An opportunity to see, feel and enjoy!

Human activity has always been the biggest threats for the survival of endangered nature. But it is also one of the best solutions to conserve it!

ASSETS beneficiaries

ASSETS beneficiaries

Arabuko-Sokoke Schools and Eco-Tourism Scheme (ASSETS) an initiative, by A Rocha Kenya , has been providing bursaries to secondary students from around the Arabuko-Sokoke Forest and Mida Creek since 2002.The families were unable to afford secondary education and would have been forced to exploit the forest or creek resources (log trees, trap wildlife etc).

A key goals of ASSETS is to mentor beneficiaries so that they can become Kenya’s future conservationists. To this end, during the August school holidays, selected students are invited to take part in the ASSETS camp where they are treated to all the good food and ever warm hospitality that Mwamba Conservation Centre has to offer.

In August 2018, 40 students, two patrons and two parents representatives were hosted at Mwamba Conservation Centre in two groups for three days each. For most of them it was their first time to visit the centre. They really enjoyed the place so much such that when it came time for them to leave we had to ‘push’ them out so that they wouldn’t miss their out on transport back to their homes.

Enjoying the evening breeze while playing volleyball.

Enjoying the evening breeze while playing volleyball.

Mornings during the camp started off with a devotion and a day’s reflection. Sumptuous breakfast afterwards, followed by the daily exciting activities: environmental games, beach games, talks from the different speakers who had been invited, stargazing visits to Kuvuka( A Rocha Kenya’s office near the forest) to Mida Creek Boardwalk (being one the projects that greatly helps to raise funds for the scheme, it was see for them). The suspended design of the boardwalk is not for the faint-hearted! The start was exciting for all but as it got wobblier some nearly turned back but the joy of getting to the end,seeing the bird-hide and walking back on sand flats kept them going. The students also got to explore the coral reefs of Watamu Marine National Park, which for most of them, was their first opportunity to swim and snorkel. They all were brave enough to get into the water and see God’s amazing underwater creation. It was an enjoyable treat for all and one that who had been on previous camps still remember vividly to this day and one that others who have been on previous camps still remember vividly to this day.

A walk on Mida Creek Boardwalk

A walk on Mida Creek Boardwalk

It was the first year for a while we were to run the camp-made possible by the generous gifts from much-valued supporters both for the camp and the ASSETS bursaries.We hope to keep the camp running next year and years to come. We welcome you to give and support a student for this life-changing and fun-filled experience and through school.If you are visiting Malindi or Watamu you can also visit the Mida Creek Boardwalk to enjoy boardwalk, see the different mangrove ecosytem and by in so doing you will be support a student at school.

Click here to make your donation.

What they value, They will preserve!

A Rocha Kenya continues to hold a week long, yearly camp for the ASSETS beneficiaries and this year was no exception.

 

A bright Tuesday morning, April the 17th, a team of five headed by Festus Masha, our community conservation coordinator, left Mwamba Conservation Centre for a two hour drive to Kaembeni, behind Arabuko-Sokoke Forest, for the ASSETS camp 2018. ASSETS is the Arabuko-Sokoke Schools and Eco-Tourism Scheme that cares for both children and environment.

Bogamachuko Primary School was the first school Festus’ team arrived at and spent the first two nights; what with camping, tree planting and interacting with students, it was fun and a memorable experience for them, followed by other schools at Malanga, Nyari, Mijomboni and Mida.

Students gathered at Bogamachuko Primary School

Students gathered at Bogamachuko Primary School

All in all 90 students were brought together for days of fellowship and fun, focusing especially on caring for the environment and on the progress of their studies.

Students, graduates and parents

Decision makers play a key role in conservation. Thus the students were encouraged not only to care for their environment now but to aspire to be part of those who ‘call the shots’. This means they have to study, work hard and be smart in their studies as they are the next generation of leaders.

Creating awareness being a key part of the camp, it also brought parents on board. These parents and students live around the Arabuko-Sokoke Forest and Mida Creek and most have no real value of the rich biodiversity surrounding them, hence they do very little to protect or preserve it. At the camp they got to know more about the very valuable natural resources in their area, and also students received guidance for their studies and careers. What they value, they will preserve.

Having ASSETS graduates as part of the ARK team with them at the camp was an encouragement to many students, since they felt that they too can make a difference.

