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December 2007

Local firm becomes project partner

JH Williams & Sons makes welcome $10,000 contribution

Local firm JH Williams and Sons joined the Tweed Kenya Mentoring Program (TKMP) as a project partner.

The long-established building and hardware supplies company made a welcome $10,000 contribution to the program, aimed to improve water and sanitation in Kenyan communities.

JH Williams joined Tweed Shire Council ($10,000), the International River Foundation ($10,000), Tweed Shire Council staff ($13,000) and local business, churches and individuals as project partners.

The Mentoring Program employs one full-time staff member and operates from an office in Kibera, which is a township on the outskirts of Nairobi. The TKMP needs $50,000 a year to maintain the desk.

The program has recently provided a water treatment facility for the community of Obambo-Kadenge in the west of Kenya, and is managed within the Tweed Shire by a team of Council staff and volunteers from a number of community groups.

Tweed Shire Council General Manager Mike Rayner said this sponsorship would enable the TKMP desk in Nairobi to be sustainable in 2008.

“As we learnt from the three Kenyan youth volunteers who visited the Tweed in September, a network of 500 young people is engaged through soccer events to join environmental programs run through the desk,” Mr Rayner said.

The TKMP has established a youth action network focusing on environment, public health, water supply and sanitation.

“Collectively, these young people are making a real difference in their communities and gaining control of their lives,” he said.

Siemens Corporate Responsibility Award for Safe Water Project

Clean Water
The ‘Safe Water Project’ received international recognition by winning the 2007 Siemens Corporate Responsibility Award ahead of 181 teams from 35 countries around the world. The project is part of the Tweed-Kenya Mentoring Program (TKMP), a collaboration between the Tweed community in Australia, the SkyJuice™ Foundation, the International Riverfoundation and Siemens Australia. Its aim was to deliver clean and safe drinking water to a remote Kenyan community. In early 2007, Dr Marty Hancock, Floodplain Project Officer of the Tweed Shire Council, volunteered to spend three weeks in Kenya to install innovative water purification units in the impoverished community of Obambo-Kadenge.

‘The three low-cost water filtration units using Siemens technology and provided by the non-profit organisation SkyJuice™ Foundation are now ensuring the villagers of Obambo-Kadenge have access to water which exceeds World Health Organisation standards,’ Marty Hancock said.

The SkyHydrant water filtration unit uses a low-pressure membrane water filter which removes suspended solids, bacteria, protozoa and a limited number of viruses. The solar-powered, sustainable system can produce up to 10,000 liters of safe drinking water per day.

‘Clean, safe water is something we take for granted in the Tweed Shire, but now in Obambo-Kadenge it is really saving and changing lives,’ said Mike Rayner, Council’s General Manger and founder of the Tweed-Kenya Mentoring Program. ‘This partnership between the Tweed community, SkyJuice™ Foundation, the International Riverfoundation and Siemens Australia has shown what a powerful and real difference we can make to the lives of people across the world,’ he said.

Council staff are already planning another Safe Water Project in rural Kenya and are aiming to have it completed by late 2008.

The International Riverfoundation provides financial support and in-kind services. In recognition of the outstanding achievement of the Safe Water Project the IRF has increased its financial contribution.

November 2007

Samuel is back in Australia

Samuel with Bernie, Sandy, Ricky, Kurt and Ryan Zietlow
The ‘world game’ of soccer has made the world of difference for a 13-year-old orphan from Africa’s most impoverished community.

Samuel Mwangi’s outstanding soccer skills led him to being selected to come to Australia for six months in 2006, as an offshoot of the Tweed Kenya Mentoring Program. Youth had been identified as a way of connecting with the wider community.

Sam returned to the Tweed in 2007 to complete his high school education, with the support of Lindisfarne Anglican Grammar School at Terranora.

A trust fund was set up for Sam to pay for educational costs associated with the trip to Australia. The contributions made by the generosity of many people and organisations towards Sam's education was greatly appreciated.

His ‘Mum and Dad’ Sandy and Bernie Zietlow were thrilled to have Sam back at their Clothiers Creek home, after a long battle to secure his student visa.

