January 1. What exactly is a Community Excellence Center?

The idea is simple. In our information age we can share knowledge and expertise with a relatively low cost of resources. So we should support needy communities to do so. A CEC is a center in a small, mostly rural, community of say 1,000 people that functions as a link to the outside world. A CEC typically has a phone line and an Internet connection and offers the community a range of services, often for free. Education, microcredits, computer use, expertise in the field of cropping, food preservation, manufacturing, art, sport competition, everything that can be shared – you can go to your local CEC to find support if you have an idea and want to realize it.

If an ngo want to work with a community, the CEC will support and coordinate the initiative. A CEC is just the focus of excellence that is gathers from the community and puts together in a high concentration so that it catches fire with the soft flame of worthy creative development.

Our CEC Rainbow is a pilot project of Vision Alive, that will reach out to communities around Kenya. This deserves all the support it can get!

January 1. What exactly is a Community Excellence Center?

The idea is simple. In our information age we can share knowledge and expertise with a relatively low cost of resources. So we should support needy communities to do so. A CEC is a center in a small, mostly rural, community of say 1,000 people that functions as a link to the outside world. A CEC typically has a phone line and an internet connection and offers the community a range of services, often for free. Education, microcredits, computer use, expertise in the field of cropping, food preservation, manufacturing, art, sport competition, everything that can be shared – you can go to your local CEC to find support if you have an idea and want to realize it.

If an ngo want to work with a community, the CEC will support and coordinate the initiative. A CEC is just the focus of excellence that is gathers from the community and puts together in a high concentration so that it catches fire with the soft flame of worthy creative development.

Our CEC Rainbow is a pilot project of Vision Alive, that will reach out to communities around Kenya. This deserves all the support it can get!

December 25-26. Merry.

If you are a special a Luo host will serve you chicken. On our first night here this happened. A hen walked in and out in the afternoon. We didn’t hear her at night as we tasted the rosy strong flesh of Kenyan chicken. But christmas is something else. We have a goatmeal today, and feel really honored.

Work goes on. Some volunteers insist on a 200 Shillings pay to keep up their drinking habits. What they drink is a very strong alcohol, the local brew made of sugar cane. We have seen the place where it is done, a spot near the narrow river where they are boiling molasses and pour the resulting “rum” in five liter jerrycans. Some local youth organize their lives around this, and we see the sad results: no education, teenage pregnancies, hiv/aids. It’s one of the things Vision Alive will change.

On the second day of christmas there are few volunteers. But Andrew Ogol, Philip’s father is working hard to complete the walls. With his sixtyfour years, he is putting all the young guys to shame. We really admire his spirit and are grateful for everything he has done for the Rainbow Center.

Kenyan sunset

Now we can sit on top of one of the walls of our orphanage, enjoying the most beautiful sunset in the world (that’s what Kisumu is famous for). You  should try it if you get the chance. It’s very romantic.

December 25-26. Merry.

If you are a special a Luo host will serve you chicken. On our first night here this happened. A hen walked in and out in the afternoon. We didn’t hear her at night as we tasted the rosy strong flesh of Kenyan chicken. But christmas is something else. We have a goatmeal today, and feel really honored.

Work goes on. Some volunteers insist on a 200 Shillings pay to keep up their drinking habits. What they drink is a very strong alcohol, the local brew made of sugar cane. We have seen the place where it is done, a spot near the narrow river where they are boiling molasses and pour the resulting “rum” in five liter jerrycans. Some local youth organize their lives around this, and we see the sad results: no education, teenage pregnancies, hiv/aids. It’s one of the things Vision Alive will change.

On the second day of christmas there are few volunteers. But Andrew Ogol, Philip’s father is working hard to complete the walls. With his sixtyfour years, he is putting all the young guys to shame. We really admire his spirit and are grateful for everything he has done for the Rainbow Center.

Now we can sit on top of one of the walls of our orphanage, enjoying the most beautiful sunset in the world (that’s what Kisumu is famous for). You  should try it if you get the chance. It’s very romantic.

December 21. Ilja’s birthday. Beginning of the orphanage.

