Mwithumwiru Primary School
Headmistress Mrs Harriet Muturi
This is a Government Primary School in Kaaga where the children from Meru Children’s Home attend. Of the 750 children in the school 500 are said to be ‘destitute’ of whom approximately 250 are orphans. The staff at the school started a basic feeding programme because the children were unable to stay awake for lessons after lunchtime as they were so weary from hunger.
Karibuni Trust started to help and continues to send money every term to improve the diet for these children. Other agencies have also started to support the school after seeing the improvements made to the children’s health and even their performance in the national exams.
This is an excellent Primary School where the pastoral and physical care of the children is paramount and where all the staff take responsibility for giving extra tuition when needed. (At most Government schools the teachers charge cash for this as an extra, and the poor ones get left behind.)
One ex-pupil from Mwithumwiru Primary School, Jeffrey Kinyua, who achieved a high score at the end of primary education, was sponsored through Secondary School and is now at Moi University in his second year. He continues to work hard and is getting excellent grades. This year he managed to get a small bursary towards his overall costs.
THARAKA WOMEN’S AND CHILDREN’S WELFARE PROGRAMME
This project was started in 2002 by a Social Worker with a Women’s Worker, in this very arid area east of Meru District to address the challenges faced particularly by women and children living in rural poverty. Tharaka is designated as a ‘hardship area’ where there is subsistence farming only, with no cash crops because of persistent drought conditions.
Karibuni Trust is supporting 67 children by providing fees, uniforms and food. There are 3 children in Nursery School; 18 in Primary School; 12 in Secondary Boarding School; 11 on vocational training schemes or colleges; 1 at Kenya Medical Training College and 2 at University. The primary children are at Kamatungu School. The young people at University and Medical College are working very hard and getting excellent grades. It is always a joy to get their e-mails with all their news!
Karibuni Trust has also bought 2 Toggenbach goats for cross-breeding with their local nanny goats to improve the milk yield and help the women towards self-sufficiency. Money was also made available to buy enough nanny goats for each woman to have one. We also buy baskets they have made at 3 times the price that they can get locally, and then sell them at a profit at home for Karibuni Trust. This group of carers needs more support than it has been getting to enable them to progress further. A Local Government survey in 2009 showed that about 75% of the children in the community are judged to be living in extreme poverty.
The future development of the project is still under consideration and discussion. 3 new sponsored children are taken into the Nursery class each year. All these children will be sponsored right through school.
Karibuni Trust agreed to purchase 1 acre of land near to Marimanti to develop the women’s goat project to increase their opportunities for self-support. This has not happened and the land is apparently unused, and the future use is still being discussed. A new welfare officer will be appointed this year.
We visited two homes outside the town and met truly abject poverty – one where a very elderly grandmother is caring for 4 young children with no resources or income, because the mother was imprisoned for allegedly murdering her husband. She had been released the previous week after over a year in prison, as the husband had apparently poisoned himself. We didn’t meet her as she was looking for any casual work that was available to feed her children and mother.