Last week, ASSETS coordinator, Festus Masha, visited the students whom A Rocha Kenya is supporting in their schools. The aim of such trips is, normally, not only to pay fees but also meet the beneficiaries and see how they are fairing in their studies. We seek, through this kind of interactions, to give the students moral support, too. It is also imperative that we get first-hand report of the students` class attendance and discipline from the school authorities. Both hard work and discipline are key requirements for ASSETS students.
We are currently supporting 123 students. Jackline Kazungu is one of them. She hails from Kahingoni; one of the villages that border the Arabuko Sokoke Forest. She schooled at Kahingoni Primary School and is now studying at St Thomas Girls` Secondary School in Kilifi. Her parents supplement subsistence farming with charcoal burning and ASSETS pays up to 80% of her fees to discourage her parents from raising bulk of the fees from illegal logging or other forms of unsustainable use of resources. The bursary scheme continues to change perceptions and attitudes of such financially unstable parents from around the forest. Jackline is hard working and she is always at the top of her class.
At Manghudo Secondary School, Agnes Furaha Katana was very happy when she learned that Festus Masha was around to pay her fees. Agnes comes from Bogamachuko; another village bordering Arabuko Sokoke Forest. She was worried since her father paid only an installment of this term`s fees and she was not sure whether he would be able to come back to offset the balance before schools close for the holidays.
Agnes Furaha Katana in her school.
Jackline Kazungu in her school.
Remember the story of the ten lepers in Luke 17:11-19? How Jesus healed them and only one came back to show his appreciation to God?
I will never forget this one time i attended a Sunday school service in one of my friend’s church; Moses, a Reverend at St. Andrew’s ACK church. The teachings for that day was about the ten lepers-after reading the bible verse he asked the children what they thought about the story; one little boy said,”Jesus must have been so happy that somebody thanked him” i was marveled at the response of the little boy. How many times do you seat down and reflect on the countless blessings God has bestowed you and appreciated ?
We are pleased by the letter below that one of the ASSETS beneficiaries Ngombo Lillian Tabu wrote us showing her sincere appreciation to ASSETS and the A Rocha Kenya in general.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7
May the Almighty God’s favor and blessing follow you wherever you may go Lillian; you will always be in our hearts and remembered in our prayers.
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.
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.
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).
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).
On the 7th of October 2014, we held a grand opening ceremony for the new Environmental Education resource facility. Bishop Julius Kalu officiated the official opening.
We had several entertainments as the ceremony was taking place from primary school students, an ASSETS beneficiary, a choir and a play by the community. The ASSETS beneficiary a young bright man from Gede boy’s high school gave a small talk on how the program has played an important role in his life and the importance of conserving the environment.
The primary school students presented two songs about the dangers of not conserving the environment, the importance and urged the people to conserve the environment. The choir also did a wonderful job to emphasize on the same singing a wonderful song about the environment.
The community wasn’t left behind they performed a play: a group of parents whose kids benefit from the program. They illustrated very well why people should not go around poaching elephants and other wild animals and the consequences of such actions.
The entertainment was…i cant really find the right words to describe it but let me say it was simply breathtaking!
The community conservation officer (Festus) and I made a visit to St. Thomas girl’s high school. Though the visit was very brief, it was an amazing experience to interact with the student. We did get a chance to interview her and had a talk with her about how she’s doing in her studies, her goals and what plans she has for her future. Her name is Jackline Kazungu. She started schooling this year in the month of February. She comes from Kahingoni a village 3km from the Arabuko sokoke forest.
Jackline first learnt about ASSETS program way back in her primary school (Kahingoni primary school) from one of their teachers. The teacher was a patron of the wildlife club in their school. He encouraged the students to join the club since being a member of the club was one of the requirements of being selected as an ASSETS beneficiary.
She joined the wildlife club and learnt a lot about what A Rocha Kenya really does and conserving the environment became her passion. She did quite well in school and was also selected to benefit from our program. Jackline wishes to become a doctor in future.
She is a bright young lady and we pray that she achieves her dreams!
In a forest ecosystem, living things are interdependent, and they are also dependent on water, light, temperature, space, topography, soil type, chemicals, nutrients and other factors. If something in an ecosystem changes drastically, for example, if there is a sudden change in weather or even cutting down forests for development or agricultural purposes obviously reduces their biodiversity.
A Rocha Kenya joined the David Ngala, two KFS rangers, Mvera wa ASSETS parents and the beneficiaries themselves for a snare walk in Arabuko sokoke forest. The purpose of the snare walk was to create awareness and to help remove any snares they come across and take action on any other illegal activities.
We dint observe any active snares but we saw two old snares (probably 3months old), logging of trees for timber and building. It was a productive walk for the Mijomboni parents and beneficiaries had firsthand experience of what poachers have turned our forest into.
We are hoping and praying that the word will spread, the destruction of our forests to stop and conserving it to be our passion.
It’s amazing how many hearts one can touch by simply giving. Through A Rocha Kenya’s ASSETS program hope has been restored and dreams have come true. Chipande, a group of parents of the students who have benefited from ASSETS program gathered together to prepare a nursery bed.
Chipande is one among many of the clusters of villages in the same neighborhood formed by parents of those students who have benefited from the ASSETS program. The parents belonging to these clusters meet regularly at the schools to cultivate the trees seedlings that will later be distributed.
The students will cater for the tree seedlings until they are ready to be distributed. Wouldn’t you want to touch a child’s heart today? Put a smile on his/her face? …these children are our tomorrow’s future!
In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.Matthew 5:16.
We do thank the Lord for providing for us in countless astonishing ways! Secondly you; each one of you for your noble contribution in sustaining and rescuing the ASSETS project, restoring hope for the community and for nature!
Recently the ASSETS committee held the final assessment meeting and 27 new students were admitted into the scheme. As it stands now, 501 students have received bursaries through the ASSETS scheme, 378 students successfully cleared their secondary school while current beneficiaries add up to 123. It is indeed quite encouraging to us that the number of our “ambassadors” out there is increasing!
We were privileged to meet these new kids during the beneficiary days and happy is an understatement! They gained a lot from the inspirational talks, information about the concept of ASSETS, the environment around them, climate change and what they can do to help.
We do hope and pray that the Lord will continue providing for us so that we can reach out to even more members of the community here impacting their lives in as many ways possible. Long live ASSETS!
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!
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!
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!
Assessment of new ASSETS beneficiaries is underway with Festus taking a center stage in this. We glorify the Lord that 33 new students from the school that participate in the ASSETS project were able to reach the cut-off mark!! It is tough as we have to visit all the 33 families in such a short span of time but we thank the Lord for the motivation and hard work in the ASSETS team.
Fortunately though, some of our guests at Mwamba who happen to strongly support the ASSETS project offered to join in one of the field trips. The day started early with a trip to Mijomboni primary school where assessment for that day was to be done.
The couple had an eventful day practically experiencing how it takes to be the ASSETS coordinator! They were able to see the tree nurseries that ASSETS beneficiaries keep, and the new farming technique “farming God’s way” in their farms.
They also seized the opportunity to remind the locals on the need to protect the natural resources around them, adopt the new alternative technologies that are taught to them through Muvera Wa ASSETS and finally to lay their hopes in the Lord regardless. The trip was relatively rewarding and at the end of the day, they were blessed with madafu to cool off from the scorching hot sun!
We hope and pray that the exercise will go smoothly and be a blessing to all those we will be able to reach out to…