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July 30, 2009: Mapping Gazi

Onsite The morning started with a different exercise than other days: ground truthing for a map of tree biomass distribution in Gazi. It was not easy to mark sample areas of 10x10 m in the deep mangrove forest but the work was done and we survived. The afternoon started with data input in the laboratory. Afterwards we had a presentation on the Kenyan education system. It was sad to learn that only 2% of the young people reach university. Most of them go to primary school in their villages and only around 25% of them attend the secondary school, mainly because most kids start working with their families and girls start a family very young. There are private schools but most of the families cannot afford sending their kids there. Education is in English, which I found a very good thing, and makes it possible for them to communicate with us and with the rest of the world. In the evening, Robert, one of the Kenyan volunteers, explained to the group his career until Nakuru University, where he is currently studying marine sciences. He can be really proud of being one of the few students from the Gazi primary school that has gone to University. Apparently you need to be a very good student, then you need a sponsor to continue your studies and then a loan to study at University that you will have to start paying back to the Kenyan state once you find a job after finishing your studies. It was unbelievable to hear that he had to walk 10km per day to get to primary school and sometimes he could not make it because he found buffalos on his way and had to go back home. I was next and I made an informal presentation about the region where I come from, the Canary Islands, and the work I am doing as a government relations manager in Alcoa. I made it as interesting as I could but could not avoid some people getting asleep with the help of the lack of electricity during the presentation that night.
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