Lucy visits Maasai Academy and Mercy Primary

On our approach to Maasai Academy progress is clear as the brand new kitchen building stands prominent on the hillside with the words ‘Maasai Academy’ painted by Becca and the women using their fine art skills. The welcome we receive reminds me of my first visit here last year when I was 3 days through a 4 day cycle challenge with some of COCO’s most dedicated supporters and I can’t help but wish that they were here to witness what their fundraising has achieved in such a short period of time. The outdoor kitchen has been transformed into a purpose built, clean, airy building with specialised cookers designed to use only the smallest amount of firewood to save on deforestation and improve the air quality for the cook.

 Maasai Academy School  Maasai Academy kitchen

The Maasai elders are present to bless the kitchen, a tradition for new things to ensure that they last long and prosper. The Maasai leader dips a bunch of leaves in  goat milk and walks around the classroom shaking the leaves to spread droplets of milk, chanting in Maa to complete the blessing. The number of parents and community members present for this blessing is incredible and testament to the active role that this community take on ensuring their children can go to school and have a better education to survive in this ever globalised world.

              maasai elders leaves milk blessing               Steve opening classroom

From the kitchen, we move to the classroom and a similar blessing takes place after Steve had opened the building by officially cutting the ribbon across the door. The COCO classroom sign has  been placed with care at the top of the door to show pride in the partnership we have established here. The last stop is the sports field which for now is just a dry brown flat piece of land due to a lack of rain but Hennie assures us the grass will come. It wouldn’t be a visit to the Maasai Academy without several speeches from Massai leaders, teachers and even the local priest. Despite the combination of Maa, Swahili and English the message is clear, the community have achieved so much for their children and education is the key to success and the future.

Steve is asked to speak and then me which I know, as a woman, is a huge privilege. Once translated, our words are met with clapping and cheering and we feel a part of this place and very positive about the future. Little filming is done today as the ceremony takes over and building a relationship with the school and community is important if this development is to be sustainable. We return the next day to film and Kat and Steve yet again show their professionalism and we are done in no time and en route to Narok, packed lunch courtesy of Becca and a boot full of people and chickens. We say our goodbyes and I am sad to leave.


I needn’t have been so sad as 20 minutes down the road the vehicle breaks down and Steve, Kat and I have to walk back to the house in the midday sun to find signal to call the driver who is waiting for us in Narok. We soon find another driver and are on our way 2 hours later than planned and in a car thick with dust and without any functioning gauges on the dashboard. Our driver assures us we will make it and

IMG_1524 we do, despite an incredibly rough road, we are across Maasai Land and past the Zebra and Baboons in record time.

We meet Ogada, our new driver in Narok and after a quick stop at the supermarket for supplies we head off to Mbita, keen to get there as soon as possible. Our delay has meant that we will have to drive in the dark which means more police road blocks than the day time. We are stopped with about 2 hours to go by a police officer holding a huge gun and smelling of alcohol (not a great combination), he just wants to see some ID and find out what we are doing and where we are going. We leave without having to succumb to a bribe and arrive at the volunteer house in Mbita, near Lake Victoria at about 10pm. I meet George for the first time, he is our coordinator here and has only been working with us for a few months but he is friendly and has a lot of experience with NGO’s and his sense of humour comes across from the outset. We say very sleepy hellos and goodbyes knowing tomorrow we will be on better form! Mbita is hot, the house has no power and we are all exhausted. I’m looking forward to tomorrow and despite the sweltering heat and rock hard mattress we sleep.

After a hearty breakfast we set off for Mercy Primary School, on first appearances the land looks incredibly dry and despite the new classrooms and water harvesting that COCO have recently completed, there is no water. The rains have not come and the food forest is suffering. Many of the crops have failed but I am happy to see that the gardener has taken note of what has survived this inhospitable climate. He has taken the initiative to plant more cassava and sweet potatoes which are flourishing in the extended garden he has created. It is clear that water is going to be our biggest challenge here and I am reminded of its vital importance to all that we do.

