26 January 2011
Simon and David have left and I am feeling quite sad. Although they were only here for four days we packed a lot in and now the rollercoaster has stopped. I have a meeting with Felista at 11am. By the time she arrives at 2pm I am en route to Kabiria, to the Discordant Couples group I did did a great gob of microfinancing with in November. So she joins me and we eat mutura (sausage made with fresh blood and mashed up intestines) on the way.
I am forewarned with the knowledge that there had been some of this group who had simply taken the money and run. Around 13 out of fifty three apparently.
When I arrive at the little church hall I read the riot act to the remaining members of the group with special reference to theft, fraud, lying and NOT fucking with Mama Biashara and expecting to get away with it.
I quote Edmund Burke (not huge in Kenya, but, I think, pertinant : “for evil to triumph it is only necessary that good men do nothing”.
They nod. But the reality only really sinks in when I announce that I can give out no more money because of the aforementioned thieves . So I give nothing today. Not even when the muttering about needing a soda starts. I get Julius, the group leader, and a couple of others to agree to meet me at the local Chief’s office the next day to ask for the miscreants to be summoned. Playing hardball is quite a rush !!
Felista and I then go off to a cybercafe to look at the DECIEP situation …
DECIP SITUATION, A PRECIS :
At the point (in 2009) when Felista was having trouble with the landlord and agent of the property that then housed DECIP, Wings of Support – the charity arm of KLM – gave DECIP money to buy a small plot of land (on which Mama Biashara then built the children’s home and other buildings).
They were introduced to DECIP by Johan, a bloke working for the Netherlands Peace Corps in Kenya. He is a bit of a control freak and
Felista’s way of boxing and coxing finances drives him crazy. Although he has seen that it almost always comes right in the end. KLM have offered the
money to buy the little plot next door (which is really a necessity) but
Johan has persuaded them that they should not give direct to DECIP. He has
brought in an organisation called TAK (www.takafrica.org I think) run by a Dutch woman called Helene. They are like ‘consultants’ (with all the
loathsomeness that comes with that term) for organisations on the ground. Helene uses other people’s money, a huge, new 4×4 and the word ‘governance’ a lot. Her e-mails to Felista take patronising to a whole new level.
The money has been put in TAK account and we have been told she will sit on the board of trustees and TAK will oversee DECIP.
Felista and I write an email, elucidating Felista’s feelings about this and using the word ‘governance’ a lot. We point out that good governance dictates that Helene cannot just appear on the committee. She must be formally proposed and seconded. And as this has not happened, we cannot vote on her acceptance on the committee.
Further, after long talks with Felista and the other members of the
committee, it has already been decided (by Felista mainly) that, if the
1million shillings will only come with TAK attached, then she will turn it
down. I can see both sides, but it looks like we will be into a bit of
fundraising at DECIP ! More of this when I get back.
To the Chief’s office. He seems a very decent bloke. I explain the problem. This is corruption, I say. Corruption is what will bring Kenya down, I say. The Chief agrees. So all the ‘thieves’ have been summoned to his office at 9am next Monday. If they do not turn up they will be arrested. George (who was the one inciting the others to take the money and run) will be punished. Oh yes. You fuck with Mama B at your peril. Interestingly, while spearheading this brave campaign against corruption, the Chief is still looking for “tea” after the meeting.
Wild in the aisles at the Maasai Market. Golly gosh will MAma B’s look
colourful when I get back.
Off for meetings with Catherine from Maai Mahiu and a friend of hers who is a tour operator who could help make our Maasai Women’s Village a working possibility. The Village is about half an hour outside Maai MAhiu into the Rift Valley. In a dustbowl. When the men go off with the enimals the women have nothing. And there is nothing there that lends itself to making an income. Except perhaps their culture. And so we have discussed the possibility of creating a working MAasai Women’s Village there where tourists and travellers can go and experience Maasai life. Staying overnight if they want to. It is at the moment just a plan, but …
I have just met a woman who takes rich Americans on donation tours and am hoping to persuade her to take her group out to Maai Mahiu to give the women there a bit of business.
It turns into a very Kenyan day. There are meetings planned as follows
12pm Rahab – to talk about the Media Project and more work with the groups in Mathare. Plus handing over a couple of hairdryers, a battery selling and charging business and a small pharmacy (another business… mainly dealing Calpol)
2pm Meeting Catherine at the office of the little Tour Guide who is going
to put the Maasai Womens Project into his brochure and make the whole thing viable
3,30pm meeting Annie from Juja to discuss making bags and starting a juice,
jam and sauce business out there.
