The Tharaka District, toward the east of Kenya, is a hot, dry, dusty and rocky region where Marimanti is the main town. 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, several in college, one graduating this summer from Nairobi University, one who graduated from Meru University 2 years ago, and one who has qualified as a Clinical Officer and two have started their own small businesses with Karibuni support.
What a turnaround from an area which, when the project started, seemed totally without hope and vision.
There are 10 children in the nursery, 30 in primary, 11 in secondary schools and 9 in further education. When the Trustees visited they went to the small special needs class and were shocked by the lack of any sort of facility for these children and young people to learn any skills. Karibuni has undertaken to support this class and is sending funds to improve the situation.
Kamatungu School has also offered a good plot of land for the project to build a community facility and office. Currently they use an old classroom at the school which is not ideal. They have applied for grants locally to build and equip what would be a real asset to the project and the community.
The carers of the children have been supported to enable them to earn money using the many skills they have – making baskets and mats and goat rearing. Karibuni buys finished baskets from them at a higher price than they would get locally, and then sells them in the UK at a profit for Karibuni!