacia trees. Carol & Justus helped to move the bags from the truck to the respective places. As soon as we were set, we all gathered at the dining hall for the dinner which was served shortly. The mbuzi choma (barbecued goat meat) was mouth watering accompanied by an assortment of green vegetables and wild fruits. A soft Jemps traditional music came out sweetly from the tiny speakers mounted at strategic places. What a nice way to spend the early evening hours!

After the diner, we decided to move places and went to the bar which is just adjacent to the warm water swimming pool. The venue was parked to capacity with revelers enjoying their drinks while others were on the dancing floor dancing the night away. Guess what, there were also a sizable number of people who were in the pool swimming the night away. Oooops….and who are we not to join in the fray? We decided to change into our swimming kits and dived into the water. This was an experience that could not match any other. The pool was just so warm which kept us going and going. Before long, it was already well past 1am. This is the time we decided to hit the bed. The night passed at a lightening speed. At six in the morning, we were woken up by the melodious sounds of the many bird’s species as they welcomed the day. Loud sounds of the marabou storks rent the air as we all gathered for breakfast.
The warm water source at the Spa Hotel, Bogoria.

At around 8am we set off for the Lake which is a 20 minutes drive. While along the way, we enjoyed seeing different animals including, the Maasai ostrich, the greater kudus, rock hyraxes, etc. Birds’ species were just too many. As the truck swerved though the rough path, we came across a tortoise which was crossing the road. This prompted the driver to bring the truck to a halt to enable us take some shots. Some several other tourist vans took advantage and had their fair share too.
A Tortoise crossing the pathway in the Lake Bogoria park.

As we arrived at the Lake shores, we found a few people scattered here and there, some watching the tens of hot springs while others were looking at the thousands of flamingoes in the lake. Soon after we laid our apparatus ready for the Discovery Channel documentary shooting, there came a group of secondary school students who approached Kevin and started fielding some questions to him. He kindly answered them and also shared some knowledge with them. Their teacher enjoyed every minute of the session. The session didn’t take long and shortly, we got to the business of the day. We divided ourselves into three groups. Kevin, Lynn and Kyle were left behind doing the documentary shooting while Denson and Carol walked ashore to the farthest spring to collect some research samples. Kimani & Kanja were also busy collecting samples and recording the test results from various spring points. In some cases, the spring PH reading rose as high as 9.5, while the salinity and conductivity recorded equally high readings too. We managed to collect data from more than 14 springs scattered at an area which was a bit less than 10 meters’ squared. Denson drew a sketch of the point in his handbook for reference.

The team during the research at the hot springs

Right across the lake towards the southern side, we could see a large number of flamingoes foraging the relatively calm section. As the afternoon heat raised to high temperatures’, some very dark clouds formed from the eastern side and before long, there was a heavy downpour which hit the sprawling hills. There was lots of wind blowing southwards which resulted to lots of heavy waves being blown towards our direction. The green watered lake was no more calm and the flamingoes started flying westwards in their hundreds.

Dr. Hand exchanges ideas with students at the lake shore.

As the early evening hours approached, we packed and headed to the Lake Bogoria Education Center where we were supposed to preside over a presentation. The education hall was filled to capacity with students from the local secondary school. There was also a sizable number of college students from the area, not forgetting some members of the nearby community. No sooner had everyone got settled, than Dr. Hand resumed his very informative presentation, followed by Ms. Lynn, whose sessions’ end, opened the open discussion time. There was a myriad of questions from the audience which the presenters answered explanatorily. Soon after the presentation, a partnership was agreed upon between the Education Center and CE. Mr. Jackson, the director of the center thanked the CE for the presentation and requested us to make more trips to their center for the benefit of their eager to learn students.

The powerful waves after an afternoon downpour in Lake Bogoria.

Back at the hotel, Prof. Francis Mwaura of Nairobi University together with Mr. Monroe from university of Maine and his group had already arrived. The second group of six CEK volunteers, led by Dr. Evalyn Mwihia, Dr. Kevin Kinyua, Eva, Ben, Justa and Dickson had earlier on arrived from Nairobi. We welcomed them and we then headed straight to the dinner venue which was hosted at the garden, just adjacent to the swimming pool. The garden was full of dinning patrons. Luckily our tables were already reserved hence no need of looking for a place to sit. Everyone enjoyed the tasty dinner. Some members headed to the pool for several water dives before retiring to bed.

