Welcome to the Board, Rosemary Chengson!

Global Partners is pleased to announce that Rosemary Chengson has joined our board of directors and is currently serving as board treasurer. Rosemary brings years of experience and leadership to the board, and her expertise will ensure the continued integrity and effective functioning of our financial reporting and internal controls.

After working for the University of California for over 25 years, Rosemary retired as a Director of Budget and Finance and changed career paths to start her own personal training business. She believes in the importance of building community and helping others help themselves. She has been an active volunteer in educational programs and the Special Olympics and has served as treasurer on the boards of both the Women’s Cancer Resource Center and the President’s Advisory Committee on the Status of Women for the University of California’s Office of the President. Rosemary is a graduate from UC Berkeley where she studied biological sciences and has an M.B.A. from the University of Rochester’s Simon School of Business.

Rosemary is a proponent of Global Partner’s model of partnering with communities to assist with local infrastructure and education projects while the communities retain agency and accountability for the work. She is looking forward to serving as treasurer, and we are lucky to have her join our team.

Welcome to Global Partners, Rosemary!

Global Partners for Development Golf Tournament

We are pleased to announce that we are hosting a Golf Tournament on Monday, October 18th at the Santa Rosa Golf & Country Club. All proceeds from this event will go toward supporting Global Partner’s community-based projects in East Africa.

The event will begin with breakfast and a bloody mary bar followed by tee time at 10am. After 18 holes, all players are invited to join us for a BBQ lunch and awards for the first, second, and third place golfers. More announcements to follow!

If you are interested in purchasing tickets to the tournament, please visit gpfd.org/donate/ and select “Golf Tournament” on the drop-down menu. Tickets are $1,200 for a group of 4 golfers. Singles and doubles are also welcome to join for $300 per person. All golfers will be grouped into foursomes.

If you are interested in sponsoring this tournament or donating auction items, please contact [email protected]

Update from the Field: Adjusting to Pandemic Life in Kenya

It is sixteen months since we had the first nationwide lockdown in Kenya due to COVID-19. If you would have asked me how long this pandemic would last for, I would have told you just until August, but when August came I could tell I was very wrong and now, I am not so sure.

On June 16 2021, The Interior Cabinet Secretary announced that the government would introduce containment measures to deal with movement and social activities in a bid to reduce the COVID-19 surge in Western Kenya. This included Homabay County where I currently reside and I’ve been closely monitoring the projects in schools in Suba North Constituency.

If there is anything I am learning during this pandemic is how much Kenyans can change to suit their environment and also how lacking our health sector is in terms of facilities, human resources and above all innovation. However, the most recent containment measures come with a curfew that bans all movement and social activities after 7pm.

In Mbita town and in most schools, seeing how people interact and take measures regarding social distancing and sanitization has been most intriguing. For example, the wearing of masks with the government saying it’s mandatory, the people here have interpreted it as something to be done appropriately to avoid being arrested by the police. When it comes to public transport, social distancing only applies when there is a different traffic police team at the usual check-points. If this is the case you are still hurdled together in the probox until you are almost near the check-point when the driver would stop and hail a boda boda to get you beyond the check point where you’ll wait to board the vehicle again. They say “we just have to pass the check-point.”

When schools resumed in October last year, the government was strict in checking up on schools to see that they had sanitizers, pupils were wearing masks the right way, seated at a distance from each other and that schools had hand-washing stations. Sixteen months down the line and we are in the last week of 2020 academic calendar and most schools have stopped using the thermo-guns to check and record the temperatures of visitors and closely monitoring the sanitation protocols. They are swamped with a curriculum that needs to be covered, an overwhelming population of pupils with lacking infrastructure and frankly speaking, no teacher wants to run around making sure over three hundred pupils are wearing masks and socially distancing.

Schools here close by the 16th July 2021 and resume on the 26th July 2021 and with the containment measures still in place, I hope that when they transition into the next class and schools (for those joining secondary and university) we would have taken this pandemic seriously and practiced effective mask wearing, sanitizing of hands and socially distancing to further reduce chances of contracting or spreading the virus. I also hope that we’d have more people vaccinated

Technical Advancements at Obalwanda Primary School

Engineers are problem solvers, and when it comes to water projects in rural areas of East Africa, problem solvers are invaluable. When Global Partners was approached for partnership by Obalwanda Primary School in Kenya and learned about the community’s desire to bring clean water to the school, we knew that our technical team’s skills, experience, and creativity would be needed. Sure enough, the team got right to work putting their heads together to figure out the best way to make turn this vision into reality.

