Kusoma International is a non-governmental, international organization spearheaded by Sangai Mohochi in conjunction with sponsors from the USA.
The organization’s primary objective is to uplift living standards in Kuria through promotion of education. This is done to effect change in institutional structures and promote unity among neighborhing clans. This will in turn foresee development in the marginalized community of Kuria.
Apart from total sponsorships to exemplary students from the district, the organization organizes workshops for the students during holidays. The seminars gives the students an opportunity to share ideas, exchange materials compare their performances, provide an opportunity for mentorship, counseling and encouragement from fellow students and various lectures from invited guests.
The August 2011 workshop was one of the most empowering workshops to date. The students had an opportunity to meet representatives from the USA (Enzo and Sarah) as well as guests from different fields to share with the students on themes that focused on creating a better society.
The workshop ran for five days with each day having different theme of discussion and appropriate guest(s). The mode of the workshop was two way involving discussions from both guests and students. The workshop was blessed to have learned from widely traveled Enzo and Sarah; university students from the USA studying at the University of California at San Diego who gave the students the best teachings and shared their personal experiences.
The topics of discussion ranged from educational, cultural, social and to some extent political.
The workshop began at 9am and ended at 5pm with breaks for lunch and group discussions or some days for community service. Meals were served and eaten together and cards were played to reduce boredom and rejuvenate the students for the afternoon sessions.
The workshop was based on different approaches ranging from lectures in class, presentations from invited guests, group discussions, and one on one discussion for personal questions, practical especially for community service as well as guiding and counseling.
DAY ONE: INTRODUCTION (Sunday 31st July 2011)
Guests SARAH and Enzo arrive, were shown around Isibania, and got acquainted with the students.
They had an opportunity to meet with the host Dr.Sangai Mohochi who showed them around and acquainted them with the Isibania area. Later in the evening the students had a Skype lesson.
DAY TWO: HEALTH ISSUES IN KENYA
Guest speaker; Dr.Mwita
The prevalence of epidemic and pandemic diseases in Kenya, causes, transmission, prevention measures STIs and related diseases including; HIV/AIDS, Syphilis, Gonorrhea, Chlamydia and other related diseases.
Abstinence was advised to the students as the most appropriate method for preventing STIs and HIV/AIDS further recommended not separate those affected or infected with HIV/AIDS as this are guys who just made mistakes as Enzo would put it hence stigmatization was not a solution.
The stages of HIV/AIDS from infection to diagnosis were highlighted in detail. Measures to take in order to prevent outbreaks of contagious diseases were also discussed in details, keeping proper hygiene to prevent food and water born diseases, seeking treatment early enough whenever symptoms of any diseases were felt, preventive measures of malaria and other tropical diseases.
Break for lunch at noon. The afternoon session began with group discussions to discuss health challenges afflicting students in Kenya and allow for questions and answers in any health concerns in a freer environment as girls went with Sarah and Enzo and I were with the boys at a different place.
We resumed the common discussion after one hour discussed the concerns and shared some of the findings of our discussions. A comparative health lecture was given by Sarah and Enzo on health issues in Kenya and those in the USA and it was found that people in Kenya were posed to more health challenges than in USA.
It was finally concluded that everyone should be concerned with his/her personal health as well as common health of the community and by extension the health of the whole world.
Break for dinner and Skype lessons followed later in the evening
DAY THREE: ETHNIC ISSUES IN KENYA
Guest speaker Mr.Samson Mwita Nyagakende (a former area member of parliament during earlier days of independence)
Introduction of the guest and the audience present.
The lecture began with a detailed Kuria history and factors leading to inter-clan clashes as youths from each clan fight to protect the community resources; majorly land and water as well as cattle. Cattle rustling was allowed as a way of confirming bravery and maturity of the youths especially from a different clan or any tribe that was not on good terms with the community.
A detailed history of the Kuria District during the pre-colonial periods, colonial era and after independence, their migrations and settlement patterns was presented.