2015 01 Permaculture Garden BO

I am delighted to see that the compost toilets are almost finished and there are hand washing stations spread out across the school. The teachers tell me that the hand washing has already had an impact on the reduction of the number of students who are absent due to stomach problems. Unfortunately typhoid is still an issue due to the lack of drinking water and the need for students to take water from the lake when at home. Also, malaria is still a huge problem here due to the number of mosquitoes inhabiting the lake side, bed nets are regarded as an unaffordable luxury for many, even at a cost of $3 which is more than some people make in a working week.

2015 01 Composting Toilets(3) BO  Jan 15 Mercy Handwashing

We talk to the teachers and some of the students too, the head boy and girl speak excellent English and the whole school are delighted with the new nursery classrooms and the hand washing. The message from all of them is the same, the lack of rain is a major issue. It rained last in October and even then the rains were shorter than expected. In addition, the next rains will not come until March which means another 2 months of dry desolation at Mercy.

Making the next COCO filmWe film the school and interview some of the students, teachers and parents all of which is incredibly encouraging. We return to the volunteer house for lunch and Steve leaves for his 2 week stay at the athletes camp in Iten. He has a long journey ahead but he is in good hands with Ogada. We say goodbye and thank Steve for a great few days and we are down to two. Kat and I spend the remainder of the afternoon going through footage and planning for tomorrow before my meeting with George and Bernard. Bernard heads up the loans programme and George is responsible for overseeing all of COCO’s activities in the area so these meetings are vital to ensure we are on the right track and our interventions are having the desired impact.

The requests for further support are endless, a school van to bring the children who are coming from several kilometers away, either by foot which is exhausting or by motor cycle which is dangerous. A connection to the mains electricity is requested as opposed to solar power due to the unreliable maintenance of solar. George is keen to develop the team in Mbita and a request for capacity building in the form of training in IT, monitoring and evaluation and NGO management is requested. Bernard is struggling to keep up with the evaluations necessary on the loan recipients and requests a motor cycle to enable him to reach all 15 in a timely manner so that he can report to us on time for our donors. These meetings, although vitally important can seem overwhelming as there is always so much to do and so many requests for support. COCO have to make a balance between supporting community projects and encouraging donor aid dependency and it is always a difficult task. I’m grateful to be able to discuss this with Brad when we meet in Tanzania next week and I am reminded again how great it is to share these issues with my colleagues.

Bernard updates me on his work. When we first visited Mercy Primary, it was clear that a large number of children were orphaned and living with grandparents or carers. It was because of this that COCO established a small loans programme for which parents of Mercy students could apply. We received over 90 applications, some viable, some not. Loans were given to 15 people as a pilot project and one of the purposes of this visit is to see how they have worked. Kat and I will meet them tomorrow and hopefully they will be willing to be interviewed.

Thursday comes and it’s our last day in Mbita, a second visit to the school and a great deal more filming, this time inside the new classrooms and with teachers and happy students. We interview more people and clarify possible plans to find a reliable water source, say our goodbyes and head to town to interview the loan recipients. Kat is so good at this, we have worked together for over 5 years and she has interviewed many COCO beneficiaries, her experience is evident in her role as producer, director and film maker as she makes our loan recipients relaxed enough to talk to us about their small businesses.

The first lady we interview has started a business selling cooked maize, it is like giant corn on the cob and cooks on a small charcoal stove next to the road, she also sells tomatoes and we are delighted to watch her do business whilst continuing to answer our interview questions. The art of multi tasking is alive and well here! She must sell 4 or 5 pieces of corn in the time we interview her and she tells us that the loan has enabled her to send her children to school, buy uniforms and pay for medicines when needed.

