June 25. Seoul, South Korea.
Our time in Kenya has been blessed with good friendships and a unique local projects: Rainbow Resource Center. This time, we spent about two months "on the ground" in Kisian, a marketplace near Kisumu, while working tirelessly on projects for Rainbow. These projects, it turned out, fall into eight categories.
- Computer literacy training. Rainbow is the only center that will give affordable computer training, enabling the less fortunate to learn how to operate these all-important machines without an expensive and time-consuming commute to the city;
- Smart agricultural techniques. Such as bottle/drip irrigation, greenhouse construction, composting/waste management, natural pesticides. It turns out that the knowledge is locally available but not spread equally among the individuals who most need it;
- Lending. Rainbow has a community room where groups or NGOs can hold meetings. It also lends out tools and has a small library;
- Microfinance. We have started a microfinance program and Rainbow is now fine-tuning the best way: a revolving fund, working with women, support in management beyond the loan, a hybrid structure whereby Rainbow takes over marketing and sales;
- Smart energy techniques. We built solar cookers according to a design we found on the internet. There are ideas for biogas and solar water heaters are already commercially available;
- Production and sales of arts, using our partner-website www.glocalpresents.com; Rainbow is selling the art of local artists;
- Rural tourism. There is a guestroom - and plenty of other accommodation around; the most amazing local food will be prepared for the visitors, English-speaking tourguides will show them the lakeside where tourists can spot hippos, or the hills where they can hike up to ancient places of worship;
- Income generation. Rainbow has already started to produce liquid soap and mango jam; this is generally the first stage of working with a borrower for microfinance: after a certain volume of production and a customer base has been established, the borrower will be able to continue independently, while Rainbow will work with yet another villager to start a new project.
The Rainbow is still in its early stages, but I think this list answers the question "What can be done without much capital, in any rural community around the world?" These eight aspects are examples of how a Resource Center works as a hub for sharing practical information. These Centers have the goal of making rural communities more sustainable ecologically, less dependent on an unstable grand economy, and better environments for the next generation.