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The Library is on its way! The Library is on its way!

The Library is on its way!

Recently, in soaring temperatures – more like Kenya than Stevenage – 3 trustees and the 2 staff from Karibuni Children, alongside 30 volunteers from ‘Just be a Child’ and local Rotary clubs, loaded a container of library supplies sourced by our partner ‘Just be a Child’ destined for Mombasa. Once docked at the end of August, the contents will be distributed to various locations in Kenya, including the Karibuni project at MCK Tharaka Children and Women’s Welfare Programme in Marimanti. The books, stationery and equipment, funded by a grant from the British Humane Association, will be used fit out the library in the Community Resource Centre constructed in 2020. 

The contents, including those going to Tharaka, included:

• 31,519 books 

• 2,101 toys, games, puzzles 

• 74,284 lesson materials 

• 358 lever arch folders 

• 1,960 tools 

Spotlight on Meru Spotlight on Meru

Spotlight on Meru

This programme started as a feeding programme for children living day and night on the streets in Meru Town. The project is now based in the Meru Catholic Consolata Mission (CCM) primary school. 

Extended family members and foster carers were found to care for the children and food and clothes were provided to assist and support them. When free primary education was introduced in Kenya some years ago, the children were all able to go to school and continued to be fed at lunchtime. Uniforms and books were provided and the children thrived. 

Mercy has been the social worker at this project for three years and in this time has made huge differences to the project, to the children and their carers. She has a strong management board around her, including the headmistress of CCM school (which most of the younger children attend) and a young man who is a graduate of the Tharaka project.

On Saturdays there is a full programme of singing, games, education and work on the shamba (vegetable patch) – and a cooked lunch!  

Extended family members and foster carers were found to care for the children and food and clothes were provided to assist and support them. When free primary education was introduced in Kenya some years ago, the children were all able to go to school and continued to be fed at lunchtime. Uniforms and books were provided and the children thrived. 

Mercy has been the social worker at this project for three years and in this time has made huge differences to the project, to the children and their carers. She has a strong management board around her, including the headmistress of CCM school (which most of the younger children attend) and a young man who is a graduate of the Tharaka project.

On Saturdays there is a full programme of singing, games, education and work on the shamba (vegetable patch) – and a cooked lunch!  

Mercy says “All my children are supported by Karibuni to acquire education, school uniforms and two meals every day. Currently, we have 12 children in nursery, 51 in primary school, 5 in secondary school, 5 in vocation training centres and one who is about to join, 9 in the universities and 20 alumni. In summary we have 82 school going children and 20 who have already completed”.

Henry was raised in a home where the local illegal brew was made and sold as a means of income. Inevitably most of the family drank it, and Henry said they were all ‘drunkards’. While still at primary school, Henry was rescued by the project and went to live there, sleeping in the storeroom and being cared for by the cook, James, and his wife, Francesca. He got his degree in Economics and Statistics at university and is currently looking for work.

Frankline was also taken in by the project. He spent much of his youth living on the streets in Meru, his family having broken up. Even when at secondary school he did his homework at school before going to sleep in the streets. 

James, the cook at the Township project, took pity on him too and let him sleep in the storeroom. Despite this adversity, he did so well in his exams that he qualified for university, studied Economics, got his degree and is now working in management in a hospital while self-funding his Masters degree part-time.

Earlier, he wrote: “I am so grateful to the entire Karibuni Trust fraternity for making my dreams come to reality. Am thankful to you for financing my education from standard three ….to…University. It has been difficult for me but through your help and encouragement I am where I am. I thank you all for being there for me in the hour of need.”.

Irindiro Special Educational Needs School Irindiro Special Educational Needs School

Irindiro Special Educational Needs School

Nigel Roberts writes: 

“During our annual trustee visits to Kenya we are invariably asked to take on additional projects.  Funding our existing long-term commitments to some 700 children is already 

challenging so generally we resist these requests, but, in 2018 Oliver Kirimi, who heads the Meru North Disability Community Centre, took us to Irindiro Primary School which has a special educational needs unit.