We needn’t have been worried about a shortage of interviewees, Bernard is being hounded by others asking to be interviewed. We only have an hour or so until the sun goes down so some of them have to make do with our promise that we will do it next time! Next on the list is a lady who sells chips, they smell incredible and she is a very happy interviewee. We go on to meet a man who has started a phone accessories shop and a barbers and he too is very happy to have been given the capital needed to start his own business. Each person lists the benefits of the loan, the first one is always school for the children and affording contributions for uniforms and health.

Feeling elated after the interviews Kat and I take a walk by the lake and film the sun going down before heading off home for our last night in Mbita. Tomorrow we head back to Nairobi and go our separate ways. I will be in Tanzania on Saturday when I get to do it all again. There is no doubt that Kenya has its problems, land grabbing, threats of terrorism and corruption but for us, the issue of climate change and its consequential drought will be the biggest challenge to overcome for our projects and the communities we work with.

Lucy and children at maasai land


Harriet Adapts to Maasai Life!

So far my time in OlP1000314orte has been very enjoyable. I have quickly adapted to the relaxed pace of Maasai life and am now very comfortable within my new surroundings. The wildlife in the immediate area surrounding the house is so varied it has been great getting to learn their sounds and calls. Things got off to a rocky start when I began trying to recognise the animal sounds and mistook a tractor for a hyena call but I am improving!! The colobus monkeys are a favourite of mine and come to sit in the trees right next to the house. They are extremely curious and very entertaining to watch.

The purpose of my visit to Olorte is to spend time at the Maasai Academy evaluating the success of COCO’s existing projects there; the classrooms, kitchen and sports pitch, discuss any potential projects which COCO could be involved with in the future and collect information to be used within casestudies. Over the past few days I have visited the school a number of times to see first-hand COCO’s work, be introduced to the staff and allow the students to become familiar with me. I was able to watch the school’s Friday assembly whereby all the students stand in a big circle and play games, sing songs and dance which was great.

P1000247 P1000150

I had prepared a small activity to do with one class. I read them a story about a chameleon who painted all the animals in the jungle bright colours and patterns. I wasn’t prepared for the reaction I would get from the students. When I opened the page with a large picture of a lion half the class jumped up like they were ready to run away! Even the class teacher had to check with me that it was just a story! After the initial excitement/ fear from the students wore down they really enjoyed the story and I had organised a colouring activity for them to do afterwards, the pictures from which I will make into a wall display for their classroom.

Aside from spending time at the school I have been able to explore the local area and meet the community. I had the opportunity to drive with Hennie out to a small Maasai village right at the end of the road and one of the remotest villages in the community. I was invited into a house for a very large cup of very sweet Maasai tea. The house was built in the traditional manner and had only two rooms; a small bedroom and a room to cook, eat and relax in. At the centre of the room was a large open fire and only one tiny window for ventilation meant that the room was very dark, smoky and hot. I was happy to get back out into the fresh air but fully appreciated just how genuine the experience was. Outside of the house I met a couple of local children. I took out my camera to take a picture of them and then show them, something the children at the academy love, but P1000284as soon as I took my camera out they ran away. Hennie explained that there are still superstitions about photos and some believe that when you have your picture taken part of your soul is swallowed by the camera!! It was incredibly interesting to visit such a remote village and get a better understanding of this very simple and traditional way of life.

I’ve also been able to explore my immediate surroundings on foot. I thought I would walk alone down to the river at the bottom of the garden as there is a small beach area which makes a great spot to watch out for wildlife. There is a very simple path straight down to the river which I missed so I ended up making my own way through the tangle of bushes and trees (the thorns here in Kenya are HUGE!) until I could see the river. There was a group of Maasai women doing their washing at the spot where I was planning on going so instead of scaring them by just emerging from the bush with my hair full of twigs I carried on further down the river. The river (when I eventually got to it) is a great spot for looking out for monkeys and some of the incredibly colourful birds around and a very peaceful spot.

