Category Archives: ASSETS Camp

FROM THE ASSETS STUDENTS POINT OF VIEW

This year’s ASSETS camp kicked off on a high note with a total of 18 students from different schools and two parents to watch over them at A Rocha Kenya’s Mwamba Field Study Center in Watamu. It was a two days activity that seemed too short for every one of them. It was their time away from books, their two days were preoccupied with motivational, live skills, career choice talks as they also had fun and games on our quiet nature trails and incredible beach.

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A walk by the beach that also involved them in knowing more about rock pooling and different types of fish.

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On leaving every student seemed saddened but they had to go…this was made clear by the comments they all left us on how they all rated the camp. Most of them requested that next time such an event should be given more days and more students to be involved since it was a very good experience for them both socially and academically.

ASSETS Camp

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Marxine Waite (above) is an intern at A Rocha Kenya in the Environmental Education department. She is a recent graduate of Pwani University with a degree in Science. She attended the April 2015 ASSETS camp which changed her life. Below is her story.

Armed with beddings, mosquito nets, juice for the kids, and most importantly hope in our hearts, we piled onto jolly old Kiboko and headed to day one of the ASSETS camp. Kiboko is our old truck that did quite a number on us during the trip. On the way I pondered about the lesson ahead and how to really impact the teenagers. I was interrupted from my train of thoughts by drizzling that was eventually seeping through the canvas as we rode at the back of the truck. Eventually, it turned out to be a heavy downpour that would send us into a frenzied struggle to keep dry. We held on the canvas, attempting to stretch it out even further ( as if that would work) ; meanwhile old Kiboko was already tired of the muddy, bumpy road and decided to let loose dense black, sooty diesel exhaust fumes to the carrier of the truck and the struggle ensued until we got to our destination. So here we were, finally, at Bogamachuko Primary School late and drenched in water, with patches of soot, blackened beddings but in one piece.

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Bogamachuko, which produced most of new ASSETS beneficiaries last year, was voted the venue for the  camp.
We headed to the classroom where the parents and students were eagerly waiting. Session one was on what A Rocha is, our main goals and the connection between A Rocha and the ASSETS program. My favourite presentation was by Mzee Katana, who sits in the ASSETS committee, during the second session. It is not uncommon for the elderly to speak their mind freely, but this particular man was just in a class of his own. Not only did he speak freely indeed he did it with confidence, flair and comedy seasoned with 36 years of experience as an educator. He sizzled his speech with flowery Swahili, English and hints of  Giriama (local tongue) so that everybody felt included; young and old, literate or otherwise.

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Marxine conducting an Environmental Education session.

One by one we gave our message to the children and parents, each in their special way, through stories and jokes and motivational talks. I had the privilege of conducting an environmental lesson through games and chalk and board. I pray the message of my lesson hit home; the scarcity of fresh water on a global scale and the need to conserve it. It was finally the end of day one sessions, and as the students left, it was time to unwind. This marked the drill for the days to follow.
Evenings were a special time for me for there was always chicken for dinner; and what a fine meal that was! Our accommodation was also something to remember forever, who would have ever thought I would camp in a staff room? With the special privilege of being the only female, I got to camp alone in the office and could spend long hours reminiscing  childhood times as I read fairytales and storybooks that formed my fundamental literature in my early years.
This was the order of the next two nights as we visited Malanga, Nyari, and Mijomboni Primary Schools. As we finally headed back to A Rocha, thankful for the successful visits and Kiboko holding up; I reflected on the events one by one. Although I was a beneficiary of a scholarship program myself, this experience made me appreciate the magnitude of the sacrifice that parents and donors make. I walked into that camp hoping to impact lives and walked out having been changed myself.

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Beneficiaries and their parents during the camp.

 

THE ASSETS CAMP

The ASSETS Program conducts camps in two folds one when A Rocha staff go to the schools and camp for a week, this happens in April in every calendar year. The other camp happens in August in every calendar subject to funding. The August camp invited participants are beneficiaries, parents and wildlife clubs of Kenya Patrons from selected areas. The objective of this event is to impact the beneficiaries with environmental conservation knowledge so that they able to use it in school and at home with their parents and friends.

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The topics that are emphasized on include Creation care “ God is the creator of everything and man was created to take care of God’s creation”, A Rocha’s five Cs-conservation, community, cross-cultural, cooperation and Christianity, ASSETS conditions, Career choice and development and drug abuse and HIV/AIDS.

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In addition that the beneficiaries are also taken to snorkeling, Gede ruins, Mida creek where they visit our Eco-facilities: tree house at Gede ruins, the boardwalk at Mida creek (enjoying the biodiversity around).

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It has been two years now since our last ASSETS camp; we are hoping and praying to raise enough funds to hold one next year (April 2015).

