Lodwar Work Camp
Christmas is already here, well, the season at least and what better way to start it off, than to spread some Christmas cheer, as far as Lodwar town, in Turkana County. COP made its bi-annual trip to Lodwar from the 24th– 30th October 2013, with four members of staff and 47 enthusiastic students. The students had worked hard in the months preceding the trip to raise funds for the trip and also source for donations to make the trip a success through car-washes, stationery donations, food campaigns etc.
Having left Nairobi mid-morning, the night of 24th October was spent in Kitale town. This rest point would mark the end of a decent road, which faded from the Kitale tarmac road riddled with potholes, followed by potholes with distant traces of tarmac as snaked through the beautiful green scenic hills of Kapenguria. It is interesting to note the changing terrain, from green rolling hills, to vast dry desert like areas with scattered thorny bushes.
The visit to Lodwar in 2012 was an intense work camp with a focus on food distribution and assistance in medical camps as it was just after the severe drought that prompted the Kenya for Kenyans Initiative on a National scale as well as the Angamiza Njaa, Save a life campaign by COP.
However, the 2013 visit was biased towards education and comprised visits to several schools to distribute books, stationary, sanitary towels and give motivational talks to students, especially candidates. The first task was community service at the Lodwar District Hospital where members rid the hospital off plastic paper bags that had littered the compound, clinging onto the thorny vegetation and the mesh fence. Sounds like a pretty simple task for a team of over forty students, however with the mercilessly blazing sun overhead and the hot sand, it was like working in a furnace.
The team also visited Turkana Girls school, where 6 month worth of sanitary towels was delivered for a majority of the school girls. The girls were highly appreciative and following the presentation ceremony, they had an opportunity to mingle with the university students. The girls had numerous questions on university life, some indicating that they never imagined they can join a private institution such as Strathmore University; they were highly motivated by the scholarships and loans availed to three of their former colleagues, who are currently enrolled at the University. The sanitary towels distributed at Turkana Girls Secondary School were donated by Chandaria Industries Limited.
The team also managed to visit St. Kevins School to distribute sanitary towels, donated by the Rotaract Club of Industrial area Nairobi as well as a number of text books. It was interesting to note that though the school was mixed, there were more boys than girls. The challenge of girls education is a reality among the Turkana community and is evident in the school enrolment.
In light of this problem, the team concluded its camp with a visit to Our Lady of Peace Primary School; a girls primary school that has been built with the support of Strathmore University, Friends from Ireland and the Diocese of Lodwar. The bright faced young girls were delighted at our visit and impressed with the stationary supplies delivered to them. They happily sang numerous songs in praise of their school and their very dedicated teachers.
During the entire experience, students and staff members were able to see the disparities of one country. The phrase How is Kenya? from persons residing within similar borders finally hit home during the trip. The journey to Turkana girls had to be made by Toyota Land cruisers that could manoeuvre on the sand, for lack of proper road infrastructure, an exciting experience, but similarly a sad situation. The Lodwar trip offered an opportunity to rethink the frequent statement by those in Nairobi that #WeAreOne, and broaden our perspective beyond the peripheral areas of the city we reside in. The efforts to include the people of Turkana County in this bracket was well worth it and we look forward to making a similar trip next year, hopefully with more resources to improve the livelihoods of our brothers and sisters, within our borders.
Staff Member- Team Lodwar