The third day was an activity filled one. We had to go to the Lake for more research, get to Maji Moto Springs for more research as ell as the journey back to Nairobi via Lake Nakuru National Park. Mr. Kyle was also gearing himself for his freight back to the states in the evening. In this case w headed to the lake early enough, did our duty before heading to Maji Moto which is a 30 minutes drive through the hills capped with a thick vegetation of different species of acacias and wild perching plants. Sounds of iron bells hanging on the necks of the grazing goats could be herd from deep inside the forests. It took only 1 hour to explore the rocks at Maji Moto, and soon we were on the road again heading to the hotel and off to Nakuru.

The team at the maji moto stream.

We were happy to have accomplished too much within a short period. On the way, we discussed various issues and tried to figure out the success of the trip from a wider perspective. We came to realize that the trip activities were made easier to accomplish due to the good formal planning we had done earlier, capped with a purposeful execution.

On reaching Nakuru, we said goodbye to Evelyn’s group which headed straight to Nairobi while Kevin’s’ group went to the national park, situated just three miles away from the ever busy central Rift town. At the park, we came across tens of wild animals, with the most interesting one being the white rhino which was grazing in an open ground adjacent to the pathway. The gerenuks, water bucks, gazelles and the warthogs could all be seen feeding soundly on the green lawns. We came across a herd of buffalos as we crossed a river which flows to the lake in the eastern end. We also spotted another black rhino with a kid grazing at the swampy region of the lake, before we proceeded to the far western end where we stopped for a while in order to take some shots of the thousands of pelicans, flamingos, water ducks and the ibis, which were gathered along the shore. The sight was spectacular with loud noises of the singing birds.
A flock of flamingos at Lake Nakuru National Park

Within no time, we were all at the baboon cliff watching the playing monkeys beneath the big rocks. We could clearly see the town together with some other shopping centers along the highway. Before long, it was already getting late and dusk was fast approaching, in this case, we decided to hit the road to Nairobi. It took us two hours to get to the city since there was no much traffic towards the city. No sooner had we reached the St. Andrews apartment than we bade a goodbye to Kyle who was whisked away in a waiting taxi to the airport for the night freight. We were all very tired, and without much ado, we parted ways for a relaxing night.

Lake Bogoria, we miss you and can’t wait to visit again.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Africom Action Project Launch July 26, 2008

Kalukuni secondary school Principal, Mr. Muthengi (second left), Kalukuni secondary School Board of Governors Chairman, Mr Bondo (Standing), Mr. Nicholas Nzou, partnership liaison manager,Computers for schools Kenya (Seated right)

It was an action project born out of the 3rd World Youth Congress held in Glasgow, Scotland 2005. Africom, is the name of the project. It was meant to ship refurbished computers to schools in Kenya and Tanzania, and Bridgit Syombua Muasa was, and still is, the country coordinator.
Kalukuni Secondary School Captain giving a vote of thanks

Cosmos Education Kenya members with the students out side the Computer lab!

After two years of planning and organizing, Cosmos Education Kenya Partnered with Computers For Schools Kenya (CFSK), which is an organization dedicated towards donating computers to schools all around the country, as well as maintaining them.

A view of Yatta Taken from a vehicle!!
As part of our Inspiring, Engaging and Empowering young Africans from impoverished backgrounds, we searched for a school to benefit from our pilot programme. We found Kalukuni Secondary School in Yatta district, and it was a perfect school for us to start over with this.

Then on Saturday 26, 2008 we traveled to the school together with Computer for schools Kenya coordinator to launch the project. Eight Cosmos Education Volunteers took off on this chilly Saturday morning - as always enthusiastic and passionate about what we do. Kalukuni is almost 3 hours from Nairobi, and we talked and joked on our way such that we didn't notice when we arrived at the school. On arrival, everyone was there to welcome us and for a moment I felt like a king, but it hit me that that was not the main point - the main point was that I was there in the capacity of a young educator as well as a youth role model!

I could tell from the animated talk and laughter from my colleagues that they were as excited as I was to be in the school, which reminded me of UAS 2005 and 2006 in Naivasha/Nakuru, and the Mt. Kenya region respectively. It always inspires and motivates me to interact with students from the countryside - the ones we might politically incorrect say that they are "underprivileged" it is for them that CE was born; it is for them that I joined CE; it is for them that we never tire to learn and share our knowledge; it is for these young people that we are what we are - "An organization dedicated towards bridging the knowledge gap that exists in the world"

The school administration as well as the parents and students were elated to meet us, but one thing was clear - they were all pleasantly surprised to discover that CEK is made up of young people; they expected to meet serious looking business people, but there we were: very young, very lively, very enthusiastic and contagiously passionate about what we do. From the President to the Director to the other volunteers - we all oozed with youthfulness.

