Newsletter February 2013

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I was really looking forward to getting away from January’s cold and snowy weatherand arriving in Nairobi’s 32 degree heat. This trip was planned to coincide with the start of the new school year for our children and I couldn’t wait to see them, our new well and the progress that had been made on our new classroom.

foto1Landing at Kisumu, the entourage that usually meets me had been reduced to one person Pastor Moses and for that I was very thankful. By now I felt so low and feverish and he had thoughtfully assembled a little shopping bag for me - essential drinking waterand an emergency package of Strepsils, extra strength Panadol and even some vapour rub! All I could do was fall into bed.

At Mama Pat’s house, I continued to dose myself with everything including antibiotics but nothing was having an effect on my raging sore throat and soaring temperatures. For the first time, in Kenya, I felt very vulnerable – and very far from home. I thought of Millicent our cook and her ‘episode’ with typhoid. More recently I recalled the delivery of new baby Walter Prince in the local hospital. Unbelievably to us in the West, she had delivered on her own and on the floor because there was noone to attend to her nor a vacant bed to put her in.

Three days later and I too found myself in the hospital waiting room but ever thankful that I could afford a consultation and the prescription for typhoid strength drugs. It took another two days for them to take effect and I remember it vividly, waking and for the first time, hearing birdsong – I knew I was returning back to the world I knew!

Bit by bit I regained my strength.This trip was largely about networking and I was anxious to start making new contacts. We had Rotary meetings to attend so we could tell them about our program in Namatotoa and hopefully enlist some local support. Crown Paints in Kisumu had recently met with Pastor Moses and been kind enough to repaint the Mount Zion rehabilitation home for him and their Sales Manager Rajeev was keen to visitNamatotoa and see the work we are doing. Even the Manager of the Ukwala supermarket chain was impatient to meet us to see how they could help.

foto2We were on a roll!!

It was all I could do not to jump in the car and continue the journey to Namatotoa but finally, 10 days after leaving home, just as dusk was falling, we bumped along the dusty, rutted track to the village!

The car headlights would have lit up the terrain and told everyone about our imminent approach. As such, all the children were clustered around the well as we pulled up. After exchanging greetings, each took turns to show me how easy it was to pump the handle of the well. I leant over that first bucket of water and putting in both hands, ‘blessed’ each child with the contents. Screaming and giggling, they ran this way and that to escape the drops of well water before excitedly grabbing my hands and pulling me over the uneven ground to see our new school room waiting in the shadows.

foto3We bumped the car as close as we could and my first reaction in the beam of the headlights was how big it was. To the left of the main classroom and through the opening is the teacher’s office where parents will come to formally register their children. Behind that room is another little room – a training room or a little ‘infirmerie.’

Back outside now and through the other door way into the main classroom. The photo does not do it justice. I shone my wind up torch high up into the rafters and the light bounced back off the tin roof; a wonderful airy classroom with space for at least 50 children. How soon could we finish the floors and render it? We don’t need much to finish it now – a floor and after that in time a couple of doors and some windows!

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foto5Waking the next day, I joined the nursery children for breakfast as they queued up for their mugs of porridge. Pete had taken in a new ‘baby class’ so many of the youngest children looked a bit unkempt as they hadn’t yet been able to get uniforms. It became obvious that there were quite a few more children than August and it was only when I sat down to talk to Pete that I realised, with a sinking heart, that we now had a primary class of 10 who had pleaded to stay and not go onto the local “under standard” primary school. Our 34 children had grown to 52!

I gathered all my strength and called an urgent meeting. I knew in my heart that we would have to turn some children away – to continue with the same level of financial support for 52 children, at this point in time, woul be too big a risk and I wasn’t prepared to sacrifice losing everything we had gained by getting too big, too soon.

The meeting was a hard one – not only because I wanted to say yes when I had to say no but because village mentality differs greatly from how we see things. I reiterated our goals, to build a nursery school but in such a way that it would be sustainable. Back in August, the villagers had contributed a small part of their maize harvest and this was currently saving us 30% of our food costs. I applauded them for that but it still wasn’t enough to support a Primary Class.‘I am here to help in any way I can,’ I explained, ‘but we cannot allocate any more funds nor can we afford to employ a Primary school teacher.’ I looked around the room at the dejected faces. One of the older mums at the back of the church stood up and spoke to me in faltering English.‘We appreciate what you have given our children so far,’ she said, ‘but if they have to go to the local school now, they will lose every advantage you have given them.’ A village elder rose to his feet. ‘We don’t want this to stop for our children. Will you help us? Perhaps we can find our own Primary teacher and start the class ourselves?’ He pleaded, glancing round in anticipation at all the others present.

