stories

building unconquerable relationships

Mapping Sustainability

The team awoke after a night of broken sleep. Around midnight, we heard a creature outside pluck a chicken right out of its roost, taking it to its unfortunate final resting place, but not without a fight. After the team shook the sleep out of their eyes and had a light breakfast, we were ready to start the day. Usually a quick walk to Small Home, this trip took a little longer as the team was in tow with two large suitcases. Upon our arrival, we met Sister Phillip, who got us set up through Keter to present our gifts to the children. After all of the appropriate introductions and with everyone gathered around the table, the suitcases were opened, revealing art supplies and sweet treats that each team member hand-picked prior to embarking on the trip. As each item was handed out, the children’s eyes lit up with excitement. The best part wasn’t seeing their faces when we handed out the gifts, but sitting down coloring, painting, laughing, and building relationships with these amazing children. The team could have stayed there all day, but we had to get moving so we could keep up with our busy agenda.

A quick stop at the guesthouse for lunch, and the team was off to Got Osimbo for a meeting with the village elders to discuss and handover the first draft of the communities mapping initiative, a project and partnership between the village elders of 11 villages and Invictus engineering partners that began the year prior. (read about it here) Unlike the meeting that was scheduled the day before where only a few representatives and self-appointed map administrators showed, this time all community leaders from the 11 villages were present. It turns out that the team’s unwillingness to handover the entirety of the mapping information into the hands of the few rather than that of the whole had conveyed the right message – as partners we’re either all in, or we’re all out. Everyone was to have equal access and control of the maps and their information. Each community now had equal stake in the mapping initiative.

1 Mapping Kenya 2014 Invictus Initiative

We had another round of introductions, after which Mike revealed the much-anticipated maps. Mike and the team gave a quick tutorial on how to read the legend and navigate the map. Once the village elders and community leaders understood everything about their new maps, questions erupted on missing and important mapping points. With great foresight, the team presented them all with a hand-held GPS device that they could use together to add points of interest and landmarks that were not represented in the first draft. The Invictus team would train a representative on how to use the device, that representative would share his training with a representative from each community. With these new tools, the communities and The Invictus Initiative would continue to work together to grow and expand the map into a useful resource for all the people who currently live there.

In addition to using the information to gain a better understanding of their lands, the same information could now be shared to aid in the development infrastructure such as electricity and roads, water projects, and maybe even more importantly, the maps had given the communities a new sense of identity.

2 Mapping Kenya 2014 Invictus Initiative

3 Mapping Kenya 2014 Invictus Initiative

4 Mapping Kenya 2014 Invictus Initiative

5 Mapping Kenya 2014 Invictus Initiative

Earlier in the week, the Got Osimbo youth group, led by John, discussed an idea to turn an unused room at the church into library. We asked where they were currently going to get the books they needed. They thought it was a good idea to show us. The team made a trip to the nearest community library to meet with the head librarian and get more information on how may people it serves and how they are funded. The library sat on a quiet half-acre lot shaded by a few large trees. Three buildings housed the books, each focusing on different age groups. The library had a great selection of fiction, non-fiction, and reference material funded by the governmental headquarters in Nairobi. The head librarian looked like a tall Kenyan version of Mr. Rogers with his baby blue cardigan sweater and wire-framed glasses. He informed the team that the library served ten thousand people in the surrounding communities and that most people walked or took Piki Pikis to get there. If a book was lost or damaged, then the person responsible had to pay a portion of the replacement cost. Looking through the guest book, we realized that a few days prior to our visit, they had received a visit from Nairobi that brought them over 600 new books. With many of our questions answered, the team left with plenty of information to take back to John and Daniel that would help them work through whether or not their idea was viable, as well as identify opportunities they may have not considered. It was time to get back to the guesthouse to prepare for the main event.

6 Library Kenya 2014 Invictus Initiative

7 Library Kenya 2014 Invictus Initiative

Tonight was the annual Invictus Goat Barbeque! a special night celebrating the new relationships we have developed during our time in Sigomre. With invitations out, a fresh goat roasting with all the fixin’s/Kenyan essentials, we got ready for the party. As Sarah and Jane were busy stirring, stewing, and grilling, we had a Peter Ndar and Margaret meet us early to discuss an idea the team had come up with to help them get more textbooks for St. Patrick’s Primary School. Everyone gathered to present the idea to Peter and Margaret and answer any questions they had. Mike brought out two bracelets he had purchased earlier in the week at the Maasai Market in Kisumu. He used them as an example of something the kids and parents could make that the Invictus could take back to the States and sell at a premium. The money made from them would then be used to purchase the textbooks the school needs. Margaret and Peter took turns looking at the bracelets and discussed amongst themselves what and how they could produce an item that would sell. Bracelets for Books?! Knowing that not all the details needed to be ironed out right then and there, they both agreed it was a great idea and were excited to move forward with additional ideas and designs that could potentially turn into textbooks for the children. The meeting wrapped up as more and more of the invited guests began to show up for the main event.

8 Business Idea Kenya 2014 Invictus Initiative

Together we shared a great meal, as well as several departing speeches of gratitude, praise, and future plans from everyone. The Chief and his staff also added to the speeches, noting the work completed and joy created within the community during our time with everyone.  With extending approvals and continued welcome to future Invictus groups, we wrapped up the evening with content stomachs, happy hearts, and rich relationships.

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