Students making a pledge to excel in computer Science

Watch this space for a full report of the launch. Meanwhile, I do not want to bombard you with text....sit back and look at some of the pictures taken during the event, and many more


a view of the computer lab

Kalukuni Secondary school Computer Science Teacher

Students having a shot at this "new" technology in their school


Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Tree Planting at Karura Forest on EARTH DAY 2008

EARTH DAY – Tuesday, 22nd April 2008



Kenya is endowed with a variety of trees which are of paramount importance to the forest cover and its significance to the water catchments. The importance of forests in Kenya's economy is critical, as fuel wood contributes 90% of the domestic demand in energy, and 75% of the national energy consumption. Approximately 2.7% of Kenya's land area is forested, 10% of which (about 160,000 ha) is covered with industrial plantations, consisting mainly of cypress, cupressus lusitanica; pines, pinus patula and pinus radiata; and eucalypts. Forests are also source for timber, pulpwood and poles and of vital importance as water catchments areas, earth stabilizers, and habitat for wildlife.

The Kenya forest service has done quite a lot in ensuring that the local communities are involved in forest conservation matters. This is through the community forest areas whereby the community members are sensitized to know that the forest is part of them and therefore, they should proactively take part in its development. Rapid population growth has exerted heavy pressure on forested land through conversion into human settlement areas and agriculture. Demand on forest products and services have increased tremendously. Trees have been also lost to illegal felling, insects and diseases, and frequent forest fires.


The day started when we set off towards Karura Forest after converging in Nairobi town. It was raining heavily so we had to wait for the rains to subdue. We arrived at the Forestry Department at 9am in the morning and we were met by Mr. Obam Lewis, the Forest Officer. The officer organized all tree planting equipments which included the Jembes, Pangas, Spades, and the Rakes. After taking enough tree planting equipments we set off for the Tree Planting site at Karura Forest. It had rained so heavily, that it was almost impossible to reach the designated site. However, our spirits were high and we wanted to achieve our objective of planting 1,000 trees and consequently contribute positively to environmental conservation which is in line with millennium development goal (MDG) number 7.

On arriving we found community members had arrived much earlier and this was very encouraging to us. The community members were from the neighbouring Huruma community.

They had come in large numbers and they included children as young as seven (7) years, women and men who were all dedicated to achieve the objective of the World Earth day. To begin with, Mr. Lewis showed the youth and community members how to plant the trees and the best way to remove the seedlings from the plastic bags.

We divided ourselves into three groups and started the noble task. Each one of us had a role to play. We planted the trees with high enthusiasm and good speed because we knew that the rains would fall any time. The children on their part were very useful because they brought the seedlings to the holes dug by the forest officers a day before. In addition to this; some children were strong enough to plant ten trees each, which was good because it instilled a sense of conservation amongst the young kids. Though we were a small number due to the challenge of heavy rains, we managed to plant over 800 trees on one day in Karura Forest.
Trees planted included; Croton Megalocarpus, Podo, Nandi Flame and other indigenous trees.

Planting trees with the local community members is very important since in conservation work, community participation is the most preferred instrument. This is due to the fact that, it inculcates a sense of ownership and management on the trees planted and consequently they protect the trees planted for they understand that they are their own.


Trees have many uses in Kenya and other parts of the World. In Kenya, the 1988 reports shown that demand for timber increased three-fold over a 25-year period, starting in the late 1980s. It was feared that, unless significant changes were made in the timber producing and processing industry, there will be a strong reliance on large imports of timber and timber products to meet growing domestic demand. It became necessary to develop sustainable forest management plans. According to Mr. Lewis (Forest Officer) the main challenges in forest conservation are during the planting season and the forest fires.

During the planting season, much effort is needed to plant the required number of trees and community participation is very essential. During the dry season, forest fires break in many areas. This has a negative impact on the total forest cover and subsequently on the water catchments areas. In line with this, more trees should be planted in order to avert the dangers of the climate change, provide shelter for the birds, food to the wildlife, food to people and other uses.

Passion for the environment and compassion for people are the powerful motivating forces in the community based organizations such as Green Warriors Movement and Non-Governmental Organizations such as Youth for Conservation and the Youth Environment Network Zambia, for their invaluable contribution towards the conservation of our precious biodiversity.

