Tharaka, toward the east of Kenya, is hot and dry, dusty and rocky. Farming is mostly subsistence with very little grown for the market. Until very recently the people here felt they had been forgotten as they suffered drought followed by drought, the dirt roads became more impassable and communication was very difficult. It was designated by the government as a ‘hardship area’.
A few years ago Tharaka became a District in its own right, appointed its own officers and councillors, and received direct funding from central government. As a result life is gradually improving for many there. Karibuni is supporting some of the poorest children in Marimanti, the biggest town, who mostly attend Kamatungu Primary School. There are children in nursery, primary and secondary schools, and a growing number in college. Now several are working: Daniel who graduated from Nairobi University as a structural engineer in 2015, is working in Nakuru, Robert who graduated from Meru University also in 2015 and has since funded himself to achieve a Master’s Degree, and is now a part-time lecturer, Sarah is a Clinical Medical Officer, and two have started their own small businesses with Karibuni support.
A total of 79 children from Marimanti are being supported. There has been a huge turnaround in an area which, when the project started, seemed totally without hope and vision.
The carers of the children have been supported to earn money using the many skills they have – making baskets and mats and goat rearing. Karibuni buys baskets from them at a higher price than they would get locally, and then we sell them in the UK at a profit for Karibuni which goes back into supporting the projects.
Here’s a picture from the Trustee’s Visit to the project in 2017 featuring members of the Management Board of the Tharaka project, together with Karibuni trustees, David Welsh and John Cotton, Joshua Katungu, Karibuni’s representative in Kenya, Martin Gikunda, who has responsibility for projects run by the Methodist Church in Kenya and finally, some young people who have been sponsored by Karibuni and are now in employment.
In the background is a crop of sugar cane, being grown as part of a demonstration unit run by the project which seeks to encourage good farming techniques by the parents of sponsored children living in this extremely hot and arid part of Kenya.
Also during the visit Trustee, David Welsh and Chairman, John Cotton, were presented with a bunch of bananas by Triposa, who is in the care of her grandmother and is being sponsored by Karibuni through the Tharaka project. It’s a Kenyan tradition when visiting someone to take a gift for them. When we visit the homes of sponsored children we like to take a bag of groceries which are gratefully received. But in turn we are often presented with gifts. As the families we visit are always very poor this can feel uncomfortable, but it is important to accept such gifts in good grace. The same day we also received a bag of beans and some ripe mangos!