Thank you so much to Gullane Flower Club for having our trustee, Clare, along to their demonstration last night to talk about Kipawa’s work and to sell our lovely Christmas cards. We really appreciate the generous support. And she loved seeing the beautiful finished flower arrangements!
Our trustee, Bill, is making his first visit to Kenya on behalf of Kipawa and was delighted to meet with Daniek, the headteacher at Mukuyu School, Marnix and others from Macheo today.
Another busy day, full-on out visiting our projects from 9am through to 7pm today.
Much of it was spent at Oaklands Primary School, which we’ve only been supporting since 2016. It was my first trip there and it was quite an experience. The school sits on a coffee plantation – the land was given to the Government by the owners of the plantation to build a school, which teaches children of the people who work there. The school is surrounded by acres and acres of well-tended coffee plants, punctuated occasionally by small groups of tiny houses in which these families live.
But the situation is far from idyllic. What is already hard work (paying about 300 shillings a day, about £2.20) has been made more difficult by ownership changes, resulting in mass lay-offs and re-employment on casual contracts. Workers are not guaranteed wages throughout the year, or even during the three coffee harvests a year. And when they don’t get work, or seek it elsewhere, they lose access to the houses they in. I was taken to meet one of these workers today, a single mother of five who has a child at the school. She works on the plantation with a nine-month old baby strapped to her back – scared of losing her job and her house.
All of this has had an impact on the children at the school in the past few years too, with absence rates being very high and the performance of the kids attending being below average. Thankfully, the work Kipawa is doing here is making a big difference.
I met with the headteacher Joseph this morning who couldn’t have given more praise for what our donors have achieved here. His clear view is that the food programme (we are doing breakfast porridge and lunch for all the kids at Oaklands) has delivered “a drastic change in performance: for example, there is no absenteeism any more. Two years ago, there were sometimes up to 100 absentees every day, but now it is more likely a handful. And that’s because there is food available”. He also thinks that the KCPE performance will improve this year – from an average of 215 to 250 – and that is because the children are better able to concentrate. Our social workers there – Mary and Moses – agree. They’ve noticed a change in behaviour since the feeding programmes started; kids are no longer lethargic and sleepy but energetic and motivated all day.
We are making improvements to the facilities too. I saw the final stages of the new girls toilet block today, with a solid watertight building in place with proper latrines and a very deep pit. This is not only safer and healthier (for disease prevention) but more dignified too. What was also interesting is that the Government had started building a new boys toilet block earlier this year: but it remains uncompleted on the site, with no reason given for its current state.
At the end of my time there at Oaklands, a young girl called Faith spoke on camera on what Kipawa has done for her and her friends. She can speak for herself:
Later in the afternoon, I had lunch with the 15 students Kipawa is sponsoring through a few secondary schools in the Ruiru area. These young people were identified as they left primary school as being able to benefit from secondary school but whose families would likely not support them financially to do so. The money our donors are sending to Kenya is doing two things for these vulnerable kids: ensuring that a lack of fees, uniforms and other equipment isn’t preventing them from attending school regularly; and it provides wrap-around support from case workers like Monicah who works on the secondary school programme. Monicah spends all of her time checking on the welfare and wider environment of these students, intervening where needed.
The kids range in age from 14 through 17, with the oldest five of them due to sit their KCSE exams (the Kenyan Certificate of Secondary Education) throughout October and November. Like teenagers anywhere, they were shy at first but were soon chatting away: They were keen to find out about where I live in Scotland, about education in the UK, and the girls in particular were amazed to hear our Prime Minsiter and First Mininster are both female.
Most importantly, they were enthusiastic about their time at school, their interests and their ambitions for the future. And it was terrific to hear one of them really wants to be a doctor; another wants to study electrical engineering; a couple more think they they’d be good social workers. There was some discussion on the way home tonight about the next steps for some of these kids: certainly, we at Kipawa should be thinking about if and how we can continue to support some of these young people should they move into colleges and university.
I have few more trips planned for tomorrow, including going back to Mukuyu School to hand out some new books, footballs, toys and other things. These were purchased today using money donated in a recent appeal. You can still donate to the appeal here:
It's that time of year again where we head off to Kenya to meet with our partners and to see all the work your donations have been making possible. David will be visiting Mukuyu and Oaklands schools at the end of the month and would love to be able to take some gifts with him. We have had a particular request for toys and other equipment for the nursery classes and would be very grateful for any contribution you can make.
Kipawa had another very successful year in 2015, the year we celebrated our 5th birthday. Thanks to generous donors and fabulous fundraisers, we raised more money than in any previous year enabling us to help even more vulnerable children and families in Ruiru, Kenya. THANK YOU!
Kipawa's latest annual report and accounts for 2015 are now available here. The report isn't just dry pages of numbers - we promise! - but includes an interesting write-up of our trustee Alasdair's visit to Kenya last year and some great pictures. So it's definitely worth a click!
You can also read some of our plans for 2016 - including the very exciting news that Kipawa will be helping a second primary school in Ruiru from this year!
A limited number of hard copies are available by contacting us.
Our trustee Alasdair heads off to Kenya tomorrow to visit the projects funded by Kipawa and to discuss plans for 2016. When he is there, he will buy some gifts of books, clothes and toys to take to Mukuyu School with him. Please donate here if you can.
Safe trip Alasdair - we look forward to hearing all about it when you get back.
Our newest trustee, Clare Jones, will be visiting Kenya later this month to meet with out locally-based partners and see the work that Kipawa has been funding this year. This will be Clare's first visit to Mukuya School and to Kenya and she is very excited to experience for herself the important work Kipawa is doing there.