P1000268     P1000214

I’ve also had the privilege to be taken on a walk up into the hills by Pelua, a local Maasai and also the bead-work manager. He took me to the highest point in the Loita Hills region and taught me all about the different trees and plants and their medicinal uses. We were also lucky enough to spot zebras, a wild pig, dik-diks and baboons as well as buffalo tracks and evidence of elephants. After 4.30 hours we returned back to the compound. I thought that was a pretty long walk, especially in the African heat, but I think for Pelua it was just a little stroll! The Maasai love to walk!

I’m coming to the end of my tenth full day in Maasai land and already feel like I have learnt so much! Over the next few days I will begin to carry out basic health checks on all the pupils at the academy and discuss potential future projects.

Lucy lands in Kenya!

The contrast between the cold gusty winds that saw me on my way from the UK and the peace and tranquility of Wildebeest Camp in Nairobi are clear on this hot January day. It is great to be back in Kenya and I am delighted that I will be joined by our ever generous film maker, Kat, who has generously given up a week of her life to come and film COCO’s projects, not to mention our Chairman and founder who has kindly agreed to journey to remote villages before he is required at the athletes camp in Iten in the cool North of the country.

My arrival in Nairobi was different this year as I was asked to stop to be scanned for Ebola, the screen above me showed my body temperature and fortunately I was given the all clear. As usual baggage took a while but all in all a decent transition, until the 1 hour wait for a driver who was caught up in increased security measures due to recent events in Paris. The normal half hour journey took two and a half while each car leaving the airport was checked and scrutinised by the Kenyan police. These global events are clearly causing great concern in Kenya and I am not surprised that they are being cautious with tourism already suffering due to their own problems with what some are calling civil war and others dismissing as nothing more than tribal differences that have only recently been highlighted in the worlds media.

I for one am glad to see that Wildebeest Camp is busy with backpackers, honeymooners and retired couples set to enjoy the wildlife and adventure that this incredible country has to offer. I truly hope that peace in this country can prevail not only for many of COCO’s friends and beneficiaries but also to enable those who have not had the privilege to visit this great country to do so.

Steve, Kat and I are delighted that we have managed to avoid the 8 hour road journey to Olorte through the generosity of Mission Aviation who have significantly subsidised the cost of a small aircraft to take us from Nairobi to one of the most remote Maasai communities in the world. I was last in Olorte this time last year but in very different circumstances, cycling across Maasai Land with 13 other wonderful COCO supporters to raise funds for a community who have until now, received little assistance to enable them to access education.

Kenya Cycle Challenge

The flight is one of the most incredible experiences, seeing the Rift Valley from the air is something that will stay with me forever. This vast country looks bigger than ever from the window of the 5 seater plane which is full with the three of us, the pilot, Daniel and Katie who is writing a story about MAF and chose to come and see the work we are doing. Steve obviously takes the front seat, using his long legs as justification for pride of place. I am pleased to be sat next to Kat, we have been through many an adventure over the years and I suspect this one will be no different. I am proved right when a few minutes into the flight, she is asleep and missing the views of Maasai settlements, waterfalls, impala and the mountainous landscape of the Rift Valley. Gazing out of the window, I have never felt so small and insignificant.

On the approach to the runway, which is marked out in white stones on top of a hill in the heart of Maasai Land, the pilot has to circle a couple of times to ensure there are no obstructions and to plan his landing, we are told later that this is the most challenging landing strip in the country if not the continent!

Lucy plane 1  Lucy plane 2

A safe but bumpy landing takes us to Hennie Marais and his two lovely children Caleb and Taliah who are waiting for us. We stay to watch the pilot take off (along with several local people and their families for whom this is a fairly rare sight to behold). It’s second time lucky for Daniel who finally takes off despite the rising wind and altitude.

