Saturday, August 27, 2005

WATER: Sagam Village - proud of attaining the water Millennium Development Goal

WATER: Sagam Village - proud of attaining the water Millennium Development Goal

Photos: Top- Visitors at one of the big water reservoirs in Rabuor. Lower- Children drawing tapped water from at one of the kiosks in the village.

In September 2005, world leaders will congregate at the UN headquarters in New York to assess global progress on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), an inordinately expensive annual event. Kofi Annan will solemnly tell them the obvious: That 5 years later, progress has been painfully slow; the promised resources were not released by the rich world; the poor are getting poorer and the rich-poor inequities are growing, even in supposedly improving economies of India and China. Africa will be a black spot over which fingers will be pointed all over.

Missing in this jamboree of world leaders will be the makers of miracles that are happening quietly in villages like Sagam where the water MDG has been attained. The water MDG is to 'Reduce by half the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water by 2015'. Until recently less than 2% of the villagers had access to safe water. Today, over 90% of the villagers in Rabuor-Sinaga area have acess to sustainable safe drinking water; and the figure is growing.
It is unfortunate that the 'do-it-ourself' Sagams of the developing world will not be heard of in New York. They lack powerful sponsors who can loudly and articulately proclaim responsibility for their success. Does anyone want to hear of indigenous, home grown success when the big game in town will be patronage from big-brother?

But, happily, the people of Sagam will be oblivious to the charade in New York and will be enjoying cool, clean spring water, harnessed from the belly of mother earth, stored in tanks and flowing freely through pipes they planted into the ground with bare hands; gushing out, uninterrupted, through the taps in water kiosks distributed all over the village.

What is the secret of their success? It is leadership - local leadership, participatory planning and determination.

The Rabour-Sinaga area water project was a mere dream. But, thanks to visionary leadership of Rabuor Sinaga Area Development Trust (RSA-DT), the first water committee chairperson, Mama Mary Asiko, and her team, it is now a reality. The current committee, chaired by Mrs Jane Rogo is continuing the tradition of excellence. The villagers' thirst has been quenched. And, proud of this achievement, will be reading the familiar pledges from the September UN summit in New York, aware of what it takes to translate the rhetoric into action at the village level.

FINANCE: Community micro-finance at work in Sagam

Photos: Top- Bank teller serving a client at one of the counters. Lower- Bank Manager, John Otieno Juma, standing in front of the bank office.

The Rabuor-Sinaga Area Community Fund (RSA-DT) is an effective and successful microfinance initiative that is truly community based and run. Started less than three years ago and without any external equity, the Bank has steadily grown in membership and currently boasts of over KSh. 3 million in equity, with over KSh. 1 million given out in loans to local businesses. The repayment rate, Gramin bank style, is almost perfect with no serious defaulter. The bank is steered by an elected Board of Directors. The founding and current Chairperson of the Board is Mrs Agatha Obare, a retired banker who has used her experience to ensure a clean operation. Zephania Owiro, a retired agriculturist, efficiently chairs the Credit Committee that assesses all applications for approval. The bank manager is John Otieno Juma
The bank was attacked one year ago by armed robbers who dug through the concrete walls into the strong room. They were however, disappointed to find that the vault was almost empty because the big money is kept by the Kenya Commercial bank. In anger they proceeded to attack the home of one of the Directors but were thwarted by the community. Rumor has it that the armed robbers were heard cursing the bank for being so poor and swearing never to waste time breaking into such 'poor community banks'. Security was beefed up and, true to their words, the robbers have not returned!
The community is very proud of this bank as it has created a new culture of saving. Many local teachers and hospital staff currently receive their salaries through the bank.

Photos: Top- Bank teller serving a client at one of the counters. Lower- Bank Manager, John Otieno Juma, standing in front of the bank office.

HEALTH: 'My Bodyworks': A Musical Anatomy for Kids

'My Bodyworks': A Musical Anatomy for Kids

I bet the kids in the Sagam community would enjoy this music! Three songs are available at the link and the rest are on a CD that someone would have to buy or donate, which can be done from the same page - to the right.

COMMUNICATIONS: e-NC: a grassroots initiative to encourage all North Carolina citizens to use technology, especially the Internet...

e-NC: a grassroots initiative to encourage all North Carolina citizens to use technology, especially the Internet.....

