Last month Kara and Michael visited over a dozen GlobalGiving projects in Kenya, including this one.
"While recently in western Kenya, I had the pleasure of spending the day with Gichuki Francis, the executive director of TYSA (Transnzoia Youth Sports Association). After an early start, we visited three schools – all located in very rural parts of Kenya. As Gichuki described it, we were “deep in the bush.” These schools had all received assistance from TYSA, especially when many of the rural families were displaced after the post-election violence.
Throughout the day, I realized that TYSA is doing many diverse activities to help the poor in rural western Kenya. What hit me most during the day was visiting with a widowed woman who had ten kids – four of them had mental or physical disabilities. But living in extreme poverty, she lacked the resources to do anything about their situation, so they all remained at home. A community health worker discovered the situation and referred them to TYSA, who has adopted the care of the rural disabled as one of their priorities. TYSA took them in to medical specialists where they were diagnosed for the first time in their lives. TYSA now hopes to get them into specialized schools, but they don’t currently have the funding to do so, since such expenses are costly and they are already paying school expenses for other disabled poor. I was struck by the isolation and lack of care that exists for many of those who are disabled and born into rural poverty.
I also met a young boy – about 10 or 11 years old – who had received a wheelchair from TYSA. Until recently , he had never been able to leave the house, because his legs are crippled. Once he got his first wheelchair, his life completely changed. Both he and his father were beaming as I spoke with them. They were incredibly grateful for the gift of the wheelchair. Gichuki says that this boy is now a completely different person. And Gichuki is trying to find a suitable yet affordable school for this boy to go to, where his needs can be met, and TYSA hopes to cover his school fees. TYSA is a great organization, not only focusing on sports for social change, but also extending care to the rural poor in other ways."
"TYSA works on many projects both with Global Giving and with C.A.R.E. Gichuki had a full day planned for us. We started by visiting an elementary school that was greatly affected by the post-election violence in 2008 Most of the students were forced out of their homes and into camps for IDPs (Internally Displaced Persons). They were unable to grow crops and have to rely on the government for food rations. Gichuki often comes to this school to engage in play and counseling for the students to help them process the atrocities they witnessed during the violence.
We then visited a nearby school, where Gichuki pays for the tuition for a couple young ladies who were child brides in Kisumu, but later escaped back to their home area.
Next we visited a family where the single mother had several mentally disabled children. Some of her children got married and some are working nearby, but still she has three at home who are of varying functionality.
After that we visited another school whose football/soccer program was one of the top in Eastern Africa. It had won many regional championships. TYSA gave scholarships to several young ladies at the school and we spoke to an enraptured student body.
Then we visited a technical school where some of TYSA's students were attending to get skills. Gichuki spoke with the principal about strengthening their partnership. To be honest, I think this visit was more for his benefit than ours.
We visited TYSA's soccer field and office last. There we tested our survey and met several other beneficiaries we didn't have time to visit, including Collins.
Gichuki strikes me as very open and excited about using technology and networking skills to the benefit of those in his organization. He is well known and respected. A local KBC correspondent visited him to discuss ways to promote his projects while we were talking at our hotel. He definitely has a more proactive and western view on how to find funding for his programs."
When asked what they would tell their friends about TYSA, Kara said, "Great: They are making a difference" and Michael said, "Incredible: You need to see this!"
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