31 July, 2010

Helping Women and Youths

Over the years I've been following the work of various social enterpreuers and activists. There are quite a few people, but I suppose the 3-4 people who have most directly changed my thinking on what to do and how to do things to help change the future in a positive and constructive mannter,are Nathan Eagle, Ory Okolloh, Ethan Zuckerman, and Jacqueline Novogratz.

Jacqueline Novogratz is the CEO of the Acumen Foundation and she and the foundation efforts to promot "patient capital" is highlightedin CNBC World in their program “What the Future” (part 1, part 2, part 3). Please give it a watch. In the first part of the program, the post election escalation of violence is portrayed.

It was during this time that the 250 children and gaurdians of the NGO that I work with, Community Breakthrough Support Mission (CBSM), had to be evacuated out of Nairobi and transported to Kimilili, Kenya. In the last two years, Rev. Wasike and the elders of the CBSM have tried very hard to help the women and youths to build a strong community.

Those of us working with the CBSM often get asked why we are focusing so much of our efforts on helping women co-ops and youth groups to build successful small-scale businesses. Recently, Rev. Wasike wrote the following about our work in general and empowering women and youth specifically. I'd like to share with you his thoughts on the matter for the eloquently argue the matter:

The essence of all of our work is to make the community a self-reliant and independent collective. This compels us to initiate programs that may be realised by the women in the local community. Women in Kimilili and the surrounding area have not been allowed to partake in running business es because their husbands do not approve. They believe women should stay culturally apart where they can bring up their children in the homes; irrespective of whether there is food available or whether their children are attending school or not. Traditionally, women have been competing in the number of children they give birth to as a form of status since polygamy is still practiced.

For as long as I can remember, youth 's work in our community was to take care of the livestock. Tragically, this livestock no longer exist in large scale as used to be, hence make this group is left idle and hence a source of violence and crime in the community.

My understanding is that what a child needs most today in order to be self reliant tomorrow is food and a good education to unlock potential of the child. A child also needs shelter for security and health when sick.

Most men in Kenya, and this is culturally approved , believe it is okay for them to inclusively use any income increase they earn to increase the number of wives. The bigger their families are, the more respect they earn in the community. This is unlike women, whose first priority is the wellbeing of their family (parents and children.

I believe that by empowering women and youth in the community, we are doing something similar to doing an overhaul on an engine that we can always count on for the rest of our long journey. Thankfully, it is becoming more common to see women running business than it was previously. Yet, without proper knowledge on how they can best do business and without the proper capital their journey is arduous.

Hence if a chance arises for us to empower one woman who has 10 children, what we are doing in creating this opportunity is taking care of the 10 children. In fact, starting the women empowering program has already created real help. For instance, during the last school term almost all the vegetables the school cooked for the children came for free from the women co-ops we trained in our first two CBSM Gardening Vocational Training Program workshops. During the workshops, we taught them best business practices and gave them water pumps and seeds.

This term we have avoided the cost of cooks, as four women who had applied to be enlisted for workshops and our facility was not able to accommodate them, offered to do the cooking at CBSM school for free for children this term . They did this on the condition that they would be able to attand the next series of workshops. They have done wonderful work this term, reduced the cost of running the school as salary for cooks is recurring cost and recurring costs are very painful always come when one one is not ready. Fortunately, we are happy to be giving our next workshops in August, which they will be able to attend.

It is our believe that through collective will and work we will offer our children a safe and happy environment to grow in.

Rev. Wasike

30 July, 2010

Food for Thought

Over the years our family diet has changed from being a primarily alkaline diet to much more of a acid diet according to this chart. Part of the reason this has happened has to do with the fact of going local in our eating habits (e.g. more local fruits) and eating lots of pasta dishes. Will have to chew over the information for a while and see if there isn't anything that is easy to reintroduce into our eating habits rather than taking away.

28 July, 2010

A Parallel World

The nearby turkish barbershop is closed this week because of rennovations. The place has a large front window that frames the flow and buzz of activity within. Turkish barbershops are a fascinating sub-culture in the neighbourhood we live in. Hair is cut, beards are shaven, and excess facial hair is plucked with much finesse.

It is not an exageration to say the effect is more sculpturing than hairdressing. In contrast to other barbershops, the shop across the street allows older sisters, mothers, grandmothers to sit on the bench across from the row of barberchairs and watch the master barbers at work on their loved ones. Sometime it seems as if there might be more observers than there are customers, but that might be my subjective opinion.