Hope inspiring stories

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Abdul one of the ASSETS beneficiaries

16 year old Abdul Adnan, is a form two student at Mida Secondary School. He is the 9th born in a family of 11 children. Since being accepted into the scheme he hasn’t stopped talking to people, both his peers and those older, about the importance of Mida Creek and why they should conserve it. He hopes to be a pilot one day and also help to educate many children. He is grateful that ASSETS came in and helped lightened the ‘burden’ since his parents were struggling a lot to raise his fees.

 

Mr.Juma in front of his poultry house

Mr.Juma in front of his poultry house

Mr. Amina Juma lives around the creek. In the early years, like most residents, he went out into the forest, trapped birds and animals to at least provide a meal for his family or sell the meat and have some money to take his children to school. Having learned the importance of the forest and creek, he turned to poultry farming. He has been in the business for three years, and as we talked to him he had 150 chickens and each can be sold for Ksh 500 (US$5). He sells his chickens to local hotels and uses the money to cater for family needs. He says “It’s less time consuming since I don’t have to go out hunting for the meat; plus its more assuring because going out into the forest one isn’t sure you will come back with anything”. Mr Amina has been on the forefront of passing on the message to others, encouraging them to use sustainable ways of making an income.

Students and parents planting trees (River Litchi  Lecaniodiscus fraxinifolius )

Students and parents planting trees (River Litchi Lecaniodiscus fraxinifolius)

It was a very interactive week as the parents and students asked questions and began to understand their role in conservation. To crown it all, there was a tree planting session done by both the parents and the students.

FROM THE ASSETS STUDENTS POINT OF VIEW

This year’s ASSETS camp kicked off on a high note with a total of 18 students from different schools and two parents to watch over them at A Rocha Kenya’s Mwamba Field Study Center in Watamu. It was a two days activity that seemed too short for every one of them. It was their time away from books, their two days were preoccupied with motivational, live skills, career choice talks as they also had fun and games on our quiet nature trails and incredible beach. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A walk by the beach that also involved them in knowing more about rock pooling and different types of fish.

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On leaving every student seemed saddened but they had to go...this was made clear by the comments they all left us on how they all rated the camp. Most of them requested that next time such an event should be given more days and more students to be involved since it was a very good experience for them both socially and academically.

SPEARHEADING DISCIPLINE IN SCHOOLS

Girimacha Primary school is among the 10 schools supported by the ASSETS programme. However the for the past few years that has not been possible because of poor performance. The school has recurrently recorded poor results in the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education(K.C.P.E)  exams. For this reason , a meeting  headed  by the ASSETS chairman Mr. Hemedi Ndonga, was scheduled on the 30th of July 2015 between parents, teachers and the ASSETS committee  to evaluate the cause of the performance drop.

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The parents were saddened by the fact that teachers were not concerned about the pupils well being and they cited an example of the head teacher who arrives in school at noon everyday yet he is the one being looked upon by the pupils. The issue of having tuition for the children also arose and it was noticed that there is only one teacher conducting tuition among the pupils.

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A lot more issues were raised between the teachers and the parents but the important thing was, both the teachers and parents were ready to work together as a team to make sure their children performed well academically.

Mr. Hemedi emphasized to both the parents and teachers that education is the best gift they can give a child and they should work together  tirelessly to ensure that discipline is maintained in the school from the dress code, punctuality and good morals among the students and teachers.

 “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6

 

MEET DORIS; THE ASSETS BENEFICIARY WHO GETS SATISFACTION THROUGH GIVING BACK TO HER COMMUNITY.

“Were it not for A Rocha Kenya’s ASSETS program, i don’t know how my life would be today,” said Doris Furaha an ASSETS beneficiary who hails from Kahingoni Village in Kilifi County. IMG_0188

Doris(left) with A Rocha Kenya's volunteer Rebecca Eastwood. Despite having passed her Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (K.C.P.E) examinations highly in the year 2010 at Kahingoni Primary School, Doris Furaha’s future seemed bleak. Her parents; who are small scale could barely afford to enrol her in a secondary because of their meagre earnings. The second born in a family of two could only pray for luck to come her way. And lady luck sure did knock on her door when she was selected as an ASSETs beneficiary in the year 2011.She was enrolled at Bahari Girls High School where she obtained a mean grade of B- in last year’s Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (K.C.S.E) examinations. “Teaching these young boys and girls keeps me busy and helps me avoid bad company but to top it all sharing my knowledge with these young people gives me satisfaction. The sight of me here, is an enough motivation for them to work even more harder despite the challenges they face.” She said at Kahingoni Primary School where she volunteers as an English, Kiswahili, Social Studies and Science teacher. Doris has been a volunteer teacher at Kahingoni primary since May 2015.

