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East African Center for the Empowerment of Women and Children

Enable a Kenyan community in need achieve empowerment

“The East African Center consists of Vutakaka, our primary and junior high school and our health clinic. We offer a community health worker program that works daily to serve the local and surrounding communities’ health needs, as well as adult education and skills programs including a successful sewing cooperative.”

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  • 08:07 UTC Intern Noelle Voges

    Our most recent intern, Noelle Voges, has just returned from Kenya. Here she shares some of her experience with you. Our organization and the community was grateful she lent her time and talents to making a difference there, and that she did in a relatively short amount of time. Noelle continues to support the organization State-side.

    "I returned to the States only two weeks ago, and I am already itching to return to the welcoming and beautiful village of Takaungu. Before beginning my internship with the EAC, I was graciously greeted into my homestay. This large family of 12 made me feel right at home by allowing me to be their shadow around the village, introducing me to their friends and extended family members, teaching me how to cook local Swahili dishes, and helping me learn ‘easy’ Swahili phrases. Although, no matter how many times I practiced, I somehow always ended up saying, “I’m getting married tomorrow” instead of “I will see you tomorrow”!

    Aisha, my amazing homestay mother, and I, in her new home.

    Fatma, one of the young ladies in my homestay, and I, putting farufaru in bags to be sold at Vutakaka Primary School.

    I am so lucky to have had such an amazing internship experience with the EAC! My focus in graduate school is on public health and community development, and the EAC was the perfect fit for both of these interests. The EAC is truly instrumental in the Takaungu community, along with the neighboring villages. I primarily worked with the EAC’s community health team, which consisted of three hardworking and passionate people, whom I now call my friends. Mohamed, Joyce, and Joy would travel many miles each day on foot, bicycle, or Boda Boda to reach a targeted group of individuals for their health education programs. As part of the Stay Alive Program implemented by the EAC, students received information on HIV/AIDS prevention and basic health and hygiene education with the goal of establishing healthier lifestyles.

    One of my favorite experiences was being a part of the ‘Kick Polio Out of Africa’ campaign launched by the World Health Organization, guided by Kenya’s Ministry of Health, and implemented in Takaungu and three neighboring villages by members of the EAC, volunteers, and employees of the local dispensary in Takaungu. We walked door-to-door in various villages looking for children under the age of 5 to administer the polio booster vaccination, and we documented the households and locations where we traveled so other health teams would not repeat the area we had already reached. It was inspiring to see so many individuals helping in this cause, and I was also surprised to see how willing the parents were in letting us inoculate their children without questioning our authority or medical knowledge. In one afternoon, the health team I was assigned to inoculated 107 children and visited 79 households and 2 nursery schools.

     Administering the polio vaccination to a willing child.

    My time with the EAC was pivotal in helping to evaluate my public health interests as my time in graduate school comes to an end this year. I’m looking forward to speaking to future public health graduate students about the exciting work the EAC is doing in the coastal village of Takaungu, and hopefully it will inspire others to intern with this great organization. Takaungu will always be special to me, and I will forever speak fondly of my time interning with the EAC."


  • 22:34 UTC Thank you Jill!

    We have had so much fun stuff happening this summer at the EAC that I had to pick just a few things to highlight in the blog.  Since we had to say goodbye to our peace corps volunteer Jill Daniels (irreplaceable, but we are excited to meet our new PCV Adriana arriving next Friday), I decided I would focus on a few projects that Jill put into place in her final months with us.

    First is something that started at the beginning of the year that we slowly saw come to fruition.  Jill approached me with information about One World Classrooms and their Global Art Exchange project.  It is a project where schools send in art work and in return receive a mixed package of art work from students all over the world.  It sounded like a great project, so Jill connected with teachers at school helped students create 25 pieces of art to send into One World.  A couple of months later, I received a big package at the post office.  I couldn't figure out what it was, but I opened it to find 25 amazing pieces of art from a hugely diverse list of countries - there was an pounded aluminum piece from the US, some amazing drawings from China, a drawing of village life from Namibia (strangely similar to Kenyan life), some drawings from the Ukraine, and many other pieces.  It was such an exciting package to open and one Jill and I were so excited to share with the students.  We decided to display the art at Term 2's closing day, on the wall of Class 8, so that students and parents could have some time to enjoy the art.  We added some art from our own students as well.  What a beautiful display!  We will certainly be participating annually in the One World art exchange.

