Rusinga Island is a small island in Lake Victoria region in the western part of Kenya with about 22, 000 inhabitants; nearly half of them are children under the age of 15. It is a very poor area where most people make their living by farming and fishing. Diseases such as malaria, tuberculosis, AIDS, typhoid, parasitic illnesses, etc. along with malnutrition and the lack of health care present a huge problem resulting, among other things, in an increasing number of orphans. Due to the lack of work opportunities there are a lot of poor families living on the island. An access to good-quality food and education for their kids, as well as for complete orphans, is very difficult and limited. Information and new technologies get to the island only very slowly.
The community centre established on the island by Center Narovinu is a complex answer to the problems and needs of the local community, but at the same time it is an educational centre, a great example of community cooperation, a call for overcoming prejudice, and a demonstration of the possibility of using sustainable technologies (barrier-layer photo cells, water clarifying plant, irrigation system, wind power, composting toilets, ponds, fish farming cages, etc.) The project has gradually been being developed since 2005. Currently, it consists of 15 buildings and a large farm. The orphanage has provided a new home for 70 orphans (40 girls and 30 boys) who live in 3 sleeping wards.
The nursery school, following Montessori educational method, uses one big building with a terrace and it is attended by the total of 90 children aged 3 to 6 divided into 3 classes. The primary school consists of 3 buildings – in the first one there are grades 1 through 4, in the second one 5 through 8, and the third one serves as an administrative building- there is a teachers´ room, offices, and a library. There is currently being finished a basketball and a volleyball court and we have also planned the construction of a computer lab and a new library. The educational centre with a hall serves as a place for the children´s evening activities such as cinema and also for community meetings and organizing seminars. It is equipped with a computer room from where the whole centre is operated.
Other important parts of the premises are a kitchen with a food storage and a canteen, and a clinic with a laboratory, pharmacy, sterilization room, laundry room, 3 outpatient departments, delivery room, 8 beds, and of course a waiting room with a reception desk and a register of the patients. An important part of the facilities is an off-road car used as an ambulance. A part of the clinic is also a small house which provides accommodation for doctors and international volunteers. It has 2 rooms, a fully equipped kitchen, and a bathroom. Among the technical facilities of the premises are 3 water towers with a water clarifying plant, bathrooms, and toilets (10 flush toilets + 10 dry toilets). Electricity is provided by the barrier-layer photo cells and in case of the clinic also by a generator.
The farm that currently provides food mainly for the needs of the canteen, consists of vegetable garden plots with an irrigation system, 60 fruit trees, 2 fish breeding ponds (tilapia), and a poultry farm with 400 hens. A purchase of a tractor made it possible to cultivate more land, and so another 8 hectares of fields outside the premises were leased, which is now being used for growing corn and beans.
Throughout the development of the whole project, we have emphasized a complex approach to problem solving, lasting sustainability, active cooperation with the local community, non-violent and understanding attitudes, versatile development, and the use of modern experiential educational methods. Our aim is to create a stimulating and inspiring environment that supports creativity, individual critical thinking, and the ability to express one´s opinion while at the same time listening to others and respecting differences.