Category Archives: Introduction

Introducing Festus and Bimbo: the ASSETS team

Today I’d like to introduce the two main players in the ASSETS team: Festus and Bimbo. Both have been employed recently at A Rocha Kenya under the ASSETS program, and have not been introduced yet on this blog.

IMG_0437Both have been very busy, as they have had to distribute bursaries to all of the schools supported by ASSETS in the last few weeks. So while we had time for Bimbo to write about what brought him to work for A Rocha, Festus had to answer questions quickly for me to write up before he headed out today!

Festus Masha – Community Conservation Officer

Festus started work at A Rocha in December 2010, as the new Community Conservation Officer. Prior to being employed by A Rocha, he had spent five years working for Kenya Medical Research Institute as a Field Officer, and completed a diploma in Community Development and Project Management.

When I asked why working in the ASSETS program interested him, Festus responded that he likes the community interaction aspect of the program: holding meetings with the needy families and the distribution of bursaries. He is concerned for the welfare of the families, and feels it is very important to help his community

BimboBimbo Msafiri Baya – Assistant Community Conservation Officer

I joined Marafa Secondary School in the year 2002-2005. Later I joined Pwani University and completed my course in the year 2010. At Pwani I pursued a certificate course in Community Development. Before I left Pwani, I obtained an advert for A Rocha seeking for employees.

After having sent my application, I was called for an interview, in which I was successful. I started working as an A Rocha employee on 4th May 2011. My job title is the Assistant Community Conservation Officer. As a new employee I have been doing data entry of the beneficiary information. Also I have joined the other Assets staff and volunteers in starting a farm at Gede, where we are piloting Farming God’s Way (a Christian conservation agriculture program).

So far I have enjoyed working as an employee at A Rocha because the focus on the conservation of the environment is an interesting one. Also, assisting the less fortunate families enhances the local community, and also brings joy to the beneficiaries.

I am glad to work here, I am hoping that I will continue to gain more experience in environmental conservation at A Rocha.

Volunteering; a lifestyle that blew my mind!

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My name is Carol Muthoni and I work for A Rocha Kenya as an administrator. Around two and a half years ago, being a “city gal” brought up and living in Nairobi, I had never taken time to think much about the environment. I would go to parks with friends on picnics and also visit Nairobi Nature trail where they have caged some wild animals and walk around, see them and it was cool and that was it. It was nice to be out of the hustle and bustle of the city! But how on earth did they manage to keep the place so amazingly beautiful with variety of trees, flowers, birds, butterflies, animals, fresh air and all?

In December 2005, a friend of mine requested me to accompany his nieces on a trip to a small touristy village – Watamu at the coast. I was between jobs then and so I thought it was a good idea, so I jumped to the opportunity. I had never been to the Coast Province before. In Watamu, we had been booked to stay at Mwamba field study centre for one night. I met this guy who introduced himself as Stanley, and he showed us around and into our rooms. Later after my first swim in the sea, I had a chat with him and he told me all about A Rocha and ASSETS. It is after talking to him and seeing their efforts and commitment to care for the environment that I realized what a beautiful place the world would be if all utilized our resources responsibly. I realized that as an organization, A Rocha was putting a lot of efforts in keeping the world a beautiful place to live in, both for humans and other creation. I was so impressed and wanted to help. I straight away decided to help with administration of the ASSETS Programme without realizing I wasn’t going to work or live in Nairobi any more after all. After volunteering for nearly 7 months, I was offered employment as A Rocha Kenya administrator.

I have come to love life outside the city so much though there are times I miss the city life, but not enough to wish to go back. A Rocha opened my eyes and I was able to see that there was something I could do in a small way that could save the world. Now! The guy I first talked to in my first trip ever to the Kenyan coast, the first of that tribe (Giriama) I ever spoke to in my life, the one who introduced me to the wild, my boss and my best friend apparently became the love of my life! We are getting married this year in October and that means I belong to the Kenyan Coast and to the wild now and forever! His name is Stanley Baya, the ASSETS Coordinator.