    The second project Jill started during her last few months is also something we hope to continue.  After hearing about it from a nearby fellow peace corps volunteer, Jill started collecting supplies for making reusable sanitary napkins.  One of the major reasons that girls miss school in developing countries is because they lack any supplies for protection during menstruation.  There are a lot of campaigns to collect normal sanitary napkins and distribute them to schools, but the EAC was interesting in testing out a more sustainable option for the girls. 
    The reusable pads are made from pieces of shower curtain (or any thin plastic) and pieces of towel, sewn together.  Snaps are added on either 'wing' so that the pad can attach underneath the underwear of the girl.  The first training was held in May at Vutakaka and it was a great success.  We have lots of left over supplies, so our new peace corps volunteer will hopefully pick up where Jill ran out of time and do the training at our 3 other health education schools.  What a wonderful, long-lasting impact!

    As Jill heads off to spend a month in Paris (where we know the food will be seriously lacking compared to Kenya) and then back to the US, we wish her the best in all her endeavors, and we know she will forever stay connected to the EAC.  She has made a huge impact in our health work and much of what she has done will continue on with our staff and future peace corps volunteers.  Thanks Jill! 


  • 21:38 UTC The rains are here!
    Hello all!  Just a few quick notes on what has been happening at Vutakaka as we plunge into the rainy season.  On March 15th, Vutakaka Junior School held it's first ever inter-house Sports Day.  Students are now divided into four houses named for different animals found in Kenya and assigned a color.  The day started with a parade around the field, with all teams cheering loudly and waiving their colored flags high.  The events began with the longest races first to beat the heat of the mid-day sun.  Events included individual and relay running races, shot-put and javelin throwing, long jump, and high jump.  In the end, Nyati (buffalo) house won the title in yellow.  Congrats to all the students on a great effort!
    In academic news, school closed for the term on April 11th, after great scores on the end of term exam.  We said goodbye to our intern, Shanie, who had been working with the upper grades in Math and helping us to fix and upgrade our XO laptops for the students.  We really enjoyed having her out here and appreciated all her hard work.  She says she 'might' be back, and we are hoping for the best!
     In health news, Peace Corps volunteer Jill Daniels conducted a demonstration in gunia sack farming.  Gunia sacks are woven plastic sacks that are typically used for carrying rice, beans, or maize.  Old sacks can be used for vertical farming.  Jill showed the health team how to fill the center with rocks and the remainder with manure and soil.  Once our collard seeds are ready, up to 50 plants can fit into one bag!  Slits are cut in the side of the bag at regular intervals, and the greens grow out the sides of the sacks.  We can wait to see how this improves our school farm, and how we can share this with the community!
    We also recently celebrated Malaria Day with a fellow Peace Corps volunteer Kelly Sawyer in Kadzinuni village.  Kelly organized the two-day malaria event, which coincided nicely with the start of the rainy season.  The day included a net washing demonstration and free net repairs, speeches from health workers and nurses, entertainment from local schools and a DJ.  It was a big success and we hope many people heard the message about how to prevent malaria.  Well done Kelly!


  • 01:34 UTC A busy month!
    Wow!  As I was pulling out pictures for this blog post, I really got to appreciate how busy we have been so far this year, and how many exciting things are happening here in Takaungu at the EAC.  Let's get to it....

    This year has been filled with visitors.  We were very happy to welcome one of our board members, Matthew Merluzzi, to Kenya for the first time.  Last year Matt traveled to the Ivory Coast as part of his job as a comodities trader working with cocoa farmers.  He had such a good experience on that trip that when Jen and I told him to come out to Kenya, he jumped at the chance.  He stayed with us for 6 days and had a great time learning more about our programs.  Matt has been instrumental in raising money for our capital projects since joining the board, and we were excited for him to see what all his efforts have accomplished.