Obalwanda Primary School currently has no source of clean water on its campus. Water is collected from a small pond about a mile from the school or donkey carts are hired to transport water to the school. The community has a borehole, but demand is very high. Women and children spend hours in line waiting to collect water. After meeting with school and local leaders, we realized that we needed to bring water not only to the primary school, but to a special needs school, the local dispensary (small health clinic), and to an additional community kiosk as well.

The team understood that the best option was to build off the existing borehole, but working with a 35 year old water project can be tricky. Along with adding pipes and distribution lines, we needed a more powerful pump to get the water to an elevated water tower about a mile from the borehole. At the same time, we didn’t want to cause a new set of problems by increasing the operational costs of the water system.

After considering a few different options, the team decided to install a solar-powered booster pump. Although we’ve done solar projects in the past, this is the first time that we will be using this type of solar pump, and, best of all, the pump and new distribution system will supply water to two schools, the dispensary, and an additional community kiosk with no increased operational cost!

The GPFD-Kenya team recently met with community members to map out the project’s distribution system, and work is underway! Local people are key to the success of this project, and a community water committee will ensure that the project is sustained into the future.

Introducing New Board Member Robert Demler

Robert Demler, is currently retired from a 46 year career as an International Banker and a Diplomat-Advisor with the U.S. Department of the Treasury.  He received a Meritorious Honor Award from the U.S. State Department for his advisory work at the Central Bank of Liberia and received a second Meritorious Honor Award from the U.S. State Department for his advisory work at the (central) Bank of Algeria.

Prior to Liberia, he was attached to The National Treasury of South Africa in Pretoria.  Preceding his posting to South Africa, Demler was in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, as the U.S. Treasury’s Diplomat – Advisor to the Governor of the Central Bank and to the Director of the Deposit Insurance Agency. He received a special award from the Bosnian Government for his drafting of the national level law and regulations for the Deposit Insurance Agency and was also a co-author of that country’s Banking Law.

Prior to his joining U.S. Treasury in 2000, Mr. Demler held senior credit positions with Bank of America and Standard Chartered Bank, retiring as bank-wide Head of Credit Policy for Standard Chartered Bank. Mr. Demler was, additionally, an Examining Officer with the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, overseeing large international bank holding companies.

Mr. Demler’s commercial banking career spanned three continents, with three separate postings to London and others to Nairobi, Kenya, Lagos, Nigeria as well as in San Francisco, Los Angeles and Miami.

As a U.S. Naval Officer during the Vietnam Era, Robert received his commission on November 22, 1963, at Officer Candidate School, Newport, Rhode Island and Navy Wings as a Navigator at Corpus Christi, Texas, and was assigned to the Naval Air Station, Brunswick, Maine, with deployments to Spain, Italy, Greece, Trinidad as well as Puerto Rico.

Robert and his wife, Leslie, are long-time residents of Sonoma, CA, where Robert has been active in civic affairs.  He is the immediate past City Historian, the current Executive Director and a past President of the Sonoma League for Historic Preservation and is currently the Archivist for the Sonoma Sunrise Rotary Club.

Robert’s interest in Africa began as a young teenager who wrote to Albert Schweitzer, volunteering his service to this famous humanitarian. A Schweitzer staff member wrote back, discouraging someone so young and so far away from attempting the journey. That letter is still a prize possession of Robert’s. Eventually, his banking career and government service took Robert to a number of African countries with actual residences in five of them. As a younger person, Robert was fortunate to have climbed Kilimanjaro, another youthful dream.

Thus, thanks to a dear former Bank of America colleague, John Cullison, who lived in Africa and London as I, and who is presently a Global Partners Director, my path led to my joining this wonderful and dedicated group of folks who are doing amazing things on the mystical continent of my youth.

My watercolor portrait was done by a dear artist friend in Algiers, Algeria.

