Nov 18, 2020

A glimmer of hope

Carpentry and joinery students back at Seed ofHope
Carpentry and joinery students back at Seed ofHope

After 7 long months our Seed of Hope vocational training centres have re-opened!

We are DELIGHTED to announce that our Seed of Hope vocational training centres have re-opened! Our dedicated, committed teachers have spent the last 7 months ensuring all students can continue their education whilst at home. They provided printed workbooks every month, taught lessons using WhatsApp and gave every student counselling over the phone. Now they can focus on teaching the practical lessons.

At the moment we are doing a phased re-opening whilst some students are on work placements. We still need to make urgent changes at the centres to ensure we can have all students back safely, adhering to social distancing rules, so we need to build temporary classrooms and get extra furniture and equipment. 

Over 770,000 young people in Kenya have lost their jobs due to COVID-19, on top of the 800,000 who were already unemployed. The next few months will continue to be incredibly tough but we are determined to support, and work alongside, the students as they create a rewarding, secure future for themselves, free from poverty.

Sadly whilst this a small step towards returning to 'normal' we are still providing monthly emergency support to 51 vulnerable families who have lost all of their income and we're providing a cooked lunch to our 252 Seed of Hope students, for many this is the only meal they will eat each day.

We couldn't do this without you - thank you for standing by us. We still have a long journey ahead but it's wonderful to have the students back learning in the classroom again.

I hope you and your loved ones are staying safe a well.

With best wishes,

Kirsty

Director - Raising Futures Kenya

kirsty@raisingfutureskenya.org.uk

 

Fashion design students back in their classroom!
Fashion design students back in their classroom!
Handwashing station
Handwashing station
Former graduate mentoring a current student
Former graduate mentoring a current student
Sep 28, 2020

Supporting families while schools are closed

Empty classrooms since March
Empty classrooms since March

Hello,

The last seven month have been the most difficult period of all times due to the outbreak of Covid-19. All learning institutions remain closed.  For the two special schools supported by Raising Futures Kenya, minimum activities have been happening around the schools since March.  Although the government is planning on reopening the schools, the final decision will be announced by the president after holding a national conference on the Covid-19 pandemic, after which he will unveil the containment measures that will guide Kenya into the new normal.  Although children have been out of school much longer than normal recess, many parents are not yet ready to allow their children back to school for fear of contracting the virus as the curve is not yet flattened hence there will be a lot of confusion in the next few months before the dust settles. In addition, vast numbers of parents lost their jobs and therefore they may not afford school fees, uniforms and other requirements to take their children back to school.

Unfortunately, children with special needs are the most vulnerable in the community as they are entirely dependent on caregivers to provide care and support hence, they are most likely to remain at home when schools open.  The two special education schools we work with, Kirunguru and Percy Davies, are making thorough preparations ready to receive the children back, but this will only happen once they get approval having put all measures in place according to the guidelines provided by the ministry of health. This is a tall order for the school management and the staff team but we know that they will do everything possible to safeguard the wellbeing of all children.

During these difficult and uncertain times of the pandemic, a few cases of children with special needs were brought to our attention by teachers at Percy Davies school: one being of a young boy by the name David who would run away from home very early in the morning to go and beg for food on the streets few kilometres from his home as his mother could not afford to provide meals.  One of his teachers was informed by a concerned lady and David and his family were added to our Emergency Support Programme, giving them a monthly allowance for food, hygiene and emergency supplied.  His mother has now been able to buy food and urgent supplies and this has kept David at home protecting him from contracting the coronavirus.  

Apart from David, the teacher also identified a young girl named Eunice who was once rescued by well-wishers having been neglected and locked up in the house for a long period of time.  Eunice is 14 years and now lives with her mother and 3 siblings. Eunice's mother is a single parent coping with her own mental health needs.  Eunice is physically disabled and has been diagnosed with autism after being assessed and placed at Percy Davies school.  The pandemic has hit the family badly as the mother could not afford proper meals for Eunice and her siblings since losing her income.  Raising Futures Kenya learnt about the sad state of Eunice’s family from one of her teachers and through the Covid-19 Emergency Support Programme, the family has continued to receive food and essentials monthly.  

According to Mr. Mwangi the school head teacher, the two families have greatly appreciated the charitable support.  Every month one of the teachers accompanies David’s mother and Eunice and her mother to a nearby town to do some shopping for food and other essentials that would last them for a month.

Thank you so much for your continued support and allowing Raising Futures Kenya to stand with vulnerable families helping them to raise above their challenges during the most difficult period of our lifetime.  We can’t thank you enough for your generous giving towards the children with disabilities who are in need of special education and care to reach their full potential.

Teacher food shopping with the families
Teacher food shopping with the families
Eunice and her mother getting their shopping
Eunice and her mother getting their shopping
Sep 2, 2020

The impact your support is having in Kenya

Elizabeth and her family in Kitui
Elizabeth and her family in Kitui

Hello,

I hope you and your loved ones have been staying safe and well over the last few months. I wanted to send you an update on the impact your vital support has had recently and to thank you for standing by us at a time when we are needed more than ever. Many funders are turning their backs on supporting international charities so we can't thank you enough for being a lifeline and enabling us to support some of the most vulnerable and marginalised young people in Kenya during the pandemic.