    While Matt was here, he helped us to distribute shoes that had been donated to the nursery school children by 'Thousand Pairs of Little Shoes', a Caymen Islands charity started by a longtime visitor to Kenya.  Thanks to Renata for the donation of the shoes!

    As an avid fisherman, Matt was also interested to hear about the grant just awarded to the Takaungu Beach Managment Unit from the Constituency Development Trust Fund.  EAC staffed supported the Unit to write a grant for a cold store room and ice processing center.  We were so excited when we found out last year that the group received the grant for 5.4 million shillings!!  We took Matt to meet the fisherman and see the current storage space.  

    Unfortunately, the weekend after Matt left was the launching of the project (pictures below).  It was a beautiful day and a committee was chosen by the community to implement the project.  We can't wait to see the progress this brings to the fishing community of Takaungu and will support them throughout the process.

    This year also saw the return of Tony Hillier, community poet extraordinaire!  Tony had visited our school last year and held a 10 week poetry class for the Class 7 and 8 students.  He also encouraged teachers and staff to participate.  Tony had such a great time here at Vutakaka that he went home and created a beautiful book of the students and staff poems and art work.  As Tony and I debated how to use it for fundraising and also how to pay for printing, he informed me he was funding the printing of 50 copies and coming back to Kenya to deliver them himself!  We were so excited to see him two weeks ago, and everyone is very proud to see their work published.  Thanks Tony!

    Just a few quick, but still exciting last notes before I sign off and save the rest for another blog.  We want to give a shout out to intern Shanie Holman from Seattle, Washington, who is doing a great job tutoring our students in Math and Science (she is even holding an election time tutoring program!) and working on updating our XO laptops and helping teachers to further integrate them into their classroom learning.  Thanks Shanie!  Below is our new headteacher Mr. Jumaa, who will be profiled in our upcoming newsletter.  We are excited to have him and can't wait to let everyone get to know him, at least online.  Welcome Mr. Jumaa!

    I'll close here, even though there is more to share.  Right now we are in a holding pattern, waiting for election results.  Kenyans seemed determine to keep the peace, despite a lot of reasons for them to be annoyed with the systems and politicians in this country.  Despite a still unstable situation, I am as ever impressed by the patience and dedication to a better future of the people of Kenya.  Let's keep hoping for a peaceful future, near and far.


  • 20:56 UTC February resolutions
      Hello everyone!  We hope you had a great holiday season and are enjoying being back in the swing of things like we are!  Once again, my new years resolution is to write more blog updates, post more photos, and generally stay in touch with our supporters more often.  So, I’m going to try.

    We have a great intern here now, Shanie Holman, who is posting some of her wonderful pictures that we will be sharing on Facebook.  We also recently hosted my good friend and EAC board member Libby Gluck here, doing lessons on peace and helping the children to create some great peace-inspired art work to bring home to our donors.  The elections are coming up on March 4th in Kenya, and everyone is anxious to see how it goes and hoping for a peaceful outcome.  The last elections were at the end of 2007 – violence ensued after allegations of manipulation of results.  An estimated 800 people died and 600,000 were displaced.  Luckily, the Coast of Kenya was a much safer place than the rest of the country.  We are confident that this year will be better, but just in case are prepared to hide out in our safe haven of Kilifi/Takaungu and hope for the best. 

    It is an important time to teach the students about elections, the right to vote, peace, and the future of their country and teachers are taking every opportunity to do so.  So, the students have definitely hit the ground running this year.  The Class 1 students are settling in well in their first year at primary school, and the new KG1 nursery students (all 3 years old) have slowly stopped crying in the mornings when their parents leave. 

    We are also happy to have our new head teacher, Jumaa Masha Lewis with us.  He started work on February 1st and is off to a wonderful start working on revitalizing the school clubs and the arts classes.  I’ll spotlight him in my next blog post.

