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Archive for the ‘Personal Travel Stories’ Category

Household Water Treatment and Safe Storage Fair

Household Water Treatment and Safe Storage Fair

We’re working hard to complete the few remaining critical tasks so we can launch our pilot in Kibera, but in the meantime I thought I’d share a fun story.  A couple of weeks ago the Ministry of Public Health and Sanitation, in conjunction with UNICEF, KWAHO, and several other sponsors including PATH, hosted a public fair on household water treatment and safe storage. 

Ministry of Public Health and other NGO officials

Ministry of Public Health and other NGO officials

 

I attended with one of my colleagues from PATH to run our booth and discuss the work we’re doing around social marketing for water treatment products.  To kick off the fair and generate awareness, a procession complete with marching band and school children holding big banners was held through the streets of downtown Nairobi.  Right before it started, I was called over by the Chief Public Health Officer and was asked to join him along with the Deputy Minister of Public Health and Sanitation, the UNICEF Country Representative, the Kenyan Director of Water Services, and a few other high-ranking officials who were leading the parade. 

PATH's booth at the HWTSS Fair

PATH's booth at the HWTSS Fair

Unfortunately I didn’t get to carry the giant Kenyan flag or conduct the band, but all in all, getting to help lead a parade through Nairobi was still a pretty interesting experience!

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Here’s a fast and simple way for you to help make a difference to the fantastic programs around the world that Village Volunteers supports.  Facebook and Chase are having a competition and will award $20,000 to the 200 charities that get the most votes.  We’re currently in the top 200, but need your help to keep us there.  Please take just a minute to vote.  Thank you so much for your help.

http://apps.facebook.com/chasecommunitygiving

Search for Village Volunteers and click on the first one in the results (Seattle).  You’ll click on the green box to get started and vote.  At some point a box pops up where you have to click on “like” and the “close”.  This is not the vote.  You can then vote for Village Volunteers and click on Share With Friends to post it to your Facebook page.  Again, thank you for your support.  It really just takes a minute.

http://apps.facebook.com/chasecommunitygiving

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Jeremy in Istanbul

Jeremy in Istanbul

Today CleanWaterForAll.net passed the 3,000 view mark!  This achievement was greatly expedited by WordPress promoting my blog on their “Freshly Pressed” page (which was awesome).  I’m delighted that so many people are interested in learning more about my work and the struggles and culture of Africa.  If more people took an interest like you, many of the problems around the world could likely be reduced or eliminated.

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For those of you who have ever thought about volunteering abroad, know someone who wants to volunteer abroad, or simply want to support an organization doing great work abroad, I thought I’d tell you a bit more about Village Volunteers.  Village Volunteers, the organization that I went through for this Kenya trip, is a Seattle-based non-profit that partners with Community Based Organizations (CBOs) all over the world.

Shana Greene Dormitory

Shana Greene Dormitory

If you’ve read my posts on Emmanuel’s school in the Maasai Mara or Joshua’s Common Ground for Africa, which is a school, bio-intensive farming training facility, and water filter plant, then you already know about some of the terrific programs that Village Volunteers supports.  They also work with programs in the fields of healthcare, economic development, women’s empowerment, childcare, and more.

Village Volunteers works with these programs in two ways.  The first is to send international volunteers like me to work with CBOs on specific projects or to provide general assistance.  All the marketing work I’ve done for the water filter project in Kiminini was a direct result of the partnership between Village Volunteers, Common Ground for Africa, and the Kenya Ceramic Project.  The second way Village Volunteers supports these organizations is to help them find funding sources through grants or connections to private donors.  Many of these amazing organizations simply wouldn’t be able to survive or flourish without the help of Village Volunteers.

Recognition of Shana and Village Volunteers

Recognition of Shana and Village Volunteers

To give you an idea of how much these global programs appreciate the help of Village Volunteers, Joshua from Common Ground for Africa told me that he named one if his daughters after Shana Greene, the Executive Director of Village Volunteers.  There’s also a Shana Greene Dormitory, and Emmanuel’s primary school publically recognizes both Shana and Village Volunteers.  I’ve personally been so impressed with the quality of the people and program that I recently joined the board of directors of Village Volunteers.

