Monday, 31 October 2011

Back in Action

It's been a little bit since my last post *cough* 29 months *cough*, and we've left all the blogging to Nathaniel for way too long now, so I thought I'd try to get back on this train with a quick post here to get the juices flowing again.

I'll leave the stories about the recycling centres and the projects that we are currently maintaining to Nathaniel, since he's the one on the ground there, and try to bring some attention to any and all issues related to the work that we have done and would like to do.

One of the things that has always impressed me in Kenya is how they have managed to adopt technology to fit their surroundings. Mobile phones are used in so many innovative ways that I would have never thought of.

For those of you that haven't been to Kenya or East Africa, you may not have heard of a thing called M-Pesa, which is a service provided by Safaricom (the local telecom). It's a simple but effective medium for money transfer which uses cell phones to text money to one another. Everyone and their dog has a cell phone in Kenya, but not everyone's got a bank account. Watching it in action is pretty remarkable, if you want to pay someone for a day's worth of work but don't want to carry cash on you? Text it. Need to borrow a few bucks from your friend but he's across town? Text it. Want to pay your utilities but don't want to wait in line? Text it. The part I like about it the most is the fact that all this money is being moved around without any banks being involved (asides from the Commercial Bank of Africa that acts as a float), they're occupying wall street without even knowing it ;) Here's a good article about it from the Economist.

Mobile Movement takes this concept to another level by not only providing funds through phones, but technical expertise and microcredit to individuals and groups that are trying to make a difference in their communities.

And finally, here is another simple but effective use of the cell phone: report cards. The people at Tusquee Systems, a Kenyan-based company, have come up with a method of texting students' exam scores, attendance, and other school-related information to parents. All I can say is that I'm glad that this was invented after I graduated from high school...

Although this has nothing to do with cell phones, today is apparently the day that the world hits the 7 billion marker, so I thought I'd leave this NPR video to illustrate how we've gotten to where we are.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Occupy Mlango Kubwa (These pics are for you Karis)

Youth globally continue to express their dissatisfaction with the system that is making it more and more difficult to have any future prospects whether it be getting a decent education or paying rent. I am a big fan of anyone who chooses to speak up and raise shit against the minority of people who seem to make all the big (and destructive)decisions.

The feeling with the Pequi youth in Mlango Kubwa is very different than that of Wall Street or Syria. Together as youth we have proven that solidarity and determination is the only way forward.

The construction of the foundation has taken over three weeks (still not finished yet), The floor will be built on at least a couple pints of our blood, sweat and the echoes of our screaming matches and songs.

We are also working with a really great contracting company so there is no cutting corners and everything is running on time and silky smooth, much respect to Bonfide Contractors.

The cement we are using has extra bonding chemicals and has stripped all of our hands of its skin leaving a tender bloody surface. Not much we can do about it but to wrap them up in some bandages and keep going.

Big man Tyrese and OG Pequi member who keeps everyone in check. Him and I carry around the 100 kg stones for the foundation and it's super intense and fun.

Employing the young people of Mlango Kubwa and members of "Pequi" for the job has made the project so much more enjoyable.

Throwing in a picture of yours truly while I use one of my favourite power tools. So that's the update. Now I'm gonna bounce from this smelly ass cyber and get over to the site because I'm late.

It's a new dawn and the struggle goes on

Thursday, 20 October 2011


Yo! The YOUTHS HAVE SPOKEN. Around the world people are demanding change. Up With Hope fully has it’s ear to the ground. One of the centres built by Up With Hope is undergoing construction in Mathare. The Pequininos Youth Resource Centre is currently being reconstructed by the CDF (Constituency Development Fund) of Starehe thanks to the Glorious MP Hon. Bishop Wanjiru. Also much praise to our amazing friends in London, the architects Katherine Hegab and Simon Tonks. The centres are used by the communities and organizations for outreach, dance groups, doing homework and most importantly, a place where idol youth can come to be a part of the community.

Building these things is the funnest thing ever. Wish we had some volunteers to come get dirty. I’ll try to get some photos up soon, but the construction is time consuming. 6 days a week, chain smoking, sweaty.

It has been a lot of work to get to this point and this is just the building.