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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!