Mathari's Children Fund

To help impoverished children succeed in life. We enable children to access schools and we help them to stay there, by paying fees, teaching life skills, providing counseling when problems arise, providing medical help when needed and making sure every child has at least one square meal every day. We provide both formal education and technical training for children who would otherwise suffer hunger, disease and permanent poverty.
May 17, 2011

Update from street children's centre

Dear Friends,

When we wrote to you last, our new street children centre, which we had built over the past two years, was under threat from a government organisation that wanted to take the land on which the centre is built, and on which some 15,000 people live in the slum.  This message is to update you on that issue.  Titus will send a further update soon telling you of all the other good things that are going on there with the children.

The fight to preserve our centre has not been easy, and it is not over yet, but in the past few weeks, things seem to have taken a turn in our favour.  We have been in court, we have spoken with many influential people, and we have joined others in demonstrating against the proposed seizure.  So far at least, the seizure and demolition has not gone ahead.

We have heard that there is significant support for a settlement, including an alternative land offer for the group that wants to take our land.  In what we interpreted as a good sign, the Mayor of Nairobi visited the area with the local counsellor, and instructed him to install lighting and build a road to the area.  While the road may or may not end up being built, he was clearly expressing a view that this is a permanent settlement and not something that can be removed.  So at least a good political signal.  We have a further hearing date set for the last week of May, and we will see what progress can be made towards a settlement.

I was in Mathare recently, and was delighted to see the children enjoying full use of the centre, and optimistic as to what they can achieve in life with the help we are giving them.  I was there with two friends who will be helping with fundraising for the project.  It was a lot of fun to be there with them, and it was great for me to see the centre through their eyes, and to hear the children tell them how much life has improved since our little project started helping in the slum.

So, while the battle isn't over yet, we think we have a good chance, and we know that if we succeed in this there will be many more years of helping kids in Mathare, and seeing them build the skills and knowledge they need to make a decent lifes for themselves and their families.

Thank you very much helping us do this. If you are able to make a donation, Global Giving is providing $12,000 in bonuses to projects that attract recurring donations through May 20th, 2011.  Every little helps, and this is a great way to make your money go further if you can.  There is a link below to make that easy to do: http://www.globalgiving.org/projects/educating-street-children-in-the-mathare-slum/?show=recurring

Thanks again,

Cathal

Feb 28, 2011

Update from Mathare

Our new children
Our new children's centre

Dear Friends,

Happy New Year 2011…

Once again, we here in MCF would like to thank you all for your generous contribution towards our program. We would like to update you about the development and differences your donation has brought into the lives of underprivileged children and their families here in Mathare since our last posting in November. A lot has happened since.

We wish to start with some sad news and bring to your attention the events in regard to our new children center that we moved into, in November of last year- 2010.

 Life is precarious for the approximately two million people who live in Nairobi’s informal settlements and slums. They make up half of Kenyan capital's population. Yet they are crammed into only 5 per cent of the city’s residential area and live on just 1 per cent of all the land in the city. There is little access to clean water, toilets, health care, schools and other essential public services in these settlements and slums. People also live under the constant threat of water-borne diseases, violence and forced eviction from their homes and small businesses. A large area of the Mathare slum - including our new children center - is being claimed by the NYS - the National Youth Service; basically an agent of the state, even though we (and many other owners) have valid title, and Nairobi City Council (also an arm of government) issued permission for us to build. The obligations and respect for human rights as stipulated in our new constitution apply to all government establishments and organs including, including the NYS, and we will be going to court to ensure that these rights are respected.

 We have more than 120 kids who depend on this project for education, food, medicine, uniforms, books among other needs....the children’s centre was finished 3 months ago at a cost of about $200,000 in donor funds, almost all from international donors.   400 children have benefited from the programme in the twelve years for which it has been working with people in the Mathare slums. We have started a campaign and ask for financial support while we pursue legally available means within our justice system – we believe we shall succeed.  Please take a look at the photo attached to this update – this is the centre that they want to take away.

Other activities that have been going on through out the last 3 months;

In December we had a board member from Ireland visit us and joined us in several activities with the children. Clothes and other things collected over the year 2010 were presented to the children as Christmas gifts.  During this period we also reviewed our policies and code of conduct on child protection and through the assistance of our board member. We are greatly indebted to her for her assistance to ensure that our policies meet both the international standards.

