As Fiona travels from Zambia to Kenya, she visits a preschool and a sand dam, and finds resilience and inspiration in the people she meets.

After spending 6 days visiting ChildFund projects in Zambia, I say goodbye to the Zambia team and the ever efficient Evans drops me at the airport where I board a plane. Next stop, Kenya.

A quick tour of the Nairobi ChildFund office means that I get to meet most of the team and feel that I now have a good overview of projects. I meet the charming Emmanuel, who is in charge of projects and the beautiful, funny Joanne, Communications Manager. We pack up a vehicle ready to head into the field. This time we are driven by Job.

Fiona with Emmanuel and Joanne from ChildFund Kenya

We are heading to Emali, a dedicated project area for ChildFund New Zealand. Emali is home to the Kamba and Maasai communities and is reached by 140kms of perhaps the most terrifying stretch of road I have even been on. I have been on many roads in Africa but this is something else. Job does a marvellous job and is cool as a cucumber, expertly steering round lorries and copes well with my constant shrieks from the front passenger seat and slamming down on the floor with my right foot in search of a non-existent brake pedal..

First impressions driving through Emali town? Pretty dirty, chaotic, market stalls everywhere and everyone is friendly. We drive off the main road into much more rural territory and after 20mins reach Matiku Pre-school.

Children from Matiku Preschool celebrate the opening of their school

Here I am given the honour of opening the school, revealing the plaque behind the little curtain and to officially hand the school to the community. There is a lot of singing, dancing and thanks given to ChildFund New Zealand. The pre-school building itself is really quite impressive. Considering the isolated location, it is a very sturdy brick building, two classrooms, store room and bathroom block.

The inside of the classrooms have very recently been furnished with tables, chairs, blackboards and learning materials as part of a project funded by another generous Kiwi supporter. It is a great little school and the parents are very happy their children have the chance to learn and have been very supportive of the project from start to finish.

Thanks to a Kiwi supporter, the preschool has beautiful desks and chairs

Last visit is the Kwa Mwaniki sand dam. It is extraordinary as you approach the area of the dam as suddenly the hillside is a sea of green, standing out massively against the usual red dust. This dam was constructed by ChildFund in 2010 and having never seen one before, I am amazed to learn how a relatively simple structure has changed lives.

The dam means the short but heavy annual rains are partly held back as they flood the riverbed, this allows the water to sink deep into the sand. When the rains stop and the river dries up you can dig a few inches down in to the sand, and there you have clean water year round! I of course tried this myself, and can confirm that although it had been 5 months since it last rained I was quickly able to find water just below the surface.

Young farmers like Robert are thriving thanks to the ChildFund sand dam

Up on the hillside we meet Robert, a young man who rents two large patches of land along the riverside from the Chief and is growing mangoes, lemons, tomato and cabbage. He is one of many small scale farmers along this stretch of river and he proudly walks me round his field and I even get to try a tomato. Like the youth in Zambia, he now doesn’t have to travel to market, the vendors come to him. He makes enough money to send his two brothers and sister to school, has started to buy bricks each month so one day he can build a house and has paid for his sick mother to receive treatment at the hospital.

Like so many others, he has done this himself. ChildFund gave him access to water, but the fields, the irrigation, the planting, the hardwork – he has achieved all alone. Brilliant.

We head back to the hotel as it is getting dark and I enjoy a dinner with all of the Emali team. I learn that they represent 8 different tribes among them and think that New Zealanders are great for helping so many people in Emali and ask ‘what is a Kiwi and is it true we all have sheep?’.

To find out more about ChildFund’s work in Kenya, visit the Kenya country page on our website, and be sure to follow our blog.

Spread the world

Share this story with your friends

More stories

View story archived for more