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Friday, December 21, 2012

The Internet certainly empowering people of Isinya

If you have been taking keen interest in the development progress of our nation, then you are well aware of the increased interest in the ICT sector and the passionate exploration of the opportunities that it can offer to us today.
In this modern age, the role of technology in improving the lives of the people cannot be underestimated. More people especially in the rural areas are increasingly embracing ICT and this can be seen through the numbers coming at our Maarifa Center for ICT training and other computer services.
Even in the heart of Maasailand; in Enkirrinkiri, Olturoto, Nalepo or in Inkiito, ICT is steadily penetrating. And such is the power of the internet! A Maasai livestock farmer sparing two hours of precious time that could be used to search for pasture; a political candidate vying for the seat of Member of Parliament finds time amidst all the hustle and bustle of his campaigns to get ICT training and a lady defying her husband’s orders by coming to get ICT training.
Amazingly, social media or web 2.0, as others refer to it is the new platform through which knowledge is being rapidly generated, exchanged, stored, retrieved and disseminated. Through the power of social media, friendships are developed, good people are connected with good causes, and funds and awareness are raised for various causes.
More people now visiting the Center seek assistance to open Facebook, Gmail, Yahoo, Twitter, LinkedIn accounts amongst others.
Users at the Maarifa Center

But overall, it is fascinating to see the level of ambition the people of Isinya have, young and old alike – despite their backgrounds and harsh conditions they face, they know that exposure to ICT has and continues to expand their horizons.But most importantly; these people have the right attitude. A sense of unity and common purpose: because in spite of all these, ICT is bringing them together, and providing them with a 21st Century digital identity, African and ICT literate.
They have embraced a mindset where failure and difficulty is not the end of the story but a learning opportunity for those thought to be forgotten!
Simply  inspiring!

Thursday, December 13, 2012


By Sheila Ngigi

Beats of the police rendition were heard all over Isinya town once again as the men and women, in their dazzling uniform, marched towards Isinya Boys Secondary School. This was to mark the 49th Jamhuri Day, since President Mzee Jomo Kenyatta took over the instruments of State from the jaded colonial administration.
While the president and others were at Nyayo Stadium, here at Isinya, the day  was marked with pomp and colour at the Isinya Boys Secondary school. The function was officiated by the District Commissioner, Isinya and other government officials, including; the District Officers, OCPD Isinya, OCS, Chiefs, and sub-chiefs. Also present were district heads of all sectors; IEBC, education, health, development, agriculture, water and irrigation services, cooperatives among others. Isinya residents had come out in large numbers to witness and celebrate the 49th year since their beloved country became a republic. Men and women, old and young alike left their jobs and businesses, spared a few hours to listen to their leaders. They braved the scorching sun and its accompanying thirst for the love of Kenya, patriotism.
Mr. Nderitu, DO1 Isinya,,Master of Ceremony 
Aspiring candidates contesting for the various political positions were also not left out but recognized the function as a platform to preach peace, campaign and push for their. They urged Isinya residents to register as voters in large numbers as it was their right to vote. Candidates urged them to vote wisely for development minded leaders, and not along tribal lines.
Mr. Leir,  a focal group member and aspiring councillor
Government officials painstakingly gave details of what their offices were doing to ensure Isinya residents were well. Water has been a major problem affecting this community and the officer in charge of water promised to look into it and gave account of grants that the government has given to drill boreholes and lay pipes for water installation. 
"Though we have had the challenge of inadequate water as a district, serikali imejitolea kwendelea kuitataua shida hii kila uchao. (the government is committed to solving this issue)".
Mr. Ntayia, another aspiring candidate
 Insecurity in Majengo area of Isinya has been on the increase lately. The OCPD Isinya promised to increase the number of patrols in the area to boost security. “Please cooperate with the police by reporting suspicious elements because these criminals live amongst you,” he urged the residents. 

Kajiado East Constituency IEBC coordinator, Ms. Jennifer, urged the residents to register as voters as deadline looms and to maintain peace throughout the campaign and election period.
She gave shocking statistics that with only 7 days to go, less than half of Kajiado County had not yet registered as voters. She urged residents to do so before it was too late. 
Ms. Jennifer addressing the gathering
The District Commissioner, Mr. Hassan Bule, clad in his majestic official attire looked his best. After taking the podium and greeting the gathering, the DC set out to deliver the President’s speech in Kiswahili. *I must say, all were awed by his mastery of the national language*.
Mr. Hassan Bule, DC Isinya reading the President's speech
In his speech, he enumerated the country’s various development achievements in the last 10 years which, he said, have laid the foundation for the economic, social and political transformation of the country. In this regard, he urged Kenyans to take advantage of the remaining time and register as voters in order to elect leaders the country requires to move forward. 
"Registering to vote will enable you to carry out your civic duty of electing your leaders. You will also be choosing the policies by which you will be governed. Thus, registering to vote will enable you to participate in strengthening our democracy”.
 He exhorted Kenyans to respect the rule of law which is the foundation of the current and future developments even as they enjoyed the freedoms of speech and association enshrined in the Constitution. He also called upon the residents to promote peace and unity. “We should be free to disagree and hold divergent opinions but as we do so, we must remain both peaceful and united”, he said.