Toilets: A Simple Intervention

Global Partners has implemented A LOT of toilet (latrine) projects lately. As a matter of fact, almost half of the projects we’ve funded in the last year have included toilets. So why are we focusing so much of our efforts on such a simple intervention?
First, it’s what schools and communities want. Local people understand their needs. When we partner with a school, we support community members and school staff as they work together to identify the reasons why their children do not, or cannot, attend school and then take actionable steps toward addressing these issues. They map their existing resources and concerns and vote on the project(s) that will most improve primary school attendance. When they select toilets, we do toilets. Second, poorly constructed latrines pose a serious threat to the health and safety of students and teachers. Many of the schools we partner with don’t have an adequate number of latrines, and some lack any working latrines whatsoever. In fact, 47% of schools in East Africa lack basic sanitation facilities. We also frequently encounter latrines that are full and beginning to sink, which is extremely dangerous. Inadequate sanitation facilities are also unhealthy. Toilets and handwashing stations can help stop the spread of diseases and parasites such as diarrhea and pneumonia. Around 80% of illnesses in lower income countries are linked to poor water and sanitation conditions. Third, a lack of safe and private latrines is a significant barrier to girls’ education. One out of every ten girls in Africa miss school during their period, and at least 500 million women and girls globally lack adequate facilities for menstrual hygiene management. If toilets do not offer sufficient privacy and washing facilities are not provided, menstruating girls frequently choose not to attend school and may eventually end up dropping out. When a community decides to implement a latrine project at their school, we work with them to make sure the final project meets their needs and is sustainable. In areas with clay soil, we use SanPlat technology for the latrines to mitigate against the poor soil conditions and prevent future collapse. The latrines we build include privacy walls, and we add washing stations for menstruating girls as well. We also provide handwashing stations. Sure, toilets might not be the most exciting and innovative intervention, but local communities know what their children need to succeed. Our role is to help turn their visions into reality.

Arkaria Community Center: Building a Better Future

We often say that our focus is partnership rather than charity, and Global Partners has developed many long-lasting friendships and partnerships during our 40-plus year history. Alais Morindat, a local leader of a Maasai community located in Arkaria Village, Tanzania, has worked alongside Global Partners for decades. The partnership between Arkaria Village and Global Partners has yielded numerous accomplishments throughout the years. Together, we’ve renovated schools, implemented clean water projects, and provided scholarships for girls’ education – just to name a few examples.

We recently joined forces once again with Alais Morindat to establish a community center for Maasai pastoralists in northern Tanzania. The Arkaria-based center aims to protect and promote Maasai culture while also increasing resiliency and strengthening Maasai communities through skills development, promotion of education, improved management of natural resources, economic empowerment, protection and establishment of land rights, and community engagement.

The center also aims to help Maasai communities adapt to and flight climate change. East Africa is beginning to see the effects of climate change, and one of the hardest hit communities is the Maasai. Recent studies have reported that climate change will increasingly have macro-economic impacts in Tanzania. Experts predict that climate change could lead to economic costs equivalent to a loss of almost 2% of GDP each year by 2030, delaying or even preventing Tanzania’s progress towards middle income status.

Our goal is to help the Masaai community not only survive but thrive in a rapidly-changing world. Global Partners funded the construction of the center, and Alais and his team set ambitious goals and mobilized the local community. Together, we are creating sustainable, life-changing programs and building a better future for pastoralist communities. To support our efforts, donate at gpfd.org/donate.

A Special Shout Out for Team Engineer

Although everyone on the Global Partners team has an important role to play, the members of our technical team deserve special recognition. Our core technical team, affectionately called “Team Engineer” by the rest of the Global Partners staff, consists of Joseph Ochieng (Technical Director), Elias Njoga (Field Engineer), and Michael Glaser (Technical Advisor and GPFD Board Member). So why does this team deserve a special shout out?

Their expertise guides our work from partner selection to long-term project sustainability. When we first assess a potential partnership with a school or community, the technical team looks at the existing infrastructure and notes any resources and obstacles. Once a community selects a project, our technical team works with them to determine how to best turn their vision into reality. They then create project designs and budgets, work alongside construction contractors and crews to ensure that projects are implemented correctly, and provide operation and maintenance trainings to ensure that projects keep working well into the future.

