Teaching an All-Day Workshop for 20 Teachers and Staff

Starkids Academy and Rescue Center, in Kiambu just outside the Nairobi city limits – what a literal lifesaver for some of those kids, and what an inspiring founder and principal! We were brought here by African Children’s Haven, who support Starkids Academy.       Rosalyn Kimatu and 19 of her young, dedicated teachers and staff participated enthusiastically in our day-long session. Tea at 11, a delicious beef stew for lunch, and eager learners with lots of questions – Phylis’s and my definition of heaven on earth. We love to be in the field.         We love doing this activity about the spread of STDs!                           We covered our entire five-part curriculum in one day, a feat only possible because the group was smart, and willing and able to answer our questions. We covered HIV/AIDS, other STDs, and living with HIV; Reproductive Anatomy; and our skills-based behavior change units – Abstain, Be faithful (to one partner who is faithful to you), and use Condoms Correctly and Consistently.                             Huddling in a cold mabati (corrugated metal sheet) classroom under loud, pounding rain and hail while we waited for our taxi, we had an opportunity to talk (shout!) a bit more with Rosalyn and her dedicated teachers. A great...

Our Managing Director on Chicago Public Radio!

This is just a quick post, we’ve got so much to report and there’s lots more to come. Phylis Nasubo Magina was chosen by producer Alexandra Solomon to be interviewed live by the Worldview radio program on Chicago Public Radio, WBEZ 91.5. The interview took place at about 8 pm Kenya time Friday evening for the Friday noon program. Phylis talked about President Obama’s visit to Kenya, and what the local Kenyan reaction is. We sat in the dark in her cool backyard on bentwood chairs under the mango tree on her son’s mobile phone with a dying battery while she answered host Jerome McDonnell’s questions. We were nearly as excited about the interview as we were about President Obama’s visit! Turn up the volume and listen carefully, it’s just a few minutes and the line was not...

Gearing Up for Training Workshops Over Ethiopian Food With Friends

Unfortunately this photo was the best of the bunch. Genevieve Lamond, co-founder of Wamumbi Orphan Care, arranged for us to have dinner with Ken and David, two youth-focused activists who will participate in the workshop The ABCs will be running for Wamumbi in a few weeks in Murang’a County. Brought in by another musician and music therapist friend of Genevieve, these men have both run workshops several times at Wamumbi themselves, doing music therapy and counseling, and know the grandparents and grandchildren well. Light conversation ranged from first-time eating of njera to the most unusual/revolting/mysterious things any of us had ever eaten to the replacement of traditional Kikuyu musical instruments by the accordion. On the more serious note of our upcoming workshop topic of HIV prevention, we discussed the high and seemingly increasing incidence of rape and incest in Busia County. The workshop The ABCs will be running in Busia County starting Monday will have participants who are part of REEP (Rural Education and Economic Enhancement Programme), including Mary Makokha, the leader referred to in this article (warning, triggers). I’m looking forward to hearing what successes the group has had and how we can help them build on those successes to improve the situation for the children in that region. Phylis and I have been discussing how we can incorporate more knowledge and understanding of rape and tools to reduce the incidence into our curriculum, and how to get a good referral system going. We hear about so many rape and incest cases since our educators are true grassroots activists, who are trusted in their communities with sensitive information. But we are teachers,...

First Day Back in Nairobi

Managing Director Phylis Magina and I had a lunch meeting with Betty Adera, Director of The Hope Program of CHF International, Kenya. Betty invited Phylis, and The ABCs, to join the KICD (Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development) last month. Phylis has been in several meetings with Betty and other NGOs since then, but this was my first chance to meet her. Betty is excited about having collaborators who are on the ground in western Kenya, and we’re excited to work with her. She is committed and knowledgable, and seems to know everyone in our field. One interesting thing Phylis and I learned from Betty today is that when talking about the spread of HIV in Kisumu, people now talk of the water delivery guys. Evidently water distribution is a big problem, so many people have water delivered. The water delivery guy arrives after the husband has gone to work . . . Jokes about the milkman in 1950s America seems so naive by...

Our Managing Director Presented at Yale!

Phylis presented our social enterprise pitch at the Global Health and Innovation Conference at Yale University in March. (Just a little behind with the posts!) I’m leaving this weekend for Kenya for two months of training workshops, meetings, and planning with Phylis. Can’t wait to see her, the educators, and Robert and the family.   Here are Phylis and her husband Robert Barasa, Executive Director of the Ember Kenya Grandparent Empowerment Project, after our interview on the Global Activism segment of Worldview on Chicago Public Radio, WBEZ. If you look closely you can see that the sculpture is the station (91.5) above the call sign, on Navy Pier in Chicago, just outside the radio station.Here’s our awesome interview with Jerome McDonnell. Pour yourself a cup of tea and settle in, it’s a nice excuse to sit for 18 minutes and listen to us talk about our work with Jerome. Or do the dishes while you listen. But, really – it goes better with tea!...

Condoms and donations!

Welcome to our new website – this is my first blog post – and I’ll be updating as I travel in Kenya for the next few months. My husband Bob is coming with me for the first time, and will spend three weeks meeting the people I’ve been working with for a decade. Very exciting! After that, Phylis Nasubo Magina, Kenya Project Manager extraordinaire, and I will travel around five counties in Kenya where we have trained community educators, checking in and sharing all this new documentation (follow these links to the ABCs Teacher Training Manual, the Sexual Networking Flipbook for Students and Teachers, and the Solar Funnel Cooker Illustrated Instructions). This year the ABCs is professionalizing. Our dual goals are: 1. incorporating as an NGO, and 2. measuring and evaluating the project’s impact. Last week we did a fundraiser and among other things I demonstrated correct condom use – here you can see a little on how we teach about condoms in Kenya: Thank you thank you to the many people who have already given so generously. We had a standing-room-only crowd, and everyone had a chance to practice putting a condom on a banana, after a thorough lesson in the benefits and potential pitfalls. This is the year we are really ramping up, and any and all donations are so welcome!! You can donate right here on our site – our fiscal agent African Childrens Haven, an accredited non-profit which umbrellas the ABCs, receives the donation and send it to us. Donate. They generously donate all expenses, from wiring costs to administrative time. 100% of donations to their...