The facilities for the children were wholly inadequate. There were two classrooms in poor-quality buildings with extremely limited teaching materials. Of the children with teaching and encouragement some dozen might be integrated into the community. There were also eight deaf children, some very bright. The remainder of the children, some with limited mobility, were simply left to play in the dirt without any form of teaching or stimulation.  There was no daytime carer: many of the children being unable, without assistance, to take care even of basic hygiene needs.

The dormitory provision was also wholly  inadequate. The roof leaked, the floor was earthen, children slept three to a bed and there were no mattresses. There was a strong smell of urine and the conditions could only be described a squalid.

What we saw was truly awful and whilst we could not adopt Irindiro as a long term project, humanity demanded that we respond, but in a structured and time-bound way. Initially those who visited agreed to donate enough for three years to ensure the children were properly fed, that a trained day carer was recruited, and the night carer received training. We also undertook to raise money from third parties which did not detract from Karibuni’s established income streams. 

Reverend Maureen Jones, former Bishop of Nairobi, raised substantial funds which when added to awards from grant-making trusts to which we could not have applied for our day-to-day work enabled the replacement of the roof of the dormitories,  a washable, sealed cement floor in the male and female dormitories, purchase of sufficient beds so that each child has its own, purchase of mattresses with plastic covers to prevent the cumulative effect of soiling, and improvement to access between the dormitories and classrooms as the site slopes.  

In addition, two stone-built classrooms are to be erected, with purchase of teaching materials to improve the learning / play experience of the children. There will be connection of the water supply to the ablutions area and improvement to the kitchen.

2020 was the final year of our support and Oliver has had the special educational needs classes separately registered so that their funding from Government is secure, and to attract other funding partners. A headteacher has been appointed and a further five teachers are being recruited.  

It has been wonderful to see the transformation in the wellbeing of the children (who have increased in number from 30 to 90 in view of the improvements), the school infrastructure and its re-positioning so that it is now separately and adequately funded.”

Spotlight on Tharaka

In the last newsletter, we mentioned the grant of £6,000 from the International Tree Foundation which Project Leader George Mwabu had obtained through his own efforts to enable him to plant 24,000 trees.  So far, 6,200 seedlings have been planted, some on the demonstration farm, where families learn how to grow and nurture their trees by example rather than direct instruction. Families have been given their own fruit and food trees, which will improve nutrition, with an opportunity to sell the excess, and provide an ongoing supply of fresh food for the wider community.

This project originally operated from a small, inadequate room in the local school. In 2016 the school donated land on which a new project office was built with the cost being met entirely from within the local community. Some of the  building work was undertaken by Eric, a young man who was sponsored through Karibuni and trained as a mason. A water tank and toilet block were also constructed, with basic irrigation across the demonstration farm.

Now, with help from some generous Karibuni supporters, an adjoining Community Resource Centre  has been constructed. Although parents of sponsored children are very poor, they clubbed together to buy chairs for the Centre. 

The  Centre will have a library and computer room, with unlimited internet, and will also  be used for training. By improving computer skills, chances of future employment are enhanced.

In addition to training, the Centre is also a base for the ongoing Table Top bank, where local families can borrow and lend to each other.

In addition to the Community Resource Centre in Tharaka, three artisan workshops are planned, to provide work space for vocational graduates from the scheme in skills such as tailoring, carpentry, masonry and welding. This will give them opportunities for employment and income generation, in addition to transferring skills to others.  

A garment factory is also planned, to employ 6 people, largely in making school uniforms.  Uniforms are a big expense for Karibuni, and ultimately this will help to reduce costs in addition to its other benefits.

Harun, in the middle of the picture, was a Karibuni student who was sponsored under the Sponsorship scheme by an individual sponsor. Having finished his course in 2020, he was the site supervisor for the building works. 

Covid 19 Update in Kenya Covid 19 Update in Kenya

Covid 19 Update in Kenya

Dear Supporters,

With children in the UK returning to school it is timely to send you an update on the latest news from Kenya and what we have been doing to support our sponsored children during these unprecedented days.

Kenyan schools remain shut until 2021
It is now anticipated that Kenyan schools will re-open in January, at the earliest. The 2020 academic year has been effectively written off, with no examinations at either Primary or Secondary schools. Colleges may start to re-open on a phased basis in the coming months. Therefore, Karibuni has provided funds to enable projects to distribute monthly food parcels until the year end.