This map tells part of the story. To the east is the Atlanitc Ocean, and the western part of the state includes the Appalachian mountain chain. Five years ago, an initiative began to bring the power of the internet within reach of ALL people in the state. The page to which this post is linked describes that project and what it has achieved to date. As the Sagam community assesses its internet needs, there may be resources here of value and/or some relationship to be forged. Is there any initiative of this sort in Kenya? In western Kenya? In Nyanza Province?

Friday, August 26, 2005

HEALTH: African Health Officials Face TB Crisis

African Health Officials Face TB Crisis

Note the article's mention of a fivefold increase in TB cases in Kenya. And in Sagam?

DEVELOPMENT: Timbuktu Chronicles

Timbuktu Chronicles

This is another blog which describes its role in these words "A view of Africa and Africans with a focus on entrepreneurship,innovation,technology,practical remedies and other self sustaining activities.".....

HEALTH: Malaria Becomes a Classroom Lesson

Malaria Becomes a Classroom Lesson

How far is this from Sagam? What does the Sagam community think about this initiative?

HEALTH: Sagam Community Hospital: personal observations from the doctor in charge

Dr Manasseh Onyimbi, MD. MPH. CTM - will be leaving Sagam Community Hospital shortly to pursue post graduate training in Internal Medicine in South Africa. He shares his observations on the hospital and the services provided. The RSA community will miss him dearly and want to convey sincere gratitude for his dedication and selfless service and wish him the best in his studies.

(View of Sagam Community Hospital along Luanda-Siaya road)

With very noble intention and initiative the Sagam Community hospital was established less than a decade ago, in memory of the late pioneer Educationist, Mzee Gordon Rogo, who taught most of the national leaders of our time, at Komullo School (now St. Stephens Cathedral in Kisumu).

The institution is strategically placed at a most accessible point along the Kisumu- Luanda-Siaya main road, hence, communication is excellent at all times and seasons. The geographical location of the hospital within the tranquil and pacified rural environment and set up, backed up by natural canopy with all its freshness, befits its carefully chosen name - Gordon Rogo Memorial Sagam Community Hospital. All these factors cummulatively endorse its idealism as a perfect health care and provision center.

The potential of this hospital for all purposes, is enormous and is yet to be fully tapped/exploited for the improvement of health of the community and groups from near and far. While the Bamako Initiative and Primary Health Care (health for all by the year 2000) endorsed by all African governments more than a decade ago still remains merely a political rhetoric, the popular Sagam Community Hospital was already in place and has been ahead of them in the actual/practical purpose, providing quality health care to the people of Siaya, Vihiga, Bondo districts and beyond. The hospital runs a very good outreach and home-based care program that is doing wonders for the community.

What is needed now to revamp and expand the impact of the hospital is aggressive and professionally guided marketing all over the region far and near, in order to enable a wider spectrum of people to know the existence of this unique institution and the availability of essential facilities/services rendered.

In this context, more focus focus should be placed on schools, colleges, non-governmental organizations, parastatals, organized groups and individuals who need good health related services. The marketing should be a continuous process with deliberate and consistent follow-up. Constant reassurance of the clients have to be part of the game. Affiliation with other related institutions like K-MET and Nairobi Women's Hospital is in the right direction and is to be encouraged.

Strong financial base
Running a hospital in a rural area with high levels poverty is a challenge and high risk that most investors are unwilling to take. It is therefore a miracle that Sagam Hospital has survived, independent of any external support, when even mission hospitals such as Maseno and Kima are collapsing. But a strong financial base is still needed to enhance comfortable hiring/employment and retention of competent/well trained staff of all cadres, including Resident Doctor, Administrator (an honest one), Clinical Officers, Nursing Staff, other supportive and subordinate staff. With such resourceful and qualified manpower for this very important institution, it will be possible to establish a more effective administrative structure with emphasis on dedication, honesty and sense of responsibility at all the times.

