Asembo Bay Computer Centre
2014
Jul 2

Introducing Christine Pothier, TCP’s Program Executive

Introducing our recently appointed Program Executive, Christine Pothier. Raised in small town Northern Ontario, Christine has been living in Ottawa for 15 + years. Her interest in international development led her to spend the better part of a year in Southeast Asia, where she traveled, worked, and conducted archival research. She now splits her time between her career as a public service, her young family and her volunteer work.

I am a person inclined to be introspective. Every so often, as I enjoy simple, beautiful moments in life, I’ll recognize how fortunate I am. While I sit at a coffee shop reading a book, chatting with a friend, or updating my blog, another woman is hunched over a sewing machine, working in horrid conditions for a sweatshop owner. While I share views and opinions over a glass of wine with my husband, another woman suffers the physical and emotional blows of her own husband or boyfriend. While I travel freely from country to country, another woman’s travels are limited to a route between her hut and a dirty well.

Since becoming a mom, I sometimes look at my girls and think what ridiculous lives they lead. While they run carelessly through the playground, another child attempts to do the same only to step on a landmine. While my daughters have yet to understand the concept of monetary exchange, someone else’s daughter is forced to sell her services, whether physical or sexual. While they sleep soundly and safely at night, other children are awakened by the sounds of artillery. And while I watch them play, eat and sleep, another mother watches her child die of starvation.
Biology is the only reason why I’m here and not there. Recognition in this simple fact is why I hold myself responsible for my good fortune by working to make a small difference, as small as it may be. It’s why I accepted to play a greater role in TCP. Helping a group of kids gain access to education, thereby enabling their climb out of a cycle of poverty is the least I can do.

It’s easy not to think about what happens in other parts of the world. The media doesn’t report on it, few people discuss it, and our government doesn’t play a heavy role. And what difference does it make anyway? Does it really matter that a few children have access to school? Does it change anything in the grand scheme of things for a few children to get new books, new uniforms, or new shoes?

I can’t speak to the grand scheme of things but I can speak to my own scheme. I don’t have to fight for my girls to access education. They will never have to hustle tourists as a way to put food in their mouth. They will never lie scared and helpless in the street at night, fearing for their safety. The debt of gratitude I owe for this translates itself into leading TCP’s efforts in Kisumu Kenya. It also translates itself into raising my girls to be well aware of these efforts so they’ll in turn do the same. After all, biology is the only reason why we’re here and not there.

Asembo Bay Shoreline
2011
Jul 29

Asembo Bay Has Put Itself On The Map

Asembo Bay. It’s in Kenya, somewhere along Africa’s largest lake, Lake Victoria. It’s not on any maps of Africa, and almost no maps of Kenya bother to identify it. Not even Google Maps, one of man’s greatest atlases, can tell you where it is:it just doesn’t find it within its vast database.
It’s safe to say Asembo Bay is remote. And up until now, you probably did not know that this place existed, nor how its people lived. Sure life is different here; most of the village has no electricity or running water, women and girls carry water and goods atop their heads, and men and boys herd cattle and sheep through the village’s streets.

Yet, these people are not that different from you and me. They too, just like us, have the desire to discover new things; acquire new knowledge and develop new friendships.

On the one hand we hope that the computer lessons we will have taught here will help the orphans in Asembo Bay be better prepared for their professional careers and help them become more employable, even though if for some these careers will start too soon. On the other hand, in teaching the widows of Asembo Bay computer classes, we hope that we will have been able to add an extra tool to the shed of these extraordinarily resourceful women. For we know that during our time here in Kenya, we will have learned countless lessons in humanity from them. The warmth of Kenyan strangers’ smiles who wish only to welcome us to their land, and their confidence in the fact that strange people (like us) fundamentally deserve appreciation rather than apprehension are definitely something for us Westerners to ponder upon.

In the end, we will have developed lasting friendships in Kenya and in Asembo Bay. And on top of all the knowledge which has become available to the people of Asembo Bay thanks to the computers and the internet which we (TCP) have provided here in the past few years, in teaching these people to use these tools, we will have also have given them the power to connect with each other. In being able to check up on old friends, maintain relationships, and develop and nurture new found friendships, Asembo Bay is truly connected to the rest of the world. Think about it, this is one little village in the middle of Africa, which just a few years ago (or just a few minutes for most of us) we did not even know existed. Now, its people are able to learn about Jupiter’s different moons, the cause of various diseases, and events happening around the world at a moment’s notice. And in turn, through email and social media, we are able to know everything that goes on in this little village.
I think we can safely say Asembo Bay has put itself on the map.

