Learning Around the Peace On Earthbench Movement in Kibera, Kenya

Greetings from Kenya! This is Brennan from the Peace On Earthbench Movement (POEM). I have been in Kenya for 5 days and it has been absolutely phenomenal! The camp is going splendidly. So far it has only been 2 days of camp and the students have already collected close to 70 bottle bricks! Whoa! At this rate, in one month we could have enough bottle bricks to build a house!
Today I led the students to collect trash around Kibera and make bottle bricks. Check out the pictures below. It was an absolutely incredible experience - seeing kids excited to pick up trash! The boys were even fighting over certain pieces of trash to pick-up! I had a very similar experience in Ghana, but as you can see here Kibera is very very polluted. Definitely the most polluted place I have ever been. Its overwhelming.

We also did an activity where the kids made a poster explaining to their families/friends why they should make bottle bricks. I included my favorite one here, from this girl Diana. Amazing, huh?

We haven't started building the actual bench but will hopefully start tomorrow. It has been raining on and off the past few days which is making things slightly difficult (I'm right on the equator). But fortunately it gets so warm during the day that it quickly dries out. And very fortunately I have connected with the school's builder (he helped build the classrooms) and he is going to help me build the foundation and roof of the bench. I think we will build the roof as soon as possible so we can work even if it is wet. Its going to be a phenomenal project.

After this project (1.5 more weeks) I will be going to Nakuru City to work with Samuel Muiruri on another earthbench project and - hopefully - a bottle brick compostable toilet. Samuel was involved in EcoTec project (bottles-full-of-sand) house in Nigeria and reached out to me on Facebook. He is interested in spreading POEM into East Africa. Samuel will hopefully be visiting me in Nairobi on Thursday to check out the project - I'm excited to meet him and touch base.  Here is a video of Samuel and a bottle brick toilet he made:

Here is a video of the group Ecofinder in Lake Kisumu area that makes compostable toilets. I hope to visit them with Samuel to learn from their design and to emulate it in Nakuru - a compostable toilet made using bottle bricks and earth!:

Sustainable Table Compost Toilet Project from SustainTable on Vimeo.


You might have heard on the news that there has been rioting in Kenya - a popular Islamic cleric was killed and now there is rioting. This is in the north coast, very far from where I am. I feel incredibly safe in Kenya - I have many friends and support. The Red Rose School community is very strong in Kibera, and I am being very well taken care of by them and by LitWorld,, the literacy organization that is sponsoring this project and the literacy summer camp where we are working (/). Eddie is our driver and friend (rafiki), and he ensures we are safe. Hakuna matata! (no worries!)

We have also met the Power Women collective. These women are HIV+ and have formed a collective business to support eachother and their families. They make amazing jewelry, handbags, and other things. Their mission is to triumph over social stigmas and show that they can still thrive while being HIV+. All the women are very proud and say that they are "living positively." Their confidence and pride in their collective work and in themselves is very inspirational and made me think of the work you do Aislinn. Inspiration for all of us to thrive no matter what is our condition.

I am incredibly grateful for this experience - my growth and learning has been exponential. I am really seeing firsthand the potency of education in conquering the disease of poverty.


- Brennan