“It’s like he never left, as if he’s been on holidays as he’s slotted right back into the family,” Sandy said.

Their sons Ricky, 16, Kurt, 13 and Ryan, 11 enjoyed running around the backyard with Sam again, and worked hard trying to copy his host of new soccer tricks.

Sam played soccer on Wednesday nights in the local six-a-side competition in Murwillumbah and trained once a week with an elite development squad. In winter, he played with his ‘brother’ Kurt in the Murwillumbah Services Soccer Club Under 14 side, coached by his ‘Dad’ Bernie.

The Tweed Kenya Mentoring program established the formal links between the two countries but it was soccer that spoke the common language.

Sandy and Bernie, both Tweed Shire Council employees and heavily involved with a local soccer club, were instrumental in two large collections of soccer equipment from the Tweed community making their way to Kenyan youth.

Many young Kenyans like Sam love the game, playing on dirt fields in bare feet with a soccer ball woven from plastic bags, rubber and string.

The donation of this equipment from the Tweed means some Kenyan children can now wear strips (uniforms), boots and play with real balls. The items are also used as prizes and incentives to take part in the YCLEAN youth campaign to educate Kenyans about the importance of cleaning up their degraded environment.

The hope for Sam was that he would return to his home country to become a community leader, working with others to improve the standard of living in Kenya.

“We’ve said to him he can get back on a plane and go back if he ever wants to, but he says he’s happy here. When he gets older it’s up to him, but he has always said he wants to go back one day,” Sandy said.

September 2007

International Riverfoundation River Connect Newsletter No. 8 (992kB PDF)

Kenyan Youth Leaders are in the Tweed

Thetu presenting at their official welcome
Thetu presenting at their official welcome
OJ, Korey and Anastacia (Thetu) are three Kenyan youth leaders who worked as volunteers for the Tweed Kenyan Mentoring Program (TKMP) in Kibera under the leadership of the Program's Nairobi Coordinator, Olita Ogonjo.

The three environmental advocates were sponsored by the International Riverfoundation to attend the 2007 River Symposium in Brisbane to tell their story.

The three volunteers arrived on Saturday 25 August and spent their first week in the Tweed. They undertook training across a range of Council activities which exposed them to new ideas and enhanced their skills for their work in Nairobi. A major component of their first week was also spent meeting staff from Tweed Shire Council and the community who support the TKMP.

Leigh Davison demonstrating garden use of compost from composting toilet
Leigh Davison demonstrating garden use of compost from composting toilet
The TKMP established a youth action network focusing on environment, public health, water supply and sanitation. The network is called Y- CLEAN, led by OJ, Korey and Anastacia (Thetu) and operated by engaging young people through soccer, which is very popular in Kibera. Over 200kg of soccer equipment has been collected in The Tweed and shipped to Nairobi, and generated tremendous interest and enthusiasm in the activities of the mentoring program. By combining soccer tournaments with workshops on environmental education and activities such as river clean ups and tree planting, the volunteers have held two ‘Great Nairobi River Sports for the Environment Tournaments’, the last one attracting 550 youth.

While staying in the Tweed, these three young ambassadors provided a graphic illustration of the work that has been able to be achieved with the support of the Tweed community, and expressed their gratitude to the Tweed community for that support. By meeting individuals, schools, service clubs and Council staff to tell their story, Korey, OJ and Anastacia (Thetu) enabled us to gain a better insight into the program's achievements. At the same time they engendered a deeper appreciation of our own privileged position and the need to protect our natural heritage and environment.

6 August 2007

Mentoring Program Volunteers Preparing for Tweed Training Tour

John Kori, Pauline Nyoto, Anastacia Karugo, Christopher Martin. Olita Ogonjo
John Kori, Pauline Nyoto, Anastacia Karugo, Christopher Martin. Olita Ogonjo
Three of the young volunteers working in the Tweed Kenya Mentoring Program Office in Nairobi made their way to Australia. Anastacia Karugo, Christopher Martin and John Kori are residents of Kiberia, the largest informal settlement in Kenya. Despite the hardships imposed by their environment, these three motivated young people are involved in programs that benefit their peers through the initiation of sporting, environmental rehabilitation and health education programs. For the past two years, each of the three has worked in the Tweed Kenya mentoring program office with program coordinator, Olita Ongonjo.

