Between the 1st of November and the 5th of December, ADDHU’s team, composed by the president of the NGO Laura Vasconcellos and the project manager Carolina Vasconcellos, travelled to Kenya for a one-month field mission. Besides the awaited reunion with the children of the Wanalea Centre, other initiatives were developed, among which the distribution of food and Gifts of Hope in Nairobi’s slums.

The main objective of this mission was to evaluate the results and impacts of ADDHU’s projects in Kenya, namely the Wanalea Children’s Home and the Wanalea Foster Parents Program, the School Feeding Program and the Portuguese Learning Program, which has been implemented with a lot of success by volunteer Maria João.

During this mission, ADDHU’s team had the company, support and help of the volunteers José Manuel Costa and Maria João Henriques, who has been in Kenya for more than 4 months.

Wanalea Children’s Home

The reunion with the children of the Wanalea Centre is always an intense moment of joy and emotion for ADDHU’s team. During the time we spent with the children, we had the opportunity to evaluate their progress and to verify that all the children are well and healthy. The academic results were very good: they are all moving to the next level. And they are happy, so happy! These kids who, 4 years ago, were literally struggling for their lives, have found in the Wanalea Centre a home and the family they lost or never had. Today, they are 26 brothers and sisters, who help and support each other unconditionally. We believe these family values are the foundation for the success of the Wanalea project: love and care are definitely the fundamental ingredients for these children’s healthy and normal development!

In October 2011, the District Children’s Office placed a child under the care of Wanalea Centre. Geogina Kabasa is 5 years old and was abandoned by her mother who lived with her in the neighborhood. During 2 months, Georgina slept in neighbors, friends and teachers houses until one of the teachers decided to report the situation to the authorities.

Georgina adapted very easily and quickly to her new life in the Centre, and the other children did everything to make her feel at home. “Now I’m not alone any more”, Gerogina wrote, with all the innocence of her 5 years of age, on the composition she made about the Centre. On the 19th of December 2011, Georgina was reunited with her family, and she is now under the care of her aunt and her grandmother. Unlike the other children of the Wanalea Centre, Georgina was not a street child rescued from the slums, and she was likely to have other family members willing and able to provide for her. A story with a happy ending, although it is always difficult for us to see one of our kids leaving the Centre... The 2 months Georgina lived with us were enough to make her stay in our hearts forever...

Christmas Holidays

November was a month of school exams for the children of the Wanalea Family. In Kenya, the school year ends in November and begins in January. The results were excellent: going to a school outside the Centre has definitely had a very positive impact on the lives of the children, not only academically, but also socially, emotionally and psychologically. It has contributed in a crucial way to their general wellbeing and their self-esteem. The school offers several extra-curricular activities to the children: drama club, IT club, arts and crafts, science club, scouts, gardening, etc. The children of the Wanalea Centre participate actively in these activities. Edwin, Daisy, Brenda, John and Mercy are enrolled in the scouts, while Fred and Cristiano belong to the “Small Farmers Club”. Most of them are also enrolled in the school’s sports teams.

The children started their holidays on the 30 of November. With the beginning of the holidays, the most awaited day was coming closer: the Christmas Party! We decorated the house and made a beautiful Christmas tree in which every child placed a decoration. But, before the party, on the 1st of December, we decided to take the children to the movies, a Christmas tradition of the Wanalea Family. We would like to express our gratitude to all the foster parents who sponsored this trip to the cinema: it was definitely one of the best Christmas gifts you could ever give to your foster child!

The 3rd of December was the big day: the day of the Christmas party. This year, we decided to follow the Kenyan tradition and serve mbuzi choma (lamb on the grill) with chapati (traditional Kenyan bread, similar to the Mexican tortillas) and vegetable stew, and mandazi for the desert, a traditional Kenyan Christmas desert. But there can be no Christmas party in the Wanalea Centre without Mummy Laura’s famous Portuguese sweet rice, as the children said. So they spent the entire afternoon in the kitchen preparing this traditional Portuguese Christmas desert they appreciate so much... After the Christmas dinner, the children received their gifts, sent by their foster parents. This is always a magical moment of great emotion, joy and happiness, and especially very touching: 4 years ago, these children had never had a real Christmas... And today, they still look at all this festivity, and the gifts they receive, with surprise, as if it were a dream...

Kitui Ndogo – Majengo Slums

As usual, ADDHU’s team returned to the Kitui Ndogo-Majengo Slums, where the Kenyan association FOC - Foundation for Orphaned Children – works, supporting approximately 70 children, 7 of which are supported by ADDHU through the Wanalea Foster Parent Program. The children received letters, pictures and gifts from their foster parents, and we distributed about 60 liters of milk to the children of the Kitui Village Nursery, as well as 50 kg of chapati flour to the families of these children. Everybody was so happy: in Kenya, eating chapati during Christmas is a popular tradition. At least, these families will not spend their holidays hungry...