    The health work has also resumed for 2013 and motivation is high!  We have 15 strong chickens (ok, we have lost about 10 so far but the remaining ones are looking good and should be for sale soon).  Once we make some money on these chickens, we are going to expand their house and also add a place to bring our goats.  In 2010, a parent donated a goat to the EAC.  This goat has been living with a staff member and has now had a baby.  We would like to bring them to the EAC compound and try to expand our goat population.  At holiday time, a goat can bring in a lot of money!  We are really hopeful that these income-generating strategies can help support our health work. 

    While we wait for the chickens to grow, health work goes on as usual.  Health education has resumed at the 6 local primary schools, and our nearby partner has added in a 7thschool!  Health staff are also working with 6 community groups, sharing health information and trying to assist them with small business development.  We continue to work with the two government clinics in our area of operation, and are helping the Community Health Worker unit to implement a door-to-door HIV testing grant they received from the government.  A huge thanks is due to our Peace Corps volunteer Jill Daniels, who has contributed so much in her first 6 months with us.

    As you can see, we are excited to be moving forward, as always.  I am particularly hopeful about the year ahead, as I feel we have really planned well to make the big moves towards further sustainability.  We will keep you posted as this happens.  Wishing all of you a wonderful and progress-filled year as well!


  • 19:51 UTC Happy Holidays!
    Happy holidays from all of us at the EAC!  We have had such an eventful year - our first class of 8th graders took their national final exam and graduated from VJS, the health team started a small chicken rearing business, and the Takaungu fishing cooperative won a huge grant from the local development fund to build a cold storage and ice processing room. 
    I, for one, am so proud to be a part of the community that has built up around the EAC.  From donors, to Takaungu residents, to VJS students, to mothers and babies at our health events, it's all about coming together to make this world a better place.  And that is just what happened when US Program Director Jen Hill visited her old high school - Hoover High School in Ohio.  Her cousin Emily is on the yearbook staff, and after meeting Jen, the yearbook team decided they wanted to make yearbooks for the 8th graders at Vutakaka Junior School!  They planned a way to fund the cost of publishing through sales of the Takaungu Sewing Cooperative items, and they decided to dedicate a page of their yearbook to bringing awareness to the work of the EAC in Kenya.
    I was home in New York for the EAC's annual board meeting on December 1st when Jen gave me the yearbooks.  They are so beautiful - about 30 pages of beautiful photos and writing.  I carried them back to Kenya and gave them out as soon as I got home. Above you can see the 8th grade boys looking through and laughing at photos of their friends.  Everyone out here in Kenya loves them - all the teachers and school board members wanted copies as well!
    This is what we mean when we say everyone is a part of the EAC community - a high school in Ohio and a group of 8th graders in Kenya.  Connected through a beautiful yearbook that will stay with both groups forever.  Thank you Hoover High School! 
    It's the holidays - consider joining or renewing your commitment to this global community.  We can't do it alone!  Happy holidays and best wishes for a great 2013 from ALL of us!



  • 22:23 UTC Toilets!
    We have now completed our new block of 6 toilets, thanks in large part to funding from the Rotary Club of Darien, CT.  As a member of the Rotary Club of Kilifi, Kenya, I approached the Rotary Club of Darien (my hometown) when I visited home in November of 2011.  The club was enthusiastic about partnering with a club in Kenya and starting to work on something in this region of the world.  As the Kilifi club was already becoming famous for building toilets, and Vutakaka Junior School desperately needed some more toilets, we decided the Rotary Club of Darien would partner with the Rotary Club of Kilifi and we would build the needed toilets at VJS.