All of the excitement is too much for Caleb who falls and cuts his leg so we head to Olorte via the local hospital. There is very little in the way of health care provision in this area and it is only thanks to a doctor from Sweden that this small hospital has been established. We take a look around while Caleb is being fixed up and we are shown the maternity ward and delivery room which has proved to be very important for the number of Maasai women who give birth and suffer complications due to FGM, a practice which despite being illegal in Kenya is still very much a part of Maasai tradition and culture in this area.

Once Caleb is fixed up, we make our way to the home of Hennie and Becca and are welcomed with soup, homemade bread and fresh coffee. Once our batteries are recharged, we will make our way to Maasai Academy…

Harriet heads to Maasai Land…

Harriet, one of our COCO volunteers, has just arrived in Kenya where she will be spending a total of 3 months evaluating our projects at Maasai Academy and Mercy Primary. Harriet has recently graduated from Newcastle University with her masters in International Development and Education and will be working to develop and plan future support to the projects. This is her first blog of her experiences in Kenya including viewing the magnificent Rift Valley for the first time and meeting the Maasai!

Maasai Academy, Olorte 15/01/15-18/01/15

I didn’t think I’d have that much to say about my first couple of days in Maasai Land but so far it has been very eventful, a lot of fun and extremely interesting! I’m staying with the Marais family; Hennie, Becca and their children. Hennie and Becca coordinate various initiatives in the area including a primary school called Maasai Academy, a clinic and a successful bead work project.

The original plan was for Hennie to pick me up from Nairobi airport then we would drive back to his home in Olorte, a journey that would have taken approximately 5 hours and meant we arrived in Olorte mid-afternoon. Unfortunately, the day before I left the UK his land rover broke down so a new plan was formed. It was decided that Pelua, who is the bead-work manager for Red Tribe and oversees various parts of development at Maasai Academy, would escort me back to Olorte. Before leaving Nairobi we needed to collect a part to replace the part broken on the land rover. We travelled into the centre of Nairobi to pick up the part, which was extremely heavy, and managed to get it and all my luggage onto a matatu (a small bus which holds about 12 people and the drivers are fearless about overtaking!!). The matatu took us to the large town of Narok which is mid-way between Nairobi and Olorte and from there we would take a taxi into the bush. The journey to Narok took us though some amazing scenery particularly when we were driving with a view over the Rift Valley. There were signs saying it was the 3rd best viewpoint in the world. I’m not sure how official that is but it was certainly spectacular!!

Rift Valley & Maasai Cycyle challenge finish point

            (Not only is this photo an amazing shot over the Rift Valley, it’s also the                Maasai Cycle Challenge finishing point!)

After arriving in Narok we transferred all the bags and the land rover part into the taxi to travel onto Olorte. It was a shared taxi and they definitely crammed as many people in as they could! In the front there was the driver and two passengers including a very elderly Maasai lady, and then in the back there was 3 men, 2 children and me so it was very cosy! We set off just as the sun was beginning to set and I was treated again to some amazing scenery. Driving straight through the plains I was lucky enough to see giraffes, zebras, wildebeest, antelope and an ostrich which was incredible for my very first day in Kenya! Driving along with the sun setting and seeing the Maasai boys out herding their goats on the impressive backdrop of the plains was very atmospheric.

The only negative was that as the road was so dusty we had to have the windows up which meant that it quickly became extremely hot in the car with so many people! After about 10 minutes it was decided that being covered in dust was better than overheating so the windows came back down and the dust came in but it was definitely better! The sun sets rapidly out here and before I knew it we were driving in the pitch black. The Maasai Childrenroad quickly became a track and the track quickly became a very bumpy track with extreme pot holes, turns and inclines and with all the weight in the little taxi and I am amazed that we made it. We arrived in Olorte about 9 at night but it felt much later! After flying through the night with very little sleep and then travelling the whole day I was exhausted and ready for bed, despite it only being 6 back home!

