Each year, December 1st is celebrated throughout this planet as World AIDS Day. Last week was EK’s first annual World AIDS Day event at Kitawi Beach on Mfangano Island that was broadcast LIVE by our very own community radio station, EK FM. With a crowd of over 700 people, we gathered together to raise awareness, commemorate our friends who have passed on, celebrate the many victories in the fight to turn the tide against HIV/AIDS and look forward to the many challenges that lay ahead.

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In April 2012, 365 bicycles arrived on the shores of Lake Victoria. “A Piece of the Puzzle” by Mark Piquette of B4H is a short film that highlights the impact of bikes on Mfangano Island. Today, a majority of all 365 bikes have been dispursed throughout the community.

Watch this short film to see how bikes are lowering HIV prevalence while creating alternative transportation options for island residents.


Update 44Following a 3-day “Organic Farming Level I” seminar held at the EK Demonstration Farm last month, the organic farm team handed out it’s first certificates to 6 local farmers. The training outlined the importance of organic farming and provided hands-on instructions for interested agriculturalists.  Moving forward, this team of newly trained farmers will work in collaboration to experiment growing new crops in the community. They plan to form a cooperative in order to sell local organic produce to surrounding resorts in the area.


Update 43 Kanyakla GraduationOn Wednesday, September 19, 2012, over 500 participants representing 46 “microclinics” across Mfangano East, graduated from OHR-MCI’s Microclinic Pilot Program for HIV-affected communities.

Over the course of a 6-month curriculum, each self-chosen group completed trainings to empower themselves in topics from HIV pathology & adherence to the effects of deforestation on the health of their community, with a last session focused on group testing. Acting as living examples for Lake Victoria, these “microclinics” are among the first to disclose their HIV status to one another, building a one-of-a-kind social support network on an island with a 30% HIV infection rate, one of the highest on this planet.

Check back for more photos of the graduation ceremony and quotes from our microclinic participants!

Update 43-2Currently EK FM Radio is in testing phase and can be heard on FM 99.3! The official launching of the studio will take place in conjunction with World AIDS Day on Saturday, December 1, 2012 at the EK Center at Kitawi Beach


Update 42If high-speed Internet was something, Mfangano can now boast of Africa’s first Wind-powered Suba Youth Radio Station, EK FM – “Turi alala,” we are together!

Mfangano residents have waited for over 4 years to hear their own voice over the radio. Completed last month, OHR teamed up with Nepalese Engineer, Pawan Prakash to install a 500 watt FM transmitter and basic studio, powered completely by wind-power (thanks to all those at Access:Energy who made that possible!).

This is Lake Victoria’s first Suba community radio. With only 112,000 Suba speakers remaining, this radio broadcasts to over 80-km away, covering not only Mfangano Island but neighboring Suba-speaking communities in Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania. This is also a for youth, by youth radio, giving Suba youth a platform to share their voice across the lake. With little access to local and relevant news and information, EK’s Suba Youth Radio will disseminate community-driven programs centered around health, sustainable agriculture & fishing practices, Suba language & culture, and youth empowerment.


Update 41The new Ekialo Kiona Scholarship Program hosted its first community harambee, or fundraiser, at Kitawi Beach. Community members joined together to support the EK Scholarship Fund, raising money to send a select number of local students to school for the full duration of their secondary school education. In a community where 8 in 10 households cannot afford to send their children to school, this program has huge potential to change Mfangano’s education trends. Read more about the EK Scholarship Program!


Update 40The Making of a 90Km Wireless Link…” is the name of Inveneo’s Chief Technology Officer’s latest blogpost. OHR and Ekialo Kiona have worked closely with CTO Andris Bjornson to push the capabilities of long-distance WiFi, with amazing success! Check out his blog for all the details on constructing and installing the tower and impressive link.


Update 39Over five years ago, a group of Mfanganoans gathered around a tree to discuss the possibility of high speed internet and a health-focused community center. While the community center opened its doors in 2010, OHR can now officially offer high speed Internet to its members, provided through the recently completed solar and wind powered tower atop Soklo mountain! Members are now able to browse, read, and research as they please, even Skyping friends and former WWOOFers across the globe.

The construction of the tower was a collaborative effort by the Ekialo Kiona Sustainable Design Guild, Acces: Energy, Invenio, and volunteer engineers Graham Tattersall and Forrest Lowell. Not only does the tower power EK’s high speed Internet, but the tower will power the Ekialo Kiona Youth Radio Station as well, making EK Radio the first wind-powered station across Africa.

Questions, comments, or feedback on our new tower and high speed Internet? “Like” us on Facebook or write on the Organic Health Response Facebook wall. Members and staff in Kenya will speedily view your likes, comments, and, hey, why your video comments too!


Update 38Led by OHR’s Sustainable Design and Technology Coordinator Matthew Tierney, Aquaponics is swiming forward. OHR received UC-Berkeley’s Big Ideas Award in 2011 for the OHR Aquaponics pilot. Jonathan Dessi-Olive of Penn State and Amanda Bednarz of the University of Oregon join Matthew and the EK Sustainable Design Guild to construct the Aqauponics system and conduct trainings. Follow their progress on this innovative new system through Amanda or Matthew’s blog!


Update 37The Ekialo Kiona Bike Shop has opened with over 126 bicycles already tunes and distributed! Community members have eyed the hundreds of bikes transported in four separate boats to Mfangano this past April and May, stopping by the EK Center to study the different models and pick favorites. From road to mountain bikes, from Mondales to Treks, from red to black, silver, green, or pink and tasseled, the bikes have inspired new waves of first-time bicyclists and eased Mfangano transport, especially important for those in need of healthcare or for community health workers checking in on neighbors unable to make it the clinic.

World Bicycle Relief, based in Kisumu, visited Ekialo Kiona to train eight individuals across Mfangano East in bicycle repair. Three of those newly trained individuals now operate the EK Bike Shop, repair donated bikes, and teach others how to ride in what is fast becoming a steady income-generating operation.

A big thank you to Bicycles for Humanity for generously donating these bikes. The wheel are rolling!