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Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Klay for Kenya: 2nd Graders at Saint Olaf School Create Pottery with a Purpose

Cindy Workman, Koins for Kenya board member and a 6th grade teacher, recently shared this blog post:   This is the daughter of a teacher at my school.  She did an art project with some 2nd grade students.  They created pots/ popcorn bowls and sold them at a school event. They made over $1000.00 to donate to Koins.  She has named her project "Klay for Kenya".  

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

KLAY FOR KENYA: With Saint Olaf School

Klay for Kenya
I stood completely humbled in the second grade class of Saint Olaf School today.  I didn’t walk into a classroom; I walked into a beautiful gallery full of budding artists, potters, and storytellers.  Over the past few months, these amazing second graders and their beyond inspiring teacher, Mrs. Jacobs, worked with me in creating clay bowls.  We made a mess, experimented with textures and color, laughed, and shared stories about art. What I discovered in this messy adventure is that these kids have got true hearts and genuine creativity.  The kids made clay bowls to be sold in their class art show.  All money collected from art sales is going to “Koins for Kenya”, which is an organization that builds schools in Africa.  Thank you Saint Olaf School for putting your heart out into the world!  

To learn more about or donate to Koins for Kenya, please visit: www.koinsforkenya.org

To check out St. Olaf School, please visit:


Monday, January 28, 2013

CrossFit's Impact in Rural Kenya

In 2012, CrossFit made an impact in rural Kenya in a big way.  With the help of Dallin Frampton, a repeat Koins expeditioner and committed humanitarian, CrossFit came to Kenya with a vengence.

Through the efforts of CrossFit HQ and individual CrossFit affiliates, classrooms, desks and water cisterns were built in the villages of Dzendereni.  Currently, additional classrooms have been built in the village of Mkanyeni, with others already on the drawing board for Dzivani, Majengo, and Chizini.

New CrossFit classrooms being built in the village of Mkanyeni

Water cistern construction at Mkanyeni

There are several articles and videos available on kenya.crossfit.com, CrossFit's Hope for Kenya initiative website, spotlighting and explaining the projects that have been undertaken by CrossFit.  During a recent expedition, the 2008 CrossFit Games Champion flew his team to our village area to see the work for themselves.  They raised enough money within their CrossFit affiliate to construct several classrooms, and with their own eyes witnessed the walls go up.

Koins is very appreciative of the partnership with CrossFit in this classroom construction.  CrossFit has caught the vision of our work in Kenya, and what the results mean to the people of these rural villages. We are providing real hope for the future, in the form of better education for the children and better water resources.  This Mkanyeni project took less than a month to complete, showing the dedication of both the Mkanyeni villagers and the CrossFit sponsors, and the efficiency of the Koins team in Kenya.
Finished classrooms at Mkanyeni

New NorCal CrossFit classrooms in Mkanyeni

Students anxious to start using their new classrooms
Brand new desks in a brand new classroom
Students who are very happy with their new CrossFit sponsored desks

Very happy school children

This cistern will capture rainwater for student needs

The back of the classroom with not quite finished pipe to cistern

Well done, CrossFit.  You have provided hope and the promise of a better tomorrow to yet another village in Kenya.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Veracity Schools Built in November

In November, Daryle Stafford, President of Veracity Insurance, went to Kenya to finalize the building of two school buildings in Peku, a rural village in Kenya.

Working with Koins for Kenya, the donation from Veracity Insurance Solutions provided school buildings where there had been none, as well as desks, chairs, and school uniforms.  For these rural villagers, the gift of a school will be a blessing for generations of children.

Having Daryle come to Kenya to see the results of the donation, and to witness the gratitude of the villagers and children who will be attending the school made it all worthwhile.

Asante, Veracity.


Monday, November 12, 2012

Marty Cej, BNN Anchor, Shares his Kenya Experience

Recently a group representing CrossFit was in Kenya.  Marty Cej, a Business News Network anchor from Toronto, Canada was with the group, filming, interviewing and observing life in rural Kenya.  This clip was shown on the BNN station this morning.  It is a great overview from the perspective of a newcomer to Kenya, with photos and experiences he had while there.

Click on this link to watch the video.  There is a brief ad at the beginning of the clip.


Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Daryle Shadows Mama Frida

Daryle Stafford is in Kenya with Bret.  Daryle and Veracity Insurance are sponsoring the building of two classrooms and a cistern.  The following is Daryle's experience of shadowing a villager.

This photo was taken in the family room of Mama Frida's home shortly after returning from the fields

Daryle shadowed Mama Frida (Free-dah) for a half day today.  He fetched water from over a mile away, carrying two buckets instead of the traditional single bucket.  He also worked like a horse in the garden, helping weed a substantial part of their fields.  He not only fetched firewood, but he climbed a cashew nut tree and cut down dead limbs with a machete, then carried the bundle of wood back on his head to Mama Frida's house.  What he really did today was learn the difficulty of being a woman in this part of the world.  Mama Frida loved him because he was so strong and really dug in and got some work done.  The sweat poured off of him all day in buckets.  His bald dome was never without puddles ready to roll off onto his soiled shirt.  His shorts were soaked through, but he continued on working side by side with Mama Frida and her family.

I would expect that some of the villagers might have a hard time telling Bret and Daryle apart.  With their bald heads, blue eyes and large American bodies, they look strikingly similar!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Classroom and Cistern Construction in Peku

This was Bret's first email with photos of this trip.  The photos show the initial construction of the classrooms and cistern in this village.  My previous post showed the project a little further along.  I think it is interesting to see how the Kenyan's do their work with the most rudimentary of tools and materials, as well as concepts.  