Cultural rituals such as naming, initiation and female genital mutilation, marriage and factors resulting to broken marriages, death and believes associated with the rituals.
Structural leadership hierarchy of the Kuria and mode of governance by elders.
Role of parental guidance in discipline maintenance among their children as children were believed to belong to the community.
Causes of clan clashes include:
1. Cattle rustling
2. Struggle over common grazing land and water for the animals
3. Disputes over clan boundaries
Staple food of the Kuria society is millet and sorghum but initially they were pastoralists, hunters and gatherers.
Questions and answers session. And a break for lunch.
A comparative discussion on ethnic issues facing Chinese immigrants in the USA and the role of students in spearheading more reforms to make Kuria a better society and sensitizing reforms for civilization.
DAY FOUR: COMMUNITY SERVICE
Lecture on community service by Sarah and Enzo.
Explanation on the need for community service, how it is done in the USA, and how the community views it in the USA and a comparative approach to Kenya. Most of the students were aware of community service and always spared a day during each of their workshop for community service as well as did it on voluntary service in their respective schools. They majorly paid visits to hospitals and helped the sick and helped in the general cleaning of public (social) places e.g. church compounds.
The students lamented on the lack of social goodwill from the society as some people considered it as a way of showing of or doing it to seek recognition or pay but promised to do the same until when everybody understands the concept. There was further lack of government initiative to support community service.
Discussions on the impacts of NGO’s on developing countries
Sarah an Enzo explained the role of NGOs in the USA and how they helped in some areas that even the government could not. A comparison was made for the NGO’S in Kuria and it was evident that NGO’s complement the economies of developing countries and have the best approach in responding to the immediate concerns of the community. As NGO’s are less corrupt, lack the bureaucracy involved in government institutions they are further not tribal based and their timely responses to calamities and natural disasters are very helpful. NGO’s contribute immensely towards uplifting the living standards of the people as they are always concerned with the social welfare of the people.
Relocating to community service venue.
We had to walk to the NURU offices and take part in community service this was about 2km from the venue. We met the NURU coordinator Mr. Phillip Mohochi who showed us around the compound and the various projects completed and those underway including space for a community library that was not under construction yet; he took us to the venue for the community service. We spent two hours slashing the compound and leveling the ground only to be interrupted by the rains. Thanks to Sarah and Enzo for their hard work in the manual work, and for showing us that the “mzungu” (white person) can actually work as Sarah would put it. After work we took a walk around the compound and acquainted ourselves even more with NURU offices.
We had to break for home and the students had an opportunity to take part in a Skype lesson.
DAY SEVEN: CLOSING CEREMONY
We had a common meal together as usual as one family..
What was a closing ceremony turned out to be a celebration because it was a day of seeing off the students most of whom were going back to school for tuition but most importantly because they had met and made friends from the USA. The ceremony began on a very happy note and all were full of smiles.
The Founder, Dr.Sangai had traveled all the way from Maseno University in Kisumu to be part of this ceremony. Some committee members of the Laurent mohochi Foundation in Kenya were present.
Mrs. Mohochi had spent the morning with the girls giving them maternal advice. We thank her for recognizing as a mother that girls in Kenya face more challenges of education than boys. We believe she offered the very best of guidance and counseling.
We had a very delicious meal for lunch and enough refreshment thanks to the sponsors and thanks to Sarah and Enzo for being so kind throughout the whole workshop. We would like to thank Sarah for taking part in the preparation of sweet local meals she’s such a good cook which I believe is part of her readiness to integrate and help.
There were remarks from members of the committee. Wonderfully inspiring comments were made.
1. Remarks from Mrs. Edith Sangai Mohochi.
She inspired all the students to put more effort at school, and asked the girls to take their challenges positively.
Remarks from Madam Syprine; and all other committee members echoed the same massage of hard work and determination, better results at school and being disciplined.
