GPFD USA Visits Projects in East Africa for the First Time Since the Pandemic Began 

by Ria Pullin, Director of Marketing and Communications

I had never been to the continent of Africa. I had just over half a year under my belt with Global Partners and I was understanding our work based on the thorough program reports and annual reports of the past. BUT… this trip made me truly FEEL the work. Yes, I saw our impact in numbers and on maps, but to truly experience it in these children’s faces and to hear how things have changed at the schools after the projects were implemented completely overwhelmed me. 

I was both transformed and humbled by this trip. I learned so much about the culture through the food, the people, the landscape, and mostly, the kids. I am a mom of two young kids and this was my first extensive work trip away from them. As we drove through Kenya and Tanzania, I would see kids younger than my own carrying fish and vegetables from the market with a baby strapped to their back. I saw the kids cleaning the latrines and classrooms at the end of their school day. I saw very young kids tending to the livestock. The common thread is not the hard work. It was their joy. Yes, out of necessity these kids have to help in their communities, but what I gathered from it was their sense of ownership and responsibility that made these young children feel capable. The adults believe in their kids’ abilities and the kids, in turn, feel a sense of pride and accomplishment that they have contributed to their own family’s well being.

Our United States office has not visited our projects since the end of 2019, so we were well overdue to get our feet back on the ground and meet in-person with our staff and partners in Kenya and Tanzania. While countless western NGOs halted development work due to the pandemic, Global Partners continued to construct classrooms and complete water projects at schools and in communities as well as provide hand washing stations and masks to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19. We owe this continuation of project implementation to our team in Kenya. They were able to safely hold community facilitation meetings in order to determine the needs of the school. They were able to construct the water project or classroom because our team on the ground is all locally-based. We thank Team Kenya for their professionalism, expertise, and tenacity to ensure that the work Global Partners has been doing for over 40 years never ceased. We also thank our donors who continued to support us through the last few years so that we could keep supporting our communities in East Africa. The pandemic affected the entire planet and we never lost sight of our local goals and global partnerships.

While we could not visit every single project that Global Partners completed over the last few years, here is a brief summary of the site visits we were able to see. Please enjoy this brief highlight video of our travels and we will feature more in-depth episodes of these projects soon!

May 5th 

We arrived at 10am in Kisumu after spending the night in Nairobi. We were met by Festus Juma, our Kenyan Country Director, and Joseph Ochieng, our Principal Technical Engineer. 

Lake Primary School: We constructed four latrine blocks. I was excited to see our new branding, as well as our partnership with SEP (Society Empowerment Project), featured on the latrine blocks.

May 6th 

Kitare Primary School: GPFD constructed two classrooms, provided chairs for the Early Childhood Development students, and fenced in the school for protection.

Obalawanda Primary School: This is a huge water project distributed to Obalwanda Primary School, a local health center, a special school, and the local community. GPFD constructed the distribution lines, piping, solar-powered pump, and an elevated tower.

Oguta Mbare Primary School: GPFD constructed an eight door SanPlat latrine block (a sanitation platform (a ground level slab covering a 3 meter pit) on which a light building is constructed to form a latrine. It offers improved sanitation by eliminating flies and smell, through air circulation. The addition of a chimney draws air currents into the structure and through the squat hole.  

Oseno Primary School: GPFD constructed a sanitation facility from an existing foundation slab.

May 7th 

Ogande Special School: GPFD constructed rain water harvesting and distribution within the school and supply of 70,000 liters of tanks. This is an incredibly moving project and clearly very well run school, even in comparison to US standards for a special needs school.

Atono Primary School: GPFD is constructing eight-door SanPlat latrines.

May 8th 

We visited the SEP/GPFD offices which are under construction. We had a staff meeting, where we discussed various ongoing projects and future programmatic plans. 

Ringa Girls School: GPFD constructed a 120 capacity girls dormitory and 12 SanPlat toilets. This is a truly impressive school project. The scope of the project is very large and clearly very well done. The impact this will have on these girls clearly will be very positive. 

Waondo Primary School: We visited the first project completed in Suba North. It was built in 2018 and commissioned in 2019.

Matata Hospital: John Mulago gave me a very extensive tour and history of the hospital. I loved learning about how much GPFD has supported the hospital since its inception in the 1990s. 

May 13th 

We visited Alias Morindat and the Arkaria Community Center. It is really awesome to see the center actually functioning. There was a training underway with pastoralist leaders when we visited. The center is doing great work to help teach pastoralists about land management. It is especially relevant given that the UN predicts there are 15 million people in the horn of Africa that are at risk of the most extreme type of famine. Arkaria and the Maasai we work with will be affected by this coming drought. 


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