Local communities such as Huruma should also be encouraged to conserve the flora and fauna. This could be effectively achieved through Eco-Tourism approaches whereby the community members will benefit directly from the forest and at the same time, it will evolve as a complete solution to the wide spread destruction of forest in Kenya.

This strategy if well implemented rationally spearheads a process of wealth creation, job creation and improved conservation, all specifically in the rural areas where poverty abounds and peoples needs are so great. This is no small undertaking. Can you imagine replanting the whole of the Sahara desert with trees! The task in hand is enormous but together we will make a difference. Well to surmise it all; we kindly request you as a young or old person to plant one or two trees, save Kenya, Zambia and the Planet from Environmental Degradation.

Prepared by

Billy Mwansa Lombe

Youth Environment Network –Zambia

email: yenzambia@yahoo.com

Tel: +260-977-607-960

p.o Box 30865, Lusaka, Zambia.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

A day with the Muthaiga Police Depot IDPs

A view of the Muthaiga Police Depot IDP camp

Everyone was unusually early, perhaps an indication of what a good day it was going to be for us. All the materials had been put in order and the systems ready to go. Transport was quickly organized and the gang left for the Muthaiga Police depot IDP camp. Cruising down Murang'a road on that bright Saturday morning , the members couldn't help reminiscing the HSLC week at MCEDO school! We used exactly the same route as we used during that week of the camp last year.

On arrival at the IDP camp, some of the MCEDO teachers joined us and it was a nostalgic re union. We were met by Julia Njoki, the lady in charge of the operations at the IDP camp. We were taken on an orientation tour of the camp before getting the children together for our main activity. After the tour, where we got to see the appalling living conditions of the IDPs, the children were assembled in the main hall and it was a pleasant surprise to see how obedient and receptive they were, compared to the past visits to the other camps.

A section of the 'gang' introducing themselves

We started by introductions, after which we had one big group assembled outside in the field and started on different modules. We did 'WATER' where we talked about the % of freshwater and salty water in the world. The % of water available for use by man, and talked about the importance of water, why we need to conserve it, and ways in which to do so. We also talked about Global warming and its effects on the environment. We taught about the causes and mitigation measures! It was encouraging to realize that the children really knew which mountain is the highest in the world, the highest mountain in Africa and the highest in Kenya. That was not enough-they even know that on top of these mountains there is ice which melts when the sun is too hot! It was their turn to tell us how the melted ice flows into rivers and eventually into the oceans and seas leading to rising sea levels!

CEK members doing the banana song with the children

We talked about trees and came up with a new slogan: 'cut one tree, plant 5 more' We gave out postcards donated by UNEP's Children and Youth unit, which had paintings from the Tunza International painting competition for the children. What was even more encouraging was when two of the children gave back their postcards with a thank you note! This was very much humbling and we realized the impact we were making on these youngsters! Talk of inspiring, and that is exactly what we were doing to these young people!

Isaac Teaching about Global warming and its effects on the environment

Rocket launch was the last item on our agenda, after which we had the 'gang' serve juice and cookies. We also gave out books, pencils, sharpeners, and erasers. At the end everyone was satisfied and we headed out for our final activity of the day which was tree planting. We planted 10 seedlings in total.

Kevin Kinyua prepares to launch the rocket

We left when a church was bringing lunch to the camp - Giving! Something crossed my mind and I wondered just how much there is to gain by reaching out to the less fortunate in our society! Voluntary/community service does reward and posters a sense of belonging and self confidence to the giver!

Caitlin with some of the children at the camp

CEK members planting a tree at the camp

Kanja explains how to remove a seedling from the plastic bag

When all was said and done, we had Inspired, Engaged and Empowered. The most important thing was the impact that was left with the youngsters about CE and the whole team.

A section of the children taking juice and cookies

Justa Distributing books

Surely, 'youth are the future, education being the key!'

Thursday, March 20, 2008

A Dream On the Brink!

This is Moses Waithaka Nyokabi

Moses waithaka is among the many children living at the Mathare IDP chief's camp. I met him on Sartuday the 15th, when we visited the camp. From a distance I could sense an air of difference about him. The difference is all out there for everyone to see, since when the rest of the kids are scrambling for the goodies that we have, Moses is keeping his cool and stands at the back of the queue where he is the last person! This gets me interested and gets him to talk.

