Izzy (one of our volunteers) has, with a lot of help and negotiating from the head mistress, got the local government on side and made much progress on the nursery. It has now got two dedicated classrooms and allows children from the age of 3 to 5 years to attend at no cost to the parents. In turn this is allowing the mothers to try and earn a little money where possible.
We were delighted to learn that one of the teachers at the school who attends college at the weekends (funded through one of our supporters), had been awarded student of the year in 2012 and was presented with a cow. This and the fact that the school obtained the highest overall exam results in the district, shows that real progress is being made!
There are now 2800 children at the School in 31 very hot and cramped classrooms, being taught by only 29 teachers in two sittings per day. Very difficult conditions.
Progress is made possible by people kind enough to give their time and donate a little money to help these under privileged children to try and get some form of education. If you have done so I thank you!
It is hoped that at least two more volunteers will be returning to the school next October/November to continue with work on the classrooms and toilets. Plans for refurbishing the oldest rooms are going ahead to lay floors and place new windows in the existing holes. More water tanks are still a great necessity to stop rainfall going to waste. And teaching English to teachers and students is still a great priority.
Hands Around the World sends professional volunteers for short secondments to the Special School at Athi. Our latest physiotherapy volunteer to Athi school returned just before Christmas and commented:
“I enjoyed working with the children and feel that I was able to be of help. This was particularly so for Erik who had not been able to walk, as he had had jiggers and had been off his feet for months at home. I was able to organise boots and crutches for some of the children. Parallel bars would have been a great asset. There had been some in the past, but I was told that they were broken and there was no money to replace them. The children enjoyed their exercise sessions. I feel that I should have done more with them. Wheel chairs were in bad repair. I was able to get wheels replaced before I left.”
HATW works in partnership with the Disability Community Centre in Maua, where there is a rehabilitation team who work to support chiuldren with disabilities within their own community; the children’s practical needs can be assessed and appropriate help sourced – as in Erik’s case. As children grow, their equipment has to be replaced to continue to be useful.
The DCC team can identify, assess and measure for the most appropriate mobility aids, either making them in their own orthopaedic workshop or working in partnership with local manufacturers to make and supply items to the correct measurements.
In 2013, we would like to raise funds to help to better equip the orthopaedic workshop. We would like initially to raise the sum of £500 to start this project. All the money will be targeted to the DCC – for equipment, staff training in practical skills and a contribution towards helping children of the very poorest families by funding the necessary mobility equipment.
The DCC works closely with the children attending Athi school; this project will provide practical help to ensure that the school children who need mobility aids are able to access them from the therapy team, and their physical needs will begin to be addressed.
Please consider making a contribution to develop this important facility which will benefit disabled children in the North Meru district around Maua town.
Supporting orphan children and young people from remote villages of Benin, West Africa, enabling them to continue in education.
It is pleasing to be able to report from Dieudonne Kakpo, our local project co-ordinator, that the large numbers of youngsters being supported are continuing to respond positively in the programme.
Of the eight currently attending the University of Abomey/Calavi, seven are male and one is female. She is studying Geography for the four years of the course and is living in University accommodation. Another student, Djidjoho Bonou, studying Physics and Chemistry writes:
‘It is with great pleasure that I am writing this letter to you to fully present my thanks. It is ten years since I entered the family of orphans. Before the death of my father in 2001, I made it my life to help him with his farming work. Then when he died, with the kind support of my uncles I began my school attendance.
Four years after my father died, when I was in the second year of the Elementary Course (CE 2) it became difficult for my uncles, but in 2006 I was fortunate to be given a bicycle by Abopha (the charity supported by HATW).
I continued to benefit from your support to the present day, and offer my thanks to you and all your partners at various levels.
During 2012 I was pleased to visit most of the ten orphans currently engaged in apprenticeships. The procedure varies according to the training being given. Some gain their permit after just one year but most are committed for 3-4 years. In this time they live with the employer's family. We pay about £160 for the apprenticeship, plus around £200 for the issue of the Diploma.
Jacqueline Ahoton started a three year apprenticeship last year, coming from the village to a very well-organised hairdressing salon on the outskirts of the city. Living is hard within a very large family but she is happy and doing well on the course.
It is a considerable challenge to keep track of the more than sixty young people currently supported to attend school or college from more than six rural villages in this region. However once he has provided uniforms, paid the parental contribution to school fees and purchased basic equipment, the school personnel are very cooperative with Dieudonne in monitoring their attendance and progress.
One such pupil, Alain Oussa wrote recently to Hands Around The World to express his gratitude for the excellent support given enabling him to complete his college course this year. He is one of fifteen children orphaned in 1999 when his father died.
‘It gives me heartfelt joy that I am writing this note to you. First of all I send best wishes for the new year to Hands Around The World. I also offer very sincere thanks for your support which God alone may justly reward.
My father was a farmer in a small village of Wete. He had married three wives and was the father of fifteen children. He died in 1999, 14 years ago this year. My mother, Celine Gbenou, is the third wife who works as a domestic assistant to a family in Affame.
In 2001 I began the C1 (Course of Initiation) with my mother’s help and she alone supported me in CM2 (2nd Year Middle Course). In spite of financial hardship I gained my CEP - Certificate of Primary Studies in 2005 and my BEPC - Diploma of the First Cycle, in 2011.
I was able to pay one half of the education expenses by working at weekends and during the holidays. My tutor paid the other half.
This year God and my father who had left the visible world sent me people of good will, representatives from Hands Around The World, within a programme supported by a very generous sponsor. So now I may successfully finish my studies.
Odette, another of the fifteen children who is now 14 and in the last year of secondary school, will hope to follow me to college. I thank HATW for the support given and pray that God will bless their work.’
Finally I refer to a six-year old lad, Tousin, shown here with three other younger children during a six week break from his adoptive mother. We are pleased to be able to assist him to attend school but he is just one of an increasing number of orphaned or abandoned children for whom the adoptive families are struggling to provide.
The financial help you are generously giving to the children of this caring but vulnerable community is used directly to the benefit of the children and young people. It is well evident that their lives greatly change when you help in this way.
Many thanks to you all.