At Kibra, where we are the only funder, we have also agreed to pay 75% of the pay of teachers and other staff who are on furlough. In several other projects we pay fees for our sponsored children and are not responsible for staff pay. It came to our notice that in some such schools there are insufficient funds to pay furloughed staff anything – and there is no State support. We have therefore decided to include these staff in our monthly food parcels scheme. That initiative has been very well received and is helping to engender staff loyalty to the projects which will be of benefit when schools eventually re-open.

Community based learning initiative
To engage children while schools are closed the Kenyan Government has launched a community based learning programme. The Government intends that this will be rolled out to all children, whether they currently attend Government or private schools, in communities where suitable venues which enable social distancing can be found. Teachers will run groups of no more than 20 children with an emphasis on teaching them life skills, rather than academic subjects. We suspect that this is likely to prove much easier to achieve in rural areas than in city slums such as Kibra.
Government guidance encourages distance learning using computers. Our sponsored children come from homes which have no access to the internet, let alone a computer.

Local Project initiatives
In the face of extended school closures, we have encouraged projects to develop their own learning initiatives, within the restrictions laid down by the Government. 

One such initiative came from the Embakasi project. Although Embakasi Academy remains closed, there is scope within Government COVID-19 guidelines for small groups of children to receive limited tuition and guidance with homework. The project Board developed a plan involving four teachers who were previously on furlough. Although we do not normally pay teachers at that project (instead we pay fees per child), in this case the initiative benefits our sponsored children and we have provided funding for four teachers’ salaries and internet usage.

Another initiative involves Tharaka where the project leaders were conscious that while local radio stations were broadcasting basic school lessons for children in Nursery and Primary schools, most of our sponsored children could not access those lessons as there are no radios in their homes. The solution they proposed was to provide children with solar powered radios (which could be bought for £12 each). There is no 

Children at Tharaka receive their new solar radios

shortage of solar energy in Tharaka!  To engage older children the proposal was to create a basic computer laboratory within that part of the new Tharaka Community Resource Centre which has already been constructed (and about which we will tell you more in our next Newsletter), using iPads and a Smart TV. 

This imaginative proposal was quickly agreed by the Karibuni Children Trustees and money was provided. The new radios have already been purchased and the children are using them.

What can you do? 
We are most grateful to you our supporters for your wonderful response to our appeal earlier in the year and for the ongoing donations we receive, month by month. If you would like to make a contribution towards the costs of our extended support for the children while they are at home, there are a number of options, which are set out below.

With best wishes,

John Cotton

Chair of Trustees

Karibuni Children

Meet the Embakasi children. Meet the Embakasi children.

Meet the Embakasi children.

During the trustees’ visit to Embakasi all the Karibuni sponsored children were brought together. 

“Kenyan schools were on mid-term break and all our sponsored children were asked to come to school, where as well as waving at us they got lunch.”

Karibuni’s Alumni – Robert Karibuni’s Alumni – Robert

Karibuni’s Alumni – Robert

Robert from Tharaka has aimed to support people in poverty in various situations, from drugs and homelessness to HIV/AIDS.  He founded the Naledi initiative, which works with vulnerable girls in Kenya who have become pregnant and shunned within their community, so they can learn the skills they need to move forward in their lives without being forced into early marriage or a life of dependence and hopelessness. He has also served as a counsellor at the Kenya and South Africa Global Youth Peace Summit, and has 

now been accepted by the Institute of Emerging Visionaries in California for a three year intensive course. The Institute aims to foster a generation of young visionary leaders dedicated and equipped to serve humanity. Robert’s aim is to restore hope and self-sufficiency for vulnerable youth in Kenya.                                                                            

Esther, who writes from Limuru Esther, who writes from Limuru

Esther, who writes from Limuru

“Dear Karibuni

I am scripting this letter to convey my honest and genuine gratefulness and appreciation to you for sponsoring my studies. First of all I would like to express great appreciation on behalf of all those luckily and financially sponsored by you. No appreciation is enough for great kindness. But here, I still want to thank you all for your kindness, which has provided me with hope and courage to live a better life. You are bighearted and compassionate people who magnanimously and selflessly gave away your hard earned money to help me in my secondary and college studies so I’d become a better version of myself- I am so privileged and humbled to have received this sponsorship and would like to express my heartfelt gratitudes for being there for me.

