Kenya - RVRC

Kenya - RUN FOR LIFE AND THE RIFT VALLEY RESOURCE CENTRE (RVRC)

The RVRC is located in the heart of the Rift Valley, Kenya and is a rich, high-elevation agricultural area. It is also home to some of the most accomplished runners in the world. Dirt trails located on the equator at 7000ft elevation provide an outstanding training environment. The Rift Valley Resource Center facilitates a number of community projects that support education, health care, business development, water resources, art, music, and agriculture.  We believe in community development over charity for individuals. The partnerships we have with local educators, tradespeople, small business owners and women’s groups are the lifeblood of the Rift Valley Resource Centre. Our local partners have gained invaluable skills, management and project development experience, opportunities to start businesses, return to school, get involved with local governance and make changes that are significant to the community. 

Maisyn and Owen

See: Intern in Kenya - a photo essay by Owen Gould (left, above with Maisyn Sock)

Intern Project Summaries:

Trail System – Mapping and Development

Last year, the first cohort of IIIY interns began to develop a trail mapping system of the communities surrounding the Rift Valley Resource Centre in order to promote run/hike/bike tourism in the area, promote safe travel routes for communities and to help develop accessible paths. Year 2 cohort will continue this project as they map additional trails and begin to work collaboratively with Kenya Parks staff to improve trail conditions and carry out a need’s assessment along these trails for potential water points.

Preserving Traditional/Elders’ Knowledge

This new project will revolve around interns connecting with the local community to collect stories and life histories from elders in the community. These stories are generally held orally, and many community members have expressed to us that the elders’ ways, stories and histories are not always known to the youth of the community because the way of life is so different than when the elders were young.  This is an opportunity for Indigenous youth in Canada to engage in a topic that may be particularly relevant within their own communities. Oral traditions are a process which hold incredible value in how they transfer not only information, but also value systems and other cultural factors that can contribute to community resiliency. In addressing contemporary threats to oral traditions, it can as important to engage the community to determine priorities on preserving the tradition itself as it is to preserve the information held by the knowledge holders.

Year 1 cohort spent a large amount of time developing the relationships that are critical to get this project off the ground. Year 2 cohort will continue to create and build trust amongst the community and if permitted, will create a body of knowledge whether through video, art, or written that will be built on by future interns.  

Conservation – Preserving Kenya’s Diverse Wildlife

Interns will spend 6 weeks with RVRC associate, Ranger William and his staff to learn about the Rift Valley’s natural environment, social and political history and experience managing climate change and other modern-day challenges in order to better understand the context of the area, and to support in conservation work.

Running Water Project

In this region water wells are necessary and are generally “shallow dug”, meaning that they only reach to the water table at the time the well is dug.  These wells can be unsafe, unsanitary and unreliable in the dry season. Water borne diseases such as Typhoid, Cholera and general dysentery are common with the contaminated water from the shallow wells. Since March, 2016, the RVRC, in partnership and support from Run for Life, Inc. has implemented a water well drilling program for schools, community centres, and health centres. We were able to fund raise over $20,000 in 2016 to purchase a portable water well drill called “the Village Drill”.  This small, portable drill is easy to transport, set up and drill bore hole water wells in the rural communities throughout the Rift Valley. To date, the RVRC has drilled more than 30 water wells. Interns will not be involved in the direct drilling of wells, but they will be able to map existing water points and upload this data to an android APP we have created called Running Water.  Interns will also visit local schools and teach water resource workshops that deal with topics such as the water cycle and conservation 

RVRC Program Assistant (4 Positions):

Interns hired for this placement will be expected to work collaboratively as a team of four in addition to alongside staff and community in Kenya. They will need to collectively contribute the skills, knowledge, and enthusiasm required to complete the projects (Outlined Below). Primarily interns will be engaging in the Trail Mapping Project, Preserving Traditional/Elders’ Knowledge project but on a weekly basis will also be supporting other projects and activities of the RVRC including outreach for the Water Well Program, visiting schools, and supporting the development and upkeep of the Centre.

While participating in the Preserving Knowledge project, interns should specifically expect to develop knowledge and skills in: interviewing, documenting via writing and film, coded-knowledge, researching local history, creating & growing productive working relationships with people from a different culture, and responding to community identified priorities.

Working with the Water Well Program will entail supporting management and implementation of the program, community consultations for well placement, monitoring and evaluation for existing wells, outreach to schools and health centres, support with technology, etc. No prior knowledge with regards to the well program is necessary. Interns will develop this knowledge on the job. They will learn about how to determine which sites are the best for drilling and will be encouraged to think about the issue of water in light of climate change and growing populations. 

Additionally, schools often get resources donated with good intentions from Canadian organizations, but if there is no training and support, the resources can go unused. For this reason, technology support is an area where interns are needed.

At the beginning of the internship, interns will be required to set goals to support the development of the camp during their time as residents. This may include organizing events for local youth, organizing knowledge exchanges, collaborating with local artists to create murals, collaborating with artisanal workers in the community to create local sourced resources, learning about the local fauna and flora and gardening, and other physical and social ways that will support the continual improvement of the camp as an inspiring, resourceful hub for the community.

Interns will spent a significant amount of time engaging in cultural exchanges within the community and are encouraged to organize evenings and exchanges of their home, using the centre as a hub.

Required Skills/Characteristics: The internship team of 4 will need to collectively comprise of the following:

  • (Essential) Able to adapt to new and different cultures
  • (Essential) Ability to work well with a Team
  • Skills in Youth Engagement
  • Ability to work with the Public and Promotion
  • Comfortable using computers, technology, and social media
  • Basic Graphic Design Skills
  • Communication Skills
  • Experience/Abilities in Event Planning
  • Passion around working with youth
  • Experience in the Natural Sciences
  • Able to provide a Criminal Record Check and Child Abuse Screening
  • CPR/First Aid Training an Asset
  • (Essential) All interns selected for this placement will need to be flexible, patient, and be able to go with the flow.
  • Be independent and proactive
  • Patient and mindful of cultural differences

Placement Characteristics:

The RVRC has two full time employees on site at all times- the general site manager and the facilities supervisor.  There are several schools and one health clinic located close to the centre and the teachers and headmasters at these schools work in partnership with the centre manager and partners on programing. The centre manager, most contract employees and the education partners all speak English. Participants of the IIIYP will stay on-site at the RVRC.  This facility provides a safe place to stay and the community partners would have many contacts with organizations throughout the area.  After the initial orientation and acclimation to the area, participants would be monitored on a weekly basis both at the facility and via long distance through phone calls or Skype.  Internet is available and accessible at the facility and cell phone coverage is good. The camp is located in a rural area. Interns will spend a lot of time walking and in the outdoors.

Interns and School kids

IIY cohort 1 interns Owen Gould, Roman Levi, Cassidy McKellop and Maisyn Sock pose for a photo with school children in Mosoriot, Kenya.

Tags: Program 2019