It is so encouraging to have evidence that all the hard work done in the UK to raise awareness and funds is bearing fruit, not only for individual children with high academic achievements, but also in the changed lives and expectations of whole families because one child is going for further training or study. At this stage, those who are nearing completion of their courses are saying that their aims are to serve their local communities and improve the lives of other children like them. Some are already returning home during holidays to meet with younger members of the projects to encourage, counsel and guide them. Also at Kibera, Eric continues to do well at University, and this year Walter will also join University in Nairobi. One of the girls, Esther, has also got B+ which will enable her to join a Government University next year. Karibuni Children aims to support each child until he or she has a skill to enable them to earn a living. We are supporting the project staff and encouraging the young people and their parents/guardians by meeting with them and talking about the needs of Kenya to have qualified artisans to build and maintain the infrastructure.
The project at Limuru continues to struggle. The school has faced many challenges this year, including the need to appoint their third headmaster in three years! In addition all the teachers’ contracts were due for renewal and they were all asked to re-apply for their jobs. Only one applied so all the rest of the teachers are new, enthusiastic and young. The new headmaster is far better qualified and we are confident he will be effective and reliable. In the meantime, the former head told all the parents that the school was closing and invited them to bring their children to the new school where he had been appointed! The school population was now halved and they are struggling to re-build and pay their way. Karibuni Childrenees have agreed to sponsor 18 very poor children from the nearby slum, Misri, into the nursery. This will make a positive impact in the local community – letting them know that the project’s partners have confidence in the school and its management board and staff. So we continue to have our challenges as partners, as well as many joys and much encouragement.
George Mwabu, the new Welfare officer at Tharaka is working hard and we were happy to meet him and spend some time with him when we visited Marimanti. We hope he will bring stability and growth to this project where there is so much need. Already he has started meeting with the children’s carers and he arranged a meeting for us with 49 of them. It was quite an event – they brought a goat which was slaughtered and duly stewed with vegetables and served with ugali (maize meal boiled to a solid ‘cake’ with water) to us. Several of them had walked miles to meet us and we felt very honoured by their welcome. To cap all this they then gave the men gifts of baskets with bags of dried peas and millet and woven hats and to the two women, baskets with food – and besom brooms – we women know our place! But how generous they are, giving to us from their poverty – a very humbling experience.