Sunday, November 20, 2011

News of Our School

The school of Achungo was born in 2005 as Director Michael Nyangi had recruited 2 widows with hearts for orphans who began to work with him both by taking care of orphans (along with their own children) and beginning to teach those who were unable to attend school due to cost.

Although Primary School (K-8) is tuition-free in Kenya, the indigent still cannot attend because they are required to pay for uniforms, shoes, books, school materials and exams.  Thus there are many children who fall through the cracks of the "free educational system" and Achungo addresses that need for our orphans.  We provide uniforms and other clothes and shoes, food, care, medicines and schooling (with school materials, exam costs and all other costs covered).  Although we have some beds at the children's center, nearly all of our children are always cared for in homes in the nearby community.  Although these are poor family units living in mud huts, they provide a sense of belonging and of integration into the greater community that no group home can provide.  See my blog article:   Most of the children are in homes with relatives, often aunts or grandmothers, but some are in homes of good Samaritans, often widows who also have their own children.

Achungo Staff

Founder and Director:    Michael Nyangi

Headmaster :    Mr. Nelson Aketch
Assistant (or Deputy) Headmaster :    Mr. Eliakim Ochieng
Office Clerk :    Madam Nancy Akoko
Baby Class / Nursery / Middle Class:    Mrs. Dorcas Ouma
                                                                Mrs.Christine Kibwana
Pre-Unit (Kindergarten) :     Mr. Erick Olony
Class One (1st Grade):      Mr. Nelson Aketch
Class Two (2nd Grade):    Madame Esther Akinyi
Class Three (3rd Grade) :  Mr. John Mwai
Class Four  (4th Grade) :   Mr. Eliakim Ochieng
Class Five (5th Grade):     Madam Asha Okoth
Class Six (6th Grade):       Madame Emily Sumba

Other Staff
Cook:             Mrs. Mary Auma Okello
Asst. Cook:    Mr. Kennedy Odhiambo Oyolo                     
Caretaker in charge of water distribution:    Shadrack Charles Oketch

School Counts As Of September 2011

Class Size

Class        Student Count
1st                          17
2nd                         23
3rd                         17
4th                          13
5th                            9
Early Preschool       26
Preschool                12
Kindergarten            13

Grand Total              130

Our Farming Project

In 2010, after 2 years of supporting the food program at Achungo, Samaritan's Purse encouraged us to undertake a project that might move us toward self-sufficiency.  We had experimented a little with farming, so wrote a proposal for farming 11 acres which was then funded for the 2 planting seasons of 2010-2011 and has now been funded again for 2011-2012. 

The planting seasons in SW Kenya, coinciding with the rainy seasons, are in August/September ("short rains") and in March/April ("long rains").  The land is cleared as needed, then plowed with oxen and a plow with wooden handle and a metal blade (advanced from what we saw in Ethiopia where it was entirely wooden).  We had advice from some farming experts from the U.S. who showed us to plant more densely than is common in the area, to weed and fertilize twice after planting (and the fertilizing that preceded planting), and to do some ditching so that the runoff during heavy rains doesn't wash out the plants.  With these methods, we expected a better crop than is common and hoped to produce enough to gradually move toward self-funding subsequent crops while covering the costs of our food program at Achungo.

The 11 acres are not near the school but near Director Michael Nyangi's home, making use of a few acres of his own land at no cost and renting other land at often reduced cost based on his relationships with neighbors.  About 1/2 of the acreage is in the hills on significant slopes and the other half in lower and more level land.  The lower land retains water better and typically shows its advantage in the health, size and yield of the crops.

We've grown mostly maize because better cash crops could be at significant risk of theft since the plots are not guarded or near someone who could watch them.  We grew some beans the first season but have not done so since as the bean plants are more susceptible to damage from heavy rain and loss of bloom to chickens, among other risks.  Because we do not have adequate long-term storage for the maize, we sell much of it at the time of harvest when the price is at its lowest.  As such, the farming program has supported the food program costs to a great extent, but without much remainder.