New total 13,424!
A year ago today I sent “the” email out to friends asking who would like to help by donating underwear for Africa and here we are a year later having collected 13424 with 10426 being distributed to IDP camps, schools, orphanages and 2 slums on the outskirts of Nairobi. I’m so happy with what has been achieved this year in terms of getting underwear to the people who need it, getting charitable status and getting so much support from people that at times I struggled to keep up with replying to everyone who contacted me. BUT after returning from Kenya on Monday and hearing from Shirley I’m hoping that next year will be as successful as this year.
THANK YOU to everyone who has made this last year possible, too many of you to mention individually but I hope you know who you are and how grateful I am for your help.
Each trip to Kenya I learn more and sometimes it can be a bit overwhelming with what I see and hear, in truth this has been the most tiring mentally, at times I thought my head would explode! My aim for this trip was to continue researching some self sufficiency projects that I started to look at last time I was in Kenya as well as distributing the 1000 items of underwear that I had taken over. I managed to cram a fair bit into the trip, but I always seem to run out of time.
I spent a fair bit of time with the girls at St Monica’s, it was really lovely to see them all so happy and settled in their new home. I sponsor 2 wee girls there (Maureen and Ruth) and caught up with how they are doing generally but also how they are getting on at school. The difference since April was amazing, both of them have improved so much in their schooling.
On the Wednesday I headed out to the Pipeline IDP camp near Naivasha. I was really taken aback when Moses, the camp secretary remembered me from the January trip. We talked for a while about some of the things that had happened since my last trip. There are approx 6,500 people at Pipeline, living in tents each on about 21ft x 27ft of land. A lot of these people lost relatives and friends in the uprising in late 2007 when they were attacked and their homes and businesses burnt. Since January there have been some more small houses built but still the majority of people are living in tents, the heavy rains continue to be a problem in fact the night before some tents had collapsed. The other main issue was the toilet situation, for 6,500 there are 7 blocks of approx 10 toilets, they are no longer working properly so they have a sewage problem at the moment. Despite all that Moses was very upbeat, his hope being that the lives of the 6,500 people will improve, and that they will have a better way of life. I couldn’t have timed the visit better as there was an Australian aid worker who was due to give a talk at 4pm, the talk was based around health and hygiene issues so we agreed she would distribute some of the underwear to the older girls and ladies. With Moses help and Gladys from GVN (and the 4 Americans from MFFO) we distributed the rest to the younger children.
I also spent time in Huruma slum with a Kenyan NGO, Sisters Arise Project. They work with orphaned and vulnerable children infected or affected by HIV and now living with their grandmothers. They work mainly in the Huruma and Githogoro slums which are along Kiambu Road on the outskirts of Nairobi. Their objectives are simple, to ensure the children go to and stay in school, to educate about the effects of child labour and child prostitution and where possible to set up income generating projects for the grandmothers and guardians of the children to ensure the children can go to and stay in school. They also operate a feeding programme which is open to the children of the slums who are not in school to make sure they get one meal a day. They also feed the young adults loitering aimlessly in the slums, the idea being to reduce the number of children begging for food, exposing themselves to various dangers ie child rape / abuse, child labour.
Whilst this all sounded promising I struggled with the reality as what they called the day care centre, where they fed the children was a tent and situated very close to where “illicit brew” is served. What really concerned me the most was the drunk men wandering around and the conditions of where the children played. I watched as a goat urinated beside 3 children sitting in the dusty road. At 10.40am as I talked to the children sitting around waiting for food 2 young men who were very drunk came along and started being a bit of a pest, the lady I was with seen him off. However, shortly after another drunk came along and he proved to be more of a pest, the end result being one of the grandmothers took a stick to him to get rid of him. The women do their best with what they have and they are trying to earn an income by making bags and necklaces to sell but from what I seen the men have little work so they often do jobs and are paid by drink, this on an empty stomach is not good.
Another day I went back to distribute underwear for the children but when we got there we decided to leave the distributing as there were too many people and only myself. 2 of the SAP team and 2 grandmothers. The decision was based on a fear of things getting out of control so I left the underwear with SAP to be given out as they often get groups together for talks and felt with smaller groups it would be more manageable.
Overall I think the trip was successful in that I achieved everything that I needed to do, and have come away with a couple of ideas that still need worked through.
Whilst I was in Kenya I received a text from Shirley:
“Just to let you know that the Dignity Restored campaign finished today and was a HUGE success. We managed to reach out to youths with disabilities, aids orphans, a football team of HIV and young men, churches and schools. Pictures coming soon”
As soon as I have the pictures I’ll post them.
Can you help?
NEW pants, and new or gently worn bras
Knickers – ladies size 8 to 16
Boys / Girls – aged 3 to 15