Our teachers and staff in Kenya have worked tirelessly since March to make sure that every student and family we work alongside feel supported and have the essentials they need to survive the implications of the lockdown.  Our fear is that the economic repercussions of the pandemic will be far more devastating for the young people and vulnerable communities we work with than the reach of the virus itself.  Our teachers and staff are determined to ensure that the Seed of Hope students can graduate this year, they know how essential it is going to be for students to be able to set up their own business as unemployment levels will be even higher in a post-Covid time, particularly in rural areas.  

The team in Kenya responded incredibly quickly to transform our face-to-face vocational training programme into a distance learning programme, which they have never experienced before.  They are teaching their lessons via WhatsApp, text messages and printed workbooks depending on the equipment students have access to, meaning they are having to do three versions of every lesson they have planned for the week to ensure no one misses out.  They are remotely delivering all of the theory syllabus now and have made various contingency plans to be prepared for when it was likely that we would be able to reopen the centres again, hopefully small groups can return this month for practical lessons.  Currently the Kenyan Government are aiming to allow vocational training centres, colleges and Universities to fully re-open in January with strict social distancing measures in place.  The teachers will deliver the full practical training syllabus from January-March with classes divided and only half being onsite at a time, whilst not onsite they will continue at home with set work and then swap over.

Our teachers and staff are doing all of this whilst also dealing with the personal impact of the pandemic on their own lives, many members of their families have lost their income and are struggling to make ends meet.  All of our teachers are having to adapt to delivering their lessons in a totally different format to what they’re used to whilst also having to homeschool their own children.

Thanks to you, our generous supporters, we have been able to;

  • Continue providing distance learning to our 252 Seed of Hope vocational training students through a mixture of WhatsApp group lessons, text messages for those without a smartphone and printed workbooks which are dropped off for students to collect from a local shop for those who do not have access to a phone.
  • Provide mobile airtime (phone credit) for 63 Seed of Hope students to enable them to take part in online learning via WhatsApp as they couldn’t afford it.
  • Provide mobile airtime to 9 teachers and 3 staff to provide weekly telephone counselling to 40 families in our Family Strengthening Programmes (where children have been reintegrated back into their families from children’s homes) and 252 Seed of Hope students who are feeling scared and isolated at the moment. Counselling and mental health support is a key element of all of our programmes and this has become even more essential during these incredibly worrying and anxious times for the people we work alongside.
  • Support 417 children, young students and their families with monthly food supplies, cooking fuel, personal hygiene essentials and safety items such as face masks, soap and hand gel - which was transferred via mPesa mobile phone currency.  
  • Support 26 families who are also at risk of becoming homeless as they have lost their income and can’t meet their rent, we were able to pay for their rent.

The faces behind the numbers, meet some of the families you have supported

Elizabeth 

Elizabeth’s father lost his source of income after the market he worked from was shut down. He could not secure casual jobs to enable him to provide food for his family. The family had run out of their food supply and the father reached out to the Seed of Hope headteacher asking for help as he could not bear looking into the eyes of his children who were crying due to hunger. Since April, Elizabeth’s family has been receiving cash via the Mpesa money transfer to enable them buy food and other essentials for a month. Elizabeth and her family appreciate the support from donors and this is what she says “I want to thank all the donors for their generosity as they have come at the right time to rescue my family. We will forever be grateful as we do not have to worry where the next meal will come from.” Elizabeth is among students who collect notes from a nearby shop, as the family do not have a smart phone where she can participate in online learning, although they get follow up calls and short text messages (SMS) on the topic to cover each week, notes and quizzes.

Annet 

Annet is among the Seed of Hope graduates who are being supported. She graduated in January after completing a course in fashion and design. She lives with her older brother and his family who have supported her through her time studying at Seed of Hope. Annet was doing an internship at a textile business in Nairobi but had to stop after the outbreak of coronavirus and the business closed.  Her brother, who is the breadwinner of the family, also lost his job and they had no other source of income to cover their basic needs, especially food and rent.  The family was in dire need of support as Annet’s aunt is expecting her second baby.  Annet approached the Seed of Hope manager with the challenges they were facing and Florence provided counselling for the family.  She also added them in the list of vulnerable families as they had run out of food and money to pay rent and other utilities.  The family has been receiving a cash transfer which has enabled them to pay their rent and buy food for the month.  Annet says that she will forever be grateful for all the support she and her family have received from Raising Futures Kenya and supporters who have sacrificed to give to the less fortunate people like her.

Thank you for your generosity and kindness, particularly during this incredibly difficult time, we are all very grateful to you.

With best wishes,

Kirsty Erridge
Director

Annet, a graduate in Nairobi
Annet, a graduate in Nairobi
 
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