Fact Finding Mission

May 4, 2012

The talking is over so let’s get a plan of action – we’re off to the beach tomorrow. We’ve covered an amazing amount of ground in two days and even though we did not stick rigidly to the agenda we are well prepared for the trip – but then again, how would I know? I have no idea what to expect but I’m like a school kid the day before summer holidays.

In preparation for our trip we recap on the critical points. We know that our ‘Entry Point’ to these communities is critical for success; We are not aiming to give a ‘hand out’ as has too often been the case, but to offer a ‘hand up’ by delivering affordable technology; The objective is to replace and offset harmful practices and open doors to a diversified economy by enabling sustainable horticulture.

We pose questions about the broader objectives of our mission as if to convince ourselves that we are on the right track. Will this project enable empowerment? Will it reduce environmental damage? Has it the capacity to enhance the local economy in the long term and most important of all, is the model we propose, replicable?
Satisfied that we have the genesis of a solution we now must decide on protocol. Pastor Gilbert has laid the ground but a bus with six strangers, including three Muzungu’s, will arrive in a small fishing community, so what is our message and how should we engage?

We decide that we will introduce ourselves as being on a ‘Fact Finding Mission’, to explore opportunities to harness the power of the wind and the sun. We elect to let Pastor Gilbert lead and in as much as possible to be guided by the leaders of the Beach Management Units.

Our discussions over the past two days have informed us that preservation (chilling) of the fish catch would possibly give the communities more control over pricing; We know that their existing use of Kerosene for fishing lights at night (5 litres per boat) is expensive and unhealthy, but what happens to the kerosene seller if rechargeable lighting is introduced?  We need to hear them elucidate these problems rather than be the people to suggest them and perhaps we will be surprised.

It is decided to visit ten villages, a very ambitious target given the terrain and the sheer distance, I’m assured. Maps of unfamiliar territory to me are presented and much debate ensues as to the route. Trust the Pastor I’m thinking, he’s been there on Sunday.

Hands up, who is able to travel tomorrow? Names are taken and we agree to meet at 6.30am outside the Maseno College. Osienala will provide the bus and they own a hotel on the Lake where we will overnight. Hotel I thought? I was naively expecting to be told it was sleeping on the floor somewhere and had I brought my sleeping bag.

Finally, we agree a set of project deadlines to take the project planning up to May, hoping that by that stage the UK will have sourced funding. The workshop is concluded and someone comments, we’ve reached agreement and there wasn’t even a war – ah, echoes of home and I love the humour.

Time for the group picture then it’s off down town on another Kisumu adventure for me, this time in search of a cash machine. Shur’ I’m almost on nodding terms with the locals at this stage and I really would love to have the courage to walk into one of those tiny bars that are tucked away among the hustle and bustle of this city – another day Dec, another day.