Besides the awaited reunion with the children of the Wanalea Children’s Home, other initiatives were developed, among which the distribution of food and Gifts of Hope in Nairobi’s slums, the launch of a microcredit program in the Soweto slum and the organization of a workshop about the importance of birth registration. 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 International Volunteer Program.
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 8 months. We also welcomed volunteer Barbara Pereira, who arrived to Kenya on the 3rd of April for one year of voluntary service under the European Voluntary Service program.
I. Wanalea Children’s Home
As usual, the reunion of the children of the Wanalea Centre was a moment of intense emotions and joy, both for ADDHU’s team and the kids. It never ceases to amaze us how these kids, who had literally nothing, are now so happy! 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. And they performed excellently in school, which always leaves us very proud of them!
On the 19th of March, we celebrated John’s birthday, who turned 9 years old on the 14th of March. Mummy Laura cooked a very special meal as the volunteers prepared cake, candies and juice! Since John is a very popular boy in school, we had the pleasure of meeting most of his friends who gladly joined the Wanalea Family to celebrate John’s special day.
During this mission, ADDHU’s team had the support of a Portuguese dentist, Dr. André Mariz de Almeida, who travelled to Kenya to provide dental care to the children of the Wanalea Centre and to establish partnerships with medical institutions for a continuous support to the children of the Wanalea Family. André conducted several treatments and also taught the children how fun oral hygiene and brushing your teeth can be! Thank you André for putting a smile on the faces of these kids, and especially for making Dorcas’ dream come true... Dorcas had been asking us to remove the stains from her teeth for more than 3 years, but the treatment was too expensive... We will never forget the moment she looked herself in the mirror to see her new smile. She did not talk, she only smiled, as she never did before...
The children started their Easter holidays on the 4th of April, after having performed very well in their school exams. At the beginning of the school year, in January 2012, some kids experienced difficulties in school, namely in mathematics and sciences. Their performance was not the best, and some children even scored below average. With the help of ADDHU’s volunteers, who immediately organized study sessions for the children, their performance improved dramatically in March, and some children who had scored 40% in mathematics in January 2012 were now able to score more than 80%! ADDHU would like to congratulate the volunteers for the work they have done in terms of school support and for their commitment and dedication to the children’s education.
On the 8th of April, we celebrated Easter with a special lunch: hamburgers and sausages in the barbecue with chips, and ice cream for desert. After lunch, the children looked for the chocolate eggs that we had hidden in the garden. Although this is not an Easter tradition in Kenya, the kids love to look for the chocolate eggs, running around the garden and laughing with each other.
ADDHU and the Wanalea Family would like to express their most sincere gratitude to the foster parents who donated vitamin C to the Wanalea Centre. The children are already doing their vitamin C treatment and there is a clear improvement in their immune system, especially now that the winter is starting in Nairobi. We would also like to express our gratitude to the City Council of Grândola in Portugal for the donation of sanitary pads to the girls of the Wanalea Centre.
II. 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, 6 of which are supported by ADDHU through the Wanalea Foster Parent Program. The children received letters, pictures and gifts from their foster parents.
During our visits to this slum, we spent some time with the sponsored children and verified that they are all happy, well fed and in good health. The children were weighted and measured, and ADDHU’s team conducted the monitoring activities that allow us to evaluate the progress of the sponsored children.
III. 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 more than 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 currently responsible for the only daily meal of more than 500 children and the food distributions have been helping more than 400 families to survive during a difficult moment of food crisis in Kenya. According to the Director of GVA, ADDHU’s local partner, these food aid programs are the best way to respond to the most urgent and immediate needs of these children and families.
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 19 blankets and 120 liters of milk, and we spent some time with Abedneco and Sylvia, the two kids sponsored by foster parents. 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 continues to be implemented and is currently benefiting 550 children from 3 different schools in the Kayole-Soweto area (Charity Student’s Centre, Cityshine School e Lisanga Community School). This program is, with the Wanalea Children’s Home, one of ADDHU’s main priorities: many children count only on this meal they received in school to make it through the day...
