I arrived in Kenya last week and will be making my way to every 410 Bridge community over the next two weeks. Yesterday I flew to Kandaria in western Kenya with our Country Director (Andrew Guuru) and our newest Kenya staffer – Titus Wabeti. Titus is our Leadership Development Officer and will work with all of our Community Leadership Councils to invest in and develop their leadership capabilities.
For those of you who have been to Kandaria, you may know of the tree and Ochai’s house. It’s a big (really big) tree that offers cool shade in an otherwise hot and humid community. This is where we always meet with the Kandaria Leadership council.
Pastor Jack opened the meeting with a word of prayer. The chairman, Eric, provided opening remarks that emphasized their thanks to The 410 Bridge for what they believe is a miracle to their community. He expressed his gratitude to our staff and especially the churches and teams that visited Kandaria over the past two years. Two short years…. the council reminded me that it was April 6th, 2008 when we first met under the tree. They pointed out where I sat, where other members of our team sat, and recited main points of that original discussion. Two years later so much has happened. “We’ve done so much together and we thank God for bringing 410 Bridge to our community.”
Eric turned the meeting over to Dickson – Council Secretary. Dickson provided a detailed review of the progress made since 2008. He started with their top priority… water.
He opened with a big smile saying… “Our first priority was water. I am happy to say that today we consider the water project completed!” The council promptly applauded and shook hands with each other. The project took a little less than 12 months. Water flows from a public source about 5km’s from Kandaria. It’s stored in two 50,000 liter tanks on the side of the hill which gravity feeds six smaller tanks located strategically around the community – churches, schools, etc. From there, it is disbursed to 14 distribution points throughout Kandaria. All of the schools have water which supports a daily feeding program. The community created a Kandaria Water Consumption Association to monitor the meters, repair the pipes when necessary, and manage the project. “The people of Kandaria are very happy! We are healthier and our children no longer travel long distances for water and can go to school,” said Dickson.
Dickson continued… “Another big priority for us was education. We have achieved the objectives that we established two years ago and realize now that we set our goals too low. We did not believe that we could achieve so much in such a short period of time. We are now certain that both of our primary schools will be the two best performing schools in the district.”
Lillian (Akado Primary’s head mistress) explained that the quality improvement programs established last year at Akado and Segoti Primary schools have increased the enrollment in the schools by 150 students (30%). In the past, the level of education at Akado and Segoti was so bad that many parents enrolled their children in schools outside of Kandaria. They have since returned and today those students go to school closer to their homes and receive a better education than their previous schools. Akado Primary is the #1 school in the district, and Segoti improved from #16 to #3 based on mid-term performance. The 410 Bridge is grateful to all of the sponsors who are investing in the children of Kandaria, and thank our strategic partner BrightPoint for Children for all of their hard work in administering the sponsorship programs.
The meeting turned to the future and their plans for a health facility, micro-enterprise training, continued spiritual development, and education planning.
Editorial comment…. Four years ago when we were just thinking about forming The 410 Bridge, we knew that an opportunity existed to partner people in the U.S. with local leadership in Kenya to make a sustainable, transformational difference. The people of Kandaria are a living, breathing example of what we hoped for.
Special thanks to Kandaria’s partner churches – Carmel Baptist Church in Charlotte, NC, and Grace Community Church in Cranberry, PA. The people of Kandaria send their thanks and anxiously await the arrival of their friends this summer. They also are very excited about what lies ahead of them as we continue to work together