Category Archives: ARK General

New Year New Start

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Stanley leading a session during the vision day

With impecable African timing Monday was the official start of the year for Arocha Kenya. With all the staff back from their summer breaks a day was put aside to discuss the aims and vision for the year. Topics such as team building, finance and administration, programme reports and the running of the guest house were included.

Christian values were also discussed and our Environmental Education Officer, Tsofa Mweni gave a word of encouragement to the group reading from the books of Psalms and Galatians in the bible. The whole team, including centre staff were involved which left the running of the kitchen to the volunteers for the day. I’m happy to say that meals arrived on time (almost) and were enjoyed by everyone – well done the team!Vision Day.JPG

Earthwatch

On Monday our regular visit from ‘Earthwatch’ commenced with 9 visitors from Kenya, the USA, and the UK. The team, from a variety of professioEarthwatch Group.JPGns including teaching and zoo keeping are here to study Sykes Monkeys in the forest region around Gede Ruins. They have a particular interest in the difference in seed dispersion between those groups often fed by the tourists and those that are totally self sufficient and how this affects the sustainability of the forest itself. The group will stay with us for 10 days and are already making mealtimes more lively.

Mwamba’s newest couple

Some of you may know that two of our staff here at A Rocha were recently married.  Stanley Baya, who runs the ASSETS programme and Carol Muthoni our Administrator met at Mwamba and got to know one another when working together!  Their important day was on 11th October at the East African School of Theology in Nairobi.  Some of the ARK staff went to the wedding but yesterday we all joined together in welcoming them as a married couple.  We were able to have lunch outside under the shade of the trees and some of us stayed to hear the story of their honeymoon in Molo!  We are looking forward to them joining us back at Mwamba on Monday!

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Jonathan Baya introducing the couple – Ivy’s is enjoying a cuddle from someone she has not seen for a long time!

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 The newly married couple say hello to their favourite little friend.

Introducing A Rocha Kenya’s Environmental Education Officer – Tsofa Mweni

I was born on 27 september 1967 in Shimba Hills (south of Mombasa) where my dad was working as a schoolteacher, and had settled after being transfered from Malindi. I come from a family of 7 (5 brothers and 2 sisters) and went to school in Shimba Hills and later joined Kenyatta High School in Taita (about 200kms inland) for my secondary school, then later to Kilifi (just south of Watamu) for my Advanced Level education.

tsofa_in_blue.jpg Tsofa Mweni – Env Ed officer for A Rocha Kenya – often introduces himself as “Tsofa, so good” or “Tsofa as in sofa set”..

All through my school days, I was a member of the Wildlife Clubs Kenya (WCK) group and participated in many school organised events, both at local and national level. e.g. essay competitions, and also I was very keen on drama. I participated in many WCK drama fetes.

I then went to train for a Diploma in Education at Kisii College (1992) so as to become a secondary school teacher. In college, I was elected the College Clubs Coordinator-and was responsible for planning all college club itineraries and liaising with the college admin. I was also the Chair for the Environmental Club, and an avid member of the Drama club. I emerged winner of the national Drama competition in dramatised poem in 1992.

When I completed my training I was posted to Voi, Taita, and later transfered to Kakuyuni Secondary School, near Malindi. In my days at Kakuyuni, I was a very active Wildlife Club patron, and chaired the Malindi WCK patrons Action Group. My school, Kakuyuni is located right next to Arabuko-Sokoke Forest and thus we had a lot of interaction with the forest.

It was during the school WCK meetings that I was informed of the job advertisement at the ASF Management and Conservation Project (funded by Birdlife International) for the post of Conservation Education Officer. I was encouraged by many to apply for the position, a 3 year contract
job; this meant forgoing a government permanent job with it’s securities which was a risk, but I thought of it as a challenge then, and due to my interest in conservation from even the past… I decided to go for it, and believed the God will show me the way.  And that is how I got fully involved in conservation work.

The 3 years (1999-2001) in ASF was a great eye-opener for me. I learned a lot from the many people whom I interacted with at the forest. I also used my teacher training to develop better teaching and awareness raising strategies that helped improve the undestanding of the forest to the local people and more so among the school children and teachers.

tsofa_giving_tree_nursery_lesson.jpg  Tsofa teaching WCK students how to make a tree nursery

At the end of the 3 years, I joined the newly established A Rocha Kenya and I thank God for guiding me through. I have enjoyed working for ARK, I have enjoyed seeing it grow, and I have grown along with it. My work experience has grown, and my faith in the Lord has grown too… and God be praised for that.

Tsofa, our Education Officer, helping a boy release a bird after it has been ringed  Tsofa helping a student release a bird after it has been ringed

Tsofa with Willy demonstrating bird ringing - with a soft toy! Tsofa (on right) and Willy (Forest Guide) demonstrating how to ring and measure a bird

Thanks for support!

Just to add a word of thanks to Michael and Lynton who both have made donations to our work earlier in July totalling $30 – both very much appreciated.

Over the next few weeks I hope to introduce you to the rest of our A Rocha Kenya team based in Watamu on the north Kenyan coast. As well as the research work which I posted several times about in early July and the conservation action / campaigning component of our work such as for the Tana River Delta, we’ve run an Environmental Education programme with schools around Arabuko-Sokoke Forest and Mida Creek and operate our field study centre, Mwamba, as a place for people to come on holiday and/or join in on our work. Life is very busy and full in Watamu despite the coast having the reputation for being ‘laid back and easy-going’ – which I think you’ll agree with as the story unfolds.

Tsofa, our Education Officer, helping a boy release a bird after it has been ringed Tsofa, our Env. Education Officer, helping a school boy release a bird after it has been ringed at the A Rocha Kenya centre, Mwamba

I’d better stop and get on with entering data and answering email – core activities of conservation (unfortunately! If only it was all fieldwork…)