Departmental heads should be persons with full sense of responsibility and accountability in all that they are entrusted with, and/or put under their jurisdiction. So far both the outpatient and inpatient wings have been functioning reasonably well (except for inadequate staff at times). The wards are clean and well partitioned but the introduction of treated bed nets should be speeded up, this area being a malaria endemic zone. Pharmacy also requires round the clock qualified staff with certificate or diploma level training and who know and understand the necessity and good use of drugs. They are not easy to attract to rural areas as urban employment is more attractive

The surgical theatre is generally very well equipped and has been serving well. The surgeons attached to the hospital i.e. Dr. Willis Oyieko and Dr. Francis Otieno, are satisfied with the equipment and there is no reason to complain.

Nursing care is quite good except that staff will need to be increased in number as the planned marketing translates to increased patient flow.

The laboratory has been able to provide the basic diagnostic services. The only set back has been lack of the QBC micro-tubes for detailed hematological analyses. The problem is partly national as the tubes are difficult to access in the country. Alternative technology (with added costs) should be considered.

Security is an institutional nightmare all over the country and Sagam is no exception. Security at the gates should be improved and the sentries/watchmen encouraged to be more vigilant in order to forestall petty thefts from the hospital, as was reported of blood pressure machines from outpatient department twice recently.

Transport is a necessity and the Land Rover ambulance is useful for the rough terrain. It will make a great positive difference if the hospital could have another light engine, easy maintenance vehicle for ready use in emergencies between the hospital and the surrounding towns of Kisumu and Siaya.

The Admission/Examination room, being the first institutional image, now requires some improvement or relocation in order to have more space, lighting and ventilation, especially due to increasing patient load.

The mortuary is the best in the region and has been serving the community quite well. Refrigeration works well and the facility continues to be full, receiving bodies from as far as Vihiga and Bondo Districts. Its entry gate should have a permanent watchman on a 24-hour basis.

The kitchen service has been quite satisfactory.
Cleanliness of all areas of the hospital, compound and within the buildings has been quite good and should be maintained.

The hospital library is one of the most well equipped information centers in this region, with very rare and valuable medical literature never to be found in most of our local University libraries. It is important that the available books, journals, and other publications therein are guarded and jealously preserved.

As the hospital grows, it's administrative structure needs to be deliberately restructured to cope with the changes. Sagam Community Hospital favorably compares with any other well-equipped mission, district or sub-district hospital in this country. It is therefore prudent that the management team always be headed by an experienced and competent Resident Medical Officer, well remunerated to retain and motivate him/her. Next in the hierarchy should be a trained/experienced hospital administrator, followed by the Nursing Officer in charge. These people are not easy to obtain in a rural setting but no effort should be spared to get them. The hospital is currently dealing with very enlightened patients and their relatives, who prefer to interact with highly placed authority in the institution when addressing all matters of their concern (most of the time)

There are some adjustments in management that need to be made. I have noted with concern how hundreds of working hours per week, which should be used for productive/positive marketing of the hospital, are wasted in the name of daily management meetings. I propose weekly constructive/purposeful meetings. Emergencies can be addressed whenever they crop up.

Overall, it has been a great pleasure and priviledge to serve this rural institution. It has been a joy interacting with the kind and friendly people of Gem (Jo-Odera Akango) and the adjoining locations within Siaya District being the catchment areas of Sagam community Hospital. Indeed most of them will realize my departure with surprise and a sense of loss. They should, however be reassured that the end of the earth is yet to come and I still hope to assist them in future, God willing.

I am optimistic about this hospital and its mission and will maintain contact and continue offering constructive advice.

DEVELOPMENT: - Development Through Enterprise - Eradicating Poverty through Profit - Development Through Enterprise - Eradicating Poverty through Profit

This site may be of interest/value to people in the Sagam community. It was launched earlier this year. Here is the "About Us" page.

COMMUNICATIONS: J-Learning: your how-to site for community journalism

J-Learning: your how-to site for community journalism

This site may be valuable to some of the people in the Sagam community involved in the Community Times, as well as this blog.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

COMMUNICATIONS: India bypasses the wires to bring Wi-Fi to its remote residents

India bypasses the wires to bring Wi-Fi to its remote residents

How to bring this to Sagam? Here is the website of one of the organizations mentioned in the story.

