Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Working at ACCES

I have been in Kenya now for over three weeks and in Kakamega for over two. Crazy, yeah? I still cannot wrap my mind around all of this.

This place is unbelievably stunning! Everyone I have met has been incredible and so loving.

Right now, I'm just starting my second week as a Health and Gender intern at ACCES Kenya. (ACCES stands for the African Canadian Continuing Education Society. For those who know my love for Canada, this place seems prefect yeah?) The past week and a half has been so busy and I have learned so much!

Here in Kenya, ACCES has 7 community schools, where they work with children who may not have another option for schooling. The learners (what Kenyans call students) often face numerous challenges, such as child headed homes, malnutrition, HIV/AIDS, and many other things. The community schools provide an education for these learners on scholarship because many cannot afford to attend formal primary schools. After the learners have finished primary school (which is through grade 8 for the US), there is a national exam taken by all learners.

For those that receive marks of 300 and above, they have the chance to apply for scholarships to secondary school (high school) and eventually for university scholarships. For those that receive marks between 250 and 299, they are given the chance to pursue Technical, Industrial, Vocational, and Entrepreneurial Training (TIVET). One last program offered by ACCES is the Vocational Training Program. This program is offered to learners who  scored 250 or less on the national exam and trains the learners in tailoring and dress making. (Fun fact: this program was actually started by a previous FSD intern two years ago!)

ACCES has several other programs as well, including the Agri-business program. This program teaches community groups many different business and agricultural topics. The aim of this program is to create sustainable businesses for small community groups and to increase food supply, incomes and nutrition. This program is also involved with the community schools, as several schools have 4K clubs. There is currently another FSD intern within this program and he developed corn shellers and fuel briquttes. The corn shellers are being sold and whatever profit ACCES gets goes straight to the scholarship program. The fuel briquettes are still in development (but very close to being finished). The briquettes are made out of organic waste and are going to be taught to several community groups to make and sell.

Now to the program that I am working in: Health and Gender. I am not sure how my supervisor, Monica, does it all because there is so so much that this program does on a regular basis. She's part Wonder Woman, I tell ya! This program offers HIV/AIDS and hygiene training to the community schools, provides primary and preventative health services to all seven ACCES schools, provides sanitary pads to menstruating girls once a month, nutritional support, and counselling.

One of the things that I love about ACCES is that not only is it extremely well rounded as an organization but it is very sustainable as well. It gives opportunities to all the learners from the community schools, provides healthy meals during the school day, and several of the schools have greenhouses to produce some food for the community. All the programs within ACCES work together to support the entire community. I am really impressed with all the work they do!

Anyway, that's a little of where I am working this summer. More updates of my time soon!


1 comment:

  1. I just totally read: "For those who know my love for Canada, this place seems perfect yeah?" as "For those who know my love for Canada, this place seems perfect eh?" and it made me laugh at work. Be-te-dubs I am super proud of you!! <3