venerdì 11 marzo 2011

Visit to the Tea and Coffee Mills

We only had to mention our wish to visit a tea or coffee mill in the surroundings of Nyeri, that our hosts at Posta Kenya, Mr Gathura (Regional Manager) and Mr. Mulundi (Nyeri Postmaster) organized for us a fantastic tour.

John on the Posta Kenya car
 Riding the Posta Kenya car, guided by Frida - Sales&Marketing Posta Kenya Nyeri - we first visited Gathuthi Tea Factory , where tea leaves are collected from about 8000 farmers. The Factory processes 15000 to 23000 kg tea leaves daily, depending on the production.

Trucks used for tea leaves collection
We were conducted along the whole production process, during which about 25% of the initial weight in tea leaves is transformed into black tea.

Washing hands before entering the factory

Surprisingly, from the very same tea leaves, through the production process, come up different tea qualities and a special room is dedicated to quality testing.
Tea cups ready for testing
I had the privilege to test the different tea qualities. We couldn't leave the factory without buying some tea bags.....

We then proceed to visit a coffee mill, the Barichu Cooperative where Kenya AA Karatina cofee is producedi. Karatina is considered one of the finest coffees produced in the world today. The AA designates the highest grade of Kenya available.

Studies are conducted in the factory to test different species of cofee plants, including those coming from genetically modified seeds.

Like in the tea factory, coffee beans are collected by surrounding farms and processed. Accurate selection is made to ensure superior quality.

mercoledì 9 marzo 2011

Mid-term review and last Nyeri-Nairobi-Nyeri round trip

Today we had the mid-term review with our client Posta Kenya and the last Nyeri-Nairobi-Nyeri round trip. It takes about 3 hours to travel by car from Nyeri to Nairobi, but make sure you leave early in the morning or you will be stuck in giant traffic jams on the outskirts of Nairobi.

That means the whole round trip takes between 6 and 7 hours if you are lucky.
The road (they call it highway) is a two-lane with many bumps in the proximity of towns or small villages.
Overtakings are thrilling, especially at night......

venerdì 4 marzo 2011

Community Day: Kimathi University

The second Community Day in Nyeri was spent at Kimathi University with different activities.

Dave delivering his speech

In a plenary session Dave delivered an intriguing speech on "IBM past & present", we then splitted in parallel sessions:
Dave on "IBM predicting the future", Luan and Reka on a Career Workshop, myself on an 'hands-on' session on how to realize an interactive smartboard using a wii remote and an infra-red pen, following the original project by Johnny Lee.

Experimenting the interactive smartboard

Dennis, Kate and Tom are the students which helped me to organize the activity, and I have to thank them.
The student were so much interested that the room could barely contain all of them. We also realized an infra-red pen with spare material I had.

Building an infra-red pen

At the end of the day the teachers also showed and declared their interest in the project. I am trying to get two more wii motes for them before we leave.
Leaving the University we collected some names and e-mails from students that want to participate in a e-mentor program with us.

With students at Kimathi Uni with Mt Kenya on background

giovedì 3 marzo 2011

Community Day at Nyeri - Kieni West Children's Home

The visit to this orphanage placed somewhere out of Mweiga town has been at first somehow shocking, as we saw how these 40 children live in extreme poverty.

The orphanage is privately held by a widow and supported only by donations. Children go to nearby schools and most of the donations go for school fees.

They have no running water, no power, live togheter in overcrowded sheds, still they never stopped smiling.
We could do very little for these children, but playing with them and donate clothes, toys, pens, paper and shoes. We then decided to collect some money for them - a drop in the ocean.

I am looking forward to visit them again when my family will join me after assignment.

Community Day at Nyeri - Friends of Allamano Special School

On March 3rd and 4th we had some of the most touching and paying experiences within the local communities in Nyeri surroundings.

Friends of Allamano  is a special school for mentally challenged ruled by Missionarie della Consolata, a nuns congregation established by Giuseppe Allamano, an Italian priest, back in 1901.

The institution hosts about 80 mentally challenged persons and it's mainly supported by private donations.

We were heartily received by the children with big smiles and had good time in playing with them on the field.
Sister Jane hosted us and presented the teachers who daily work with the children.

We had the possibility to give a small contribution to this community by donating a laptop, a camera and a key for internet connectivity, hopefully allowing them to stay in contact with the world. The institution is infact about 10km from Nyeri and for every contact they have to drive to town.

lunedì 28 febbraio 2011

Our 1st weekend: a safari at Samburu park

The team spent his first weekend in Kenya on a beautiful safari at Samburu park.
We were staying in a tented camp (with a rather basic accomodation), but the visits in the park at sunrising and sunset were really astonishing. We were lucky and able to see nearly all the animals, at least 4 out of the 'big five' (lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo) and the fifth (rhino) simply is not present at Samburu.

domenica 27 febbraio 2011

Visiting Karatina Post Office

Meeting with the 'big boss' of Postal Office in Karatina, near Nyeri. This visit is part of the information collecting work we are doing for our project. Even if Karatina Post Office has only 12 employees, it servers about 1 million people and its Postmaster Mr. Gakuba is really a 'big boss'.......

Team 'Twiga' with Karatina Postmaster