Hennie and Becca were waiting for me and after asking about my journey showed me to my tent where I would be sleeping for the next 6 weeks. The tent is a large safari tent located at the bottom of their garden and contains 2 single beds, a chair and a small cabinet so is very welcoming. As I have it to myself I’ve unpacked all my things onto the second bed so it’s starting to resemble my messy bedroom back home already! The location of the tent is beautiful and very peaceful with the only noises being the birds, the colobus monkeys in the trees and the sound of the river at the bottom of the compound. When the sunsets however, the wildlife really comes alive and the air is filled with the noise of crickets and various bird calls. Going to sleep with the noise of hyenas outside my tent amongst all the other noises was a very surreal experience and I’m surprised by just how quickly I’ve gotten used to it! The setting here is beautiful and although it is extremely remote the Marais family and all the local Maasai who come into the compound either to work on the beadwork project or do general maintenance are extremely friendly and I’m gradually picking up Maasai greetings and phrases.

Children Playing

Yesterday we took a drive out of the compound to Lenkijabe, which means a cold place in K’maasi, (although it definitely wasn’t cold!) a very scenic spot and a favourite with the Marais family. The plan was to take up food and firewood, have a BBQ and watch the sunset. As I had arrived at night it was interesting to drive out of the compound and actually see the surrounding area and just where I was. The drive took us past the Maasai Academy which sits very proud at the top of a small hill. COCO has supported the primary school by funding the building of a kitchen, classrooms and a sports pitch. The school itself is very attractive and has a huge hand painted wall making it very eye-catching.

Maasai Academy School

COCO Sports Field Sports Field Maasai

The sports pitch (awaiting grass!)

This quick glimpse has made me very excited to visit the school properly and meet the staff and children. We continued our journey to Lenkijabe which took us through a number of small Maasai villages with very traditional houses made from cedar sticks, soil and cow dung. Seeing the Maasai in their traditional clothing and the women adorned with beaded necklaces and earrings was fascinating and I am keen to learn about their culture so have been asking Hennie and Becca a lot of questions and have learnt a lot from them so far.

New Class & furniture

As we began to drive off the ‘main road’ I moved to sit roof-top with the children and Becca and the views were incredible. The area here is a lot greener than I was expecting with rolling hills and small forests dotted everywhere. As we drove we began to see evidence of people moving into the previously uninhabited and unspoiled area. Areas for making shambas (gardens) had been marked out with branches, there were a number of fully built homes and more nearing completion and parts of the land where elephants lived was being de-forested to make space for growing crops. As Hennie and Becca had only visited Lenkijabe a few weeks earlier it was a shock for them to see it so developed. I later learnt that the reason so many families were moving up there was that their old land had been set aside by the local government to build a secondary school so the families had been given permission to occupy the land at Lenkijabe. However, it has now come to light that there was never actually any money for a secondary school and was a lie told by the governor to generate popularity and receive votes. This kind of corruption and dishonesty is sadly not unusual and the Maasai population are often taken advantage of and treated with little respect.

The plan for the next few days is to visit the academy and get a better understanding of some of the issues facing the school and the community. My first few days in Maasai land have been a great adventure and the combination of fascinating culture and great wildlife means that every day is different.

the new school uniform

Harriet looks set to have an amazing trip, and we cant wait to hear more updates!

Hello 2015!

Happy New Year everybody! We hope you all had a lovely Christmas and New Year. We had a fantastic start to the year with one of COCO’s founders, Steve Cram, awarded the very much deserved CBE in the New Year honours! 2015 is also set to be a very exciting year for us as we turn 15 this year. To celebrate this amazing achievement, we are launching ’15 Challenges in 2015’ and hope to raise £150,000 for our Schools for Life Programme. There really is something for everybody, from the Kielder Marathon to climbing Kilimanjaro! Check out all 15 challenges here or even come up with your own idea for #coco15 and get in touch! We would love to help! So keep an eye out for exciting times ahead with the hashtag #coco15. Coco15

Meanwhile, we have many updates on numerous projects we’ve been busy with including rainwater harvesting, solar lamps and the success of permaculture training in Songea, rural Tanzania.