During this visit, we spent some time with the sponsored children and verified that they are all happy, well fed and in good health. For these children who are extremely vulnerable, the Foster Parents Program has not merely contributed to significantly improve their quality of life, it has literally saved their lives, as most of them are HIV positive. ADDHU’s team also distributed some Gifts of Hope, namely school uniforms.

During this mission in Kenya, the house where Adam, one of the sponsored kids, lived with his grandmother, was demolished by the government authorities without any type of warning. The family not only lost the house, but all their belongings, and they were homeless. ADDHU decided to act and, with the help of Adam’s foster mother, gave a bed with mattress, pillows, sheets and blankets to Adam and his grandmother, as well as some kitchen utensils and a charcoal stove to cook. The family is temporarily living in an abandoned school until they find another house to rent, which is not easy in a highly populated slum.

Soweto Slums

ADDHU’s projects in the Soweto Slums have had impressive results since the beginning of the partnership with the Kenyan NGO God’s Vision for Africa one year ago. Although until now, only two kids are being sponsored through the Foster Parents Program, many others are benefiting from the Gifts of Hope Program, namely in terms of food, school materials and sanitary pads. The School Feeding Program, which was established in May 2011, is having a significant impact on the lives of the 600 children that are currently received one meal per day. The funding available for this program ends in April 2012, and we are now focusing our efforts to ensure its continuation.

ADDHU’s team visited the Soweto slums on several occasions to monitor and evaluate the projects implemented until now. We also distributed some Gifts of Hope, namely birth certificates and school supplies, and we spent some time with Abedneco and Sylvia, the two kids sponsored by foster parents. A big smile appeared on their faces as they saw us arriving to the school, because they knew we brought news, letters, pictures and gifts from their foster parents in Portugal. Sylvia and Abedneco are doing very well and, once again, they were both the first students of their classes in the last exams!

The school feeding program has been implemented and developed with a lot of success, and is now benefiting 575 children in 3 different schools in the Kayole-Soweto area (Maximum Impact Primary, Cityshine School e Lisanga Community School). Due to the drastic increase of the prices of food since June 2011, we were forced to remove the secondary school of the Maximum Impact Centre from the program. In this moment of food crisis in Kenya, namely in urban informal settlements, we consider this program a priority. Most of these kids count only on this meal they receive in school... For most of them, it’s the only meal they have for the entire day...

The Portuguese language program has also been a success, and there are currently 4 classes: 2 from the primary level, and 2 from the secondary level. The total number of students has already reached 100 and their performance has exceeded all our expectations. The volunteer Maria João has been doing an excellent work, and the program wouldn’t be possible without her dedication, commitment and professionalism.

During this mission in Kenya, we could clearly see that, although the drought is over, the consequences of the food crisis are still being dramatically felt by the populations of Nairobi´s slums. Until the 21st of October 2011, ADDHU distributed more than 7 tons of food in the slums, which helped more than 400 families to survive during these difficult times. Unfortunately, we were forced to suspend these distributions due to insufficient funding... We distributed one more ton of food before Christmas Eve so that these families could have some food for Christmas...

The Wanalea Children’s Home is progressing in a very positive way, with the help of ADDHU, the volunteers and the foster parents. The children are doing very well and, most importantly, they are happy. The love and care they receive from ADDHU’s staff and the volunteers, as well as the foster parents, have been the fundamental ingredients for the healthy and normal development of these children that have already been through so much and have such traumatic histories. Without these special ingredients, the Wanalea Children’s Home wouldn’t be, as the children say in the song they wrote about the Centre, a “blessed place” where they can be “one big family brought together by love and faith”. Also, important steps have been achieved such as the successful registration of the Centre as a Charitable Children’s Institution, the custody of the children and the letter of recommendation from the Government of Kenya.

ADDHU's mission in Kenya has not been an easy one, but with your help, we were able to bring smiles, happiness and hope to hundreds of children, their families and communities. With your help, we gave more than 100 Gifts of Hope in Kenya: 30 birth certificates, 40 mosquito nets, more than 400 packs of sanitary pads, more than 300 liters of milk, 8 goats and 5 cows, more than 25 hens and roosters, more than 50 vaccines against typhoid fever, tetanus and hepatitis B, 10 school kits and 12 school uniforms, etc. With your help, we distributed more than 8 tons of food to the families most affected by the Horn of Africa crisis in Nairobi's slums, and we gave one meal per day to 700 children through our school feeding program. With your help, we saved and gave a home and a family to 27 orphaned and abandoned children, we helped 10 vulnerable children from the slums and their families to have a better life with our foster parents program, we started teaching portuguese to 100 young students from the Soweto slums where we also rebuilt a primary school.

Because we strongly believe that, together, we can make a difference and change lives, we are counting on you to continue bringing hope and joy to more children and their families. Thank you for being a part of our family and may 2012 bring you a lot of Love and Light!