    I am happy to say, the toilets came out beautifully!  There are 3 toilets on the girls side, and 3 on the boys side with a urinal running along the boys side as well.  The other two toilets you see in the picture to the right will be used for girls now.  The Ministry of Health in Kenya sets the optimal toilet to student ratio at 1:30.  Before this project, we had only 4 toilets for the 240 students at the primary school and all the teachers.  We can now give the teachers two of their own toilets, and are left with 8 toilets for 240 students (exactly 1:30!)  We are so happy that we have been able to complete this important project.  It has improved sanitation at our school, which reduces the chance of diseases like worms, typhoid, and cholera.  Data from the World Health Organization and Unicef from 2008 reports that only 31% of rural Kenyans are using updated sanitation facilities.  Thanks to the Rotary Club of Darien, VJS is now has adequate (and even beautiful) sanitation facilities and is in-line with the EAC goal of a holistic approach to education and health.

    The inside of the girls toilets.  So clean and beautiful! Research shows that giving girls access to proper sanitation at school greatly improves their attendance records.
    The EAC and Vutakaka Junior School would not be where they are today without the work of Rotary Clubs all over the world.  Thanks Rotary!


  • 03:33 UTC Rainy season farm update!

    The Vutakaka School shamba (farm) is off and running in this rainy season!  While the rains have not been quite as good as we wanted for maize and beans, they have really helped our gardeners with the year round crops that usually need A LOT of water.  In this first picture, Katana is holding one of the first good onion harvests that we have had.  Now that the gardeners know how to make sure the onions go from seed to full grown, we should be buying a lot less onions.
    To the right you see the onions right after they were picked.  We are excited to cross one more vegetable off the list of things we need to purchase to provide nutritious lunches to our students every day!
    We have received money from the FAWCO foundation ( to install an irrigation system.  This will really increase yields year-round as the gardeners will be able to get more water onto the vegetables each day, and will have more time to expand the farm, weed, and track their progress.
    One of the biggest successes so far from the Vutakaka shamba is mchicha.  Mchicha is a bitter green that is one of the staple foods in the Takaungu area because of how easily it grows.  Right from the start of the farm, the gardeners have been producing enough mchicha so that we have not had to buy any for the past one year.  This saves $10 a week, which might sound small, but adds up to more than $500 per year!  The gardeners have also started selling the surplus mchicha, and we are saving that income to build a small stand so that more people know mchicha is for sale at Vutakaka!

    Thanks to everyone who has been involved in making this farm a success!  Keep checking back for more farm and food updates!


  • 23:00 UTC Farewell to Valerian

    Wednesday July 4th was the last working day for our long-term trusted friend and Head Nurse Valerian Mshila Malasi.  Valerian joined the EAC in 2007 and was instrumental in making the health department what it is today.  He was not only a respected nurse in the community, he was also a great leader in developing community health programs and health education.

    Valerian's leaving coincides with the closing of Vutakaka Health Clinic.  This is not a sad event but rather a joyous occasion along the EAC's path to sustainability.  Last year, when US Program Director Jen Hill visited Kenya, she sat down with Valerian and myself to develop a strategy to make our health programs more community run and more cost effective.  We realized that the government was working hard to improve the Takaungu Dispensary (the local government run clinic in our area).  We also learned that a building has been constructed in a nearby, under-served area.  This area, called Mavueni, is where more of the clients of Vutakaka Health Clinic were coming from.  We talked to the District Medical Officer of Health and learned that the government was desperate to use this new building to open a clinic in Mavueni, but did not have the start-up capital.  We saw that the EAC could further it's sustainability strategy by closing our clinic and using our resources to help the government open the Mavueni Clinic.  It is in-line with the EAC policy of not replicating government services, but rather supporting the services that the government IS able to offer.

    This does not mean our health department is closing.  Rather the opposite - we will be able to devote more resources to our volunteer team of Community Health Workers, help our health education teachers develop strategies to reduce costs and thereby spread the program to other areas, and we will be able to offer other local organizations office space and partnerships to further community health in general.  We are also committed to supporting Takaungu and Mavueni Dispensaries to continue to improve out-patient health care in the Takaungu-Mavueni sub-location.