 

In and around Arabuko Sokoke forest for Education and Conservation…Adventurous!

On this bright Tuesday morning, the ASSETS team boards Kiboko; the truck all packed and ready for the ASSETS beneficiary camp. The beautiful scenery of the forested landscape coupled with the sweet scent of budding flowers made the ‘cruise’ to Bogamachuko; our first stop quite short and exciting! It was fun identifying different species of trees and birds as the road closely meandered along the forest edge offering just a glimpse of the treasurer encompassed within the 420km2 of dry coastal forest!

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ASSETS beneficiaries from Kahingoni and Bogamachuko were all seated and waiting for us as we drove into Bogamachuko school compound. We then proceeded to Malanga then Nyari, Mijomboni and finally Mida where we able to meet all beneficiaries from the nine schools.

All through we strengthened their understanding of the ASSETS project whilst assessing progress of the different clusters of Muvera wa ASSETS; the beneficiaries association. The level of enthusiasm was extremely encouraging as some of the attendees were not even beneficiaries! We seized the opportunity to urge them to conserve the local natural resources around them; Mida creek and Arabuko Sokoke forest for their own sake. Mzee Suleiman a resident of Mida also an ASSETS committee member took to the stage with his rib-cracking but quite educational narratives to instill the conservation message in the best way possible. We also had separate sessions with the students challenging them to make the best out of this opportunity. Led by Daniel and Patience who were both successful beneficiaries of the project and now on further studies; we inspired them that regardless of all the difficulties, nothing that could stop them from achieving their dreams!

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At the end of it all, parents vowed to adopt all the alternative technologies taught to them through Muvera wa ASSETS as well as working together to protect the forest by reporting to us of any illegal activities. The students on the other hand promised to be our ambassadors in their respective schools apart from making the best out of the scholarship opportunity!

Gede Tree Platform Repairs

 

 

 

tree platform

Eco-tourism has been the main source of funding for the ASSETS project as we seek to ensure that the project is as sustainable as possible.

Funds collected from the amazing Mida creek boardwalk and bird hide together with the Gede Ruins tree platform have been providing more than half of the money used to pay the school fees.

At the platform

At the platform

However breaking down of the tree platform among other factors such as increase in school fees and decline in the tourism sector,

financial stability of the project has been seriously compromised.

 

As we continue raising money for next year’s school fees, we are also really keen on having the Gede Ruins tree platform getting repaired because that is the right way towards restoring the project’s sustainability.

The Watamu Rotary Club has shown some interest in helping to raise funds for the repairs but no progress has been made so far and we are still ears open and trust in the Lord that we shall be able to find funds to complete the repairs and have the platform functional

again.

Your ideological, financial and material support will always be highly appreciated!!

Voice of the ASSETS child!

The ASSETS project has so far been the most reliable scholarship program in the north Coast of Kenya. It’s uniqueness knows no limit as it was tactically set to satisfy two needs at the same time. Apart from providing educational opportunities to some of the brightest minds in this region, It has successfully transformed the attitudes of  the locals regarding the protection of Mida Creek and Arabuko Sokoke Forest which are two extremely precious habitats threatened by human activities here.

ASSETS has been enjoying a great deal of both financial and material support from well wishers: Turtle Bay Beach Club,  Ocean Sports Resort, and guests who have been visiting our Eco-facilities; the Gede tree platform and the Mida Creek boardwalk and bird hide. Funds from these sources have been comfortably sustaining the project for the period it has been operational.

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However there has been lots of economic uncertainties over the recent past that has weakened our financial sustainability as a project. School fees in Kenya have extremely risen leading to a subsequent increase in our budget. The tourism sector which we significantly relied on has deteriorated leading to consequent decrease in the number of visitors to our two Eco-tourism facilities at Gede and Mida, this has seriously compromised our financial sustainability.The number of  eligible students has also been rising leading to an expansion in our budget.This has been as  a result of the consistent campaigns among the communities on the importance of formal education .

 

ASSETS beneficiaries

ASSETS beneficiaries

As efforts are being put in place to deal with the situation,   we really need to stand up for next year’s beneficiaries  to ensure that we retain them at school.This project has been providing hope not only to the benefiting  families but to the society as a whole, it is a perfect manifestation that restoration of the lost beauty of nature is achievable! It is such a beautiful thing to see the enthusiasm and initiative taken by the be

neficiaries including their parents in spearheading the conservation efforts at the local levels. We want to heed to God’s call of caring for creation and empowering the communities we work with in the process. The ASSETS project represents hope to the African child, it is the ‘logo’ of opportunity and the symbol of empowerment.

