Imagine a large fire circle- maybe 30 feet across. Benches and chairs set up and a large fire burning. People gathered: the older students of Magarini, the teachers, three North Americans and Jescar and Emmanuel who run the center.
It’s dark, and it’s warm. Nobody knew what to expect. Emmanuel began by welcoming everyone in English and quickly changed to the local language. He addressed the crowd and response came back – back and forth it went , shouting out shouting back, and laughter.
The energy was palpable, this was something very much of the place, deeply rooted.
Emmanuel would run in circles and shout, then dance and draw others into the action. Riddles were given and solved. Some of the teachers shared something. Language didn’t matter.
I just sat in amazement, goosebumps even now as I tell the story. I asked Emmanuel later how often they do this and he replied ‘it was the first time’. As a young boy he had spent time with the elders, sitting by the fire. This is where he learned, and this is what he was able to evoke.
This was the last evening that I spent at Magarini Center , completing part 1 of the Power of Hope program. We had spent 4 weeks at the site, setting up camp, planning and building the foundation of a new kitchen, and building rocket cook stoves: one for Jescar’s home, one in the existing cook shelter and two on a platform in the space of the new kitchen, all the while sharing with locals how to do this.
We had one participant from abroad- AJ was just the right guy for a situation where everything was a ‘ first time’: first time with campers on site, first time feeding foreigners, first time supporting a program under funding. Big thanks goes to LUSH for their support.
The program was conceived while Jescar Mbuche visited OUR Ecovillage as an assistant teacher for the PDC and EDE in 2017. Over time the program developed into two main parts: a natural building segment facilitated by me and a food forest and water management segment facilitated by Brandon Bauer. Each piece was 3 weeks long with a few days in between for exploration of the area.
August is school break and there were few children around, and only a few teachers. Instead we met builders and farmers who were ready to engage. The fields were standing tall with Maize, vegetables growing and new crops to be planted.
There are many needs: the girls dormitory needs finishing work. A more solid kitchen with dishwashing, preparation and serving areas. More classrooms for the ever growing number of students.
For us the priority was designing the kitchen and building stoves. A filmmaker team came to produce a video about building Jescar’s stove, soon to be published. A dining hall is also in the planning- this will be a large Natural building , to be built in a program in August 2021. Please contact me if you wish to receive information once available.