And so we wake up and look around. We are in a house made of mud, the traditional Luo way of building, and we are surrounded by cattle, chicken, children, long grass and aloe vera plants. This is it. They show us the plot of land where we are going to build the orphanage and we pin down the exact location of the poles. Yes, we are going to build it the Luo way, and we are going to learn how to do it, so we can repeat it at home, somewhere in Europe. It is Andrew Ogol, Philips father, who has kindly donated the land he inherited for the sake of the orphanage and Excellence Center. We will remain very thankful to him.

And we start: on the marked spots a group of volunteers dig deep holes with sturdy spades. They have to be about two feet deep to make the logs stand strong. I feel like a tough Teuton that wants to prove his Germanic strength and take up the shovel with a hubris-struck vigour. I dig and dig around a stubborn tree trunk but it wouldn’t go out. Blisters and scratches cover my weak skin and I give in. Ben, a local youth who occasionally proves to be a reliable volunteer (although on other occasions a more reliable drinker), cuts it out in an instant. I stand sullenly in the hot sun watching them finishing the holes. Meanwhile Yeon is sketching the  first draft of the design of the orphanage to be.

We buy one thousand bricks for a good price (8 Shillings each) and rent a lorrie to bring them to the orphanage. Volunteers and children help to unload and offload the truck. Some of the volunteers are drunk and unwilling to work. I have to see to it that the kids are not doing anything against their will, but they obviously like carrying the bricks into the lorrie. The bumpy truckride was an awesome experience Yeon and I enjoy very much. Here we are, we have just arrived in the village we are donating an orphanage to, and we are where the action is, sitting on top of our bricks. Only few of them break.

Today is the birthday of my mother. She would have turned sixty. I hope she would like what we are doing here.

December 21. Ilja’s birthday. Beginning of the orphanage.

And so we wake up and look around. We are in a house made of mud, the traditional Luo way of building, and we are surrounded by cattle, chicken, children, long grass and aloe vera plants. This is it. They show us the plot of land where we are going to build the orphanage and we pin down the exact location of the poles. Yes, we are going to build it the Luo way, and we are going to learn how to do it, so we can repeat it at home, somewhere in Europe. It is Andrew Ogol, Philips father, who has kindly donated the land he inherited for the sake of the orphanage and Excellence Center. We will remain very thankful to him.

And we start: on the marked spots a group of volunteers dig deep holes with sturdy spades. They have to be about two feet deep to make the logs stand strong. I feel like a tough Teuton that wants to prove his Germanic strength and take up the shovel with a hubris-struck vigour. I dig and dig around a stubborn tree trunk but it wouldn’t go out. Blisters and scratches cover my weak skin and I give in. Ben, a local youth who occasionally proves to be a reliable volunteer (although on other occasions a more reliable drinker), cuts it out in an instant. I stand sullenly in the hot sun watching them finishing the holes. Meanwhile Yeon is sketching the  first draft of the design of the orphanage to be.

We buy one thousand bricks for a good price (8 Shillings each) and rent a lorrie to bring them to the orphanage. Volunteers and children help to unload and offload the truck. Some of the volunteers are drunk and unwilling to work. I have to see to it that the kids are not doing anything against their will, but they obviously like carrying the bricks into the lorrie. The bumpy truckride was an awesome experience Yeon and I enjoy very much. Here we are, we have just arrived in the village we are donating an orphanage to, and we are where the action is, sitting on top of our bricks. Only few of them break.

Today is the birthday of my mother. She would have turned sixty. I hope she would like what we are doing here.

December 20. Lake Victoria!

We have a safe but exhausting Matatu journey to Kisumu, Kenya’s third largest city, where we install ourselves for the first time in the cybercafé in the Megaplaza, which will become our main communication channel for the next weeks. We meet Philip, the future managing director of the orphanage, and like him at first sight.
It takes us a while to brief family and friends, so that we arrive in the village in total darkness, after a long bumpy tuktuk-ride. We are welcomed by Philip’s parents and a group of children, some of them orphans, and we shake many small hands. Philip has prepared a room with a mosquito net (recall this is right next to Lake Victoria, with a real risk of malaria). To take away any worries: we are not infected, and our Kenyan friend Eric who does contract the germ will take a few days to recover to full strength. So we sleep right away, awaiting our first sunrise in the Kenyan countryside.

This photo is part of another project we do en passant. We collect portraits of people around the world with a grimace and local flowers in their ears. It would make an awesome poster. Humanity, unite. You can send your photo to kamielverwer at hotmail.com.