What actually happens is this
12pm – message from Rahab asking if we can meet at 3,45pm
2.30pm Annie turns up
4pm Rahab appears
4.15pm I go off to try to find the tour guides office to apologise (having
been unable to raise Catherine)
4.45pm after bimbling around on Kenyan directions for half an hour I find
the office. Catherine is there. She seems unsurprised to see me. The tour guide seems lovely. We set the entire
thing in motion – we will be in his brochure, groups of no more than six
will go through booking holidays through him. The Maaasai get all of the
money they take, plus the chance to do ‘extras’ like selling stuff. The
bloke is even going to send peeps out there so we can design safaris – one
hour, four hour, six hour and whole day walking safaris. Hoorah ! If it actually happens.
5.45pm back with Rahab and we talk Media Project and garbage recycling. We also think about teaming up on the sex workshop roadshows. Rahab selflessly agrees to test more of the Romantic ‘Love Rubber’ which David took it upon himself to assess last week.
I accidentally drink some beer on a balcony overlooking Moi Avenue
En route home I am hi-jacked by Felista and involved in more furious
discussion about The Meeting on Friday.
The evening is spent at Wildebeeste, accidentally drinking more beer
AM is spent in a flurry of printing and photocopying for The Meeting
12pm I set off with David for Maai Mahiu and the Maasai Women’s Village. I
always get a bit antsy on that road having had a near death experience
there, but as David’s car only has one dodgy wheel today we are probably ok. We are eating local plums from Limuru which are small but deelish.
1.15pm we meet up with Catherine at her compound and admire her enormous cock again. He has been working well, and her chickens are laying eggs all over her house so you have to watch where you walk.
2pm we set off for the Maasai. The dust clouds mean that visibility is about three feet at some points. We reach the meeting point and the women are there to escort us to the village. Which is about 20/30 minutes walk through the dust. The wind is incredible, but warm. Apart from getting dusty in places where dust should really never go, it is quite therapeutic and relaxing. The village is around six huts in a loose group. You can sort of smell the village before you see it because the walls of the houses are made from dried cow dung. We go inside for tea and ugali. This ugali actually had a bonus because it had a slightly burnt bottom (as it were). Actually tasty. We set off on a wee safari to the “Hill of Big Rats” Absolutely glorious. I ask if we might see any animals. There is much shrugging. As consolation, the women point out many little animal houses (holes in the ground) where animals live (they assure me) but no one is at home. We have to resort to mime to tell what kind of animals and, according to the acting skills of the Maasai, they all appear to be meerkats. Which is unlikely. We climb a rocky outcrop to see the rocks that ‘sweat’ white stuff. And see a hyena in its cave. OK we see a dark shadow that could be a hyena. There are a couple of spring hares and something else small brown and unidentifiable. To be fair, any actual wildlife in the vicinity is probably scared off by the wheepling ringtones on the woman’s Nokias and the high pitched yelling as they converse into them. I am sure anyone within a one mile radius could hear them evenwithout resort to a phone. Even a wandering cow seems startled by the noise levels. Back at the village we talk business, quality control, walk back to the road, drink chai and eat mandazi. I am introduced to a tribal elder who likes the idea of the village project. It is really quite a moment because, as a female I have to approach him with bowed head. He then pats you on the head – a bit like a papal blessing but with more piercings and you can talk.
Back to base where I talk to the girl who is organising a tour of V V rich american female philanthropists !!! She too loves the idea of the Village project and is going to see if she can divert her women there – it is on Friday, so I’ll need to change my flight. We can charge them a tenner each for the visit. The Maasai women will be in seventh heaven and the project really kicked off
The Day of The Meeting
First thing, I walk o Virgin Headquarters and put on a display of Tragic
Acting the like of which has not been seen since Sarah Bernhardt died. The woman in the hijab is not impressed. She wants £120. I leave. I’ll wait till the Americans confirm.
Felista is insistent that I get to Shalom for the meeting early, at 1pm so we can ‘Talk”. I borrow a statement necklace from Lynita at Wildebeeste and nice sandals for effect.
I get there at 1pm. The meeting starts at 2pm. Felista arrives at 2.35pm, a couple of others at 2.45pm and the women we are meant to be meeting a little later as Felista hasn’t given her the address, or a contact telephone number.
The entire thing is a nightmare. I am nominally Chair of proceedings but Felista waits only a couple of minutes before wading in. It is like having a board meeting with a grizzly bear on pure coke in the room. I make feeble attempts to stick to an agenda … get decisions voted on … but Felista is a stranger to Procedure. Upshot : we turn down One Million Shillings. Because Felista will not countenance being supervised or answerable to another body. Even one giving her 1 million shillings.
Things get even worse after Helene (the women) leaves. About fifteen minutes, having been told by Felista that I know and understand nothing, I too leave.
On the way back I meet up with Janet – Mama B’s lovely soapstone lady. She is pretty unwell. She had a caesarean in Decemver and a stillborn baby. Now the wound has gone septic. And she doesn’t have money for the meds – well not all of them. I give her the cash
Now I am off to buy clothes and deworming tabs for all the kids in Juja. Still somewhat reeling from The Meeting.