Want to know more about my work in Kenya? You can read about it here.
What is VSO?
VSO is the world’s leading independent international development organisation that works through volunteers to fight poverty in developing countries.
VSO’s high-impact approach involves bringing people together to share skills, build capabilities, promote international understanding and action, and change lives to make the world a fairer place for all.
My workfield: Secure Livelihoods
VSO has secure livelihoods programmes in more than 20 countries across Africa and Asia.
For VSO, a secure livelihood means having the income and resources necessary to meet basic needs and survive shocks. Our main objectives in this area are therefore to strengthen the ability of disadvantaged people to access sufficient food and income, and to have more control over how and when they access these essential lifelines.
Enterprise development and access to markets
A significant element of VSO’s livelihoods work is focused on helping disadvantaged people identify markets for their products and making the most of the opportunities that the market offers. In Kenya, for example, handicraft producers are trying to market their products in tourist resorts, but lack of understanding about the quality expected by western tourists meant their businesses were not as successful as they could be. A VSO marketing expert helped them to understand the importance of market research, branding and quality assurance, which means they are now more successful in selling their products through high-end tourist resorts.
In some areas, enterprise development is closely linked to natural resource management, and volunteers work with communities to find ways to conserve their resources and find alternative ways to earn a living that won’t impact negatively on the environment or their ability to access food supplies. For example, in the Philippines, volunteers are helping communities protect their fish supplies by developing businesses in seaweed production, breeding mud crabs and producing coconut oil.
Read more at http://www.vso.nl
First week working @ Il Ngwesi Office
My colleagues are really friendly, they walk in and out of the office all the time. I wonder what they are up most of the time. I am working with Reisa (25 years old), she is the project coordinator of the Beadwork Project. She is Maasai and her hometown is the Chumvi community. She lives with her uncle James (33 years old) in Nanyuki, he also works at Il Ngwesi. Henry is from Uganda, he is in charge of the Micro Finance project, I will follow up on this when he leaves the end of the year. Patrick is our General Manager, he is Maasai too. I met him at my second day. I am supposed to work on three different projects, he told me, Beadwork, Micro Finance and Greenhouses. That’s a lot for 1 person and I am not an agriculture specialist, so we have to talk this over!
Electricity down @ second working day
Every night the lights go on and off when I am at home, because of electricity problems. I was warned for this, so I got this great IKEA solar light, which is always working because of sunlight charging. Apart from the solar light, I bought many candles; in empty wine bottles they end up pretty cozy!
But at the office, when electricity is down, there is no laptop working, since they are old and have low batteries. So it’s just the paperwork that can be done, a lot of brainstorming and reading the newspaper. Kenyans all love to read the newspaper every day; daily news since I am here is president Kenyatta’s ICC case. Since it is my second working day, I am still new to everything, so for me it’s just reading some strategic plans, go through bead stock & catch up with daily news. And a lot of brainstorming with Reisa, which is really interesting to get a hold of the Beadwork project.
Our view @ this moment: electricity men climbing the poles to fix the electricity.
Power will be on again at 5 ‘o clock this afternoon…
The internet didn’t work the whole week, nobody seems to bother, but I hope it will be fixed by next week. So many things to investigate for my project, needing the internet. Can you imagine no internet at work?
It’s a great project, I am really looking forward to make this project a success. I am learning every day a new fact about the beadwork project. Ladies of the communities come in the office, to chat about the project, to buy beads. They sometimes bring their babies on their back. Still amazed by the way they carry the babies, in all these beautiful fabrics. I really need to learn some Maa (Maasai language) to talk to the ladies.
This week was really inspiring work wise. I am brainstorming a lot with Reisa to get to know the project and what possibilities/opportunities we have. I have so many questions: will the ladies make the same bead products without us, how can we bring in new designs, what about quality, what’s the market they sell to, how can we empower them even more and create independency, the ladies live so far away in these remote areas….
No coffee machine at work, but we have our own chai lady. Looking forward to the daily visit of the chai lady at 10.30. She sells chai tea and chapatti (typical Kenya wrap), it’s good. It feels like ‘Noordermarkt’ & ‘Albert Cuyp markt’ in Amsterdam, there are these ladies walking down the market, providing the market people with coffee and tea, and soup in winter time.