We began day 2 meeting with Seth who heads up the HES (Household Economic Strengthening) programme to understand what kind of help his team are giving families to help them support themselves. His team ensure that once an initial need has been identified, the family is given support to find a sustainable income, through training and employment or setting up their own business. Seth has developed some strong links with local employers and this area is becoming more successful. It is fundamental to ensuring families become financially stable. Both the woman I had met on day 1 were supported in this way with great success.
Next, I met Sophy who heads the team of social workers across all of the schools Macheo works with. She showed us the comprehensive work they do in identifying the needs of each area and what that looks like for Ruiru where Kipawa operates. The team is able to quickly process each ‘client’ via a mobile app to ensure their status is captured along with their needs (eg. health crisis, children’s uniform, unemployment).
Our focus still remains on the core programmes at the schools, however there are also unmet needs in mother/child support and working with teenage mothers which I have agreed with Macheo we would want to understand further over the coming months.
We then headed out to Oaklands Primary School which is on a coffee plantation only a few miles from urban Ruiru. Since we only began supporting the school in 2016, this was the first opportunity I had had to visit the it first hand. Despite it only being a relatively short distance from Mukuyu school, its catchment and challenges are quite different. All the children come from families employed at the plantation which is volatile, seasonal work leading to low and unstable family incomes. The feeding programme Kipawa introduced acts as a incentive to for the children to come to school and removes the financial burden of feeding the children from the parents.
We were touched by the performances from the children, singing, dancing, rapping and putting on a play about Kipawa called “Kipawa Kicks Problems Away”. To see that they view us like this was quite a special moment. Once again, I was delighted to hand out the shoes and underwear which all our generous donors back at home had made possible, as well as some nursery resources which were well received.
Before we left the plantation, we visited a family who had benefited from our support - providing them with mattresses and bedding for a mother and her 5 children. We hope she may also be a candidate for some support to find a more stable job, but this needs to be balanced against the free housing she currently receives on the plantation.
We ended the day taking selfies with my mum and dad and chatting about what they were doing at the weekend (more school!) and what life in Scotland is like. We had a bumpy ride home with them all in the van along the back roads to avoid Friday traffic - and more selfies with my mum sitting in the backseat among them all.