I recently graduated from the Kenya Medical Training college on 5th of I recently graduated from the Kenya Medical Training college on 5th of December 2019 with a Diploma in health promotion and community health. The monetary help you offered facilitated me to pay for my learning costs and I attribute all this success to you. Your kind favour also motivates me to help others in need and I attribute all this success to you. I will use the knowledge and skills that I have acquired in school to make my community a better place through empowering people to take control of their own health.”

Meet Karibuni Alumni at Kibra Meet Karibuni Alumni at Kibra

Meet Karibuni Alumni at Kibra

While in Nairobi, as well as visiting all our projects, and making home visits, Trustees had a meeting with our alumni students from Kibra and Kawangware who are either in the process of tertiary education, or who have already qualified, thanks to support from Karibuni. 

The students were divided into small groups to work out ways in which they could themselves support their project and mentor other children.

All over Kenya, students have graduated, thanks to their hard work and to Karibuni.

Wesley Empowerment Centre, Njoro Wesley Empowerment Centre, Njoro

Wesley Empowerment Centre, Njoro

Each year Karibuni Children sponsors 7 children to join the Nursery school at Wesley Empowerment Centre, Njoro. The children to be sponsored are selected by the project Board on one simple criterion, namely that they should come from “the poorest of the poor”. This story may give you an idea of their circumstances.

Pauline, one of the children selected to join the Nursery in January 2020, lives with her grandmother, pictured here. Also living in the same one-roomed shack are her mother and four other grandchildren. The only income to the home is what Pauline’s mother can earn doing casual work such as washing and ironing laundry. There is very little such work, especially at present.

Each project Karibuni supports is separately governed by a local Management Board.

Karibuni Trustees meet with the members of these Boards on their annual visits to review, amongst other things, the progress of the children being sponsored, project finances, governance and administration. Pictured with visiting Trustees is the Board of the Wesley Empowerment Centre, Njoro, which runs a Nursery and Primary school.      

Kibra Kibra


These four children were taken into the Baby Class at Kibra in January. They are twins Moses and Miriam, with Jayden and Emmanuel. Elizabeth is the nursery headteacher on the left, and Carol is the social worker from Kawangware, who now works with Makena at Kibra.

Meet Nancy Meet Nancy

Meet Nancy

Nancy is the mother of the twins Moses and Miriam (sponsored). She has no husband and 4 children, and her income comes from casual laundry and selling greens, (sukuma wiki = “push / stretch the week”) making Ksh200/250 (approximately £1.50-£1.80 per day). 

A Thank You message from Mercy, our senior social worker in Meru A Thank You message from Mercy, our senior social worker in Meru

A Thank You message from Mercy, our senior social worker in Meru

Thanks to the generosity of you, our supporters, who have responded so magnificently to our recent appeal, our partner projects now have the money to pay for food parcels for the children in their care. That special food support extends from the larger projects to those smaller ones where we make a contribution to running costs. Mercy, our senior social worker in Meru says: 

“On behalf of all my children I appreciate the support during this epidemic. Receive the regards of the guardians. They feel indebted by the sacrifice to provide this basic need of food to them. These are hard times for our kids and their families. I was able to tell when some of them depleted their food because then some would find their way to the feeding program, just to find out if they can get something to eat. It clearly shows how (much) these parcels mean to these children.”

The children’s parents or guardians who live nearby come, in small numbers at a time, to collect the food parcels. Mercy delivers parcels to those who live far away.

Thank you message from Embakasi Thank you message from Embakasi
Thank You. We have managed to raise over £40,000! Thank You. We have managed to raise over £40,000!

Thank You. We have managed to raise over £40,000!