Once again, our good friend, Lindsay Given, has been collecting good quality, used, children's shoes in Richmond, Surrey and we are delighted to be taking over 300 pairs with us this year! We have also asked what other gifts we might take with us and have been told that reading books, sports and art materials and clothes for the children would be much appreciated. So, we've set up a Virgin Money Giving page specifically for this, and any donation you can make, however small or large, will be spent in Kenya to provide some of these useful supplies on our trip.
The link the the donation page is below. Please contact us if you would like any more information about this trip. And watch this space for updates, photos and news from the visit.
Kipawa Trust International held its AGM in Edinburgh on 13th March 2014. The office bearers were re-elected and discussed plans and challenges for the coming year.
The full minutes of the meeting are below.
Please don't hesitate to contact us if you have any questions or would like to get involved.
Kipawa founder and trustee Kirsty Welsh describes her recent visit to Mukuya school to see first hand how our donor's money is helping the children of Riuru:
"After a pretty hectic run up to our trip, my brother and I were dropped off at Edinburgh Airport at 4.30am with 150kg of bags full of all the donations and supplies so generously provided by Kipawa donors. A friend had arranged for KLM to give us extra baggage allowance but we exceeded even that!
After a brief stop in Amsterdam and an 8 hour flight we arrived in Nairobi at 9pm to a remarkably organised Kenyatta airport considering the summer fire had impacted most of the airport. Maaike and Chenge from Macheo had kindly come to collect us and before long we were on our way to Thika. After a good night’s sleep we set off for Mukuya School accompanied by the Macheo team, Maaike and Faith, who told us that the school were very excited about our visit and likened it to Christmas – I’m not sure we were going to live up to this expectation! As we drove along the dirt road to the school I was surprisingly emotional returning to Mukuya, as the school we talk about so much came into view.
We met with Mr Peter the Headmaster in his office and discussed the good progress that’s been made, before beginning our visit by checking in on the nursery classroom block which we funded the refurbishment of earlier in the year. By any Kenyan standards this is now a bright, lively classroom full of kids sitting at their tables keen to learn and play. I had been shocked to see young kids trying to play and learn in rooms with piles of rubble and crumbling walls so it was great to see such a transformation. We also gave out some of the smaller shoes that were generously donated by folks from Broomfield House and Marshgate Primary schools in Surrey, Lilypad Retail in Biggar and others.
It was great to meet Margaret, the new social worker funded by Kipawa, and Karen, our counsellor, and talk to them first hand to understand what they do day-to-day. When they showed us into a small, dark, bare room, which had been a storeroom, furnished with 2 plastic chairs, they told us how grateful they were to have a space to work in. The thought of Karen counselling vulnerable kids in this space immediately showed us that whilst we had made progress this year there is lots still to do and we must make sure that in 2014 there is a safe, warm, light place for the kids to go for counselling and support. A lot of the classrooms aren’t in much better shape with crumbling floors, no windows and 4 or 5 kids sharing a 2 person desk while trying to study for end of year exams.
We briefly popped our heads into each classroom to say hi and were greeted warmly; again it was particularly nice to see both Class 4s in a much better environment than before, in their newly renovated classrooms.
In true Kenyan style, the school had planned a presentation for us and as we walked out towards the garden in the middle of the school the 600 kids started singing. No matter how many times I experience this I don’t think it will stop taking my breath away as we were led to sit at the front with the headmaster. After the children had sung some songs and made some lovely speeches about how grateful they were for Kipawa’s support we presented a few of them with gifts for the school – books, stationery and sports equipment. One pair of football boots went to a boy who had had a poor attendance record at school. Since involving him in the school football team he has turned into a great role model with perfect attendance and is encouraging his friends to do the same. This has also sparked an idea that we can use sports and other activities to incentivise the children to attend school and inspire them to do well. Following the presentation it was great to see all the kids line up and enjoy their lunch, after all that’s the foundation of what we do – the feeding programme is what brings the children to school and allows us and the school to really start helping them.
As we were leaving, Margaret introduced us to Morgan, a boy in the nursery class who she had tracked down after he had stopped attending school due to ill health. After his parents separated, Morgan's mother could not afford to take him for ongoing treatment. Thanks to Margaret’s support, he has now resumed treatment and is being referred to Kenyatta National Hospital for an operation in January. Whilst the family still faces a lot of problems, at least we have been able to ensure he accesses the treatment he needs and is restored to good health. In 2014 we hope to fund Margaret to go beyond the school grounds and help pupils and vulnerable families by supporting them in whatever form that takes – accessing medical treatment, supporting parents or referring them to appropriate organisations.
We left Mukuya happy to see so much progress and full of new ideas and made the short trip to Ruiru Township Secondary School where five of Mukuya’s former pupils are now studying thanks to Kipawa sponsorship. After meeting with them and their teachers it’s clear that they value their education as it’s not something that they thought they would be able to carry on with. As we were interrupting the school day, we stayed for just a short visit but long enough to hear what our sponsorship means to them. We would love to help more children like these fulfil their potential by sponsoring them through secondary school.
My trips to Kenya will always give me a great perspective on our problems in the UK and make me more committed to supporting the children we work with in as many ways as I can. It certainly has given me the drive to undertake the next phase of planning and fundraising knowing its having so much impact."
Thank you so much to Lindsay Given and Clare Thompson who collected an amazing 225 pairs of shoes from the families of Marshgate Primary School in Richmond and Broomfield House School in Kew, Surrey.
Kipawa trustee, Kirsty Welsh is on her way to Kenya now with the shoes in her (extremely heavy) bags! They will be given to the children she meets in Kenya and will be a huge help to them and their families.
Thanks to Lindsay and Clare for their hard work and support and to all the parents and children at Marshgate and Broomfield House for their generosity.
Watch this space for more photos when Kirsty returns from Kenya...