There’s nothing as gratifying as making another person smile. This simply implies that your time with them while physically or virtually attending to their need or just having a conversation with them was worthwhile.
This is the inspiration behind my love for Kamrio Mentorship Program which started out of a simple meet up with Sylvia Ngatia who was referred to me by the office of the Baringo Women Representative (Mama County) Hon Grace Kiptui.
Sylvia was told of someone who could help mobilize people to register, sponsor or participate in Kamrio Marathon through social media. Kamrio Marathon was an inaugural event in the remote parts of Tiaty which sought to raise funds to take kids to secondary school.
These kids who were about to sit for their Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) at Kamrio Primary School, which happens to be the only school in a whole division – Akoret. Yes, the only school in a whole division.
This is what I learnt on our first meeting with Sylvia in Kabarnet town. It was a rainy evening and the rains kept us having a hearty talk about how Tiaty, led by Kamrio is in dire need of transformation and the only way would be through education and the word of God.I almost forgot to tell you, Sylvia was in Kamrio for Mission work on behalf of Mamlaka Hill Chapel (Nairobi).
Sylvia is a Public Health Officer by profession and was out in Tiaty to look into issues health among the residents of Kamrio while spreading the Gospel.
I describe our conversation with Sylvia as hearty because at the time of our meeting, there were several cases of banditry attacks between the Pokot and Turkana, Pokot and Tugen and Pokot and Ilchamus. You can see the common factor there and you can imagine the animosity at that time.
Tension was high among the warring communities, something that had spread out to urban centres in the county and the big question was, how can this issue be stopped.
Sylvia and I were in agreement. Education, Education laced with the word.
It was at this time that I also learnt that Kamrio Primary School would be sitting it’s KCPE for the first time in 16 years of establishment.
It was September 2014 and I looked back counting the years backwards as I figured out the state of affairs in the area and how school had transformed my life. This formed the headline of my blog post that featured on Baringo News (then Baringo County News) a news blog that had just been voted the best county blog during the Bloggers Awards by Bloggers Association of Kenya (BAKE).
The story focused on the school sitting for the first KCPE in 16 years, raising funds to educate the candidates and the fact that education could be the ultimate solution to the ongoing conflict. This attracted a lot of attention, both positive and negative considering the timing.
This is where Obsurvative Kimutai (Ronald Kimutai) learnt about the initiative themed ‘Education for Peace’ something that resonated with his Wenyewe Poetry objectives. Obsurvative reached out to me for more information after having a conversation with Sylvia whose contacts had been shared within the story carried by Baringo News.
We had a meet-up and our thoughts resonated, a trio was formed. Obsurvative and I by default became part of the Organizing committee for the marathon and we attended meetings in Nairobi and Baringo. All of us were determined to see the event become a success.
Through Wenyewe Poetry, a group I was acquainted to since 2013 because of their love for art and poetry, we mobilized poets and art enthusiasts like me to register for the marathon.
The online publicity through Baringo News, Wenyewe Poetry and a network of friends created a buzz. County leadership picked up the tempo; some made pledges to support the event.
On the D-day, our journey started in Nakuru with Ezekiel Rop donating his vehicle to transport 12 of us who believed in one thing: going to have fun and to touch a life of a Tiaty child.
At about 3PM, we were in Chemolingot, Tiaty’s administrative headquarters. The excitement was all over. We all broke into Song and dance indicating that we were heading to Kamrio. A place whose name now stuck out more than the district or the constituency itself among people who have not been there.
7pm is the time we arrived at Kamrio Primary School where we were welcome by the community mothers who broke into song and dance.
The journey was a little slow compared to the Marigat-Chemolingot stretch because the road was still under construction. The beautiful sceneries, winding turns and the breathtaking landscapes kept us going. It was an excursion of its own.
‘Kenya is here’ (in Pokot dialect) could be singled out from the songs by the locals. We joined in the dance as we settled to understand how well preparations for the marathon were going.
All was well, Sylvia and the committee drawn from the community updated us. The highlight was that each family had volunteered a goat in contribution towards awards to the race winners. It was amazing!
The Marathon day broke after most of us spent the night by the fireplace sharing experiences and getting to learn a bit of Pokot language from Kamrio KCPE candidates.
People turned up in large numbers, something that kept many of us (visitors) wondering where the population was drawn from yet we could hardly see a homestead by the road throughout the about 40KM stretch from Chemolingot.
Officials drawn from the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) office, Athletics Kenya and Mamlaka Church ran the program and by 12pm, all race categories had been concluded and the award ceremony begun.
By then, local leaders led by the County Assembly Speaker William Kamket, now the area legislator, Members of County Assembly (MCAs) among others had arrived. It was a sea of humanity.
From speaker to speaker, it was all gratitude and appreciation to the race organizers, sponsors and leaders for making it happen. I would equate it to the feeling that comes to little child who had lost touch with their mother and later reunited – rekindled hope.
The agreement that the event should continue annually was unanimous. A road to Kamrio had been opened up prior to the event, money has been raised towards educating their children through highschool and the community has made new friends.
“We need such blessings upon us,” one of the elders said while giving his vote of thanks.
Evening came and all of us were out explore the area. I had an added advantage having visited the area in 2013. Kamrio View point was the ultimate destination; about 2KM from where we were camping.
The towering hill forms a rocky table giving a vantage view of the Mt Tiaty which according to the regional Chief Warden William Kimosop, is the home of the highest tree in the entire Rift Valley.
From the viewpoint, you can see the undulating landscape stretching towards Turkana and to the Silale Crater mountain where Geothermal Power is being explored by Geothermal Development Company (GDC).
The cliff bordering the viewpoint and the rugged Mt Tiaty presents perfect sceneries for paragliding and construction of cable cars.
The night on the second day came. Despite the exhaustion, we all looked forward to the morning, when we could have a glimpse of the beautiful sunrise from the Viewpoint before wrapping up our three days of offline fun. I almost forgot to tell you there is neither mobile voice network nor internet.
Plenty of food was served upon descending from the breathtaking viewpoint. It was time to go back to our various places of work and home after doing a recap of how things went; celebrating the successes, lessons and areas to improve moving forward…
Everyone had a safe journey back home. The month of May, spilling to June was a time to reminisce the good times in Kamrio as the events managed to get media attention.
A lot happened as days progressed. The highlight of the year with respect to Kamrio is that Mamlaka Chapel pulled out their sponsorship and mission program due to security reasons.
Sylvia pressed on and in consultation, and layer partnership with Obsurvative, Kamrio Mentorship was born in a bid to ensure continuity in the good course that had been started.
Obsurvative, Sylvia and I saw it fit to market Kamrio and Mt Tiaty as a tourist destination where people of good will would go mentor the kids there and have fun as well.
That’s how I, among many others who believed in this course, owned the process and have continued #KuwaMwenyewe