November 30, 2003 - The Oregon Observer: RPCV Julie Amakobe and husband striving to modernize Nasusi, Kenya

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Kenya: The Peace Corps in Kenya: November 30, 2003 - The Oregon Observer: RPCV Julie Amakobe and husband striving to modernize Nasusi, Kenya

By Admin1 (admin) ( - on Sunday, November 30, 2003 - 2:12 pm: Edit Post

RPCV Julie Amakobe and husband striving to modernize Nasusi, Kenya

RPCV Julie Amakobe and husband striving to modernize Nasusi, Kenya

Amakobes striving to modernize Nasusi, Kenya
Jim Winter
Oregon Observer Editor
OREGON --In Nasusi, Kenya, children don't think about the future. They focus on staying fed and halfway healthy.

In Nasusi, adults don't live the hectic life Americans do. There's very little electricity, few paved roads and fewer cars. Most women have to walk 2-1/2 kilometers just to get fresh water. Peter Amakobe knows what Nasusi is like. He lived in Nasusi until 1983.

'It's very rural,' Peter said. 'Until we visited in 1991, it never occurred to me that it was so remote.'

Amakobe and his wife, Julie, are trying to bring modernism to Peter's small rural village of 1,000 that's 8 kilometers away from the next village and 50 kilometers away from any large city. The couple, along with Mary Kay Clark or Oregon, have formed Atepe, Ltd. with a goal to build a structure which will house a medical clinic and library, dig a fresh water well and construct a renewable energy system (wind turbine with solar panels) for the well and building. The system would electrify any other homes, churches or school buildings ultimately connected.

'There's such a discrepancy between those who can and those who cannot, it's mind-boggling,' said Peter of the villagers. 'The kids have absolutely no idea about the future.

'Over the years I have helped my family and neighbors, and I can come out of there, I can set an example,' Peter said. 'There's a lot more to life than what they have.'

Peter knows. He was born and raised in Nasusi and eventually began working for the Kenyan government. Julie, an Oregon native, was a Peace Corps volunteer who worked in Nasusi. The two fell in love, married in Kenya in 1982 and Peter came back to Oregon with Julie in 1983.

'It was January 16, and it was 17 degrees below zero,' Peter said. 'It was cold, wow! It was like walking into very clean glass you can't see.'

Now, 20 years later, Amakobe wants to make a better life for his villagers. Amakobe and family already completed a pilot program. The Atepes (alternate family name for Peter) and villagers constructed a wind turbine and water distribution system. The turbine provides electricity for the well and the Atepe household. The external lights at the Atepe compound serve as a beacon for the surrounding area, drawing 12 secondary school headmasters from 12 kilometers away. The electricity is allowing those with power to listen to radio music and national and world news for the first time.

'A lot of people helped us set this up, and it shows what technology can do,' Peter said. 'The community pulled together.'

Peter is expecting the same effort for the library/clinic, second wind turbine and community well. Peter wants to have the project completed by March, 2004. The pilot project cost $30,000, which the Amakobes paid on their own. The new project costs $118,278, with the Amakobes receiving $68,640 in kind or through donations, leaving $49,638 left to be funded.

That's where Clark comes in. As one-third owner of Atepe, Ltd., which stands for Alternative Technology for Efficient Production of Energy, Clark created a grant proposal for the Amakobes. Peter and Julie are applying for a grant from the Ashden Awards for Sustainable Energy. The awards identify existing projects that represent outstanding examples of how small-scale, environmentally sustainable energy initiatives can meet human, social and economic needs.

Clark was eager to get involved in the project.

'Julie is a lifelong friend of mine, and so I started helping immediately,' Clark said. 'I was ready, willing and able to do the work.'

Clark is part of a public discipleship at her church, and is using Atepe, Ltd. as her vehicle to put her faith into action.

'This has been very fulfilling and rewarding,' Clark said. 'We've gotten together many Friday nights to work on the project, and it's brought our families closer together.'

Clark also put the Amakobes in touch with the Friends of the Oregon Public Library. The Friends held a book sale in October. Leftover books from that sale are usually disposed of, but Clark saw a golden opportunity.

She made sure unsold books from the sale were kept. Peter and Julie arrived to pick up 20 medium-sized boxes full of opportunities for residents of Nasusi.

'There's no library in the rural part of Kenya,' Julie said. 'What better way to learn about things than to go to a library.'

Julie knows first-hand how eager villagers, especially Nasusi children, are to read. On her last trip to Kenya, she handed out Golden books (children's books) to the kids.

'Those kids took the books and hid them in Peter's mother's house,' Julie said.

'The books are like gold to them,' Peter said. 'When you give them a book, it will be read until it disintegrates.'

The conjoining clinic will save lives, as the nearest clinic now is 8 kilometers away. Most villagers walk to the clinic in their sickened state, and sometimes, 'people don't make it,' according to Peter.

The joy that comes over Peter's face when he talks about what the project's already done for his family and neighbors, and what the new project will do for his whole village, is overwhelming. The Kenyan government is keeping a close eye on the project, as it may be able to be replicated in other rural parts of Kenya.

'This is going to make such a tremendous impact,' Peter said of the project. 'Even if five of the kids in my village end up going into college, it's such a huge contribution.'

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Story Source: The Oregon Observer

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; Service; COS - Kenya



By John mubichakani ( on Wednesday, September 17, 2008 - 8:30 am: Edit Post

Identified vilager who propeled the clinic

By Osogo Community-Family Health Initiatives ( on Monday, March 16, 2009 - 3:07 pm: Edit Post

Dear Sir/Madam,


We are a rural based independent Non Profit, Non Governmental organization working in Kenya’s Nyanza province. Our primary focus is rural health and development initiatives.

We are currently seeking PARTNERSHIP and support in order to promote access to reading materials and books to our community especially on health education and environmental health conservation to the underserved populations in rural Nyanza. The reading materials (books) will benefit several youth and women groups,community based institutions, primary schools and mid-level learning institutions in the rural area.

We already have an approved sponsorship of a 40 foot container with an of assortment of books and six pentium computers from Books for Africa, (USA) however, our sponsors do not offer shipment and hence we are required to incur the shipment costs(currently beyond our affordability), or seek for the support of a reputable organization like yours. (Please find herein an attached copy of the invoice sent to us by books for Africa.)

We would be proud to be associated with you on this programme for the benefit of our target population; we, also would wish to invite you to become part of this initiative in order to achive our collective goals for a sustainable future.Should you require any further details in regard to the same, please do not hesitate to contact us.We look forward to your favourable response.Kindly aknowledge receipt of the same.Thank you in advance.

Yours Truly,

Bonface Oyaro Ongoro
Executive Secretary

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