Chepkurbet Jiko Project Comes to Life - Pt. 2

(Continued from part 1 which you can read here).

I tried different ways to raise funds for the Jiko Stoves Project in Kenya. First, I tried selling photos taken in Kenya. I opened an Etsy shop. I only sold one photo but I will try again later as I feel this can still be successful. I also tried to sell home made crosses on commission. You can read here about that effort. The crosses were wonderful and I did sell some. However since they aren't mine I returned the remainder to the craftsman. I used the funds raised to pay for school needs instead of jiko stoves.

From time to time I thought of other alternatives for how to bring about energy efficiencies and I did find a fireless cooker. Read about it here.  I think fireless cookers are a good thing and they are much less expensive than putting in a full stove and jiko pot.  I considered going this route instead of putting into a full stove and buying jiko but 28 households in the village were waiting to have jiko stoves like the first set of 11 women.  I also felt that a proper stove and pot would be a better investment over the long term in helping improve the lives of these village women and children.

I scour the internet a lot.  One day through Simon, one of my blogging contacts, I was encouraged to have hope that I could  really find an answer to the dilemma of the jiko stove needs.  Simon suggested I could get a mold (cast) made and the villagers could build their own stoves.  Simon also kindly provided me some information as to where to get the building plans. The challenge then became how to find the carpenter, how much to pay him and how to get the actual stoves built in the village huts because this process requires taking the mold from house to house and the houses are rather far apart.

I discussed it with my Pastor friend, Pastor Jonah and he agreed to find a carpenter. After a few weeks of  communicating with my Kenyan friend about the various ins and outs of the project and working on and tweaking the budget, I gave the "green" light to Pastor Jonah to look for a carpenter.  This wasn't as simple as it sounds. Pastor Jonah had to speak to several carpenters and show them the building plans.  Some of them would not even consider trying to follow the plans for building the mold. I could in fact understand why.  When I look at the diagrams and instructions, they seem very complicated.  I imagine that some of the village carpenters might not read very well and so could not follow the instructions. I also concluded that some of them probably have a few projects they make and limit their work to those things which they know they can sell.  I am so glad we did find someone who would take on the challenge!  He is obviously someone who is a bit more adventurous and willing to take on new things.

The first attempt at building the mold was a little rusty in that the lines of the wood were crooked.
First attempt was a little crooked
After the carpenters adjustments, the mold looks beautiful!
Two days later we had this wonderfully finished mold to make the stoves.
The next step was to get someone to make the stoves. My friend went ahead and hired two enthusiastic women in the village who are passionate about making the stoves.

Come back again soon and see the work they have accomplished. be continued


  1. Hi Joyful, good to read your blog, especially about the work you've been doing in Kenya. Money is always a problem, for two reasons, one, it's very hard to get hold of and two, it's very hard to monitor.

    As soon as you get money, there are many people who want to get it from you and they will do anything, pretend anything, say anything, just to get the money. Then they will expect you to continue funding them in some way until they die (or you do).

    That's why I started to think of ways of doing things that require very little money or even no money at all. I try to persuade people that if they can spend less, they will have more money. They are not very impressed, but I'm going to continue trying, as I don't have any money.

    You say you can't find jikos for 2 to 5 dollars, it's difficult for someone like you or I to find people who will charge a fair price. As soon as they see a foreigner, many will up the price, often to ridiculous levels.

    Even if you get someone you trust to ask the price, it will still go up if that person has been seen with foreigners. So it has taken me a long time to find my way around and I know I still get ripped off, everyone does.

    I have the metal kind of jiko here, it was 2 dollars, and the metal and ceramic kind, which was 1.50. There's only one way to be really sure of prices and that's to go to a big supermarket, like Tuskys, and to compare the prices.

    You can then tell street traders that Tuskys is cheaper. They may laugh, they may not believe you, but if they don't lower the price, I just refuse to buy from them.

    As for wages, they are even harder to find out about, especially because NGOs come here and pay people 'sitting fees' and expenses that are far above what they could earn otherwise.

    People who do manual labor in fields in villages get between 120 and 150 shillings a day. Some NGOs will pay them 200 shillings just for their lunch! You can pay what you want, it's up to you, but wages should usually cost less than other costs, not more.

    As a rule of thumb, goods and materials, especially when foreign or foreign processed. If the GDP per capita is 350 dollars, people are not getting paid much more than a dollar a day. You may not want to pay so little, but if you end up paying 10 dollars or something like that, you are going to benefit very few people and possibly do a lot of damage.

    Anyhow, crazy as it sounds, I find if people are not willing to bargain, they will do nothing rather than work for a reasonable amount. And they will sell nothing to a foreigner unless it's for an inflated price.

    But I admire the work you are doing, I hope you find lots of willing hands, there are certainly lots of deserving people and families.


  2. You sure are trying very hard for the folks there. I'm glad tobe a follower of one who care so much!

  3. Hey Simon,

    Thank you so much for trying to post your thoughtful and lengthy comment despite the issues. I
    logged on the other day to find your comment five times. I have to approve comments before they are published as a way of controlling spam so I'm sorry for any confusion caused by that.

    I admire the work you have been trying to do without money. I have a limited about of funds at my disposal for the efforts needed in Chepkerbet. Even so, I think
    you may be trying to work with less and I know how challenging that can be. I guess you have the advantage of being there and I am so far away from Kenya for most of the year. It is also hard to monitor anything and get a real sense of how things go when you are not there to see it yourself. However, I do not want things to wait until I am on site as then I would run out of time to do what needs doing and the villagers would have to wait longer to see the things they know are coming.

    I understand very well what you are saying about money. You and I share the desire to help people help themselves. In my case though, I am a Christian. My faith requires me to assist poor people, especially widows and orphans. That means making sure their physical needs are taken care of to the extent I can. That is really how I came to focus on jiko stoves. At the same time as I am doing "good works", I do think a lot about other projects, including projects that would help the people be self-sufficient. Most of my efforts in this regard haven't gotten very far. It is very difficult for people to be lifted out of abject poverty without a concentrated effort and a coming together of people working on the issues. In order to do any of the entrepreneurial things like raising chickens and selling eggs, selling eggs, selling product or honey, using solar power and other things across numerous households, you really do need money. There is no way around it. So the limited funds people do have are directed to subsistence farming and to school needs. Even these two needs stretch their funds to the breaking point. I know you have seen all this first hand.

    When I am doing a project in Kenya, I try to get different perspectives on fair price and rely on the locals to get a fair price. As you point out, it is very hard to get a price that is not inflated when you are a foreigner but I trust my friends to do their best. They often tell me if they purchase in the village stalls they can get things much cheaper but sometimes for my own recording keeping, I want receipts and so they have to purchase at a more expensive place. I found your information on wages very helpful and I will keep it in my mind as I go forward.

    Wishing you all the best in Tanzania. If I get there, I will write you just in case you are free and maybe we could meet up for coffee or a climb up Mt. Kili (not!). LOL
    Take care.

  4. KleinsteMotte, thank you my dear for following me and reading along faithfully. You do not know how much I appreciate it and hearing from you too! I'm still following your "nutty" stories, lol. I hope your weekend was a great one!


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