2. Remarks from Goko-Dr. Sangai’s Mother at whose house we were having the meal.
She also emphasized on more efforts to the students and told the students to take life positively and be careful on choice of friends and company. She told the students to avoid bad company always. She said she loved her daughter Sarah and son Enzo and welcomed visitors of the Mohochi Foundation in future, she said having grandchildren around was a blessing as she felt honored in their presence.
3. Remarks from Sarah
Sarah also emphasized on the need for hard work from the students and expressed special thanks to Goko, the students and all the participants of the workshop.
4. Remarks from Enzo
Enzo was pleased with the level of activeness from the students in answering the mathematics jeopardy game and for discussing all the issues openly and thanked the students for their cooperation. He extended his gratitude to all who took part in the workshop
5. Remarks from Dr. Sangai
He made closing remarks thanked all the members present and urged the students to work hard as usual when they go back to school.
The workshop was very successful special thanks go to all our guests and the wonderful students. Special thanks goes to project coordinator from the USA; Sarah and Enzo for making the workshop a successes.
1. Sarah Sypris
Project Volunteer at Kusoma International- the Laurent Mohochi educational Foundation.
Special thanks for her immensurable kindness, for listening to all our queries and providing appropriate answers, her inspiring lectures as one will say ones a teacher for ever teacher thanks for being such a wonderful teacher. Thanks for the financial support and for being kind enough to prepare for us such delicious meals and for being so welcoming. She actually did what a typical Kuria lady should do. So it’s not for nothing that Goko called her my wonderful daughter thank you Sarah for taking time and opening email addresses to all the students what a determination. Thank you Sarah, for taking time to know all the students personally. Thank you Sarah- see you soon as promised. We will miss you Sarah. Thank you for making the workshop a success.
2. Enzo Fabrizio Haussecker
Thanks buddy for being a friend to everybody; for being so kind to share with us so much ranging from social life, education, personal experiences; wonderful lectures and for listening to all our questions some out of hearsays about the USA .Thank you ,you are welcomed here in Kuria. We will miss you Eenzo. Thanks for being so kind and for making the workshop a successes.
3. Mrs. Edith Sangai
Thanks madam for hosting us for being so welcoming. For getting time to be with us in some discussions during the workshop your contributions were immense; for providing special counseling to the girls.
4. Dr. Sangai Mohochi
The mastermind behind the Kusoma International-the Laurenti Mohochi Educational Foundation, speciall thanks to you. Thank you for the support, personal sacrifices and for everything. Your role in the organization is such immense that I can’t even comprehend it fully; more importantly for allowing me take part in such a wonderful workshop; I came out of it a different person.
5. Mr. Phillip Mohocchi
Thanks for inspiring remarks during the closing ceremony and for allowing us and organizing for us to do the community service at your NURU offices.
6. Other committee members.
Special thanks to all committee members here in Kenya as well as abroad for embracing the organization; for their support, time, and resources and for strengthening Kusoma International. Thank you.
Special thanks goes to students as they keep Kusoma International alive and all our guests for finding time to come and be with us. Thank you very much our dear guests and everybody else who may have in one way or another made the workshop a success.
ABOUT THE WRITER
Gugwa Charles Mogesi is a student at Moi University perusing a degree in Bsc. Microbiology in Kenya in 4th year. I am the current chairman of university students from Kuria districts (KEUSA), the current secretary Kuria professionals’ forum (KPF) where Dr. Sangai happens to be a very active member an organization that partnered with USAID to work on ending clan clashes in Kuria. I am actively involved in different organizations in college. I was invited by Dr. Sangai to take part in the workshop as a mentor to the students alongside Sarah and Enzo and other guests, as well as act as a bridge between guests and students especially whenever clarifications were required. Thanks to Dr. sangai for granting me such a wonderful opportunity to meet friends Sarah and Enzo and share with my brothers and sisters (students) I bet I learned a lot. Thank you Dr. Sangai; thank you everybody.
The August holiday was a big success majorly through efforts from participants and for having various guests with us. So much insight was given to students who were pleased to have the guests around.
We wish that the same will be done in future workshops.