They are problem solvers. When we run into a challenge or problem involving infrastructure projects, we count on the technical team to come up with creative and effective solutions. For example, we frequently partner with schools whose latrines are sinking. Conventional latrines are prone to collapse in certain soil types, which is both dangerous and costly. The technical team put their heads together and began implementing SanPlat latrine systems in areas with problematic soil. These latrines actually become stronger as they fill and are a more sustainable solution.

They are always looking for better ways of doing things. While many might be content to say “good enough,” the technical team is constantly striving to improve our designs, make our projects more environmentally friendly, implement better technologies, and leave communities with the knowledge to sustain projects long-term.

We couldn’t do our work without this amazing team. As stated by Michael Glaser, “We are literally responsible for the health and wellbeing of people’s lives.” Lucky for Global Partners and our partner communities, we are in good hands.

COVID-19 Cases Surge in Kenya: Our Response

Like much of the world, Kenya is currently experiencing a rapid increase in COVID-19 cases. Many healthcare workers have contracted the virus, largely due to an inadequate supply of personal protective equipment. Healthcare facilities, especially in rural areas, are ill-equipped and lack the capacity to effectively respond to the current situation.

An increase in community transmission affects more than just health facilities. Schools in Kenya partially reopened for exam-level students in October and are expected to bring back all students in January. Understandably, school leaders are concerned. Many schools are already overcrowded, which makes social distancing nearly impossible. Schools often lack adequate sanitation (toilets) and handwashing facilities, and many lack a source of clean water.

School leaders also fear the unknown. Testing rates are extremely low in rural areas of Kenya, which means schools aren’t sure what they will face once they fully reopen. Some people don’t know where to go to get tested, while others simply don’t want to test. Many also fear the cost of treatment if they test positive.

Global Partners is working with our partner schools and communities to safely address the challenges they are facing. Instead of holding large community meetings, our staff is collaborating with smaller groups of school and village leaders. Together, we are strategizing about how to best disseminate information and solicit ideas and feedback to ensure that our work remains community-led. We are forging ahead with new school infrastructure projects and are specifically targeting schools with water, sanitation, and hygiene needs. We are installing more handwashing stations than ever before and are providing hygiene training to help schools keep students safe.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has opened our eyes to many aspects of good health and sanitation that we need to prioritize and effectively manage in schools,” says Fred Okeyo, Chair of the Kenya Primary Schools Head Teachers Association. “The challenge with public primary schools is that we need the infrastructure and the facilities but do not have the financial capacity to implement them, so we are grateful for the support for the support we get from Global Partners and even more so at a time such as this.”

We will continue working with our partners to keep schools safe and students learning. The world may have changed, but Global Partners’ commitment to improving public health and education remains the same.

Long Before Glasnost by George Rainier Weiner: Recounting the days of World Runners

Check out Long Before Glasnost by George Rainier Weiner. All proceeds from this book go to Global Partners for Development.

To purchase the book, visit:

To donate, visit: Donate

During the cold war years (1969-91), many American individuals, small groups, and somewhat larger organizations traveled to Russia in hope of breaking down the communication barriers between the peoples of both countries. In doing so, they circumvented the ossified bureaucracies of both countries in the spirit of, “If the governments can’t do it, perhaps we can.”

Long Before Glasnost chronicles the explosive growth of a philanthropy-focused running club and its unintended participation in this process. World Runners began running the Moscow Marathon annually as a team in 1983. They had one, and one only, simple mission: to bruit The Hunger Project’s message that “The end of world hunger is an idea whose time has come” throughout the streets and running pathways of the world. They had no political agenda. They had no citizen-diplomacy goals.

Because they had no diplomatic intent, paradoxically, they may have been the most effective of all the groups that went to Russia at precisely that: the militarily-disciplined, obsessively suspicious Soviet press gave them a free pass. In a sense, they operated in a modern-day Trojan-horse likeness. Though they started small in 1983, by 1989, they had over 600 T-shirt wearing members running the Moscow Marathons and traveling throughout the far republics of the Soviet Union. The scope, size, and media coverage they received literally dwarfed other participants in the diplomacy field.

This book presents the World Runner participation through distinct experiences of individual WR club members in running the marathons, and their travel experiences throughout Russia.