Dr Mary Kelly is volunteering currently as an ophthalmologist with HANDS AROUND THE WORLD in Benin, West Africa (looking mainly for children with eye infections needing treatment, and children who need cataract surgery).
She has gone out with 4 others who are helping build and develop, in Affame village, an accommodation unit for orphaned children some of whom also have disabilities.
We have just received a report from Mary about her work so far, after her first 2 weeks.
She has already seen lots of people in the clinic! Many need glasses; 4 need cataract surgery soon; several need treatment for corneal ulcers, a growth called pterygium, etc.; many need antibiotic drops or tablets.
Last week Mary also did a session in the local secondary school where 26 children who said they could not see the blackboard were tested – only 4 would benefit from glasses, others mostly needing antibiotics and follow up. One youth aged 20 needs cataract surgery. (More visits are planned.)
We are now targeting support for her work through a Global Giving appeal which offers valuable 50% matched funding on donations made between Mondays 3 and 10 March. Cost of treatment is a major barrier to local people - cataract surgery (for example) costs £100!
Please help if you can. Thank you so much.
Our North Meru DCC partners have been working to assess priority needs for Athi school and the disabled children who are resident there. The focus of this initiative is to improve existing kitchen, dining and boarding facilities for the children, with a maintenance and improvement programme.
As long-standing partners of both the DCC and the school, HANDS AROUND THE WORLD is determined to support well managed and effective local initiatives. We are therefore delighted when we can work in partnership to achieve an improved standard for children attending the school.
There have been several personnel changes at the DCC in recent weeks including the departure of the programme director. Consequently the management is working to bring the new director and some other team members on board and we are seeking to build new relationships with them. This is of necessity a period of consolidation and evaluation and we hope to be able to send a fuller report shortly.
Nelly, one of the young girls at Athi School who had needed extensive bowel surgery, has happily now been told that no further operations are required; she will be kept under 6-monthly review at the Kenyatta Hospital in Nairobi.
HANDS AROUND THE WORLD has recently set up the Chris Halsey Tribute Fund in memory of one of our former trustees who worked as a nurse. The fund will help other needy children access surgical or medical help which they would otherwise be unable to afford, and also help with the cost of equipment or appliances such as wheelchairs, crutches etc..
We would of course be delighted if you would like to donate to this Fund!
Work on expanding the workshop by adding an upper storey has progressed well. The walls and roof are now completed, the next step is to install the windows. This should be starting this week We are still awaiting photos and will post them as soon as we have them. The trainees themselves were able to help with the timberwork for the roof, good practical experience. Paluoc also has its first female trainee so we are interested to see how that develops.
We are waiting for the exam results of the first 4 trainees who have taken their Grade 3 Carpentry Tests. They should be available in February. Things are moving along nicely and we hope that success in the exams will help promote Paluoc in the community.
We are aiming to supply the trainees, who have finished their training, with a basic toolkit. This is important in the obvious sense of providing tools for the job, it is also an incentive to attend well and stay the course – a big issue with many of the trainees. We don’t want to give them the tools too early in case they decide to sell them for a bit of ready cash, but those that do comply do need to actually collect.
A pen picture of some of our trainees:
Bonaventure is aged 19. He is the sixth of seven children. His two older brothers can only find casual work. His three older sisters are all married and have moved away from home. Both his parents are alive and he lives with them. His father is a catechist (teacher of the Christian faith), his mother has no outside work.
He says he could earn a little money each week driving a boda-boda (bicycle taxi) but sees that there is no future in it. He wants to learn a trade so that he can earn a proper wage in the future. He wants to help his family financially.
He has been entered for the Grade 3 Government exam in carpentry. We are awaiting his results – they should arrive back in February 2014.
Samson: (no relation to Paul the instructor, just born at the same time of day)
Samson is 16, the second born in a family of 3 boys and 3 girls (one of whom works in a hair salon). Both of his parents have died and he lives with his grandparents. He is a very quiet young man, hardworking and keen to please. He likes church music and unlike a lot of his contemporaries has no interest in Premier League football.
He is lacking in self-confidence but hopes to have passed his Grade 3 exam which he took last year. We hope so too, it will do him a power of good.
Kenneddy is 17 years old. He finished formal school in 2012 after taking Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (Like old 11+ in UK). There was no money for him to continue in education.
His father only finds casual work, his birth mother has died and he has a step mother who has two children of her own. Kenneddy walks 5 miles each way each day to the workshop and is always punctual. His route is along dusty paths that are sometimes flooded. He sleeps in a building used as a kitchen by the family. His father's small house is built from cow dung and has only two rooms with a mud floor. He started at Paluoc in March 2013. Paul says he is very disciplined, his attendance is very good, and Paul thinks he will do well. We are awaiting his results too. We wish him success.