Living on Earth

Living on Earth

These stories about Wangari MAATHAI may be of interest to the Sagam community. At the linked page, you will have the opportunity to listen to these radio interviews on US public radio.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

GR Dream Update: List of orpans at Yaw Pachi Center

The full list of the 60 orphans of the Yaw Pachi Center can be viewed at the GR Dream Child to Child Project blog. The information on the orphans is provided by the treasurer of the Yaw Pachi Women's group, Jane Rogo....

The list provides the name, date of birth and a short bio on each child. The list will be updated regularly to help trace the progress of each child through school and after.

Cellphones Catapult Rural Africa to 21st Century

Cellphones Catapult Rural Africa to 21st Century

This story will appear in tomorrow's The New York Times. If you are interestedin reading it, you must access it in the next week or so, as access is free during that time - free registration required. After that time, the story goes into the paid archives.

How does the content of the story relate to Sagam? Is cellphone service available in Sagam? How much does it cost? Is there competition? If not in Sagam today, are there plans for it to be offered? When? What happens between now and then?

Famine Spreading in Africa's Sahel Region

Famine Spreading in Africa's Sahel Region

People throughout the Sagam community may find this report on the US Public Broadcasting Serivce tonight to be of interest. If you have a fast enough connection, you can also watch the actual broadcast as "streaming video", but here you have the full text.

Overly fond of bottled water

Overly fond of bottled water

This commentary by Economist writer Tom STANDAGE follows a piece he wrote for The New York Times and a book - A History of the World in Six Glasses.

I have already told him a little about Sagam and will send him a link to this post.

If members of the Sagam community have any reactions - given your own bottled water project, please add them below.

Tom also wrote another book - The Victorian Internet - which also has considerable relevance to this blog and electronic communications in and with Sagam.

Inventing Nairobi @ National Geographic Magazine

Inventing Nairobi @ National Geographic Magazine

This is a good story, from the upcoming issue (September) of National Geographic Magazine - focusing on Nairobi.

Views of Africa Zoomify @ National Geographic Magazine

Views of Africa Zoomify @ National Geographic Magazine

This map provides a fabulous view of all of Africa's "human footprint". It allows you get nowhere close to Sagam, but if you know where Sagam is, you can, of course, place it on the map. Seeing the "human imprint" on Kenya and neighboring countries is fascinating.

World Summit Youth Award: Global award for young people’s content

World Summit Youth Award: Global award for young people’s content

Might someone in or from Sagam find this a worthy challenge? Note that the submission deadline is less than a month from now.

e-Billing system launched in Kenya

e-Billing system launched in Kenya

Sagam buys its power from Kenya Power and Lighting Company (KPLC). With the recent establishment of a telephone exchange in Sagam, IT linkage should improve. Can e-Billing work efficiently in rural Africa and save the villagers some travel expenses when paying electricity bills?

Increase in telecommunication access in rural Africa

Increase in telecommunication access in rural Africa

This article reports on a telecommunications project in Uganda. Is the concept of a "village phone operator" something that has been considered in Sagam? Implemented? Considered and rejected?

Who are the providers of all the telephone service available in Sagam? How many phones/phone lines are there in the village? What is the plan to increase this number?

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Yaw Pachi Women's Group of Sagam

Yaw Pachi ( literal translation is 'open your mind' or 'expand your horizon') is one of the very active women's groups in Rabuor-Sinaga area. The treasurer, Jane Rogo, writes.....

Yaw Pachi Women's group was started in 1993 in Yala Township, Yala Division, Siaya District, Nyanza Province. The main purpose of the group was to come together, share and learn from each other on a variety of social and economic issues.

The core motivation was the desire to improve the economic condition of members and be able to own simple items such as cutlery and utensils and raise some money for personal use. This has been slowly realized through the Dairy Cow Project (see below).

Orphans' Center

In 2000, members decided to form Yaw Pachi Center for Orphans after they realized that many children within the neighborhood were being left orphans with no one to take proper care of them or under the care of aged grandparents or careless guardians. (It is important to note that over 90% of the deaths in the area are HIV/AIDS related.)

The objectives of the Orphans' Center are:
-- to provide food, shelter and clothing to 60 orphans under our care (see the GR Dream Child to Child Project, too);
-- to meet educational expenses of orphans in secondary school (currently three);
-- to initiate and expand on income generating activities;
-- to create and sustain HIV/AIDS awareness to members, orphans and the community.

