#6 Becoming Self-Sustaining

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

#6 Becoming Self-Sustaining

Hi All,

So much has changed at SFG since I was here last in November. The goal is to become as self- sustaining as possible. Of course the big thing is the solar/wind electrical generation. I talked to the people who are installing it, who tell me there are other schools in Kenya with solar but nothing on the scale of ours. As is generally the case, especially with new technology, there have been some glitches, but estimated date to go off the grid is Tuesday. The savings will be enormous! How will it be used? That has yet to be decided, but I’m hoping some of it will be used to increase teacher salaries. It can’t be much, but they are a devoted staff, and the pay is meager.

Inspecting the solar/wind installation                                                   Grace is in charge of putting it together

Several years ago we invested in a plot just across the road, with the idea of building more teacher housing. It will be a long time before that can happen, as our focus is now on raising more scholarship funds, both for high school and for university. So a garden has been planted, which the girls who take agriculture maintain.

Jecinta pulling weeds in her fancy duds                                            A small harvest

Yesterday 5 small boys from the neighboring elementary school were caught stealing carrots from the garden. I happened to see them as they were brought to Jecinta’s office. Scared??? They were terrified. She sent them back to be dealt with by their principal. My guess? No more stolen carrots!

The 2 cows have both been bred. Soon they will produce enough milk for the whole school. They keep the grass on the soccer field cut and eat the stalks from the corn growing around the school perimeter. And, of course they add to the compost used in the garden.  For the biology lab, SFG now uses home-grown rabbits for dissections.  Jecinta tells me they are thinking about raising chickens and possibly some pigs. The greatest limitation is space. But my guess is that if an adjoining plot should become available, Fr Kiriti would snatch it up.

One of the best ideas is the bakery. An oven next to the kitchen produces enough bread each day to supply both SFG and the boys at Archbishop Ndingi. I understand the girls help with that, although I have yet to see it in action. Bread is a big part of the African diet and this bread is delicious. The smell of it baking fills the air—yummmm!

Margaret and Josephat weigh dough for consistent size                        Josephat monitors the baking

The system of eaves and water storage tanks harvests the rainwater. In a good year, they can be almost independent of the bore hole next door. Buying water was very expensive.

All of this and more are evidence of the vision of Fr Kiriti. Not only is he working to insure the long life of the school, but these efforts also teach the students that problems are not insurmountable. One of the things I’ve noted among Africans is their acceptance of what is. How many times have I heard someone sigh and say, “Somehow God will provide” as they become even more mired in their poverty. Fr Kiriti’s vision is “God will provide me with a way to deal with this, but the doing is mine—God helps those who help themselves.” What he has done in building SFG as well as in the parish, itself in his 8 years here is truly impressive. At some future point I’ll write about some of his other accomplishments.

Best, Margo

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