CrossFit For Hope: Kenya

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THIS COMING Saturday, February 16th, affiliates world-wide will come together and perform a workout to raise awareness and money to support the CrossFit Kenya Initiative.

What is Hope for Kenya?

Inc. is committed to making people's lives better in the 250
square-mile rural area surrounding Mombasa, Kenya. Education, food, and
water are three major needs for the population in this area. Through the
efforts of our affiliates, we can help the people of Kenya commit to,
and invest in, improving their own conditions. We provide no handouts.
By creating realistic, self-sustaining solutions to specific problems,
we enable Kenyans to stand strong for generations to come.

the Workout – February 16, 2013

Complete as many rounds and reps as possible in 12 minutes of:
50 Squats
30 Push-ups
15 Pull-ups

Support CrossFit for Hope

Please donate to CrossFit Flagstaff's pledge or REGISTER and create a profile then let your friends and family know they can donate to support your efforts. 100% of donations will go toward this cause.

Your support is appreciated.


by:  Marty Cej

CrossFit-funded collection systems are freeing Kenyan women from the
burden of transporting water, allowing them to pursue education and take
important steps toward equality.

Their ambitions are the same as those of kids everywhere, but the
opportunities in the Kasemeni Division of eastern Kenya are very

Across this 250-square-mile region, small villages of mud-walled
huts and thatched roofs cluster in shallow green valleys and atop bald
red clay hills that look east to the brown haze of the port city of
Mombasa and the blue water of the Indian Ocean beyond.

Small patches of farmland are carved from the dense clay along the
hillsides using a short, wide-bladed hoe called a jembe. The length of
the handmade tool forces the workers to bend from the waist from sun-up
to sundown as they swing and turn the soil. But years of experience,
skill and strength allow the farmer to plant acres of corn in a day,
often with a baby on her hip.

And if that baby happens to be a girl, odds are she, too, will be
scratching at the earth with an Iron Age tool with a child on her own
hip before she is 18. In this part of Kenya, the children are many, the
schools are few, and too many ambitions, especially those of young
girls, are thwarted at too young an age.

CrossFit and CrossFit affiliates have decided to take some of the
burden from the backs of those who have carried it too long. Education,
nutrition and clean water are this community’s biggest challenges. Now,
they are CrossFit’s greatest responsibility.

“This is all about women,” says Greg Glassman, Founder and CEO of
CrossFit Inc. “Every little girl is as important as every little boy.
This is CrossFit making a stand for women’s rights.”

In this part of Kenya, girls start working at three and four years
of age, when they begin babysitting younger siblings and accompanying
their mothers, aunts and other female relatives back and forth to water
sources where they scoop foul water into plastic buckets that weigh 55
lb. when full. The buckets are lifted smoothly from the muddy ground to
the knee and then overhead, to be placed gently onto the folds of a
scarf coiled into a flimsy cushion at the crown of the head. The women
will square their shoulders, adjust their postures, and stride up the
rocky path from the water hole with their hands at their sides as
elegantly as a skater gliding across a frozen lake.

During the dry season, many of these women and girls must make the trip twice a day, a journey of up to four miles each way.

But in the village of Peku, a concrete cistern that will hold
35,000 liters of water has been built by CrossFit Brand X, CrossFit
Kirkwood and Dallin Frampton’s band, The Savage Hurricanes. Frampton is
the young man who first approached Coach Glassman with the idea of
getting CrossFit to make a difference in Kenya. The cistern will provide
60 schoolchildren half a liter a day for four months. The rainwater
spills into the tank from the school’s roof gutters, and a single
crushing downpour during the season of the big rains can fill the entire
cistern in an hour.

It will be the cleanest water the kids of this village have ever
known, and it will free the women and girls from hours of portage and
open up a lifetime of opportunity.

“We build a classroom with a roof and then a cistern that will
hold 40,000 litres of rainwater, which will get most of the kids through
the dry season,” Glassman explains. “Build two cisterns and it’s the
whole village. The time women spend carrying water to and from the
waterholes disap- pears. This is about liberating women from the portage
of water. Once we get women out of the water business, we get a

To be sure, at waterholes all over the district, the same scene is
played out twice a day: grandmothers, mothers, sisters and daughters
collect water. It’s hard work, yet the women are skilled and efficient,
and these few minutes are also spent renewing the bonds of community,
sharing stories and news, joys and grief. The women are bound to one
another in their work, their challenges and their shared
responsibilities, but for generations they have also been bound to a
destiny where daughters can do nothing but follow the path of their
mothers and grandmothers until they, too, are mothers and grandmothers.