23 July, 2010

Remix Heaven

Kleptones - Come Again (Beatles vs Rare Earth vs Beaties vs Daft Punk vs Cypress Hill vs Boston) Video by Crumbs Chief from The Videotones on Vimeo.

It's Friday and so I wanted to share this delightful remix. May you all have a sunny and enjoyable few days at home or on your travels.

20 July, 2010

A Sunset of the City

The hot dry summer days loll on. I’m still seeking employment. Though I should say, I do have meaningful employment; lots of projects being juggled both here and in Kimilili, Kenya. Now I just need employment with a salary.


Listening to poetry these days. Find it soothes my restless soul. Today’s find was Gwendolyn Brooks’s, A Sunset of the City. Please go to this link and her speak the poem. I love how she describes growing older,

It is summer-gone that I see, it is summer-gone.
The sweet flowers in drying and dying down,
The grasses forgetting their blaze and consenting to brown

There are moments now when I feel such, but I try and let them flow away with the summer breeze.

19 July, 2010

Pace of Life

Something to consider. If the pace of life differs between countries, cultures, and religions, do you think it differs throughout your life various phases?

"Past-oriented vs. present or future-oriented personalities differ across many landscapes, and factors like religion, geography and culture greatly influence how individuals experience time."

linked from Neatorama

14 July, 2010

Renewed Hope


As you guys know, I've been seeking a new job position for the last months*. After many ups and downs, I had lost my spirit.  That is, until a friend and I sat down and worked through a list of possibilities: narrowing and prioritizing the possibilities into Plan A, B, C, and D. My spirits picked up knowing that there were concrete tasks I could do towards finding a job.

And as it so often is in life, I was working through this list late last week, when all of a sudden I tripped across a job description that exactly fit my credentials and hopes for a Plan A job. It took me two reads before I could believe that even though the times are tough, there are still jobs out there that I reallyreally would like to do.

I've just received word that the organisation has been inundated with applications and so they ask for my patience. This might mean that I won't even be invited for an interview. But, you know, this will not be the end of the world. Now that I have found the job description with my name stamped on it, I just have to find another organisation with the same sort of viewpoint. My hope has been renewed.

10 July, 2010



I've been wanting to announce the following for a while now. It is quite exciting partake upon such a venture and I am forever thankful to the group of friends who have agreed to help organise this ambitious program.

"Woman On A Journey is an art and culture program that is to take place in the Frauenhotel in Luebeck, Germany throughout the year of 2011. The program includes an art exhibit of collages by lilalia, as well as contains various workshops and seminars exploring the central theme of ”Inner and Outer Journeys Of Discovery”.

The seminars are informative and inspirational presentations, whereas the workshops are participatory or exploratory in nature. Various themes are explored, such as,

  • Women traveling Solo
  • Luebeck: A city seeped in culture and of many cultures (perspectives from migrant women on International Women’s Day 2011)
  • Growing old with all your senses and common sense
  • Africa: A Continent of Resourceful Entrepreneurs
  • Social-Marketing vs. Social Engagement

Woman On A Journey is the brainchild of lilalia and Sabine D. whose intention is the support of women networks through artistic and cultural exchange. In the background of the art exhibit and public events is the promotion and support of a community of businesswomen in Kimilili, Kenya. The central goal of the program is to create a lively conversation amongst women who aspire to living life as an inward and outward journey of discovery."

07 July, 2010

Let's All Play Some Football

Well, don't know if you guys are interested, but tonight Germany plays Spain in the semi-finals of the World Cup. Everyone around here is just going through the day as if all is normal. I suspect though that they, like me, are just going through the motions and their concentration is not really on the task at hand.

If you have time please watch this video where Raphael Honigstein talks about whether Germany has a chance of winning against Spain.

No matter who wins, it is bound to be a great show of fine football playing. So those of you who haven't ever cottened to this game, give it a try. You might be surprised.

04 July, 2010

Windows of my Journeys III


Many many years ago, when we were sailing the Venezuelan coast, we came upon an island that had been hit by a great tidal wave. The regional lush landscape was replaced by desert terrain. Initially, I thought this island to be far less interesting than the jungle bush, but soon I was a convert to the diversity of desert landscapes. This collage is a homage to those times.