Having arrived at Macheo on Wednesday night after a long journey, our first meeting of the day on Thursday morning was with Marnix, the founder of Macheo our partner organisation in Kenya, and we spent some time reflecting on how much has changed since my last visit in 2013. We benefit from their continued focus on improvement and how to best address the needs of the children and families they support.
We then met with some of the key personnel at Macheo, starting with the Monitoring & Evaluation team which is a perfect example of something that has changed. They now they now collect and collate all the Key Performance Indicators that are used to measure the different programmes. Using mobile apps and technology they have made identifying, referring and evaluating what we do so much quicker and simpler. James and his new colleague Joyce seem to be delivering great insight back into the Macheo organisation which we also benefit from. KPIs from the various programs are regularly monitored and used to flag and bring about actions. Similarly, the communications team at Macheo has grown and Edna talked us through how they’ve spent this year simplifying the process ensuring we will now hear about the the projects, budgets and people in a more holistic way.
We took the 40 minute journey to Mukuyu Primary School with Faith, one of the program coordinators, and our visit began meeting the Headmaster Daniel and my first meeting with Mary and Winny the social workers who deliver most of Kipawa’s programmes. During the meeting the headmaster informed us the school roll is about to exceed 800 kids and it certainly felt a busier school than when I last visited.
Feeding the children is still at the core of what we do and some parents are already worried about how they will cope over the holidays when schools break up on 26th October. There is good cooperation between the supportive staff who refer cases to Mary & Winny and highlight any concerns they have about attendance, behaviour or vulnerability.
Following the meeting we went for a wander around the school as the children ate lunch and we saw the building of an additional nursery classroom funded by Kipawa which is underway. It’s expected to be complete in late October which will allow the teachers to split the current 65 children into 2 rooms - the Teachers, Joyce and Mary, are very much looking forward to having more space for teaching and I don’t blame them! With a growing school roll I can already see that the toilets which we had built in previous years are not enough to cope with 800 kids.
I made a special visit to Class 1 to hand out the letters I had taken from Leith Primary School and received some letters and a lovely song from them in return. They were very keen to see the letters and pictures that had come from Scotland.
Our last visit of the day was to a grandmother that had been referred to the social workers via one of the secondary school teachers we work with. She had been bed-ridden due to an infected leg and had spent all of her savings on medicine which had not resolved the problem, leaving her penniless, unable to work or even do simple tasks for herself. After assessing her, the team were able to get her the correct medical support and, having supported her back to good health, helped her to set up her own business. With a small loan she has established a small kiosk with a basic seating area (strangely called a hotel!) selling vegetables and hot food which she prepares and is financially stable and supporting her grandchildren. Within 6 months her life has been entirely changed and she is not only healthy but has a sustainable future.
After a jam packed day we headed back to Madaraka to have dinner and reflect on our day. Another busy day ahead tomorrow!