Thiiri (meaning "peace" in the Meru language) Center for Culture, Music and Community Development was established to serve local people as a shared resource for education, culture, and economic development. Thiiri Center, which has classrooms and meeting space, is the site of our Community Technology Center (CTC). We are partnering with Thiiri Center to establish the first CTC in this rural area and to provide computer training and access to Meru women`s entrepreneurship groups and young people to support social and economic development. Many of the women`s entrepreneurship groups also meet regularly at Thiiri Center. Thiiri Center is uniquely designed to meet community needs.
Thiiri Center for Culture, Music and Community Development
Feeding Hungry Kids
Young students need adequate nutrition in order to learn effectively. Raymond Mosha, ACOHF Board Member from Tanzania, facilitated the construction of a small kitchen building for the Kyou Primary School in Kilema near Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. Africa Circle of Hope Foundation helped to fund this project, which will allow the cook to efficiently prepare lunch for the 500 children in this school. This may be the only meal some of these children have each day.
The kitchen building provides a clean space where meals can be cooked and kitchen materials and food supplies safely stored. Dr. Mosha worked with teachers and school and community leaders to coordinate this project. The next improvement needed is a more efficient brick stove.
Women's Agricultural Development Progam in Kenya
The current food shortage in Kenya makes this program even more critical to nutrition and health in this rural area, where most people are living in poverty. Three women's groups in Meru are part of the initial program. ACOHF provides funds for seedlings, fertilizer, insecticide, hose pipes, sprinklers and basic agricultural training for the women.
One entrepreneurship group decided to plant bananas as their main crop. Other groups include widows and single mothers planting a variety of vegetables in one or two-acre plots. This will not only give them more nutritious food for their family but also generate some small income.
All the women are encouraged by this program and want to learn more about nutrition entrepreneurship opportunities with food processing. These initial groups should be self-sustaining within a year.
Nairobi Board Member Coordinates ACOHF Educational Programs
Charles Mwiti, an experienced business executive and ACOHF board member is coordinating our Education Program in Kenya. He has created a more detailed record system to ensure continuing accountability and appropriate use of funds. This system documents the progress of each individual student. Mr. Mwiti is also communicating with a social worker from Good Samaritan, who is monitoring the students and making regular school visits. Mwiti has done an outstanding job with his caring and commitment in keeping our educational program effective and accountable to students and donors.
In November 2010 Dr. Felkins joined Mwiti in a visit to Gathiga Secondary Boarding School, where ACOHF sponsors 15 students. This is one of five different schools where we support students. Our board members met with the Principal and toured the school buildings and grounds. Mwiti made a brief presentation to the students encouraging them to study and make the most of their education. He and Felkins congratulated the students on their academic accomplishments. The Principal indicated that some of these Mathare students were among the best in the entire school. One of the Good Samaritan boys was recognized for his outstanding leadership and service. Students have classes six days a week. Three of the students are completing Form 4 and will be graduating soon. The ACOHF board plans to increase the total number of students in our Orphans Education program next year.
Community Technology Center Established in Rural Tanzania
The new Maua Community Technology Center is the only one of its kind in this rugged area on the slopes on Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. The facility will be managed by the Franciscan Sisters Capuchin to serve area schools and surrounding communities. The CTC is located in a building just inside their front gate. Benjamin Makai, East Africa Programme Officer for Computer Aid International, helped to set up the equipment and train the staff, which will be coordinating the use of the CTC and facilitating learning sessions. The CTC has an N-computing system with eight work stations. The facility is funded by a grant, which covers equipment, training and technical consultation for the first year.
View photos of the installation and dedication of the CTC in Tanzania.
Computer Training for Education and Business Applications
Microsoft consultants from Seattle and New York presented technology training sessions at Thiiri Center. These included Basic Computer Skills for Women`s Entrepreneurship (June 29-30, 2007) and Business and Educational Applications of Technology (July 2-3, 2007).
Local small business owners, teachers and school administrators, and members of women`s entrepreneurship groups attended the sessions, which included basic instruction and hands-on practice with computers in the center. Some had never used a computer before this, but everyone was enthusiastic and committed to learning. Practical business and educational applications were included in the advanced sessions.
Our special thanks to Iris Lemmer, James Lemmer and Craig Phillips for volunteering to share their experience and knowledge in dynamic presentations and collaboration with these groups.
Makena Textile Workshop
This women’s cooperative workshop was started in 1979 in rural Meru, Kenya, when 50 local women started an initiative to generate income to support their family and to improve the local economy in this poor rural area. Some volunteers from Norway helped the women learn how to spin, and make wool rugs with local wool and natural dyes. Later the women also begin creating tie-dyed fabrics for clothing and other items. Today there are 19 women in the group and they have invested their meager income into buying two of the warehouse sheds where they have been working. They are the only business left in what was intended to be a small enterprise zone. The women are struggling to sell their colorful handmade wool rugs.
The Makena Textile Workshop is receiving support for business, leadership and entrepreneurship training, equipment repair, improved operations management, communication and strategic marketing. The women participated in entrepreneurship training and basic computer training in June and July 2007. Their deteriorated boilers have been replaced and dyeing production has resumed. They now have ongoing mentoring from local business leaders. After this training and support their sales have already increased with more strategic planning and marketing to targeted groups. We are continuing to work with Makena in all these areas and expand this training to other women’s entrepreneurship groups in the area.