A Rocha Kenya

ASSETS Plot Beginning to Develop!

The Gede ASSETS plot has been full of activity as we near the end of the year. In addition to building materials being dropped off for the new ASSETS offices, and eventually a conference center, we have also hired a permanent team member, Jimmy, to live on the plot and help manage the land, as well as look after our conservation agriculture demonstration fields.  Last week a team from Mwamba spent the better part of the morning marking out the permanent fiels for our demonstration fields. Jimmy had done  a wonderful job of clearing a massive mango tree stump which was in the middle of one of our fields, as well as leveling the terrain. For the first time, we have six 6x6 meter fields marked out, side by side, ready to be prepared for planting when the long rains come in April/May. In addition to marking out the fields, a permanent composting station was also measure and marked out for construction, hopefully to be completely set up this week. If all goes according to plan, we should have enough compost to plant a whole acre of maize, which is more what we will need in one season of planting. We will have plenty of excess to store for future planting seasons. Plans are also in place to put a rainwater harvesting tank on the house Jimmy is living in to provide water for irrigation, enabeling us to maintain our demostration shamba's year round.

We are hoping to grow a number of different local and more traditional crops this year, in addition to maize to introduce crop rotations as well as cover crops and fodder crops. It is a huge blessing to have Jimmy living on-site to watch after the place, and hopefully this year we will have a plentiful harvest. 


A while ago, A Rocha Kenya team of Katana, Andrew, Stanley, Ayoti and Silas, Nick (a volunteer from England) and two guests at Mwamba went to Arabuko-Sokoke Forest with the hope of catching a glimpse of the very elusive,endemic and endangered Sokoke Scops Owl. This was under the brilliant guidance of Mzee David Ngala. David Ngala, also often referred to as ''professor'' Ngala due to his uncanny knowledge of and passion for the forest met the team at the entrance to the forest before hoping onto Kiboko (A Rocha Kenya's pickup truck). He kept the team entertained on the way by telling hilarious tales of the origin of his native tribe and his encounters in the forest.

After the drive that took about forty minutes under the "turn right" turn left" keep going straight" instructions by David Ngala,the driver, Andrew, was finally asked to stop.The team got off the truck and the cool air around them was palpable with excitement as the anticipation to catch a glimpse of the owl mounted.

Then the search for the owl began! Of course David Ngala already knew of its whereabouts and their hope therefore was that it would still be where it had been spotted. Using their hands as shields against the low hanging branches; on and on they went, deeper into the forest.

After about twenty minutes of bowing, hoping and walking, Ngala suddenly signaled everyone to stop and be as quiet and still as possible. He shone his flashlight in the branches high above them and VOILA!! there it was-the Sokoke Scops Owl!!!. What an incredible sight!it was the cutest animal to behold and gave one a sudden urge to cuddle it. Its big yellow eyes stared back unblinkingly at the camera and its talons could be seen clinging onto a branch. The sight was priceless! especially for Stanley who despite the fact that he had grown up around the forest,it was his first time to see a Sokoke Scops Owl. It was high up among tree branches so getting a perfect shot was a challenge.

Sokoke Scops Owl on the night - by Nick Gardner

The walk back to the main track started a while later. This time it was in search of  of the Golden-rumped Elephant-shrew. Unfortunately, after a long while none was spotted and everyone had to admit defeat. Ngala couldn't hide his disappointment though.

He said that none could be spotted because their population had rapidly depleted over the past few years as a result of poaching. Otherwise, given the period within which they had been searching, they would have seen at least four!!!!

Later, the team was ready to head back to Mwamba. Little did they know that the forest had a second treat in store for them that was as elusive as the Sokoke Scops Owls - elephants. Though the forest has elephants, they are very difficult to find and one has  to rise up very early with the hopes of catching a glimpse of them as they go to drink water in swamps. Which unfortunately hardly ever happens. So for the team to spot not one but two of them was just priceless.

It was indeed a double treat....Arabuko-Sokoke Forest style!!!





Letter from an ASSETS student

We recently received this letter from a grateful ASSETS student which was a real encouragement to us and was great to hear how the eco-bursary scheme has really made a difference in his life. Dear Sir/Madam,

I greet you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ hoping that you are going on well. With me I thank the lord for the protection which he had given me so far.

The main aim of writing this letter is to thank you for giving me assistance during my schooling time by paying my school fees at Dr. Krapf Secondary School. I highly appreciate your efforts of ensuring the needy students get the chance of continuing with their education by giving school fees assistance.

I completed my four years well and managed to get a mean grade of C plain KCSE in which I have attached the results slip.

I say thanks for the whole support you gave me in my education and I pray that God would shower you with blessings and giving more resources in your bid of helping the other students who are beneficiaries.

Once again I salute you for your good work and may the Lord be with you all the time. Bye.

Yours Faithfully,

Benson Safari

We continue to be really grateful to God for his goodness in helping us assist these incredibly needy children to get to Secondary school. There are still many out there that need help. By sending a child to school with an ASSETS bursary we not only give the child their school fees, but do a lot of follow up with them and their families to make sure their studies are going well and that they have understood the importance of caring for the forest and creek.

All of this - the fees, the follow up costs including transport and salaries of staff critical to the whole process - only costs a mere $24 per month. If you would be interested to help and sponsor a child or simply give regularly to what I believe is an awesome project, please do so!

ASSETS beneficiary day #5 A group of ASSETS beneficiaries at one of the follow up events for students during the holidays.

If you would like to know how to donate then please do so through the A Rocha donations page - until we have the 'Donate' button functioning again on this blog.