    Of course, without a clinic, we don't need a full-time nurse.  Valerian was one of the main proponents of opening Mavueni Clinic, even though it meant he would be without a job.  We fully appreciate his support and understanding of the development strategies that the EAC believes and practices.  He will be a friend of the EAC's, and mine personally, for a very long time to come.

    Good luck in all your future endeavors, Valerian!  You will always be a part of the EAC family.


  • 11:26 UTC Vutakaka School field trip!

    The Class 7 and 8 students at Vutakaka Junior School took a trip to the nearby Kilifi Plantation, just across the creek from Takaungu village.  The plantation produces Kilifi Gold Dairy products and also grows sisal, an agave plant that is used to make rope.

    The students took the small Takaungu ferry (seen above) across the creek and saw the milking process, the dairy production, the sisal harvesting, and the rope making.  They were given a talk by knowledgeable staff in each department and learned a lot about the agriculture business.

    Many thanks to Kilifi Plantation for hosting our students!  The teacher's are busy planning the next outing for Class 6, 7, and 8 to the Mombasa port and the railroad station.  Classes 4 and 5 will visit the Mida Creek and bird watching boardwalk next month as well.


  • 02:16 UTC The year so far...

    A very late Happy New Year to the EAC blog readers! My New Year’s Resolution was to update this blog every month…I hope you are all doing better at your resolutions than I am! Better late than never… (and I know the picture doesn't directly relate, but I was so tickled with our students cleverness I had to find a place for this picture).

    We have had a great year so far at the EAC. I complained about the heat in my December blog, but just like every year, I under-estimated coastal Kenya’s capacity to be hot. March is always one of the most sweltering months here as we wait for the rainy season. It hasn’t slowed us down though!

    Our health department is busier than ever. Government nurses were on strike for two weeks, so our clinic saw a huge increase in out patient clients at the beginning of the month. Thanks to Valerian for keeping up with all the extra work!

    Our health team has been meeting regularly with the new community committee in Mavueni, an area where we hope to help open a new clinic in the coming months. We look forward to giving you more concrete updates on this as things move forward.

    Health education is back in action for 2012 – the six schools that participate in the Stay Alive Program have more than 300 students enrolled! Our girls health discussion groups have resumed and the participants are more active and passionate than ever – we learn so much from the young teenage girls who are participating in these discussion groups.

    Our primary school is now finally a FULL primary school. Head teacher Catherine worked very hard to register our Class 8 students for the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) exam to be held in November. Our students are now registered and have submitted their choices of Secondary Schools to the government for consideration. We are very excited to see how our students perform and are working hard to offer them extra tutoring each week. Thanks to all our teachers for putting in so much extra time. It is going to be a tough year but we hope it will pay off! If you are interested in helping a student pay for Secondary School, please contact the EAC at

    We are also implementing new strategies for success at school that were discussed at the EAC’s annual board meeting in December. Every Friday during the morning assembly, students are publically recognized for various hard work and good deeds throughout the week. Teachers are also now referring to students by their graduation year. Our Class 8 students are now called the “Class of 2016”! We hope these new strategies and other brainstorming by the tea

    chers will help cultivate a culture of success at Vutakaka!

    The year has also brought great news from our partnership with the Combined Federal Campaign and the Aid for Africa Girls Education Fund. Vutakaka Junior School was awarded money to use as scholarships for the best performing girls. We have given out scholarships to 10 very bright female students.

    Congratulations Subira, Lillian Ngala, Lillian Moses, Moza, Caroline, Farhat, Nuru, Aisha, Muttaquina, and Rehema. Keep up the good work!!

    School closes for 3 weeks in April for the Easter holidays, so that should technically mean I have more time to update this blog. I will renew my commitment to monthly blogs and hope that it works better this time than it did in January. As always, thank you so much for your commitment to the work of the EAC and the community of Takaungu. We couldn’t do it without ALL of you!


  • 08:20 UTC Looking forward
    The holiday season is a little different here. It has been 95 degrees all week, and Christmas was the hottest day so far! But we still enjoy holiday tunes, presents, and great food (we roasted a goat). And just like at home, the holidays are a great time to take a look at what we have done in the past year and what we hope to do in the future.

