Muthoni Schneidewind showing off the biogas plant

Christmas With a Mission: Kenyan from Hamburg Transforming Communities

Muthoni Schneidewind showing off the biogas plant
Muthoni Schneidewind showing off the biogas plant

As many summer bunnies headed home for Christmas, among them was Muthoni Schneidewind from Hamburg. The only difference was unlike many that were just thinking of the many kilos of nyamchom they’d enjoy, Muthoni had a list of projects she needed accomplished in her village.

The self proclaimed social entrepreneur moved to Germany several years ago and coming from a coffee producing village, the first thing she noticed were the high coffee costs. A kilo of roasted coffee in Germany was being sold at €20-30. At the time, her father, who still grows coffee, was getting 25 cents for a kilo of coffee. Perturbed by the disparity in costs, she went on to research on the coffee markets in Kenya and Germany. And Chania Coffee was born. (Read: Kenyan Social Entrepreneur from Hamburg, bringing Kenyan coffee to Germany)

Having grown up in Ndurutu village, she knew the poverty in the area had to be looked at holistically and not just from the financial sense. She set up Kenya Dorf Volunteers e.V. (KEDOVO e.V.).

“Our mission is the economic stability of our coffee producers. We make sure we keep their children in school, we support the education requirements of their children so that they can have access to universal education, guarantee the future of my village so they can later on lead dignified lives”, Muthoni remarked on KEDOVO’s mission.

Muthoni and the Kedovo team working on the foundation of a water tank
Muthoni and the Kedovo team working on the foundation of a water tank

Water Project

“Ndurutu villagers spend hours each day retrieving water their families need to survive. As my people rely on coffee farming, the time-consuming retrieval process also diverts efforts from activities crucial to sustainable development, such as education and farming”, she explained her water project.

One of her projects this Christmas was the “KEDOVO Watertanks for Nyeri”, that was funded in partnership with Bingo Projektförderung Schleswig Holstein. The project that started in November is planned for a year targeting 20 homesteads and one primary school within Kiganjo, in Nyeri.

Muthoni and the Kedovo gang posing next to their newly installed water tank
Muthoni and the Kedovo gang posing next to their newly installed water tank

“Clean water for my community means health, income and education.”

We engage the community in planning and installations of the watertanks that will be used for rain water catchment and storage. This may sound simple but in the bigger picture, our project contributes to an ambitious plan—the Millennium Development Goals (MDG)—that pledges to eliminate extreme poverty worldwide by 2015.

Muthoni handing over the desks to Ndurutu Primary
Muthoni handing over the desks to Ndurutu Primary

Library and Desks

As an alumni of Ndurutu Primary School, that was definitely one of the areas she wanted to help out in. The underfunded government run public school currently has 166 pupils and is in dire need of a renovation and of basic learning materials.

A classroom with the new desks donated by Kedovo e.V. and their partners
A classroom with the new desks donated by Kedovo e.V. and their partners

In partnership with Heinz and Nicole of Sandtorkai Handel Papenhagen, Muthoni and her KEDOVO team visited the school during their closing day and donated desks. They also brought along books that they plan to use in setting up a library for the school.

“A library that will give them a chance to dare to dream and see the world, a chance to broaden their horizons and give them a chance beyond primary school.”

Muthoni Schneidewind and the Kedovo gang talking to the pupils at Ndurutu Primary School
Muthoni Schneidewind and the Kedovo gang talking to the pupils at Ndurutu Primary School

In addition to all that, Muthoni and her team, the KEDOVO gang as she fondly refers to them, gave prizes to the best students and shared their stories to help motivate the pupils in the school. “We told stories of our childhood, stories filled with struggle, despair but amidst all with hope. We told the story of a village that now had hope…..”

In addition, KEDOVO hopes to set up biogas plants and solar panels in Ndurutu. To make that possible, they need to sell more coffee from the area. If you’d like to take part in these great initiative, you can buy coffee from Chania Coffee here: chaniacoffee.de. You can keep up with KEDOVO and their activities on their website or on their blog.

In conclusion, Muthoni in regards to her work adds, “Our work is based on the direct and transparent relationships with the farmers who produce our coffee. Where we make sure that our clients can trace every package of coffee back to the village it was harvested in, where we believe that its economic opportunities and not Aid that transforms communities.”

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