The DC’s final remarks resounded the president’s speech, he said, “It is better to sweat while keeping peace than to be bleeding in war. Let us keep peace and shun those who try to divide us along ethnic lines.”
And we were not disappointed… there was a soda and a plateful of meat, pilau and vegetables for all present! It was a surely a beautiful Jamhuri day.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

ALIN and Practical Action join hands against poverty

By Sheila Ngigi

Practical Action is an international NGO that uses technology to challenge poverty in developing countries.
They are interested in finding out what people are doing and then help them to do it better. Practical Action, through technology, has continued to enable poor communities build on their skills and knowledge to produce sustainable and practical solutions that will transform their lives and protect the world around them.
Practical Action further provides high quality independent research and professional advice to clients including Governments, International Development Agencies, NGOs and private sector entities for the purpose of poverty reduction in countries in Africa, Asia and South America. They operate in two main strategic areas of technology and development: Rural and Urban Infrastructure and Increasing Enterprise Opportunities and Access to Markets
Just like ALIN, Practical Action has energy and climate change issues in the core of their programmes.  They provide practical power i.e., renewable, locally-sourced sustainable energy solutions which help lift people out of poverty leading to better access to education and other basic services, improvement of health and wellbeing, especially for women and children.
Practical Action Eastern Africa Regional Office has been delivering technology as its niche in the region for over 25 years and throughout the period, they have leveraged best practices learnt that yield high impact.
They also have two arms through which they scale up their operations and models from their work and that of others: Practical Action Consulting through which they replicate knowledge generated from their programmes outside their operational areas to others; and
Practical Answers, a demand-driven free-of-charge service, provides customised information and knowledge products to individual enquirers through different media and formats.
Using this second arm, ALIN and Practical Action have collaborated to provide Practical answers to help farmers through the Maarifa Centers. This will be through the Practical Answers Project that will run from November 2012 to April 2013.
We, at Isinya are delighted to benefit from this noble cause not once but twice!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


By Sheila Ngigi

The war against environmental degradation and climate change is one that has been embraced globally by governments, NGO’s, groups and by communities; men, women, youth and children alike. It is now, in the 21st Century, that the realities of droughts and famines leading to death have been experienced more than ever before.
As such, pupils of Isinya primary school, in standards seven and eight, together with their teachers have not been left behind either.  Their teachers have imparted on these pupils the knowledge that trees are very important to contend with environmental degradation and the effects of climate change, and that the war should be a collective action by each one of us. 
The school’s management got a boost from the Kenya Climate Change Challenge Programme and Healthy Learning to purchase tree seedlings. With motivation and assistance from their teachers, the young children did not question taking up the noble task to plant and tend young tree seedlings upon themselves. As the saying goes, a stitch in time saves nine, and these kids, maybe without their knowledge, are saving a lot. After the planting, it has been the duty of each pupil to water and weed around the trees to ensure that his/her tree is growing steadily in addition to their flower gardens.

Children weeding
“We decided to only involve the class eight and seven pupils because they are older and more responsible, with time however, each student will have a plant to attend to everyday,” said Mr. Nyamwaro the school’s head teacher.
About two hundred trees seedlings were planted, and one month down the line, there is hope for their survival. Mr. Enoch, the school’s teacher in charge of environment says that the project has been a great success. 
Children fetching water to water their plants

"The children have been very enthusiastic about the whole thing and have been very consistent in tending the seedlings. This will be a great lesson to their parents and community around and we are glad we are leading by example,” he said proudly.
Isinya being a dryland has borne the effects of land degradation and desertification in a big way and certainly, planting trees is one way of mitigating these effects. For the school, the trees will also act as windbreakers, provide shades for the pupils as they play and their branches will provide for firewood later on which is the main source of cooking energy for many homesteads in this region.
As demonstrated by these children, this fight cannot be won by sheer goodwill and gaining of knowledge. On the contrary, we must harness all efforts and be ready to expend considerable time and resources to see that we succeed and our communities rewarded in full; with enough water, food and their livelihoods protected. As experts knock their heads together in workshops, meetings and summits, we at the ground bear the greatest responsibility, to act after hearing. Let us follow the pupils’ example and do what we can to improve our environment.

Friday, November 2, 2012


By Sheila Ngigi

Monica Soila had just completed her high school education when she visited Isinya and learnt of the ICT training programme offered for free at the Isinya Maarifa center and she pounced on the opportunity gratefully. At the center, they were taken through the five Microsoft office packages; introduction to computers, Microsoft word, excel, powerpoint and internet.
But for this determined lady, this was not the end of the road for her quest to learn. The Isinya Maarifa Center has a voluntary service programme open to young people who are willing to serve their community by assisting at the Maarifa center while also gaining skills.  Soila enrolled for the programme and will never regret her decision as it has changed her life in a big way, for the better.
It was not a walk in the park for the young lady as she had to fend for herself; food, accommodation and clothing.  She candidly recounts those earlier days, “Many of my friends wondered why I was working with no pay and advised me look for a job now that I had computer skills as I would not have searched for long before finding a job. However, I was determined to give back to my community and so I plugged my ears.”
In action...

Since that day, she has never looked back and her persistence paid off. After six months of volunteer work, ALIN was granted funds to undertake an ICT training project and required trainers to train the community. Soila was appointed as a trainer and benefited from further training at the Masai Technical Training Institute where together with others, was trained on how to be a trainer. After successfully completing her course, the young lady was awarded a certificate.  She has hitherto trained so many community members at the Isinya Maarifa Center and is even referred to as Mwalimu.
she closely observes her students

“The Maarifa center at Isinya has really changed the lives of many around this area, mine, as their teacher included. I have learnt how to deal with different kinds of people and my leadership skills have also greatly improved.” she says.
Truly, real sweet progress and development should never be an isolated individualistic pursuit but should be produced through sharing and community. As a West African proverb puts it, I am because we are!