Classroom foundation under construction and cistern base dug

I just arrived in the village late yesterday, and as a first matter of business I drove up to Peku (Pay-Coo) today to see how the work was progressing.  

Floor and first round of block in classroom construction

The construction of the first of two Veracity classrooms have given a distinct outline of the project. The Aclaime water cistern is located at the side of the school, as visualized in a couple of the photos with the round foundation and wire extending upwards. Until now the children have been meeting under a tree and drinking swill from a nearby watering hole.

Cistern structure

Within two weeks this construction site will look like a school site, and within 3 1/2 weeks the children will be filling the classroom and enjoying the water from the cistern.


Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Bret Returns to Kenya, October 2012

Bret has returned to Kenya for his 4th trip this year. Classrooms and a cistern are being built in the village of Peku, sponsored by Veracity Insurance.

Construction of classrooms and a cistern in Peku

Lost luggage is a simple fact of life when travelling to Kenya. It's never pleasant and always disappointing, but never surprising or an issue over which to lose much sleep. After 26 hours in the air and in connecting airports, we discovered that the bags we were to pick up on Nairobi and switch to the domestic flight were, indeed, missing in action. We usually don't lose our bags, the airlines misplace them, so we simply boarded our final flight to Mombasa knowing that we would be living out of our carry-ons for at least a day. Strangely enough, we discovered that our bags were actually delayed in Los Angeles, after the shortest of our flights from Salt Lake.

 "Heat" comes to Mombasa for basic training. After completing the grueling boot camp that it must endure, it earns its stripes and is promoted to "Hot," and that's where we have arrived. Sweltering, scorching, muggy heat. As I looked at Tim's face only seconds after deplaning onto the tarmac, beads of pour-opening sweat have gathered on his now glistening face. And with the wisdom of the ages he looked at me and said, "wow, you weren't kidding." Just two days prior I had advised him that wearing jeans in the village was not a good idea because it was going to be extremely hot. He shrugged the notion at first, but heeded my advice and packed lighter clothing. Now he knows why.

 Last week a Toyota Wish arrived at the Mombasa Port with Koins' name on it. We have spent the past decade riding motorbikes, hitching rides, and hiring cars that it finally came time to purchase our own reliable mode of transportation that would increase safety, comfort, and the changes in weather. The Wish came nicely equipped from Japan, but no accessory outweighs the air conditioning system that works gloriously. Japan send tens of thousands of their used vehicles to Kenya every year. New cars are driven by the Japanese for a couple of years, usually putting low miles on their vehicles, then traded in for another new one. With the auto industry being so strong there, used cars have little value, so they send them to countries like Kenya where a better price is fetched. And since few Kenyans can afford the price of a new car, plus the hefty taxes for imported vehicles, this provides a good option for everyone. Our vehicle is 5 years old with only 20,000 miles, and hopefully will provide us with years of comfort, safety, and air conditioning.

 Tim and I arose early. I suggested a quick walk around the village so he could see the morning unfold for our people. We walked the dirt paths towards the Koins farm, being greeted by everyone who passed with a friendly smile and a hearty "good morning" in English or Swahili. Tim's head was spinning with questions and curiosities as a first-timer here in the village, attempting to digest what was being revealed with every step we took.

 Children were everywhere walking in the same general direction, some carrying sticks and others had only small containers of dirty water. I explained certain classes were assigned the firewood for today's meal while other classes from within the nearby primary school had to bring water for boiling the corn and beans. It's simple, effective, and the only way they can provide meals for the kids every day since open fires are the only methods available for cooking. Mud huts are intermittent between stone houses with tin roofs. Signs of increased prosperity within some of the families here. To have a tin roof is like having a brand new SUV parked in your driveway.

 As we entered the farm we encountered our watchman who had been surveying a new arrival in the goat pen. He didn't recognize me at first since he had never seen me with facial hair. There has been a quick response to my current look, and the overwhelming majority are nixing my chin growth.

 Tim was able to walk the gardens and see the work that goes into our agricultural projects. Our forest of fruit trees rivals any small grove in California. The vegetables are reacting to the recent "short rains" of October and November, and our families were just beginning to show up as Tim and I continued our tour. As rugged as this area is, the lush and fruitful Koins farm is an emerald island in the middle of a desperate area.

 An unscheduled trip to Mombasa to retrieve our bags is bitter-sweet. We get our bags, but we have to travel to the city I despise most. We take advantage and run some errands that were scheduled for a few days from now.

 As we returned to the village area we passed by Peku (Pay-Coo) where our classroom and water cistern are being constructed. Where children of Peku are currently sitting under a tree for classroom instruction, within three short weeks they will be in a fantastic classroom, seated on comfortable desks, learning in an environment that truly encourages performance.

 From there we jumped over to Bofu where we dropped baby blankets to the dispensary, then met with school officials for some Koins business. The dispensary is small and humble, not dissimilar to what we have in our central village. They heard about our blankets for babies program and wanted us to extend the same to them. Instead of women having babies at home, as they have for centuries, we encourage them to come to the dispensaries so any mishaps to mother or child can be averted. At first it was difficult to convince them to come to us, but as soon as the baby blankets were introduced for delivering mothers, our percentages skyrocketed. A mother was just departing as we arrived, so we provided the first blanket to her. She had given birth just a few hours ago and was now walking back home with her baby daughter so she could continue her obligations at home. These women are absolute machines, and Tim is quickly coming to that realization, too.