After a 20 minutes chat, this is what I learn about this young man! Moses is a form two student, by the virtue of him being in form one last year. he has not yet reported to school since the start of this year. Reason, his mom, Lucy Nyokabi, cannot afford to pay his school fees. Moses is one of the many unlucky students who were caught in the post poll violence! they were displaced and now he just hopes that one day he will be able to go back to school. he tells me he got a sponsor who only promised to pay for one year of schooling then after that he has to look for ways to pay the rest. However, this sponsor, will only pay the fees under one condition: that Moses, gets all his personal effects (school uniform, water bucket, shoes, toiletries, pocket money, among other personal effects) by himself!

Moses is now in a dillemma because he wants to go to school but he cannot even afford the basic necessities! he is supposed to report to Kangemi Boys High School, the question is "HOW?"

This is an appeal to friends and wellwishers to help this young man pursue his dream. A dream to get his family out of squalor; a dream to get an education and improve his lot; a dream to help other unfortunate kids just like him in future! Life at the IDP camp is dislussioning, and they only depend on rations for survival!

Help save a young and youthful dream from sinking into the oblivion!

Moses tries out the Towers of Hanoi challenge -competing against Njeri as Dr. Bridgit looks on!

Moses at the IDP chief's camp, mathare
If you wanna help please contact any one of the following:
Isaac Musyoka CEK treasurer 254 722 381 218, imusyoka@gmail.com
Dr. Bridgit Syombua CEK president 254 721 724 850, syochicken@gmail.com
Peter Kanja CEK Vice president 254 722 961 307, kanjap@gmail.com
Dr. Evalyn Mwihia CEK Secretary 254 721 417 716, evamwihia@gmail.com
Caitlin Sanford CE US 254 724 141 959, caitlins@gmail.com

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


CEK Volunteers posed for a photo during the 2007 Annual General Meeting

Hello everyone!

Late last year, December 9th, to be exact, CEK held its Annual General Meeting (AGM) - cum - activity day. The place - ESME World class schools in Waithaka, Kikuyu district, which is in the outskirts of the Nairobi city. The school is owned by one James Njeru, a Cosmos Education bona fide member who hosted us, at a fee. Quite a number of CEK members attended and it was a day to behold! We had fun, bonded, and brainstormed on the various activities to be carried this year. One of our volunteers, Justa, invited us to visit her former high school, Kieni Girls in Embu, and even volunteered to do the follow up with the school administration on CEK behalf. Everyone was ecstatic about this and we agreed that this year visiting Embu will be one of our major projects!

See below pictures taken during the event!

.....and rule no. 3 is......It is the Most serious of all! u can forget rule no.1 & no. 2, but u can't forget this one!!

Cosmos Education, Science Education for the Developing World!!!

Monday, March 17, 2008


"Youth are the Future, Education is the key!"

Amidst all the uncertainty facing the IDP's at the Chief's camp. mathare, this little boy could afford a smile - hopeful that the future will look nothing like what is at the moment!
It finally happened! Cosmos Education Kenya volunteers visited the chief's camp in mathare, one of the sprawling slums in Nairobi, last Sartuday the 15th of March 2008. As always, the volunteers were entusiastic about the visit at the camp. It was a day after a night of heavy rains and with a bad drainage system in the Camp, there was mud all over and the Unicef tent were we carried out our sessions was all messy, but we endured all the same. After two weeks of preparations and planning, nothing could stop us. we were determined to make an impact in the lives of the displaced children, who at the moment their only hope remains the Kenya Red Cross, Mama na dada (An NGO which actively does outreach activities in the camp), Unicef, Cosmos Education Kenya, and other like minded humanitarian and outreach organizations.

Legend has it that the Towers of Hanoi....Isaac explains The story behind the Towers of Hanoi, as Bridgit puts the game in place!

After meeting in our downtown office at 9am, we hired a Matatu which took us to the camp. On our arrival, you could tell from the curious IDP's that to them every visitor brings with them a new hope. I was even amazed that some of the children could remember our volunteers who had done a pre-visit. I couldn't hide my joy on seeing the children recognize Bridgit, Kevin, and Justa - they really made a great first impression!
Njeri and Moses try the Towers of Hanoi challenge as Bridgit looks on
After a brief singing and interacting with the curious children, we finally assembled in the not so accommodating Unicef tent where we did our introduction. We had worked out a mechanism such that all our activities were synchronized and each session eased onto the next and this way we ensured that our young audience did not get bored. Unlike in the past, we did not break into groups, rather we opted to tackle the kids in one big group - which at one point seemed headed to the rocks! The kids were kind of unrully and naughty, but they afforded us their attention regardless!

