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Every year Trustees visit each of our major projects to see what progress has been made and to ensure funds are being used effectively. This also involves meeting with the members of each project’s management committee. These visits are all constructive, building on the essential sense of partnership that exists between us. This year, our Chairman, John Cotton and Trustee, David Welsh set off on February 19th. Here are a few stories from some of those visits.

Thanks to the generosity of Karibuni supporters, when we visit Kenya we are always able to take good quantities of clothing, shoes and school equipment. We are particularly grateful to those ladies who knit squares which are made into blankets. Pictured is Maureen, mother of Angel, a little girl aged 4, who is being sponsored by Karibuni at the Embakasi Nursery, receiving a blanket from John Cotton. In the picture is Pastor Johnson Kamau, social worker at the project.

On our annual visits, we meet sponsored children in their classes. In this picture are children who are in the baby class at Kawangware Academy, Nairobi. To the right of the children are mattresses which Karibuni purchased. The baby class use them for a sleep after lunch under the watchful eye of their teacher!

We always look forward to performances put on by the children. This year at the Tusadie Watoto Nursery in the Kibra slum we were treated to some energetic singing by the children. Songs included “row, row, row the boat gently down the stream” accompanied by all the actions! Children in the picture are wearing school uniforms and shoes provided by Karibuni.

The semi-rural setting of the Njoro project masks the fact that we see some of the most challenging cases of poverty when we visit the children sponsored by the project. We were able to see the work undertaken by the Karibuni work party who had been there only a few weeks before. The classrooms have been transformed and teachers and pupils were full of praise for what has been achieved. We were told that members of the work party had worked very hard, starting early, finishing late and hardly stopping for a snack at midday. A truly impressive performance!

The picture shows children in one of the classrooms, sitting at desks which have all been re-painted.

At Njoro we were also entertained by the children from three classes in the nursery school singing “If you’re happy and you know it”.

In our projects we support three Special Needs classes. The class at Mwithumwiru Primary School in Meru is taught by Mrs Catherine Kithinji, a very dedicated teacher. Karibuni helps the class activities by providing a budget to cover the purchase of craft materials, including beads.

These are used by the children to make items such as bracelets and mats. We hope to be able to sell some of those products on our stalls and in our online shop soon.

Bierton Lawn Tennis Club, near Aylesbury, gave us 150 tennis balls which proved very popular as we distributed them to the school children during our visits. We were able to supply one to each child in the Special Needs Unit at Mwithumwiru Primary School.

The Meru Townships project’s primary function is to feed needy local children. Here are the meals all lined up and ready for eating!

Now this project helps over 120 Karibuni sponsored children and students. When speaking to some of those at Secondary School, they all aspire to be engineers, doctors or airline pilots! There we met Mercy Kendi, the new leader of the project, who is a qualified social worker and is looking forward to getting to know her new charges. Two of these children are twins, Grace and Glory, who had been left to fend for themselves following the death of their father. They are being supported by the project.

We are often invited into the homes of sponsored children so as is the Kenyan tradition, we like to take gifts, 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. This picture shows David Welsh and John Cotton being 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. The same day we also received a bag of beans and some ripe mangos!

The Limuru project sits in the hills above Nairobi and gets very cold at times, being at an altitude of over 6000 feet above sea level. So the clothing, woollies and even gloves, and knitted blankets donated by supporters in the UK were all gratefully received by the children. There were also some items of sports kit which were very popular and will be used by the school’s handball team. Here’s the team with Head Teacher, Jane Njogu.

Also at Limuru we met Lucy who is sponsored by Karibuni Children. Cendrine, Lucy’s mother, is a single parent who relies on casual work in the nearby tea plantation. Life is a struggle, particularly at present, as drought conditions have reduced the tea crop. She often gets only a half day’s work and her pay, which is usually no more than 100 Kenyan Shillings (80 pence), can be cut to 50 Shillings. As she has to find 1500 shillings for her rent every month, she is relieved that Lucy’s education – and weekday lunches – are being covered by Karibuni. Here’s Lucy, in the blue track suit, with her mother and two brothers.

Another Trustee, Helen Kirk, who was on the work party and also visited some of the projects, said: “As a new trustee to the Karibuni Children charity it was immensely helpful to see the projects and to get a ‘hands on’ perspective of the work Karibuni does in Kenya. I was able to listen to dedicated teachers who struggle to educate young people with very limited resources; go to the homes of families who live in immense poverty and yet want only the best for their offspring; and play with those children. Even though our communication is verbally limited, we still share the common language of laughter and tears, hunger and hugs.”

We usually take a work party out every two years and it is possible to join the next group going in 2019. If you may be interested, please contact us. There is the opportunity to visit some of the projects we support for yourself and to help in the classrooms or assist people on the spot with physical work such as repairs to classrooms or even new construction. No particular skills are necessary – other than a willingness to roll up your sleeves!

All members pay their own expenses, including air fares, travel in Kenya and accommodation which is provided either in guest houses or with local families. Such trips are very rewarding, providing a unique insight into life in Kenya and the projects we support. Some people decide to go on a safari to one of Kenya’s famous game parks during a third week.

For more information please call or e-mail us.

Keep an eye on the Projects page on this website for up-to-date news on each of the projects we support.