Many households in the area have lost their breadwinners due the the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Parents are dying and leaving young children under the care and support of aged grandparents. The grandparents have no meaningful income, and so the orphans end-up being malnourished, sickly, walking in tattered clothes and even dropping out of school. Any little hope of better life for the orphans is further extinguished as soon as they lose their aged grandparents. These problems can be addressed if the orphans can be assured of food, shelter, clothing, education and guidance. This will enable them to also contribute positively to the development of the community.

Through love and support, the community are able to identify the talents and skills of the orphans. These talents can then be nurtured and shaped to help the orphans earn a decent living and also develop the community.

The Yaw Pachi orphans' center serves 60 children who are mainly affected by HIV/AIDS. They come to the centre every Thursday for meals and every Saturday for communal and private studies at the library. Each of the 20 Yaw Pachi members have been asked to care for 3 children. The mothers have a responsibility to see to it that the basic needs of the orphans are met. In their individual capacities, the members go out of their way to buy clothes, food and even medicine for the children they are assigned. The load has been eased a little bit through the income from milk sales (see the Dairy Cow Project below) but it is still heavy. The center also takes care of three orphans who are in secondary school. The group anticipates an increase by three in the number of orphans going to secondary school next year. The orphan center is located at a house donated by a family after the owners died

Three Yaw Pachi members involved in home-based HIV/AIDS care activities and network linked to the Sagam Community Hospital. Some of the cases being handled by the home-based care team include mothers of orphans being cared for by the center.

The centre currentlyManages to feed the orphans on once a week basis. Even though each member has been allocated 3 orphans, the members are overburdened, considering that they also have the responsibility for their own children and families.

The Centre wants to offer regular meals on a daily basis to the orphans. This will reduce the burden on their care takers at home. The Centre also needs to raise school fees for orphans, especially those in secondary schools. We anticipate the number to increase to 6 next year.

Dairy Cow Project

So far, seventeen (of twenty) members of Yaw Pachi Women's Group have benefited from dairy cows bought from funds donated by UNDP-Africa 2000 Network. The members have also established zero grazing units and some water tanks. Out of the seventeen, one beneficiary lost her cow when calving and also the total number is now sixteen. Fourteen members are milking and earning some income from the sale of milk. The remaining two are almost due for calving. Milk production is about 10 litres per animal per day. The beneficiaries can earn an average of Kshs. 240.00 per day. The remaining members will get their animals from the calves born by the existing cows.

Milk production in the area has gone up due to increase of dairy farmers and with more production, marketing is proving to be a problem. Hawking of milk has become quite tedious for the women who have to spare time both for the care of the dairy animal and the family. Time spent on hawking milk could as well be put into feeding the animal for increased milk production.

With the increase in milk production, Yaw Pachi hopes to be the first women's group in Siaya district to establish a small dairy plant that will collect, process, package and distribute milk to retail outlets. If this dream becomes true then the orphans will be trained to work as managers and workers within the plant.

Yaw Pachi Youth Group

The women decided some time ago to encourage their sons and daughters , and other youth to emulate their example. The youth group is already formed and has plans to set up two income generation projects. They intend to run a milk/bar to facilitate marketing of the milk. The orphans are expected to join this group as they come of age.

Appreciation. Yaw Pachi Women's group would like to extend their heartfelt gratitude and thanks to United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and Africa2000 Network for their support to the group. Special thanks goes to Mr. Elly Oduol of UNDP and Mr. Situmo Mwichabe of Africa 2000 Network and all other officers of both organizations who have contributed positively to the growth and development of Yaw Pachi Dairy Project. Your funding, visits, motivation, encouragement and ideas have been our greatest source of inspiration. Your support to us has brought new lease of life to all members of the group. With the members empowered economically through dairy farming, they now have the confidence and energy to devote and fully commit their resources and time to serve the orphans. As a group and community, we are what we are because of UNDP-Africa 2000 Network. We shall continue to value and cherish our partnership and we pray that we remain true friends and partners.
Finally, we are excited by the initiative taken by our young son, Gordon Rogo. We pray that he sustains the spirit as the assistance he is giving is much needed, will help to alleviate the load on the mothers and assure a bright future for the orphans.