Water & Sanitation at Mercy Primary

Since June 2014, COCO has been working in partnership with Development Direct and Water for Kids to help implement rainwater harvesting, safe drinking water, handwash facilities and composting toilets at Mercy Primary School in Mbita, Kenya. Water for Kids supported Development Direct with a donation of £3,000 which was matched by a donation of £3,092.48 from COCO. Mercy Primary is one of COCO’s ‘Schools for Life’ where Water and Sanitation is one of the 6 elements. Prior to the implementation of the water and sanitation project, students were prone to waterborne diseases such as typhoid and cholera and had to walk to a bore hole 1.5km away to collect water.

Schools for Life

The rainwater harvesting system involved the installation of a guttering system which collects rainwater and stores it in a new water storage tank. This water is then treated to provide students and teachers with safe drinking water and clean water to wash their hands with after using the new composting toilets.

Jan 15 Mercy Handwashing

As a result:

  • Students are suffering from fewer waterborne diseases.
  • Students no longer have exhausting walks to collect water, and can therefore remain in their lessons.
  • The water has enabled a ‘Food Forest’ to be implemented at the school, which despite the dry weather conditions, manages to supply students and teachers with nutritious foods including cassava, sweet potatoes and paw paw.
  • The composting toilets produce compost that can be used for growing fruit trees, helping improve the sustainability of the school. There is currently one composting toilet, with a further two under construction.

Thanks to your support COCO has been able to support this project, alongside partners Development Direct and Water for Kids, and consequently helped benefit 150 students at the school together with 8 teachers and 200 members of the local community.

Solar Lamps

In October 2013, alongside The Nuru Fund, COCO provided 70 solar lamps to the Hoja Project. The lamps were given as a loan, all of which have been paid off. 40 lamps were given to school students and 30 lamps were given to members of the community. The lamps have provided recipients the opportunity to generate an income, as members of the community can pay to use the lamps to charge their mobile phone. Furthermore, 86% of recipients report that they use the lamp to continue studying after dark. Education is further enhanced as students can use generated income to buy educational materials. It was also found that the generation of income from the lamps significantly contributed to food security for recipients and their families.

food security

You can see that the amount of people who were food secure increased from 16.7% to 75% as a result of receiving a solar lamp, highlighting their importance to families and communities.

Kundra Kunji of Hoja Secondary School was one of the students who received a solar lamp. She has stated that it was easy to make the loan repayments and that “Having electricity helps me to study and perform well. Before I got my lamp I used to get between 39 and 45%, but I am now getting 45 to 60%.”

Solar Lamp


We were also honoured to be given a shout out in an article on permaculture by expert, Lucie Bradley, published through The Permaculture Research Institute. You can read her article hereto find out about the ‘permaculture revolution’ in Tanzania. Her article is full of some great information on how permaculture is transforming lives whilst also being largely beneficial to the the environemnt. Lucie was instrumental in COCO getting involved with permaculture. Recently, COCO supported The Hoja Project to provide permaculture training to five Community Based Organisations. We would like to thank all of those who participated in the Ballyquin Picnic Fundraiser which helped raise the £1,271 which was used to help provide the training. Here you can see the full benefits.

Ballyquin Picnic

The benefits of permaculture often continue for many years. COCO is proud to say that as a result of previous permaculture training provided alongside The Hoja Project, several farmers were able to increase their income and as a result decided to set up Litisha Nursery in 2012. The nursery currently has 46 pupils, one teacher and a cook. All of the pupils are studying pre standard level one, which will help to give them a head start before starting primary school when they are 6 or 7 years old. One of the pupils, Loveness Joseph (fourth from the left), is 6 years old and dreams of becoming a teacher.

Loveness Joseph

That’s all from the COCO Chronicles this month! Thank you very much for reading and make sure you keep an eye out for February’s blog through Facebook and Twitter!

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