 

Johnstone's graduation at AKAM

The ASSETS children have great potential if given the chance, they have a way of getting to the top and that is all thanks to your esteemed support!

The best Christmas gift you can ever give out this Christmas season is a donation to the ASSETS project to ensure that the it stays operational next year. We need to raise 2 million Shillings  by the mid of January 2014 to be able able to keep our students in school next year.

You can make a donation through www.arocha.org/donateassets

No amount is too small to make a difference!

Like us on Facebook at ASSETS_Caring for Children & Creation

Follow us on twitter at @ARK_assets

 

 

 

A unique Program, Great Results!

“A Pound, A Dream!” Campaign

 

It is our responsibility to care for God’s creation in whatever ways suitable. The well fare of the generations to come will significantly be affected by our activities today and how much effort we put into conserving and restoring nature. It is in relation to this call that A Rocha Kenya; a Christian Conservation Organization based in Watamu, felt the need to help in conserving the neighboring ecological hotspots. Here is a story by one of A Rocha Kenya staff showing how his association with the Organization has enabled him respond to God’s call and made Him feel really good about it.

Stanley Baya

My interest in nature led to my appointment as the wildlife club’s patron for the school where I was teaching. I had recently graduated from a teacher training college and just started working at Sawa-Sawa Academy in Watamu before I was promoted to be the head teacher of the school. This position reunited me with a long-time friend who was then working as Environmental Education Officer for Arabuko-Sokoke Forest. Mr Tsofa Mweni introduced me to A Rocha Kenya and to Colin Jackson, the founder.

In 2001, I took up an appointment as the Co-coordinator of the Arabuko-Sokoke Schools and Eco-tourism scheme (ASSETS). This new challenge was both exciting and overwhelming. It exposed me to the very high poverty levels in the area, which led to a very high school drop-out rate. In our first meeting with the project stakeholders, it was revealed by the District Education Officer that more than 90% of the students who graduated from primary school the previous year did not join secondary school. After conducting a rapid survey to get some baseline information, we found that many students did not even pick up their results and admission forms from the school, as they felt there was no hope of them joining secondary school anyway. This put a lot of pressure on the parents to exploit the natural resources around them, like cutting trees to sell as timber. The result has been the degradation of the Arabuko-Sokoke Forest and Mida Creek.

Today, however, with over 450 students having been supported by the ASSETS eco-bursary scheme, it is evident that the trends are changing. The transition rate of children taking up secondary school places has very visibly improved and hope for the future almost restored. This renewed hope has influenced a change of attitude and behaviour among the students and parents who benefit from the program. An independent survey established that there is quite a significant improvement in understanding about the role of the forest and the creek in sustaining the livelihoods of the local people.

I am really proud of this program that has made it possible for over 200 students to attend universities and diploma colleges. It makes me feel that ASSETS was a step in the right direction towards redeeming the local people and creation.

This is just some of the many stories that A Rocha Kenya staff and associates have to say about the ASSETS project and its effect to the community. Currently we are on a 3 month fund drive dubbed “A Pound, A Dream!” campaign, aimed at raising funds to sustain the ASSETS projects.

Look at it, just by saving one pound a day you will be able to pay for a child’s school fees for a whole school term, better still you will have played your part in caring for God’s creation. (The writer is actually a successful graduate of this project currently in University)

You could be part of this noble mission and give a child an opportunity to achieve their dreams by making a donation online see:

http://www.arocha.org/int-en/you/donatespecific.html?d=KE-ASSETS. Make sure to choose “Kenya; ASSETS bursaries.

To donate to our bank Account please emails us on: [email protected] for our details.          

Assets Second camp

The assets second camp was on from 28th of August and ended yesterday 30th August.It was a three day camp with alot of activities just like the first camp.The students who are first year beneficiaries got to learn about the environment and conservation.A total of 20 students and a teacher and a parent were in this camp. The first day the students were taken to the Mwamba nature trail where they learnt more about tree species and the general biodiversity of the mwanba little forest.

Nature walk

Thereafter there was an introduction part and this second camp was lucky to have two Assets university graduates who gave alot of encouragement to the students.

Talk by Assets graduates

Later that day there was a talk on education and discipline by one of the Assets committee members(Mr Julius Mwawiswa).Mr Mwawiswa talked and quoted verses from the bible to give emphasis on his talk.Again the students were lucky to get a talk fromMr Rafael Magambo, the National director of A Rocha Kenya.Mr Rafael gave them sound advice on being morally upright and conservation.

Talk by Aseets Committee member

A Rocha Kenya Director with beneficiaries

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was time for games and two groups were formed,SIMBA(lion) and NYATI(buffalo).The first game was filling an empty bottle with water using hands from one member to the last.This was by giving water using the hands, then to the other member the same way until the last member who takes the water in the botlle. Nyati emerged the winners.It was then football where we had a great encounter and simba won 1-0.

