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Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Day 24 Kakamega June 1, 2011


Today Hezron and Mathew picked me up at the guest house and we went to purchase some of the materials for the orchard.  We went to a local hardware store and we picked up the galvanized wire to run between the support posts for the passion fruit vines.  We also picked up the barb wire for the fence line and U nails to attach the wire and barb wire to the posts.  We then went to the plot to measure out to make sure I calculated the right number of passion fruit seedlings and number of support posts was correct.  My calculations were right on the spacing for the passion fruit but I missed the number of support posts by almost half.  I calculated 110 but once we laid them out it was only 60.  This was welcome news since the posts were the most expensive item so far.  I originally figured we would need 110 posts at a cost of 11,000 Ksh ($138.00) now it has dropped to 6000 Ksh ($75.00).  Now the only cost left to attain is the fertilizer.  According to what I have read we will need 2000 lbs of 10-5-20 NPK for one year’s worth of fertilizer.  I will verify this with Colin in Moi’s bridge before I purchase any chemicals.  We also calculated the number of fence posts needed and Mathew will furnish the 25 posts for 2000 Ksh.  Here is a list of costs associated with this project so far.

160 passion fruit seedlings @ 25 Ksh each = $50.00
60 support posts @ 100 Ksh each = $75.00
60 support post holes to dig @ 25 Ksh each = $18.75
480 meters of barb wire = $38.75
300 meters of galvanized wire = $23.44
2 kilograms of U-nails = $4.50
25 fence posts @ 80 Ksh each = $25.00
2 plowings @ 1000 Ksh each = $25.00
Removal of dirt from plot (widows) = $25.00
Chemicals = Unknown

Total = $285.44

We had budgeted 100 Ksh for each support post and we determined that we needed 60 of them for this plot.  While we were at the plot one of the gentlemen that helps with the widows offered to sell us some raw timber from his home.  This sounded like a good idea so we then headed to his home to look at the timber and Mathew could determine how many posts we could get out of them.  We looked at three pieces of raw timber and Mathew decided that we could get at least 30 pieces maybe 40 out of them.  Hezron then negotiated the price for the 3 pieces and we purchased them for 2000 Ksh uncut.  Mathew who is also the project manager for Freedom Ministries then donated his time to come up from Mumias to Kakamega to cut the raw timber into posts similar to something we can use at least 10 feet long each.  Mathew only asked for 150 Ksh ($1.87) for fuel in his chain saw.  The gentleman still had some raw timber available and said that we could purchase this as well to make up the 60 support posts we needed.  I told him that was great once we see how many posts we get out of what we bought we will purchase the rest from him.  So now what we had budgeted to be $75.00 for posts we are now below $50.00 for them. 

What is so encouraging is that so many have come out to help these widows.  This widow’s project so far is being funded by an acquaintance that Hezron met on one of his trips to the US and I am matching her donation.  Pastor John Omala has donated a plot of land to be used.  Just a little side note please pray for Pastor John he was on his way to the US for the CFO Camp in Tennessee and his brother died unexpectedly and John will not be able to come back for the funeral.  Mathew is donating time and money to travel and help manage the project through Freedom Ministries.  Mathew will also donate time to cut up the raw timber into posts.  The gentleman I talked about earlier is helping with the tools and has offered to sell us raw timber to help reduce the costs of this project.  Councilor Biana has been and continues to be widow’s mentor in whatever they do.  Liydia is also donating her time to help make sure that this project will be a successful venture.  There are a handful of other pastors that are participating as well.  Lastly Bishop Hezron will be donating his time as well to help with this project.  Hezron’s ministry stretches across most of Western Kenya into all of Uganda and now into the northern parts of Tanzania.  He is most anxious to find projects that can help his churches uplift the lives of their members.  Projects like this can and hopefully will help other widows groups, orphans, and help fund things like schools, clinics, etc.

Kenya continues to amaze me.  As we were leaving after looking at the raw timber Hezron pointed out a couple of mud puddles and over it was some sort of sluice box that Hezron told me was used to find gold.  Well of course my interest peaked and now I must see some gold.  What these people will do to earn a few bucks is just amazing.  We went around the front of the house and on the ground was what I thought was just sand.  But what I was told was that it contains gold.  I looked at it and did not see any.  I was shown a fairly large rock that will be crushed to make small pebbles and then ground up to make a fine powder.  Once it is in powder or fine sand it will be washed and let to dry.  Then it will be run through either the sluice box or panned to extract the gold.  The owner of the house then had his daughter give us a demonstration on finding some gold.  She took about a handful of this broken up rock and started to grind it down on a rock using another rock.  She put down a sack to catch the grains and after she finished about a handful took it to her pan and started to wash and look for gold.  She worked the sand for about 5 minutes and once she was done she called us over to see the gold in the pan.  Granted it was not very much but it was fascinating just the same.  To actually see someone work these stones and find gold was truly amazing.  Here are some pictures of the home mining operation.

Sluice box

There is actually gold in this sand

Rock to be crushed into sand

Starting to grind crushed stone into sand

About a handful of sand

Gold in the center of this pan

Click on picture to enlarge

Then came my questions and I wanted to see where this gold was coming from.  I was told that the Europeans had come in and found gold started mining and once they found it not to be so profitable they left.  I was also told that they had dug many a tunnel under the area searching for these veins of gold producing stones.  I was taken to a small mine that is operated by about 50 miners in partnership to extract these stones from under the ground.  My understanding there is even a larger mine that was a few kilometers away from where we were.  The walk to the mine was grueling and it later took its toll on me.  We arrived at the mine and we were greeted by Bennett Hinga the Secretary for the miners group.  He told me that the mine normally operates 24 hours a day but today it was closed due to today being Kenya’s Independence Day.  He showed me the mine entrance and told me that there were many tunnels under the ground that we were standing on.  I asked him if it was safe and do they have any collapses he told me no but last year 3 miners died at the bigger mine from asphyxiation.  Gold is running close to $1500 an ounce.  One troy ounce is about 31 grams.  I was told that the miners are only able to sell their gold for between 2500 to 3000 Ksh a gram.  This is between $900 and $1100 an ounce.  Bennett told me since I was white that I should be able to find him someone to partner with to get a better deal for his miners.  Is there anyone reading this that would like to help these guys out?  I know nothing about gold mining and I am not sure what bulk gold goes for but I would think that they could get a better price.  Here are some pictures of the mine.

This is a real gold mine

Down into the mine entrance

Bennett and Hezron on the winch

Digging and finding these stones can be really tough work.  There are days where they find up to an ounce of gold and there are times like now when they have gone almost a month without much of a find.  Bennett told me that at the other mine it is more profitable and they tend to find much larger pieces of gold then Bennett’s group does.  It would have been nice to see a gold nugget but not today.  Since they were not operating today I did not get to see into the mine because it was flooded and the pumps were not there.  Bennett also told me that they use mercury and acid which is very expensive to make sure that what they find is gold.  This has peaked my curiosity and I have been invited back maybe I can go to the other mine as well.  Not sure if I want to go down into the mines or not.  I really do not like cramped spaces and I am not sure if I could handle being buried alive.  

Take care and God bless




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  2. my email is and i would like to get them a market