    At Vutakaka, December always has a different feel – school closed on November 22nd and the clinic closed on December 16th so the staff can go home from Christmas (don’t worry, there is still care available in Takaungu over the holidays!)
    That might sound relaxing, but we have to get ready for 2012! School opens on January 4th, so we have a lot of textbooks and school supplies to get delivered on time. A classroom is going up for our new Class 8, our first graduating class! We also have our plans in place to build 6 new toilets thanks to the Rotary Club of Darien – we should break ground on this right away in January!

    Despite all the construction and supply purchasing, I have still had time to reflect on the great year we had in 2011. We had our first Class 7 students, which scored very well on their common exams. We are so excited for them to go onto Class 8, the last primary school class. Our teachers worked so hard this year, putting in a lot of extra tutoring time with kids that needed a little more time. The students got to do some great extra curriculars this year too: a big sports day was held at a local primary school, they went to Tsavo National Park on their field trip in February, and every Friday they played soccer with the local international school. It was another great year at school, and we look forward to having our full school (KG1 through Class 8) next year. We can’t wait to see how our students do on their Primary School exit exams at the end of next year! Our school farm is also up and running, thanks to a lot of support from American International Women’s Club of Genoa, the Rotary Club of Kilifi, and Emily Capello and the family of Carol Boland. It is so great to see the students and gardeners producing food for their lunches. It is definitely another step towards sustainability at Vutakaka.

    The health department has had a busy year too! In June, we helped the government launch a 50 person volunteer Community Health team. The team collects data on every household in the villages and then tries to educate the families on better health practices. They can refer clients to the nurse, organize for emergency trips to the hospital, encourage HIV testing, and help pregnant women get proper pre- and post-natal care. In 2012, the focus areas for the health team will be pit latrine construction and malaria prevention.We are so excited about the CHW team and happy to be in partnership with the Ministry of Health!

    We also looked at a new clinic this year, with the idea of opening new health services in the Mavueni area. This new clinic was built by a government program, but the Ministry of Health does not have the money to outfit it. The EAC would be able to finish it and hand it over to the government, who would then take up our staff and medicine costs. It also opens the possibility of a new Community Health team in that area, and the spread of our school health classes to more primary and secondary schools.

    These transitions are the key to the EAC’s vision. We are working diligently to create a new kind of development – programming led by local needs, and built with local resources. In 2012, we look forward to reducing our programming expenses in health, and discussing strategies with the parents to find independent income for Vutakaka Junior School. Each year, we help more people with less money! So, thank you for being part of the EAC community – your help goes a long way towards sustainable change. Happy New Year from all the EAC staff in Kenya!


  • 11:02 UTC Kenya HQ reporting!

    Hello everyone! My name is Kate Crowley and I am the Kenya Program Director for the East African Center. I’m excited to be blogging from KenyaHQ to make sure you get news about Vutakaka Junior and Nursery School as it happens. I'll also be blogging at our Vutakaka Health Clinic blog ( We hope you will take time to read our updates regularly and will be as excited as we are about what is happening at school.

    Jen Hill, our US Program Director, has been out here working with us since the beginning of October, and we have been spending a lot of time talking about our programs, how to improve them, and how to move forward. Mostly we are just gushing to each other about how wonderful everything looks at the school!

    The student’s exam scores for the Term 3 mid-term are trickling in from the teachers, and I am really excited by how they look so far. Our oldest students will be entering Class 8 (the last primary school class) next year, so we are very focused on our student’s performance and on how to improve it. At the end of Class 8, all Kenyan students take the Kenyan Primary School Exit Exam (KCPE). The score they receive on this exam determines which public high schools they are admitted to. 

    Kenyan high schools are broken down into 3 categories: National, Provincial, and District. The National schools are the best, and we hope many of our Class 7 students will be admitted to National schools following their KCPE exam next November. Be assured you will see a blog soon about how you can help support our students in high school (the government has promised for many years to reduce costs, but public high school still remains out of reach for many students).