Volunteering inspired me!

My names are Tony Kanundu alias Bats; I work for ASSETS  as a Community Conservation Officer.  I grew up at Gede 500m from the edge of the Arabuko-Sokoke Forest. I am named Kanundu after my grandfather who was really a character of his kind. Locally, the name has two meanings. In Swahili language, Kanundu is a small hump of any animal and in Giriama, my first language, Kanundu is a bat; the flying mammal. Guess which character I am! My grandfathers’ characters resembled those of a bat but he could neither fly nor was he nocturnal. He was known to be tricky and a strategist and he could do things many people didn’t believe. He could disperse a crowd helter-skelter with his own intention, the same way Drogba can cut through a solid defense call it of any soccer team. When I was taught about mammals in high school, I was very amazed to learn the real character of the real flying mammal. As my grandpa could do, a bat which is nocturnal moves in a very marvelous way, without eyes it uses echo-location. As it flies lazily, it sends rays ahead and if there are any obstacles, the rays are reflected back to it and the Bat changes its route and it is able to enjoy its world in the night.  As I grew at age 14 I joined a local football club, Clarkes Weaver which was supported by Kenya Wildlife Service, Gede Forest station. The playing field was right in the forest and this was an opportunity to see wild animals. Apart from playing football I was voluntarily involved in small forest conservation activities. During and after high school I was very active member of the football club and later through my local church I joined A Rocha Kenya as a volunteer in the ASSETS programme. After 14 months volunteering, I had significant know how on the environment and the community around and the need for its involvement in conservation of the natural resources. This was a good time for me to move on. I stopped volunteering and joined Kenya Wildlife Service Training Institute where I studied Environmental Management for 2 years. Early January 2007, a few weeks before I graduated, I was called up by the ASSETS Co-ordinator to take up this job in the Community project. Ever since, I am enjoying working with the communities for the environment from the environment.

An Asset For Children And Nature

Introducing ASSETS

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The Arabuko-Sokoke Schools and Eco-tourism Scheme (ASSETS) is a bold and exiting Programme on the north Kenya coast. ASSETS channels benefits from eco-tourism directly to local children where it is most needed – education – while at the same time conserving some of Africa’s moat precious and rare habitats.

A Special Place …..
Arabuko-Sokoke Forest and the neighboring Mida Creek support some of Africa’s rarest wild life. Arabuko-Sokoke is the largest area of natural coastal forest left in East Africa. The forest holds up to 90% of the world’s population of Golden-Ramped Sengi (Elephant shrew). It is also home to Africa’s smallest owl, the Globally Endangered Sokoke Scops Owl.

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Mida Creek is a beautiful tidal inlet fringed with mangrove forest. It is a critical breeding ground for many fish and a feeding area for young sea turtles. It is also home for thousands of migrating European and Asian birds during the northern winter including the unique Crab-plover and about 200 greater flamingos.

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A people in need….
In Kenya, although primary school education is now free, 90% of the children in Malindi District are unable to attend secondary school, largely due to the expense of school fees. Rural people depend heavily on their local environment for survival. Under pressure for secondary school fees, they are forced to exploit natural resources to pay for their children’s education. It is hardly surprising that these resources cannot stretch far enough.

An ASSET for children and Nature

ASSETS helps relieve pressure on people living beside Arabuko-Sokoke Forest and Mida Creek through providing secondary school scholarships funded by eco-tourism in the surrounding area. Eco-tourism facilities provide visitors with a stimulating and memorable experience of nature and encourage local people to value the forest and creek.

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ASSETS beneficiaries not only receive financial support for their education, but are also involved in environmental education and practical nature conservation activities, such as tree planting and reporting illegal activities.

How can you help?
You can support ASSETS by visiting the Board-Walk and Bird Hide at Mida Creek and Tree Platform and Nature Trail in the forest. Built with funds from GEF (UNDP), all proceeds from your entry fees and donations go into the ASSETS school fund. By giving to ASSETS, needy children living around the forest and creek have a chance to go to secondary school.