Can we link Sagam village with French efforts against HIV/AIDS (SIDA)

Eva ROGO-LEVENEZ ia a daughter of Sagam. She recently participated in this event to mobilize the public in the fight against HIV/AIDS. Eva wants Sagam village to participate next year and showcase the many innovative things being done there. She will be linking Kenyan participants she met at the festival with the village and writes...


Luc Barruet and Eric Elzière created Solidarite Sida in 1992, while they were still students. Over ten years’ experience fighting against Aids has given this organisation credibility recognised by its different partners. Since its creation, Solidarité Sida has always desired that the innovative and complimentary actions by its other partner organisations show solidarity with each other. By this, Solidarité Sida has become a natural partner to about 150 French and foreign organisations fighting against Aids across the world.

Volunteers or the heroes to this cause are young women and men, between 18 and 25 years old with names like Adeline, Noé, Vincent, Marie-Laure, Claire, François…. Fighting for something they believe in. About 3,000 of them live in France and their aim is to mobilise youth to refrain from careless habits and to try to prevent the spread of Aids.

Solidarité Sida’s ambition is to be an example and a window-case for voluntary, realistic and supportive young people who have refused to capitulate to Aids. Solidairité Sida plays the role of an actor and a mediator of solidarity as well as that of prevention. It offers young people the opportunity of being useful to society and by its actions it encourages a better perception of the reality of HIV, thereby encouraging them to want to do more.

The organisation commands exceptional support from thousands of actors, artistes, political leaders, businessmen as well as the media in France. It chose right from the beginning to launch its events through direct communication with the public, this has proven quite an effective way of publicising exceptional “rendez-vous” like the well known “Festival Solidays” that takes place annually at the beginning of July in Paris. These are exceptional dates for mobilising, feasting and sharing experiences through debates, round tables, forum and music by simply enjoying some of the best artistes on stage.

This year, Festival Solidays invited 200 artistes, including some of the most “in” voices at the moment, like the Servant, Garbage, not forgetting French artistes like Luke, Mickey 3D, Juliette, Camille, Calogero, or Vincent Delerm (quite “in” at the moment). Even Patti Smith, one of the main New York underground leaders in the 70’s had tears in her eyes when the Minister for Culture and Communication, Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres evoked in his speech, her good friend, the photographer Robert Mapplethorpe who died of Aids in 1989. The Ivorian, Tiken Jah Fokaly closed this year’s festival with African reggae that inflamed the greenery of Hippodrome de Longchamp just after Kassav, the group from Guadeloupe had left the stage on an extremely high note.

Solidarité Sida organisation is determined to use its powers in mobilising the public and the media to spread the word for the organisations and support to Africa, Eastern Europe, South America, Asia and France as well. It invited 29 foreign organisations under their sponsorship from all over the world. Kenya was distinguished by two strong organisations led by women championing for Women’s Rights and economic powers.

Kenya Widows’ and Orphans Support Programme (KWOSP) is a national non-governmental organisation started by a group of widows as a forum for mutual support and empowerment for widows and orphans in Kenya. Its objectives are: to promote, encourage and empower widows economically to reduce poverty within their midst by training them especially in the context of new technologies, to provide them with opportunities to learn, share and reduce their vulnerability to social, economic and sexual exploitation that expose them to HIV infection or re-infection, to provide orphans, like any other children, with adequate opportunities, access to basic needs such as food, shelter, medical care and education. The list can go on….

Susan Koyoo, the Project Co-ordinator of KWOSP sums it up by saying that “their mission is to reduce the physical and psychological suffering of widows and orphans infected or affected by HIV/AIDS and improving their quality of life.” KWOSP has a Drop-in-Centre at Kariobangi, and another centre at Awasi in Nyando District.

Positive Women Action Group, (PWAG) is led by Judy Gathoni Mwaura and Margaret Vosevwa Aseneka from Nairobi. Take a look at Judy or Margaret’s face and there is no doubt, these are positive women who look ahead and not backwards. The Festival lasts 3 days, on the last day, PWAG represented by Judy was one of the 3 organisations during the presentation of foreign organisations to the massive public, to talk on stage about their daily struggle. In three days, about 135 000 people attended the festival despite the fact that Bono of U2 was giving concerts that same weekend in Paris.

