Eating Stone update – January 2020

Greetings from Nairobi!

We are well into the new year and the new decade of 2020!  On behalf of all the Eating Stone Family – Dr Cyprian, Jackie, Agnes, Auntie Mary and all the children – I bring you greetings and best wishes for this new year!

The past six months have been busy and with both successes and challenges at Eating Stone and the on-site primary school, Wisdom Academy.

Kenya has been in the grip of heavy and ongoing rains since the beginning of November. Landslides, swollen and flooded rivers, many deaths and much crop damage in many areas have been caused by a rise in the temperature of the Indian Ocean. The rains have tapered off, but some areas are still having heavy rain, including the area around Eating Stone. The rough road down to Eating Stone has seriously deteriorated making tough driving for the bus drivers as they bring students from their homes to Wisdom Academy and back at the end of the day. The road is an ongoing challenge!

The heavy rains have brought on another crop of the nasty “Nairobi Fly” (narrow bee fly). Many of the children have been affected and spraying of the compound must be done very soon to eradicate the virulent pests! The fluid from these insects is very corrosive and causes pain, intense itching and can take affected areas many days to heal, usually near the eye, face, neck.

Wisdom Academy was approved as a KCPE (Kenya Certificate of Primary School Education) testing site for the Standard 8 students (four Eating Stone children and 12 from the community). The exams took place the second week of November.  What was not known ahead of time was that none of the Eating Stone children would be allowed on site during the exams. The only place they could be because of the weather was to be brought to Willow Court (my flat). The children took shifts indoors and out in the courtyard and charmed the askari (guard) and maintenance man as well as other residents. We learned two weeks ago that Wisdom Academy scored number 10 out of 100 schools in the Kiambu Sub-County!

Two Eating Stone children wrote their KCSE (Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education) in November. The young man is eligible to enter a technical university and hopes to become a registered plumber. The young woman has marks for university entrance. We are now hoping to find sponsors for both students so they may acquire the necessary skills and training for eventual employment.  In the meantime, as is the Eating Stone policy, they will remain at home and will continue to contribute in many ways.

Three young men are in their second year of university and working hard. They each have sponsors for which they are so very grateful. The fourth young man has been taking a heavy-duty equipment operators course, will take final exams in May and when he is not in school he drives one of the school buses.

Our thanks go to our Swedish friends for their ongoing support for four of the secondary students and to the Blair Family Foundation in Canada for their grant enabling us to pay secondary school fees and expenses for one year for three students.

There are now 14 secondary students attending boarding schools, nine in Form Two, Three or Four and four in Form One. Right after Christmas Cyprian, Bishop Patrick (our driver!) and I travelled to a school for boys which is about 1.5 hours outside of Nairobi. It is a good school, and all three boys are now students there for the next four years. We took them on registration day, 14 January, which is a day-long process. We then drove all the way to Eldoret with Millicent, arriving at midnight, leaving early the next morning to drive a further three hours to Yemit Girls Secondary in Kapsowar… very, very far! She has joined her sister who is in Form 3 at the same school. We drove all the way back to Nairobi travelling a different route through some areas of Kenya I have never seen before. We arrived home at 9 p.m. beyond tired!

During the long Christmas break much work was done at Eating Stone.

Thanks to The Rotary Club of Canmore (and their patience!) the perimeter wall has been completed.  We are also grateful for the funding which allowed the dining hall, kitchen and storeroom to be painted! We will also soon have an additional dining hall table and chairs. All the Eating Stone Family are very grateful for the ongoing support in Canmore.

Our thanks also goes to The Rotary Club of Calgary South. We are very grateful for their funding for the last three solar panels for water heating which were installed late November. Now there is adequate hot water for all needs.  The children are very happy! Now we very much look forward to Jamie Moorehouse and Christine Kyte’s visit to Kenya beginning February 4. They will spend time at Eating Stone to assess possible (and very needed) future projects and also confer with members of The Rotary Club of Kikuyu and others.

Maurice Omondi, structural engineer friend of Eating Stone contributed greatly to all the improvements at Eating Stone over the Christmas break. His team of workers were on site for weeks with daily labour and materials provided by him. He strongly suggested that the dining hall be tiled part way up the wall to enable ease of cleaning. He also recommended the walkway be tiled as it was crumbling badly. Tiling of the boys’ and girls’ pit latrines was done, and Asian toilets were installed for the girls and one for the boys. Exterior painting was also redone I will send photos in a separate email.

Christmas is always a special day for the Eating Stone Family. They chose to celebrate at home again this year.  A big thank you to those who helped cover the extra costs of providing a special meal. Thanks also to the community women who helped with preparation. In addition to kuku (chicken) and meat (beef) they wanted Sandi’s muffins. Five of the older girls volunteered to come to Willow Court to help December 23. It took the entire day as my oven will only bake one dozen at a time.  We baked 14 Dozen!

On Christmas day, all the children who were not involved in the day’s preparations went to a special church service, Cyprian and Sandi as well. A friend of Cyprian’s brought a bank of big speakers so there could be good music for dancing and everyone had a good time.

December 27 elections were held at Eating Stone for the following posts for this year 2020:

  • Presidency and Deputy Presidency Seat
  • Ministry of Education Seat
  • Ministry of Health Seat
  • Judge’s Seat
  • Ministry of Games and Sport

Four Eating Stone children acted as the IEBC (Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission) and all Kenyan rules were followed (without corruption of any kind!). Kenyan observers and an international observer (me) were present. Ballot papers were given to three children at a time and once they voted they left the dining hall. Once all the eligible voters had cast their ballots, the IEBC did the counting, verified by the observers. Once all were seated back in the dining hall, the results were announced. There was elation and of course a few children were very disappointed. A young boy who ran for Ministry of Games and Sport lost to his older brother. His response was, “How can this be?  I’ve never lost at anything!” I will post photos in a separate email.

Eating Stone challenges remain the same as always. They is the ongoing need to raise enough funds to provide food, clothing and schooling for the children. As they grow, the needs increase. Rotary Club funding has enabled us to move the children to their own home and to continue to improve and maintain the facility. However, Rotary does not fund ongoing needs, only projects. We therefore must rely on the kindness of donors for daily needs.

With deep gratitude for your ongoing interest and support,

Sandi Carlile
Eating Stone Organisation Kenya 2008 – Board Member & Trustee