    Jen has also been getting lots of great pictures of all the extra activities we provide for our students. After school clubs are active and exciting. The student’s can chose from an HIV/AIDS awareness club, the gardening club, the drama club, the debate club, and many others. Jen also brought the wonderful Alessandra Delacruz with her to Kenya, and Alex is holding art classes with the students every day. If you want to see some of these great projects, connect with a student through our website ( and we’ll send you a picture of a student and one of the great new art projects. We will follow that up with 3 personal projects from them each year. 

    Our farm is also up and running! Through donations from American International Women’s Group of Genoa, the Rotary Club of Kilifi, and in memory of Carol Boland, we were able to dig the well, buy a pump and a tank, build a stand for the tank, and set up our taps to service the farm. Our team is working hard to harvest greens, tomatoes, onions, carrots, eggplants, and green peppers for our students lunch every day, in addition to growing maize and beans during the traditional rainy season from April to June. It is a beautiful farm and something that I personally feel very passionate about. It is so amazing to see it working, providing food, and saving money each day!

    This week is the mid-term break for our students, which means we will hold a parents day to give out the student’s midterm reports and give parents news about the school. Jen and I are going to take this opportunity to share with the parents all about how we fundraise for the school, and how we spend the money. Since the beginning, we have always believed in complete transparency for our organization: to our donors, AND to the community we serve. We want them to give their input into our school expenses, and to know exactly how much work goes into raising money, but we also want them to know how passionate we are about keeping these amazing programs going. We hope to further involve the parents next year in our budgeting and our local fundraising.

    That is all for now from KenyaHQ. Remember that if you connect with a student you get updates throughout the year from our students, teachers, and staff AND you get the chance to support this wonderful education opportunity for students in Takaungu, Kenya. Kwaherini na asanteni sana!




  • 20:03 UTC From 6th graders Muttaquina Salim
    My School

    Our school is called Vutakaka Junior School. It is located in a village known as Takaungu. Our school has a spic and span environment. Pupils are always smartly and colorfully dressed. The routes which pupils pass through have beautiful flowers planted and these make the school look smart. The teachers are always kind and fair. The head teacher, Madam Catherine, is a very hardworking teacher. She always talks to us during assemblies and encourages us to work hard and be famous people like our president.

    We always go to school earlier than usual. We get in classes and read before the teacher arrives. When the teacher comes, he sees the class arranged and pupils reading seriously. We then go out for collection. We collect all the garbage until the land is left bare with not even a paper of a sweet left.

    After collection, we usually go to class and the teacher calls the register. We learn a lot and share ideas. We learn about the world and our country Kenya. English is the subject which the majority of the pupils like. They speak well, like Queen Elizabeth. Our teachers tell us to study hard and use the old adage “look before you leap.”

    The memory of our class teacher will linger longest in my mind. She has a steadfast love for us all in school. She is for sure a great teacher. She always tells us the reality that the only parameter of success is hard work and dedication. When she hears that we are the best in the zone she erupts into joy and jubilation like hot magma. She breaks into songs and dance and she gives us a golden trophy.

    When she enters our class, she always says “Disciplined pupils should not surrender to despair. The undisciplined pupils are passing clouds that will fade from the sky. Each pupil should not allow them to break their hearts. They can kill the disciplined pupils physically, but you should remain strong in soul, mind, and character and serve your fellow pupils faithfully.”

    Early in the morning she usually speaks to us seriously. She teachers us two subjects: English and Social Studies. We always pass the two subjects and find we are the best in the zone. We always smile appreciatively exposing a set of pearl white teeth, thinking “for sure I have never before learned in such a blooming, great school.”

    After the end of year exams we always have a trip to enjoy. We go for pleasure and for further exploring Our school is visited by foreigners often. We have many other clubs like games, quiz, debate, and agriculture. I really like my school like the way I like my parents.

    - Muttaquina Salim

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