Justin

Asembo Bay Resource Centre
2011
Jul 6

One of the Most Amazing Days of My Life

Just had one of the most amazing days of my life. It started bright and early on a stuffy and bumpy matatu ride to Asembo Bay. Still, the 25 people sharing the transport couldn’t deter me from being mesmerized by the beauty of the scenery around; gorgeous mountains and rock formations. Kenya amazes me every single day. After a few hours, we are finally dropped off at the junction to the village, where we catch a windy motorbike ride to the computer center. My first impression of Asembo Bay is a low-key, small village, filled with friendly faces. A few curious kids follow us mzungus to Lake Victoria and are full of joy when I offer them my hand to hold. What wonderful smiles I get in return! It is then finally time to meet with the children present for the feeding day. At first they are shy and merely stare at us in wonderment, with little interaction. But how things can change in a short window of time! For over 2 hours, we serve rice and beans to over 200 kids. The “thank you” we get in return is indescribable with words, truly a moment to be lived! Singing and dancing, jumping around, all the shyness we saw previously has vanished. At one point, I think I have about 10 kids on each arm! I only speak a few words of Kiswahili and Luo but that doesn’t seem to really matter when you sing with them. These children are all smiles and laughter. The widows also warmly welcome us and offer their thanks and blessings. True Kenyan hospitality! I have never in my life felt sure gratitude when feeling that these emotions should be in reverse. I am overwhelmed by the moment and the tears of joy that I have been fighting off all day can no longer be retained. Having been able to be a part of this day truly makes me feel lucky. My sincere thanks to the Asembo Bay community, to the children and widows and to the Asembo Bay Women for Development group.

Marie-France

Asembo Bay Resource Centre
2010
Jul 20

5 Classes a Day

Hello there,

As you know, Josephine and I gave the first computer class yesterday. After a few schedule changes last Friday, and then some very last minute changes yesterday morning, we finally learned that we would have far fewer students than we expected, and would only need to teach 5 classes a day. This is working out really well, since there are only three laptops and about 10 students per class (so that leaves around 3-4 students sharing each laptop). I can’t even imagine what it would have been like to teach around 16-17 students per class in the 6 originally proposed classes per day!

With the exception of maybe one or two students in the entire group, yesterday was the first time for them to use or ever see a computer. We started out with some basic information about keeping the laptop plugged in and identified the main parts of the computer, such as the mouse, desktop, keyboard, on & off button, etc. After that, we showed them how to handle the mouse, and then did a couple of activities where they could practice left-clicking, for ‘selecting’ or choosing something & right-clicking, for opening the option menu . We then taught them how to use the double left-click to open a document that Josephine and I saved onto the desktop for them, and in that document we asked them to practice holding down the left-click button to select the entire text. In the last 20 minutes or so, we showed them how to open paint from the start menu and then let them take turns drawing something and changing the paint tools so they could practice the mouse skills we had just taught them.

During the whole lesson we asked them to jot down a few notes, since they had all brought their notebooks, but this was sort of rudely enforced by the male teacher who accompanied them to the session. I think the teachers were excited themselves to come use the computers, which is not the point of the classes at all, but we told Bertha that they were obviously making the students feel a bit uncomfortable and that we would prefer it if they did not come to class. I’m pretty sure she told the headmaster because no teacher came to the two classes this morning, so hopefully it continues to be that way. Bertha is starting some computer classes in August, so the teachers can pay her to take classes in the future.

Anyhow, moving on, today we went over what we showed them yesterday and taught them a couple of new things. We showed them how to copy and paste, as well as use the space, backspace, enter, shift and caps lock buttons. Then, we got them to copy the text we prepared and then paste it a couple lines below, using all of the new buttons we conveniently showed them beforehand. The last thing we did today was show them how to write their first and last names with a capital letter at the beginning of each name.

Everything is progressing quite slowly, but obviously we’re taking it step by step since they really knew absolutely nothing. The majority of the students seem to be getting the hang of things quite quickly though, so it’s very promising! They are all very keen and have asked about how they can practice outside of class time, so we’ll have to talk to Bertha about maybe arranging another time they can use the laptops in the back room.

I hope that was not too much boring computer info to read all at once! We have another class starting in about five minutes so I must be off!

Robin

Jason Asembo Bay
2010
Jul 11

New Computer

At day 4 in Asembo, I am thrilled to be back in this community full of familiar, friendly faces. We have been formally and informally introduced with enthusiasm so many times, with so many smiles, thanks and handshakes that I’ve long-since lost count. One new computer has arrived so far (which will bet setup tomorrow) and the Internet connection has been stabilized. The cellular service in the area seems to have been improved over the year, so things are actually fairly quick compared to last year (to put it in perspective, the cellular modem we’re using to provide Internet access to the resource centre is about as fast as a 56Kbps modem).

We’re about to hitch a ride with a friend of a friend into Kisumu (the city about 80KM North-East of Asembo) to sort out some supplies (technological and otherwise), and possibly meet with the children at St. Teresa’s or St. Francis tomorrow morning during the day before three of us head back to Asembo to get things in order at the Resource Centre.

Oriti!
Jason

Asembo Bay Feeding Day
2010
Jul 9

Feeding Day

We were in Asembo yesterday for the widows and orphans feeding day – it was really good and lots of dancing – including Kaedra who really broke it down, plus yummy african food (we all loved the tilapia the best) that we got to eat for the first time. Jason was greeted joyusly by everyone – like a heroic son back from the war. The women in particular really praised you and Wendy with many wishes to bring you both back to Asembo. The kids from the local primary school entertained us but it breaks your heart to see the holes and broken straps in the shoes of those who had shoes and the tattered clothing of all the kids and some of the widows. so far everyone has noticed that Kenyan smiles are beautiful – everyone we met immediately starts smiling to which you can’t help smiling back. I can’t wait till we go to the orphanage today and hopefully things will work out for us as they have so far. Josephine and Robin didn’t end paying any extra money for the bags of books and they are already at Asembo. I sent robin, hilary and jason to asembo and Josephine and I are in kisumu.

Michelle