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) points out that gender
equality is a prerequisite to economic devel- opment and prosperity, and
that while gender equality is, first and foremost, a human right,
empowering women through education is a key to breaking the cycle of

“When mothers are educated and families are smaller, the
likelihood that all children will go to school increases. Thus, a
woman’s education has intergenerational ripple effects,” the UNFPA
explains. “Also, families with fewer children, and children spaced
further apart, can afford to invest more in each child’s education. This
has a special benefit for girls, whose education may have a lower
priority for families than that of boys.”

But hardship in these small villages has never been an impediment
to joy, and hard work is often the starting point for it. With hard
work, and a helping hand, new paths are being broken.

Before CrossFit arrived, the students near the village of
Dzendereni sat on the dirt floor of a mud-walled classroom, using their
thighs as desks and hoping the rains held off until class was over. But
change, like the weather, can come fast in this part of Africa. It was
10 months from the first conversation between Frampton and Glassman to
children settling down in a new schoolroom in new desks with CrossFit
logos on them. Enrollment has climbed and test scores have soared as
brick walls, practical desks and new blackboards keep kids focused and

“The parents just wanted their children to remain home because of
the unconducive (sic) environment for learning,” says Seif Mwachanyika,
the new Dzendereni school’s principal. “Before the coming of CrossFit,
the enrollment was standing at 114. The enrollment is now standing at

And the girls are thriving, which is a good thing not just for the
small villages that dot this eastern coast province but also the entire

According to the Organization for Economic Coordination and
Development (OECD), gender inequality is a both a major cause and effect
of hunger and poverty in devel- oping nations. The OECD estimates that
60 percent of chronically hungry people are women and girls, and
countries with the highest levels of hunger also have high levels of
gender inequality. But women and girls are also the linchpin in any
program to overcome hunger, malnu- trition and poverty.

The most disheartening fact is that while women and girls form the
backbone of smallhold farms and are the main food producers in most
developing nations, they traditionally have less access than men to
opportunities, resources, local services and social protection. Fewer
girls go to school and fewer girls stay.

In the area around Dzendereni, the top students five years ago
used to be all male. Now those places are more regularly occupied by
women, and in one school, you would have to head to 11th place to find
the first male scholar. The result is a new form of equality that’s
never been seen in the region.

Land is still divided and passed on to male heirs. A husband’s
occupation might be farm laborer, small shopkeeper or perhaps even
migrant worker. Women are the main caregivers and laborers and, as
mothers, respon- sible for the reproduction of labor. But things change
when a young girl goes away to school and returns as an educated woman.

“Education changes life for everyone in the community,” says Mishi
Matano, the head teacher at a school in Majengo that was built by
CrossFit Norcal. “They take it home to their villages.”

Not only is Matano a teacher, but she is also the owner of a tree farm and a turkey farm and the mother of several children.

But if education is the foundation for a better future, then
water, nutrition and sanitary living conditions are the mortar and
bricks. CrossFit contributions have stretched miles to the west end of
this district to halt a sanitary disaster in the village of Bofu, where
shoddy construction led to the collapse of a latrine that serves 700
children. A new latrine with brick walls, a solid roof and plenty of
privacy has already been built. And this, too, will have a long-term
impact on the lives of women and girls.

“Investments in clean water, sanitation, time-saving technologies
and skills training can improve sustainable resource management, food
security, nutrition and health,” the UNFPA explains. “It can also reduce
the time spent on collecting water and firewood, releasing girls and
women for educational and other productive activities.”

Hope for Kenya
A baby was born in the clinic in Myenzeni in early November, but the
mother wasn’t from there. She walked six miles to give birth, and 12
hours later she walked six miles back. Luvuno Rama, who is 22 years old,
never went to school but is determined that her new son, Hamisi, will.

And because a few friends at CrossFit Marina have decided to bond
over some barbells and a barbecue, they will, in turn, be bound to a
multitude of children breaking a new trail to university by first
stepping through the doors of a school the fundraising efforts helped

One of those children will be Luvuno’s son Hamisi. And by the time
he’s old enough to start school, he had better be ready to work,
because two of the other babies born in Myenzeni that night were girls.


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