Jimmy and Margot packed a lot in to their first full day visiting Mukuyu school with Kirsty, meeting some of the staff, children and families supported by Kipawa and taking some more great photos!
The next instalment of Jimmy’s Kenya blog. Read all about his first impressions of Kenya, and the optimistic water sellers!
Jimmy and Margot Hudson are two of our biggest supporters and we were delighted that they could accompany Kirsty on her visit to Kenya last month to see the fruits of all their support.
Jimmy has blogged about his visit and the first part is here. He’s taken some great photos too. We hope you enjoy his insight. Further installments to follow!
Kirsty reports on her first full day in Kenya - she's certainly packed a lot in...
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.
Following our tour, the whole school assembled for a presentation, and after we introduced ourselves I was delighted to hand out the underwear and shoes that had been paid for by our appeal. There was a lot of excitement and laughter when we handed out the pants!
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.
After lunch, we left the school and headed to Ruiru (many thanks to our intrepid driver Paul!) to meet a mother who was first referred to Mary by teachers who were concerned about her 3 children. Her story is very complex and harrowing. She had been badly burned in an attack by her ex-husband, leaving her hospitalised and in recovery for 2 years. When she was discharged she received no support and was effectively housebound until our social workers intervened. She was given counselling and support and responded so well that she has now set up her own shop selling groceries. She works 7 days a week, sometimes from 5am-10pm, determined to support her family. I always find my trips to Kenya humbling but in her case I simply can’t imagine having the strength to cope with life so admirably after such an experience.
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!
Kirsty and her Mum and Dad have made it to the airport. They are excited to get to Kenya and see everyone!
Don't forget, we pay all of our own expenses for our visits, so every penny you give goes to help the children and families we support in Kenya. And there's still time to donate ....