Simbolei Community Assistance Association

Archive for the ‘Cookbook recipes’ Category

Riffs for the Rift Does It Again!

Monday, October 24th, 2016

Saturday we hosted our annual benefit night, Riffs for the Rift. Deacon Earl and the Congregation, the Lo Fi Steppers, Amanda Smith and Jelimo Kaitany all provided live music that included blues, reggae and classical. We had a huge tableful of delicious Kenyan food. Most importantly, everyone gave generously to support education and we raised over $1000 for Simbolei!

We want to thank everyone who came out and donated to the cause, the musicians who volunteered their time and talents, the cook and the food servers and the East Lansing High School National Honor Society students led by their chapter president, Taylor Murray, who helped with everything from serving food to moving tables. It was a wonderful evening of food and music. Best of all, we met our winter construction budget!  So, Richard will be departing for Kenya soon to finish pouring the second floor concrete.

If you or a group you belong to would be interested in hosting a benefit activity for Simbolei, please let us know. It is a great way to get friends together for a pleasant evening and help Simbolei at the same time.




Enriching the “Book Experience”: Incorporating Art Projects

Tuesday, September 15th, 2015

Sharing “Pretty Salma,” a crowd favorite, at Kiptingo Primary.

One of the great things about returning for our fourth year of literacy outreach workshops is seeing growth. The students have grown in their appreciation of literature and we have grown, although more slowly, in our resource base and skills. In the beginning it was me, Andrea and maybe one volunteer. The first year, Jelimo helped out and the second year it was a one woman show. This year, there were five literacy volunteers, plus Nicholas Kiptoon, our photographer. The addition of Felix Sirma to our team for the past two years has meant we have a fluent Kalenjin and Kiswahili speaker in our team, so kids can have instant translations whenever they are needed.

With more hands available, we can also add more activities. As I reviewed research concerning how to enrich children’s experiences with books and literacy, one theme that emerged was that children learn best when they can repeat and reproduce ideas from the stories they hear and read. Drama, music and art are all good ways to do this. Considering our resources, we decided to start small by providing the students with crayons and paper so they could create their own pictures after listening to the story.

Students at Kiptingo Primary work on drawings while other students who are on recess observe through the windows.

At first, we just asked students to draw a scene from the story or a character that they liked. We thought they would enjoy the creative freedom of drawing whatever they wanted. But, we quickly found that for many students the new experience of using smooth white paper and sharp new crayons was a little overwhelming. They needed more guidance to get started. So, now we use prompts to suggest specific ideas from the story as a basis for their drawings. For example, one story “Three Little Dassies” by Jan Brett, is an Africa based version of “The Three Little Pigs.” After listening to a story about the three little dassies building houses of grass, wood and stone, we ask the students to draw a picture of their own ideal house. The kids love this activity. They are very meticulous and creative in designing their dream houses.

Some of the “dream house” pictures students created.

More artists with their work.

Crayons and paper and picture books may all seem like ordinary parts of childhood to us. But, without these simple resources, Kenyan children are less likely to develop rich and enjoyable associations with words and reading that will lead them to become lifelong readers. As we look forward to the growth of literacy program, we hope to eventually make it an integral part of Simbolei Academy’s community programming. If we want students, especially girls, to excel in high school, we have to nurture a love of reading and learning in the elementary school children. We hope that each year we can continue to expand this program.

You can help in so many ways!  I invite you to consider joining us as a literacy volunteer in July 2016. If you cannot come with us this year, consider donating this year. Funds can be donated to Simbolei Community Assistance Association either as a general donation which we can use for both construction and literacy or as a designated donation to either the building program or the literacy program. Also, consider taking part in our spring book drive which takes place in March each year to collect good quality picture books for the hundreds of children who take part in our programs each year. We couldn’t do what we do without your support and the kids’ smiles show how much it is appreciated.

Art critic in the making.



Fun with Food at the Allen Neighborhood Center

Monday, April 7th, 2014

Spring is here and with it, lots of us here in Michigan are eager to get out and enjoy spring vegetables, sunshine and the social scene once more. Simbolei is joining with Lansing’s Allen Neighborhood Center to help you bring a little African excitement to your Michigan palate. On April 30, I, Andrea, with the help of a yet-to-be-designated ugali chef, will be cooking up recipes from our “From the Heartland” East African cookbook at the Allen Neighborhood Center. We’ll have all kinds of goodies for  you to taste, stories and crafts from Kenya to share, and of course, we will have copies of our cookbook and also some fun jewelry and crafts for sale to support Summer Literacy Outreach 2014.  Come out into the sun after a long, long hard winter. Forget the snowdrifts and the icy driveways. We’re ready for summer fun and we want you to be a part of it.  See you there!

Simbolei Partners with Schuler Books and Music

Tuesday, March 4th, 2014

Now you can enjoy great new books while supporting Simbolei.  Schuler Books and Music, our local independent bookstore is now partnering with us as an affiliate on our page. Schuler Books and Music offers a huge selection of books through their online ordering system. Every time you follow the link from our website to the Schuler Books and Music website and place an order, Simbolei Academy receives a percentage of the sale.

You get the books you want through Schuler Books and Music’s convenient website and support two great causes at the same time. You not only support Simbolei’s literacy outreach and education programs, but you also help support a family owned independent bookstore. We hope you will give the new system a try. Remember that each of us can make a difference in sharing the joy of reading and the power of literacy.


From the Heartland: or Fun with Food and Simbolei

Wednesday, February 26th, 2014

Today I just wanted to remind everyone of our wonderful East African cookbook, From the Heartland to the Heart of the Rift. It’s got all kinds of East African recipes from soups to breads, to meats and vegetables, including vegetarian main dishes.  In addition to good food, our cookbook includes stories about Simbolei and also about the recipes themselves and full color photos of the construction of Simbolei Academy, East African culture, and of course, food.

On April 30, the Kaitany family will be at the Allen Street Market in Lansing, Michigan to teach people about East African food and to prepare and serve up some Kenyan style comfort food.  In the meantime, we are planning a special giveaway for cookbook users through Facebook.

Every cookbook sold puts the full purchase price to work for Simbolei construction and literacy activities. If you don’t own a copy, you can order it here. Just look for the “buy” button on the lower right side of this page. If you already own a copy, dust it off, because in order to be entered for the drawing, you have to get cooking!  And check out the wonderful food Kellie cooked up that is featured on our Facebook page. We’re going to be looking for your photos soon so test out those recipes and mark your favorites!

Our cookbook, available through the “buy” button on the right side of this page.

Use that Cookbook!

Thursday, October 25th, 2012

Joey's dorm kitchen creation

Joey sent this photo of the Curried Cabbage she made in her college dorm kitchen using the recipe in From the Heartland to the Heart of the Rift: An East African Cookbook.  I think her dorm mates are lucky to have a cook on the floor who has a good cookbook to work from.  Joey told me many of her friends at college are vegetarian or vegan, so she appreciates the many delicious non-meat choices in the cookbook.  With its many color pictures and clear instructions, the cookbook would make a great holiday gift for the budding college cook or the more experienced chef who wants to try something new.  You can order the cookbook on this site wherever you see the Buy Now button on the bottom right of the page.

The Great Rift Valley is part of a huge tectonic rift in the earth's crust that also created the Red Sea and the valley of the Jordan River.

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Simbolei Girls Secondary School, Kenya