In September, Anastacia, John and Christopher were sponsored by the International River Foundation to attend the River Symposium in Brisbane, where they shared their experiences and learnt from some of the world's leading practitioners in river management and environmental rehabilitation. As well as attending the river symposium, the mentoring program volunteers spent two weeks in the Tweed Shire, undertaking a tailored made program of training that assisted them in their work at home.

Council staff from across the organisation ran the team through practical lessons on topics ranging from water quality to media management and preparing applications for funding grants. While in the Tweed, the group were billeted by local families, and got to know the community that is supporting their efforts to improve the lives of youth and the health of their local environment.

March 2007

Safewater 1 Project Delivery Report (3.29mB PDF)

In 2007, a Safewater Installation was undertaken in Obambo Kadenge, a very isolated and extremely poor area of rural Kenya, some 6-8 hours west of Nairobi.

The objective of Safewater '07 was to install a SkyJuice water filtration system for a village of approximately 1000 residents who relied on a contaminated dam for their drinking water supplies. Due to severe poverty, villagers could not afford to boil or treat their water in any way, and so as well as walking long distances to collect it, they were affected by contaminants derived from cattle, agriculture and domestic runoff.

The safewater project site was identified by Olita Ongonjo, coordinator of the Tweed Kenya Mentoring Project. Olita travelled to Obambo and rallied villages to form a committee and begin planning for the installation of the SkyJuice Plant.

In March 2007, Marty Hancock, an environmental scientist from Tweed Shire Council volunteered his time to take the Skyjuice plant to Obambo to install and commission it. As well as raising significant funds for the project, Marty spent countless hours planning technical aspects of the installation, relying on very difficult communications with Olita, and solving numerous problems related to the isolation and poverty endured by the target community.

The configuration ultimately adopted for Obambo was four sky hydrant filters backed by a wind generator and a pump. The facility is able to produce 40,000 litres of pure drinking water each day.

The village has used Safewater project funds to construct a tank stand and other necessities for the facility. A village committee is responsible for maintenance of the plant, and charge a small fee for water which is used to fund ongoing maintenance. Immediate health improvements are backed by an ongoing education program on hygiene and sanitation. The water source will also be protected by fencing the dam to exclude cattle, while at the same time providing a trough for them to be watered from. This will reduce erosion of the dam banks, eliminate manure input and improve water quality prior to filtration.

The project has been successful, and for the first time in their lives, residents of Obambo Kadenge are able to drink water that will not make them sick. Quote "…As well as delivering this incredibly worthwhile project, Marty has had the experience of a lifetime, seeing the harsh realities of life in one of the poorest parts of the world, but also experiencing the legendary tenacity, optimism and humour of the African people." says Marty.

The Tweed Shire Council staff and many Tweed Community members involved in Safewater ’07 are intending to repeat the exercise in 2008. With knowledge gained through the Obambo installation, and inspired by Olita's description of the next village desperate for assistance, there will be no shortage of motivation to continue with this life saving initiative.

Samuel Arrives Home in Kenya

Samuel Arrives Home in Kenya
Just a short note on the progress thus far of the education of Samuel Mwangi. Samuel started boarding school in Nairobi at the Le Pic School (french for The Top) and sounds very happy. We have been speaking to him every week and his life in Kenya is much improved from when he left Kenya 9 months ago.

We are also still working on a student visa for Sam to come back and study here at the Lindisfarne School at Terranora for the next 4 years. This has hit a bit of bureaucracy in that Sam does not have a 'legal' guardian to sign his student visa so we are currently pursuing this through the court system in Kenya. Once this is finalised it should not be too hard a task to get the rest of the visa in order and then for Sam to return to Australia.

Thanks once again to everyone who has helped Sam in his quest for an education and we will keep you updated on any new circumstances.

Bernie and Sandy Zietlow

January 2007

Colours of Kenya Tour (27kB PDF)

Last Updated: 11 November 2013