Festival Solidays was a moving moment that cannot possibly leave one indifferent. Try to imagine these determined men and women, happy to be in Paris to share experiences, how they live, no matter how painful, to laugh, gather information, sharing everything, even a tin of beer or dancing to a good African tune from CD players they had brought to the stands. Picture this: a Filipino was dancing his head off to Congolese music, whilst rumba was almost continual at one of the neighbouring stands next to the Kenyan one. Our lovely Kenyans had brought with them some traditional music, highly appreciated. Life can be hard, tragic at times where they come from, but at Solidays there was laughter and camaraderie. This is the place where some of those infected or affected by Aids were heroes because nobody was there to judge, but to feast together, the atmosphere was convivial, and gives them hope for tomorrow.

Fred Odhiambo Oganga, the only gentleman who accompanied our three champions for women’s cause is the Finance Officer of Women Fighting AIDS in Kenya (WOFAK), he is a well-composed fighter with a keen ear to listen.

I was invited for the first time to this festival to present to the public and to the professionals the Junior African Writers (JAWS) HIV/Aids Series by Heinemann Educational Publishers in Oxford, books for HIV/Aids Education Programme. The presentation was at Association Village Salon an area reserved for the press, debates and round table discussions that took place. I am the translator from English to French of this series of books that deliver and support HIV/Aids education, child-centred fiction / non- fiction to readers for the Francophone countries.

It is my wish that more Kenyans, and Sagam will participate in this eye-opening, happy festival next year. 42 million people are already infected across the world, 6 people below the age of 25 get infected every minute, young or old, men or women, we are all affected by the pandemic. As individuals or as citizens, we need to support those fighting against the scourge and those suffering from its tragic consequences.

We all have a role to play!

Translator/Consultant in Publishing

Eva is a daughter of Sagam, resides in Paris, France but is a regular visitor to the village of her birth. She has written and published books on HIV/AIDS and donated some to the village recently. The village encourages all the diaspora to remember the village, wherever you may be (kama ibetie kichiemo!).

Is the new anti malarial treatment (ACTs) available /accessible in Sagam?

In response to the recent posting linked to a Los Angeles Times article on on malaria treatment, Prof Gilbert Kokwaro writes.....

1. Chemotherapy; Kenya is now moving towards deployment of artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACTs) for which there is currently only one fixed-dose (co-formulated) combination i.e artemether plus lumefantrine (Coartem) although there are several other co-packaged combinations in the market for the treatment of non severe malaria. For pregnant women, quinine is now the recommended drug since artemisinin derivates are generally to be avoided in this group. For IPTP (Intermittent Preventive Treatment of malaria during pregnancy), we still don't have an alternative to SP (Chloroquine) and the Ministry is "silent" on what should be done since resistance to SP is now widespread and nobody knows whether it would work if used for IPTP.

2. Accessibility. There is no realistic measure of financial accessibility to antimalarial drugs, but the general consensus is that any medicine costing more than 50 US Cents per treatment is going to be out of reach for most rural folks. Coartem is fairly expensive and one issue that the Ministry of Health will deal with to make sure that accessibility is not compromised by the shift to ACTs.

3. On growing artemisis annua in Western Kenya, I understand that some organization is already liking up with Moi University to start growing somewhere near Eldoret. There is also another company doing the same in Athi River (where there is a factory for processing the plant material) so I do not know about the viability of the Western Kenya site.

For more information, click here.

Monday, August 22, 2005

A Quick visit to Rabuor-Sinaga Area, home of this website

The Sagam village website presents daily activities that affect the lives of a people residing in an area in Siaya District, Nyanza Province in western Kenya. The area lies between the City of Kisumu on Lake Victoria and the Kenya/Uganda border. You can therefore easily access Sagam from Nairobi via Kisumu or even from Kampala by road through the border town of Busia. The area consists of four villages, Rabuor Ahono, Sagam , Mundhine and Sinaga. They all work together under the auspices of Rabuor-Sinaga Area Development Trust (RSA-DT).