In November, 8 children sat for the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education exams, a national exam, and all performed well and are able to join good secondary schools where they have enrolled and are settling down.  3 children sat for Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education and wait for the exam results in two weeks. We have a lot of hope for them and expect that they will probably join our local universities. In the meantime they are undertaking basic computer courses to keep them abreast of what is going on technologically in the world.

In December, we recruited 20 children, both boys and girls between the ages of 7 and 14 years from different projects within Mathare slums. They have all now been registered with us. We have met their parents and former teachers of those who had gone to schools at one point. We have enrolled them to different public schools. They have settled well and we are paid up in regard to fees requirements, all thanks to you.

All kids except some few cases have reported to school on time this term. The few cases mentioned are kids who had discipline issues at school and needed to be accompanied by staff or their guardians and one who is still recuperating from sickness. He will need to transfer to a day school to be able to access the clinic.

While we pursue our court with the government over our center, we have embarked on a fundraising campaign to pay legal costs. We would really appreciate if you came to our assistance on this.

We are looking forward to a visit from Britt who works with Globalgiving during this month. We are always grateful to get a visit from Globalgiving which gives us a sense of we are not alone.

Many, many thanks once again to all of you, we do indeed find it very fortunate to have you with us on this important journey and this year, 2011.

Dec 6, 2010

Matching Funds through December 15th

Dear Friends,

I wanted to bring you some good news regarding our children's fund.  These are tough times, for charities and donors alike, and so we set ourselves the task of adding more value to each contribution that you decide to give.  We have 130 kids whose future depends on us making it through to better times, and as the project founder, I feel a particular responsibility to help make that happen.  So I and a very generous supporter who would rather not be named have decided that we will each match 100% of any donation you make before December 15th.  

What is the matching funds campaign all about?

 We will each match 100% of your donation if it comes in before December 15th.  So a donation that would keep a child in school for a year will keep three children in school for a year instead.  If you commit to a monthly amount, we will each match, up front, a full year's worth of your monthly commitment.  The only limits are that your donation must be made before December 15th, and that each of us will match up to $20,000, so $40,000 between the two of us. 

 What do we do?  We help children from the age of four up, who live in Mathari or the surrounding slums.  Many of them are orphans, and all of them live in squalour.  They don't have enough to eat and they can't afford to go to school, so they spend their time scavenging for food.  They face violence, hunger and disease and, without an education, they really have no way out.  We pay for school fees, medicine and food.  We have three social workers who find schools and technical training opportunities, and then work with the children to help them stay with the programme.   We’ve been doing this successfully for the past eleven years.

 What are the results? 

  • 110 kids in school right now, drug-free, healthy and learning every day.  Many of these would be dead by now if it weren’t for the programme. 20 more joining next month.
  • Over 300 children helped over the eleven-year life of the programme to date.
  • 15 have made it to university, colleges or technical training schools.  I don’t need to tell you that they weren’t going anywhere near university when we first saw them on the streets.
  • 64 have made it through to secondary schools, and are on their way to graduating.

What does it cost to change a life?   12 US Dollars per child per week on average.

Why should you support this programme?

  • Because we keep costs to a minimum so that your money goes further.  There are no landcruisers, no frills of any kind.  Keep a child alive, well and learning for a year – for about the cost of three cappuccinos per week!
  • Because I and my friends who run the project pay all the administrative expenses, so 100% of your donation goes to run the programme.  What other charity deducts zero percent of your money for administration?
  • Because we will match any donation you make between now and December 15th, up to a total of €$40,000.  You'll achieve three times as much with your donation as you could otherwise.
  • Because they're children facing unbelievable odds, and they deserve our active support.

 The best way to give

Any way is good, but if you pledge a monthly amount – say $30 per month – that enables us to be sure of what we can offer each child in terms of school fees, medicine, food and school books for a year.  Global Giving enables you to do that.

Where can you find out more?

  • Watch a ten-minute film about the project on YouTube: ctrl+click here
  • Watch a 2-minute film highlighting the matching funds campaign: ctrl+click here
  • Take a look at our new website: www.mathari.org    
  • Let's keep in touch: 
    • Follow us on Twitter    
    • Add us on Facebook   
    • Subscribe on YouTube

BUT PLEASE REMEMBER - THIS OFFER ONLY RUNS TO DECEMBER 15TH.  PLEASE HELP BEFORE THEN!

Thank you for all of your help for these children.

Links:

An anonymous donor will match all new monthly recurring donations, but only if 75% of donors upgrade to a recurring donation today.
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