I have been without internet since last Friday morning and currently have what is called a Kenyan modem hooked up to allow me access. Sorry I can’t post pictures from my iphone but will when I get home
Lots to share with you. The last update left off on Mageta Island. The rest of the week was spent visiting a special needs school, St Francis of Assisi Home, Foundation Stone Children’s Center, and meetings with the Chamluchi Group. Nyawita Youth Group, Cereal Development Group and a Care Givers group. As well we did courtesy calls to the Deputy County Commissioner’s office and the offices of the Director of Education, Director of Social Services and the Director Children Dept.
The Maranda Special School caters to mentally handicapped children who have been brought to this school to avoid stigma. Their conditions vary from mental conditions such as autism to hearing impaired. Hearing impaired is not considered a physically disability so these students with great potential may be placed with severally handicapped students. In one over crowded class a teacher had 10 students ranging from mild to severe autism making it extremely hard for him to handle the class and teach but he was trying.There are 120 student at this school and 50 sleep on the floor on mattresses as they have no bed Vocational training is near impossible due to lack of equipment – 2 sewing machines for a class of 10, The woodworking class were constructing a bed when we were there and it looked pretty good. The teacher was very proud of them and you could tell he was dedicated to working with these students. Again his class lacks tools as do all the classes. I believe so much could be done to improve these children’s lives if only they had the resources.
Next we visited the home of the physically handicapped run by Sister Elizabeth and what a joy it was to be here. The home was spotless, organized and yet it was loving caring for the kids.The sister is the reason for the success of this home. She has sought out donations and has used the money to better the home. This was the first place we visited where there was playground equipment Despite having a number of supporters in the past the Home still needs assistance. Sister invited us to stay for tea and a snack and then the students entertained us.They were quite amused that Cornwall has a church called Saint Francis of Assisi
From St. Francis we went to the Foundation Stone Children Centre which is an orphanage for 50 children. The orphanage need is greater but that’s all the space they have.This facility was well run but again so many things that are needed. This is a privately run facility which in it’s self was quite admirable The facility has not had milk for the kids for a number of months as their cow died and they can’t afford to replace it. Their is no sick bay so when one child is sick they are all sick!They are dealing with HIV/Aids patients as well as other diseases.
Just like the Mageta Island schools problems with running water or lack of water, insufficient latrines, no play items for children, no work training tools, understaffed, over crowded , and disease plan a large role in their day to day existence.
The Chamluchi and the Cereal Development group were similar in that they consisted mainly of women who have looked for a better way. They have supported each other and formed groups to come up with ideas and projects to generate money. Try as they might to get ahead they just keep getting knocked down by their circumstances but they carry on. The thought that tomorrow will be better is evident and they are to be admired when you hear their stories of projects attempted and failed – most times due to circumstances beyond their control.
The school in the worse condition of all the ones we visited was the Nyawita Primary School Only pictures can give you a true version of what we saw. No electricity in classrooms and so dark I don’t know how they teach, using condemned buildings because there is no other space, floors that have major holes in them, children sitting on a clay floor because there was no desk, latrines near full but they have no choice but to use them, no feeding program, 80 students in a class room meant for 45,and the list goes on… There are 57 total orphans and 32 partial orphans in this school .
I was impressed by a group called the Youth group. They are comprised of young men 18-30 or so who like the women’s group are trying micro lending along with other ventures as a way to better their life. Kenya requires groups like these to register with their government , have a constitution with a Pres., VP, Sect’ and Vice Sect’ . Minute must be kept of meetings and everything must be outlined in their registration on who can join, how they will operate,etc The group pays a larger fee to be registered and then a yearly renewal fee. As I understand it micro lending group members each contribute a certain amount of money and then they provide loans to the group members to develop their business. This group has not had a member default in payment but they still need support to create other ventures.
The Care Givers group were the group that hit me the hardest. This group consists of widows, widowers and grandparents left to care for orphan grandkids whose parents in most cases died of Aids. Many in the group were older seniors struggling to feed their grand kids. One gentleman was left to bring up his younger siblings , had married and had 7 kids of his own and when a neighbor asked him to look after his family when he passed he took 2 more in Now he has a family of 11 kids to feed and cloth.These people are in this situation not because of something they personally did but are paying the price anyway. Their stories were heart breaking.
We ended the week with visits to the appropriate Government offices and got the same picture there as we had seen for ourselves.So much struggling to survive everyday,hunger, lack of basic needs being meet and yet a belief in tomorrow being better. We could learn a lot from these Kenyan people.
It took 9 hours to drive back to Nairobi from Bondo and then the next morning we head out again for Mikinduri arriving late yesterday afternoon. Today I meet with the sponsored children and gave out my first Days for Girls kits. Stay tuned tomorrow for that story.