If you have any interest in either volunteering internationally, volunteering domestically to support Village Volunteers, or supporting Village Volunteers financially, please visit www.VillageVolunteers.org for more information or you can e-mail me at jeremy@villagevolunteers.org.

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Jeremy at the pyramids

Jeremy at the pyramids

Hello from Istanbul.  I’ve been taking a short break from looking at water purification strategies and have instead gone to look at the pyramids of Egypt and the amazing city of Istanbul.  I thought I’d just post a few of my favorite pictures.

Egypt was pretty enjoyable overall.  The people were generally very friendly and the sightseeing was amazing.  The heat and the traffic can wear on you, but that’s a small price to pay to see the famous pyramids and sphinx.  Of course everything there is a negotiation, but that’s half the fun of visiting a place like Cairo.

Sphinx and pyramid

Sphinx and pyramid

Istanbul is absolutely incredible.  I’ve visited 22 countries on 6 continents, and I have to say that Istanbul’s combination of natural beauty, culture, tourist attractions & shopping, and charm is rivaled by few other cities in the world.  I’ve only been here two days and one night so far, but as of now I’d put this firmly on anyone’s “must visit” list.

I hope you enjoy the pictures.  I’ll try to post a few more over the next day or two.

Pyramids

Pyramids

North Istanbul

North Istanbul

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I’d like to take a minute and thank everyone who donated to these fantastic water projects in Kenya.  I have many friends back home who contributed money.  Outdoor Research contributed a number of weatherproof jackets, shirts, pants, and hats, which I gave out at various slums and schools throughout Kenya.  I have also received a generous donation from an organization who asked to remain anonymous.

Outdoor Research donated jackets

Outdoor Research donated jackets

The Kibera water kiosk project has great momentum and I’m very optimistic that we’ll receive government approval.  I’ll then need to raise approximately $20,000 for the initial infrastructure including four 10,000 liter water tanks, the smaller 500 liter containers for all the kiosks, educational signs and materials, and more.  Once the initial costs are paid for, the business is set up to be financially self-sustaining.  If you would like to support this amazing project that will both reduce disease and create jobs in one of the largest slums of the world, please click on the following link:

http://www.villagevolunteers.org/donation/donate-info.php

When asked to specify the purpose, just type “Jeremy Farkas”.  The donation is tax deductible and will go towards supporting a fantastic cause.  I’d also like to note that all my time is donated so your donation will go directly towards project expenses.  Thank you so much for your support.

Woman in slums enjoying her new jacket

Woman in slums enjoying her new jacket

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As my time in Nairobi comes to a close, I’d like to remind everyone who’s traveling abroad (and at major cities at home) to always be careful.  In three days I had two close calls here in Nairobi.  First, a few days ago, someone tried to steal my watch while I was in a car.  I was in traffic with the window rolled down, and a guy reached in and tried to yank my watch right off my wrist.  Fortunately, he didn’t get the watch, though he did break the strap.

President Kibaki's motorcade

President Kibaki's motorcade

Then today I was at a Madaraka Day (Independence Day) celebration at the Nyayo National Stadium with another volunteer and a Kenyan.  Halfway through, the Kenyan insisted that we get up and leave.  Apparently he noticed a group of six men who had gathered around us and were studying us quite intently.  Eventually, he saw one of the guys take something resembling a knife out of his bag and he gave it to the person next to us, who slipped it in his sock.  That’s when we decided it was best to get out of there.  Unfortunately, out of respect to the president, the police lock everyone inside the stadium until after the event is over.  It was like a mosh pit as we waited by the locked gate with the couple hundred other people trying to leave.  We were lucky to eventually get out of there with our cameras, wallets, and non-punctured skin.  The event was interesting, but more stressful than I needed at this point in the trip.

Is that a bazooka?

Is that a bazooka?

I’m getting ready to head out to Cairo and then Istanbul for a bit, but I will continue to post updates on the two water projects plus any interesting travel stories, so be sure to check back in regularly.  I’ll also continue to post various travel pictures from the rest of the trip.

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