In just over a month, with the inclusion of Gift Aid, we have managed to raise over £40,000. This really is a wonderful result, and reflective of the loyalty and generosity of you, our supporters.
Dear Supporters,I hope that this message finds you, and those close to you, keeping safe and well in these exceedingly difficult times.A month or so ago I wrote to you, our loyal supporters, regarding the impact of the pandemic in Kenya with the closure of schools and danger that posed to Karibuni sponsored children with the loss of their main source of food and nutrition. I asked for your help to raise funds urgently so that we could provide emergency foodstuffs to the family of each child, and thus ensure that at least the threat of starvation was reduced, as Kenya too grapples with this coronavirus pandemic.  Your response has been wonderful and so on behalf of the 700+ sponsored Karibuni children, I just wanted to say A HUGE THANK YOU!
Following the one off grant which we provided to tide projects over for the month of April, we have now remitted funds to our partners in Kenya that should cover the cost of basic foodstuffs for each of our 700 families, for the next 4 months. This support will be distributed to families on a monthly basis, either in the form of foodstuffs or, in the more volatile areas, food vouchers which can be redeemed at a reputable supermarket. 

I thought it might also be helpful to provide you with an update from on the ground in Kenya, which is provided. Whilst the number of cases reported to date is limited, we know that with so many underlying health conditions and weak public health systems, the Kenyan people are vulnerable and so we continue to pray that Kenya and other developing countries are spared the worst of this pandemic, pending development of effective treatments and vaccines.

As you can imagine, against this backcloth, the support that Karibuni Children has been able to provide has literally been a life-saver for these children and families, and I wanted to share with you some of the comments we have received back from projects in Kenya and some of the photos we have had. 

At the time of writing, Kenya has reported 607 cases of Covid-19, with 29 deaths. Nairobi and Mombasa have seen the greatest concentrations of cases, while rural areas have so far seen few reported cases. Whilst these numbers seem very low in comparison with our own, the impact of the control  measures implemented to try to limit the spread of the virus has been significant. 

A dusk to dawn curfew, in place since 27th March, has been forcefully administered by police, while schools, Colleges and Universities remain closed for at least another month. The casual labour market – washing, cooking, cleaning – has completely dried up, as better off Kenyans follow social distancing guidance and confine themselves to their homes. We know that most parents and guardians of Karibuni sponsored children depend on this unreliable income source to pay the rent on their slum dwelling and to provide food for their family unit. Food prices have jumped by at least 50% and many of the poorest Kenyans find themselves in the invidious position of trying to balance the threat of the virus, with the threat of starvation. In Kibra, a poorly organised attempt to distribute food aid (not linked to Karibuni) led to a stampede and the death of two women.  

We will obviously be watching developments in Kenya very closely. Our best forecast remains that it will be September, at the earliest, before schools reopen but, like all countries, much will depend on what happens to infection rates when the Kenyan government starts to relax the current restrictions.

One thing is for sure, Karibuni will honour the commitment we made to these children when first sponsoring them and stands ready to respond quickly to ensure that we continue “To transform young Kenyan lives”.  
Thank you for your support

John Cotton
“Thank you very much for this kind donation for the orphans and the vulnerable children! We know also our friends overseas are experiencing the same or worse form of the problem, it is our prayer that the lord will help us all and we shall emerge more stronger. We are so thankful that we have friends like you praying for us and encouraging us through prayers and donations.”
“I want to thank the Trustees for the generosity and most importantly, for their concerns for the poor children and families supported at the Wesley-Njoro project. It is at a time like now that one really gets to know who the true friends are. And these families now know they have a friend in the UK called ‘Karibuni Children’ who truly cares.”
“I wish to really thank the Karibuni Children for their love and generosity amidst so much challenges brought by this pandemic. A big boost to the poor families; when everyone works from home, the poor who survive on casual works stay at home unfed. Congratulations Karibuni Children for bridging this gap. Smile below the masks of the poor and vulnerable.”


You can support our appeal by:Making a bank transfer to Karibuni Children, Sort Code 20-03-18, Account number 70692697 (Please add your surname & initial as a reference and, if possible, notify us of this donation by emailing us : a cheque payable to “Karibuni Children” c/o Peter Wells, 13 Tudor Court, Church Lane, Mill End, Rickmansworth, HERTS, WD3 8PX Donating via our website: 01296 614887 and making a donation by credit or debit card