Evalyn distributing some grapes she got from the camp to the kids

The topics covered ranged from the infamous Towers of Hanoi to the paper folding challenge. We did the hyena, chicken, and Ugali, all these laced with songs and dance - the Banana song was the most requested and our volunteer Kevin Kinyua with one of CEK's newest, Nina, kept the kids peeling, slashing and eating "banana" This way, Caitlin's void (note that she had travelled to Tanzania on an assignment) was adequately covered!

Now lets do this, Bridgit gets Moses to try out the Towers of Hanoi challenge as Isaac looks on

Being an Intern at the UNEP, I was careful not to leave out the environment! I talked to the kids on the importance of keeping our environment clean, taking care of trees, and planting new ones. The kids seemed aware of the fact that trees purify our air and induce rain!!!!

We need to keep our environment clean and hospitable to everyone!

After spending a sizeable amount of the morning teaching and singing, we then treated them to a cup of juice and biscuits. We also donated excersise books and pencils for them to write on come Monday morning.

Justa, Kevin, Dickson, and Nina doing the "I pepeta" song!

Once everything was said and done, and everyone was ready to go back and enjoy the rest of their weekend, we could not help reflecting on what really had been achieved so far. One thing we were convinced of , though. We had gone there with one thing in mind: To Inspire, Empower, and Engage, but I had a feeling that we had done more than just that. We had touched the lives of a very sensitive group in our society at this time when the country is still smarting from the post poll violence and its effect. Our hearts reached out to them and we are definately going back to pick up from there..........all the way to the future, which is intricately embeded in the youthful virality of the youth - as long as they are given the key: EDUCATION!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Help support a student to attend secondary school

Dear readers,

You may remember the MCEDO-Beijing school where Cosmos Education Kenya held the Holiday Science Learning Camp in August 2007. We have learned that all 15 of the pupils in standard 8 have passed the national primary school exam, which qualifies the students to attend secondary school.

This is a huge achievement for an informal school that does not have certified teachers. The students all worked extremely hard to pass the national exam and get a chance to go to secondary school. They all deserve the chance to continue their education.

We like to think that the week long camp held by Cosmos Education Kenya likely prepared the students for success in some key science topics. We are fundraising to try to send at least a few students to boarding school up country. Boarding school in the norm for secondary school in Kenya, and would remove the students from the unhealthy environment of the slum. The alternative is that they will stay around looking for work, ending their education at age 14. The students have been accepted to two secondary schools in central Kenya, where they would live on campus. The cost of one year tuition, including board and meals is 18,000 Kenyan Shillings, which is US$ 268.65.

If you, or anyone you know could help support a student to go to school please email caitlinATcosmoseducationDOTorg

You will be able to send funds through Paypal and we will deposit it directly in the bank account of the school, or you can wire money directly to the school's bank in Kenya.
In case anyone would like to support a student through all four years, my colleagues Perter Kanja and Evalyn Mwihia have agreed to continue with the logistics of paying the fees during this time. Also let us know if you are able to support half ( US$ 136) or one third ( $90) of tuition and we can pair people together to cover the cost to support one student.

Education is the best gift we can give. I know these children will be so grateful for the chance to keep learning, even for one more year. And with the added bonus that they will get to move out of the slum. If you ever have benefited from a scholarship or a student loan, this is a great chance to give back to someone who really needs help.

Please pass this on to anyone else that may be interested, and let us know about any organizations that might be able to help. The next term starts in April.

Thank you,

The Cosmos Education Kenya team

Monday, March 3, 2008

Visit to Chief's Camp and Mathare

On Saturday members from Cosmos Education Kenya visited the Chief's IDP Camp located near Mathare and Huruma slums in Nairobi. At the camp we learned that about 500 people were living there, including 200 children. The people staying in the camp come from a mix of tribes. Most of them were staying in the Mathare area and lost their homes or had to leave due to ethnic violence. Many of the children are young and have not yet been to school. Some were attending school, but now many do not feel comfortable in their old schools, or cannot afford to return.

At the camp we met with members of an organization called Mama na Dada that is organizing counseling, teaching, and other forms of support to people staying in the camp, especially children. Cosmos Education Kenya hopes to partner with Mama na Dada to organize a weekend of science and environmental education for the kids at Chief's camp.

CEK's Justa with kids at the camp

This weekend Mama na Dada had organized a football (soccer) tournament in Mathare to promote peace. We watched the game and Kanja held a dancing contest for the children. You can find more photos of the excursion at: http://picasaweb.google.com/caitlins/CEKYEPVisitToChiefSIDPCampAndMatharePeaceSoccerMatch