Football game

Filling Bottle competition

In the evening the students watched a movie (finding nemo) before they went to bed.

Day two of the camp saw the students going for snorkelling after the morning glory and a powerpoint presentation from Benjo.Snorkelling  was a great experience for the students whose majority had not been in water.Mr Robert Sluka and Benjamin cowburn who are the marine biologists at mwamba led the students on this wonderful part of marine life.Students were able to see corals and different types of fish.

Robert with a student

After snorkelling Mr Stanley gave a powerpoint presentation on drugs and HIV Aids.We later went to the Watamu turtle watch(WTW) where the students learnt alot  about turtles. We later went to games.After a tough match which ended on a 1-1 draw we went to penalties.Nine penalties were taken from both sides and Simba won 2-1.In the evening we had a session of bible study and a session of quiz in which simba won, before they went to bed

After a bird ringing session led by the director of conservation and reserch,A Rocha Kenya, Mr Collin Jackson, the last day was full of movements.The students were taken to the two eco-facilities where the bursaries come from.Mida creek was the first place they visited and were happy to learn the various species of mangroove.They were very amazed by the different species and their long biological names .They went on to climb the boardwalk. Few of them were very afraid of its shaky nature but got encouraged by their fellow students.

birdringing session

At the board walk

The second movement was visiting the Gede ruins tree platform. Here the students had a lot of fun on the platform after a tour of the ruins.

At the platform

The students returned to mwamba for lunch.After lunch we had a recap of the camp and a short final quiz. The points were calculated and Simba became the overal winnere with 23.5 points and Nyati had 23 points.Prizes were awarded to the winning group.The losing group also got consolation prizes.The teacher and the parent who attended the camp were also awarded prizes. The camp ended with a prayer from one of the students and then they were shown a slideshow of all the photos taken during their stay.At 3:20 the students left mwamba.

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Visiting Mida Creek and Gede Ruins with ASSETS beneficiaries

Today, last day of our camp already, after Morning Glory, a time of praise and worship, and assisting Colin in bird-ringing, the students headed of to visit the two eco-facilities which provide income for their bursary scheme. It was very interesting for the students to see first-hand where the money for their education comes from, and how this income is directly linked to the state of surrounding environment.

We first visited Mida Creek, where we listened to a guide telling us about the different types of mangroves, and why they are endangered, as well as a bit on the birds of the Creek – we saw some flamingoes and yellow-billed storks!-, and we then moved on to try out the newly renovated boardwalk!

 

In Mida Creek

Learning about mangroves…

Reading the newly renovated pannels

and enjoying the boardwalk!

We then visited Gede Ruins and the tree platform, supervised by Brian, our current ASSETS volunteer. There the students learnt more about the history of the site, ‘how people lived in the past’.

In Gede Ruins

Giant well!

Coming down the tree platform

Group photo!

After this followed a lunch back in Mwamba, and a feedback time before everyone took off around 3. A few comments..:

‘The teachings I got from the A Rocha hosts also contributed to have encouragement in studying very hard’

‘I learnt where the funds are coming from’

‘I have really learnt a lot about A Rocha and career chioces, and know my mind has opened’

‘thank you for your teachings they have benefited me and from here I have a story to tell my friends. From now I am sure I will advise people who go against environmental conservation’

‘I lack words to express how happy I am’

‘the other thing is that I will now change myself against the damaging of the forest and some of the creatures in our home area’

‘ I am sure this will result to a great change of my life’

‘This is a camp will never be forgotten’

 

ASSETS Camp: Watamu Turtle Watch Visit

with Sheila the turtle!

 

On Wednesday afternoon we visited Watamu Turtle Watch Visit with the students. Its impressive how curious they were, I’d never seen them ask so many questions!

Through a guided tour round the site, we learnt a lot about marine wildlife conservation, the threats to marine wildlife (and particularly human threat), and about the various programmes the Turtle Watch has in place (such as education, community conservation, …) AND of course we got to see the 2 turtles they had there at the time! For many of us it was the first time we saw such a big turtle!

With this visit in the afternoon and snorkelling in the morning, the students learnt a lot in a day about all the species you can find under water! On this, a student said ‘About the living creatures, there were so many things which I was not aware that they were existing in this world, so the A Rocha association has made me know about them’ and another commented ‘We saw different types of turtles and learnt their importance. We will take care of them if we come across them and try to educate others at home on wildlife and how to take care of it’. The students left with a sense of care of God’s creation, and encouraged to tell others about it.

Praise the Lord for his beautiful creation and protection during the camp!

How would it feel living under that?

How would it feel living under that?