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Doris with her mum Even as she keeps on equipping these young ones with the knowledge she still holds onto her dream of becoming a clinical officer someday. It is her prayer that she will be able to join the university and study her dream course. ASSETS is a well targeted sustainable development programme that provides secondary school scholarships, meeting the economic and social needs of the local community whilst promoting the conservation of two of Africa’s most important ecosystems: Arabuko Sokoke and Mida Crreek in the Kenyan North Coast.

IN THE WORDS OF A SUMMER FIELD COURSE VOLUNTEER

IMG_9320 Rebecca Eastwood is a  summer field course volunteer at A Rocha Kenya from The United Kingdom,staying at Mwamba Field Study Centre in Watamu. She has been with A Rocha Kenya for a month and during  her stay she got to participate in the various  activities carried out by A Rocha Kenya.Below is her story.

"It’s been a great experience for the past three weeks and we’ve had the opportunity to work on so many different projects which have been a major eye opener in terms of conservation. On Saturday 18/07/2015, we visited Kuvuka community plot in Gede where we learned about the   ASSETS programme and a Farming God’s Way.

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It is amazing how one can practise sustainable farming on a small plot of land. For each crop there were two plots, one depicting normal farming and the other one depicting Farming God’s Way. The key difference was that for Farming God’s Way, mulch was used to conserve the soil moisture and to suppress the growth of weeds and compost used as an organic fertilizer. The purpose of this plot is to demonstrate to the  local people how farming sustainably can produce healthier crops with higher yields than normal farming, whilst being friendly to the environment in both  short and long term. Having completed the short tour, we were set to  harvest the maize.

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This was a new experience for me, and I could definitely see a difference in the cobs harvested from the two plots. Once harvested, we uprooted the stalks and then dug new holes for the next crop which we filled with compost made of  plant material collected from the plot, and then planted new maize seeds.

For the Farming God’s Way plot we had to cover the soil with mulch. This involved spreading back over the old layer of mulch, followed by the uprooted maize stalks, and then a final layer of grass which is grown specifically for the purpose round the back of the office. It really was amazing to see how sustainable farming can be, and how waste maize stalks can be reused.

P1010629 Our next task was to stake the tomatoes. Again, everything we used was natural. We obtained twigs from on of the trees, and used banana fibres to tie the tomato stems to the stakes.

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As we worked ,we captured the interest of little kids who were playing nearby. This group of children who live in the vicinity came out to help; it was great involving them in the tasks and they got to learn a bit about Farming God’s Way as we worked. Our final job for the morning was filling little bags with sand to create pots for the seedlings in the tree nursery, before rounding off the trip with a taste of fresh coconuts.  I must say it was a great experience to see how A Rocha Kenya is working with local coastal communities to promote sustainability and improving livelihoods."

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Investing in the younger generation

The ASSETS programme, since its inception in 2001, has solicited for Eco-bursaries which have benefited hundreds of needy, bright students from around Arabuko Sokoke Forest and Mida Creek. A Rocha Kenya works closely with Muvera wa ASSETS members (parents whose children have  benefited from the bursary scheme)  to actively involve the children in conservation of the environment. IMG_1468 A Rocha Kenya together with parents(Muvera wa ASSETS) and pupils, organized a tree planting activity at  Chipande Primary School( a school that has  benefited from the ASSETS programme) and managed to plant more than 300 seedlings of indigenous trees.

Establishing tree nurseries and maintaining woodlots at home is one of the key requirements Muvera wa ASSETS members have to fulfill. This minimizes the pressure exerted on the forest when communities need wood for fuel, construction and other household uses.The pupils on the other hand were expected to take care of each tree and monitor the growth of the various trees planted.

IMG_1490 It was an opportunity to widen their knowledge on trees as they were taught  the botanical names and the significance of various  indigenous trees as well as forests.For instance the ability to provide: food and medicine to humans , a suitable habitat for endemic fauna, and acting as carbon sinks.