The Chair of RSA-DT is Mr Ambrose Rachier, one of Kenya's most a prominent lawyers. Engineer Okello Rogo is the Secretary. He is the former Chief Engineer of Kenya Ports Authority and has since retired at home. The village branch of RSA-DT is Chaired by Eric Aweyo, a retired agriculturalist and tea expert. Mrs Mary Asiko is the Secretary. Mama Mary, as she is fondly known, has also retired in the village and currently runs the successful bottled water project, apart from other accomplishments. The runaway success of the village water program owes allot to her leadership of the Water Committee during the formative difficult years.

The Maseno-Luanda road shown in the map, is part of the trans-Africa road from Kisumu to Kampala via Busia. The Equator crosses at Maseno where the Maseno University main campus is located. There is a smaller satellite campus in Kisumu City. From Kisumu (400 Km from Nairobi, 5 hr drive or 1 hr flight), we travel 40 Km by road to Luanda where we branch on the right towards Siaya.

The first market place after Luanda is Rabuor (4 Km), which sits on the border between Western an Nyanza Provinces. This is also the entry into Siaya District and Rabuor-Sinaga area. Down the road from Rabour (5 Km) we pass through Sagam village to Sinaga which also borders Yala river and marks the lower, eastern margin of our area. On the right from Rabuor is Ahono area which stretches towards Yala, our Divisional Hq. From Sagam, you climb to the left for 3 Km to Mundhine village where the new Polytechnic is being constructed.

In terms of institutions and facilities, Rabuor is the highest elevation and site of our main water reservoir. From there, water is gravitationally piped to all the other villages and to secondary reservoirs and water sales kiosk along the road. The Spring water source is however in Ahono from where it is first collected in large underground tanks then pumped by electricity to Rabuor. Not surprisingly, water bottling plant is located in Ahono.

Rabuor/Ahono village is the biggest and has several churches, Ahono Primary School and Marenyo Heath Center. The Area Chief's office is situated next to the Health Center in Marenyo.

Sagam is the most centrally placed but the smallest of the villages. In it are is the local shopping center called Simbi, Sagam Community Hospital, Sagam Primary and Sagam Mixed Day Secondary Schools. There are several churches (Nomiya Luo Mission and St. Stephens Anglican Church) and a mosque. A community library is planned for 2005/06. The RSA Community microfinance Bank is located at Simbi Shopping Center.

Sinaga village lies further along the road and is home to the Police Post (community constructed), Sinaga Primary School and the well established Sinaga Girls High School. This is boarding school for 400 girls. St Andrews Anglican church is located in a valley by the roadside in Sinaga.

Mundhine village is the most difficult to access as it is up hill and has very poor rocky roads. It is home to Mundhine Primary School, Mundhine Dispensary and will soon be home to the Village Polytechnic.

Electricity and water is available in all the villages. Home based care for HIV/AIDS patients is provided in all the villages through a network of community based workers under supervision of the Matron Salome Sumba of Sagam Community Hospital. Each village has an orphan care program and women's activity group, all organized under the bigger umbrella of Rabuor-Sinaga Area Development Trust. The total population of the area is estimated to be about 15,000.

Innovations Against Malaria: Candles that keep mosquitoes at bay

Here is an interesting story published in The Daily Nation today. If it works, and there is no reason why it should not, Kenyans should be on the right path towards the control of malaria - using simple technology and local materials.....Read and comment.

Candles to keep malaria at bay

What scientists say about the innovation

Arrangements will be made to avail these candles at Sagam Community Hospital for local trials within the next two months. The report will be published in this blog. Stay tuned.

African web projects eligible for RFI award

African web projects eligible for RFI award

There are many opportunities for innovation and excellence to be rewarded! FYI, in French, more of the details.

Awards, Fellowships, Grants & Scholarships

Awards, Fellowships, Grants & Scholarships

Some of the awards and other programs listed here may be of interest to people in the greater Sagam community.

Porcupines raise thorny questions in Kenya

Porcupines raise thorny questions in Kenya

This BBC story reports on an "invasion" of porcupines in Kiamba district. Hopefully, these creatures are not posing a problem as far west as Sagam!

For everyone interested in this Sagam project, take a look at what the BBC includes on this page - the reactions to it from people all over the world, following the initial broadcast. When someone in Sagam has a question to pose to others, this is a great model for how much response one can least from a BBC broadcast!