That afternoon, we worked and reworked the figures, Julia our nursery teacher writing all the costs on the blackboard. I knew we didn’t have the money to provide for another class but shared their disappointment as i dawned on them how much it would cost to do it themselves; class registration, new curriculum ‘books, desks, pencils, exercise books, school uniform, shoes, a blackboard, the cost of employing a trained teacher and then the cost of breakfast and a lunch for each child. The equivalent of 90 euros to educate and feed a child for 12 months is completely unattainable for any of the villagers, much less for those children who are orphaned. In despair they looked at the figures.

foto6I took the chalk from Julia. ‘Of course,’ I said, ‘if this is your school, then you can make decisions …’ Using a dusty rag, I wiped away the cost of school uniforms and shoes by way of suggestion. ‘Perhaps we can help you with books and find three desks,’ I said - removing each item in turn. With a heavy heart, I finally removed the cost of breakfast and lunch. Given a choice between feeding their children, or providing them with an education, those present in the room, knew in reality, they might just be able to afford to pay the teacher’s salary. It was a difficult meeting for everyone concerned. I couldn’t bear the thought of those 10 children the next day hanging around the compound, excluded from school.

I recalled the visit I had made to a small school in the middle of the Nyalenda slums with up to 100 children in multiple classes in one room with smiles as big as the country outside - were we doing this right?

The rest of the trip passed fairly quickly. The afternoon before we left, we prepared goodie bags for everyone – a banana butty, a few sweets and a lolly. Different to the day before, the church was filled once again with smiles and brightly coloured balloons.

As I returned to Kisumu, I heard that within a few days, the newly elected Primary School committee had found and already interviewed a local teacher – primary school would be open for business the following Monday! It is so amazing what people can achieve and it is so right that the community takes responsibility for some parts of the project.

foto7Our main focus however must be to concentrate on the Watoto Wa Namatotoa Nursery School and we cannot and will not lose sight of that. We need our second and then our third room tacked on in modular fashion so we have 3 classes of preprimary children happy to be learning, receiving basic nourishment to set them up for the day ahead and giving them lifelong habits which they will take with them for their challenges ahead.

Now, more than ever, it is important that we sign up people for regular, committed giving. Just 10 euros each month can make a huge difference to this small community! With your regular commitment, we can then plan to finish what we started! A completed school in 2013!

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Please help us by going to our website http://www.helpkenyankids.org where you can donate any amount which is suitable for you or to our Facebook Page http://facebook.com/kenyankids . Remember to “like” the latter so that you will be automatically notified of what is happening in the world of Kenyan Kids.

 

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Kenyan Kids Interview on Riviera Radio

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Julie was invited to have an on air interview with local identity Rob Harrison on Riviera Radio.  Here's what she had to say.


 

 

Gently worn clothes sale

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The ideal opportunity to Spring-clean and re-vamp your wardrobe! Fish out those barely used clothes, handbags, shoes, belts, jewellery, scarves and those unwanted gifts too! We’re not fussy, as long as they are good-quality, gently-worn (or new!) items. There will be plenty of mirrors and rooms available to try on. Julie and Keren are looking forward to seeing you and your clothes!

Venue: 257 Chemin du Bosquet, 06620, Le Bar Sur Loup
When: 11.10.2012. 2 pm onwards and into the evening! Drinks and cakes available too!

For planning purposes, please RSVP asap and arrange for your things to be ropped off in advance of the event so we can sort and display them.
Please email/phone This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , 06 12 43 09 77 or
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , 06 34 16 53 52.
(In some cases pick-up can be arranged). (If you have rails we could use, please let us know too).

The last Gently Worn Clothes Sales were very successful and were lots of fun. The money raised and other contributions over the last year have enabled Kenyan Kids to start a nursery school (in a temporary shelter) for 35 of the most vulnerable children aged between 3 and 7. Building of the permanent school has begun, along with a well!

Quiz Night Cheese Wine and Charcuterie

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Come and join us! Book early to avoid disappointment...

We would like to invite you to our Wine, Cheese and Charcuterie Quiz Night for Kenyan Kids at 7pm on Friday 12th October.

Julie Hellon Cupples wants to share all her news from Kenya and give you a full report on what is happening in the village of Namatotoa and our Watoto Wa Nursery School which didn't even exist this time last year. And we mustn't forget the new village well being built right now. Things are progressing very well thanks to the generosity of past quizzers in our area and for that we say a big thanks. Mike Preston is our Quizmaster as always and is ready with a right royal mix of interesting questions for a night of fun.

Where is it? We have a splendid new venue at:The Grange at Sunnybank, 815 Chemin des Gourettes, 06370 MOUANS SARTOUX

Full instructions on how to find us is on the Sunnybank website. www.sunny-bank.org/

We are providing a lovely spread of cheeses and meats and two glasses of wine per person for only 15 euros which includes quiz participation.

We ask that you please reserve your table by email to Julie at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by telephone to Carole at tel: 0493944119.

We aim to have teams of 4 if we can but if your team is less we can match you up on the night to make things fair for all.

We look forward to seeing you on 12th October...

 

Pascale's new shoes

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Pascale is a professional web designer who offered to build our new and magnificant website. In response to her very generous donation, we have presented her with this pair of African shoes.  Pascale was so thrilled with the shoes, she asked us to publish the photo on our website. Thank you Pascale! The work you have done is worth many more shoes than just this single pair!