During this mission, ADDHU’s team also visited a school that will be integrating our Feeding Program from May 2012. The Charity Student’s Centre is located in Kayole and receives many refugee children from Somalia and Sudan. It has about 70 students who are provided with formal primary education. ADDHU’s team interviewed some of the children how revealed the difficulties they face as refugees... We met Tito, a 15-year-old Sudanese boy who had to leave his country to escape war after his parents were killed and was sent to the Kakuma refugee camp in northern Kenya before coming to Nairobi with his uncle.
This school doesn’t receive any assistance from the government or other institutions. It survives only with the support of local community members and the fees some of the students are able to pay. The major challenges are raising enough funds for the rent and the salaries of the 7 teachers the school employs.
On the 28th of March, ADDHU and GVA’s staff conducted a food distribution in the Soweto slums. More than 700 kg of rice and wheat flour were distributed to around 300 families. The food was purchased from local farmers with funds raised during the Gift of Hope of the Month campaign in March. On the 5th of April, we also gave 10 kg of maize flour, 10 liters of cooking oil, 6 kg of wheat flour, 4 kg of porridge flour, 8 kg of rice, 6 kg of beans, salt, sugar, tea and laundry soap to the family of Elizabeth Mtuko, a young single mother of 3 children. ADDHU would like to express its most sincere gratitude to the students of Lixa Secondary School in Portugal, who raised the necessary funds to help Elizabeth and her children. Thank you for giving this family the gift of hope!
On the 20th of March, ADDHU launched a microcredit program in the Soweto slums. The first beneficiary is Christine Mary, mother of 2 beautiful little girls who are now starting primary school. Having formal training in tailoring, Christine wanted to purchase a sewing machine in order to start a small dressmaking business that would enable her to support her family.
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In partnership with GVA and the teachers of the Cityshine schools, ADDHU conducted a workshop about the importance of birth registration on the 7th of April 2012. The workshop took place in the Cityshine Secondary School located in the heart of the Soweto slums and was addressed to the parents and the guardians of the children who attend Cityshine Primary and Secondary schools. In fact, the attendance exceeded our expectations: more than 22 parents actively participated in this workshop, and talked openly about their problems and challenges.
The main objectives of the workshop were to increase understanding of the importance of birth registration, namely as a way to protect children against child trafficking and other types of abuse, and to inform the parents and the guardians about the basic procedures and steps to obtain a birth certificate, while raising awareness about the importance of a timely registration.
The Portuguese language and culture classes continue to be a success, and are now being implemented in our new partner school, the Charity Student’s Centre. There are about 80 students enrolled in these classes: 26 at the Cityshine Primary School, 36 at the Cityshine Secondary School and 20 at the Charity Student’s Centre. Their performance and motivation to learn Portuguese language and culture never cease to amaze us and always exceed our expectations. ADDHU would like to congratulate and thank volunteer and teacher Maria João for her amazing work, her dedication and professionalism. Asante sana Maria.
Since December 2011, ADDHU’s volunteers have been implementing some activities and programs in the Soweto slums, besides the Portuguese classes. In January 2012, volunteer Marta Sofia Pinto launched a civic and environmental education program that she named “Garbage Busters”. The students of the Cityshine Schools welcomed this program from the beginning and, until now, 4 clean-up activities have been conducted in the Soweto slums, and more than 6 tons of garbage have been removed from the surroundings of the school. The volunteers have also been organizing and conducting health and hygiene education sessions, as well as business classes for the secondary school students and sports activities such as volleyball.
During this mission in Kenya, we were again confronted with the problem of hunger: although the drought is over, the prices of basic food staples such as maize and sugar have remained very high, with dramatic consequences for the residents of Nairobi´s slums. This mission also allowed us to understand the importance of the school feeding program, which is responsible for the only daily meal of the majority of the children it benefits. This is clearly a matter of survival. Unfortunately, until now, we have only been able to raise enough funds to maintain the program until July 2012...
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. Going to a private school outside the Centre has also been fundamental for the wellbeing of the children, and has greatly contributed to such positive progress in terms of social and emotional development.