Nov 25, 2019

"I'm ready to achieve my dreams" - Rebecca

Rebecca at Seed of Hope Kitui
Rebecca at Seed of Hope Kitui

It is unbelievable how fast the year has gone by.  At Seed of Hope, it has been a busy year full of activities and engaging the students and community in decision making for projects that affect them.  It is the end of the school calendar year and all the students at Seed of Hope centres are preparing for their internal and external exams before breaking for the Christmas holiday.  The homecare management course students at Kariti Seed of Hope centre have been released to go for work experience placements after completing their syllabus to get a hands-on experience in what they have been trained on in the last eleven months.  The rest of the students will be starting their internal exams next week and those who have registered for the government grade test with National Industrial and Technical Authority (NITA) will have another week to sit for grade 3 test before the centres close on the 11th December 2019. 

One of the girls who has been the best in her course of study and is not afraid of sitting for two exams is Rebecca from Kangweni Seed of Hope centre in Kitui County.  Rebecca joined the training centre in 2018 after going through a rough patch in life having taken the decision to get married at a tender age with the belief that she will escape poverty that robbed her of the opportunity to advance in her education.  After three years of marriage and blessed with a child, Rebecca was still not happy with life as there was a missing piece that she needed to find in order to fill the gap, yet her options were thinning out!  She felt hopeless and desperate to change her family's living condition, particularly for her parents.

Rebecca suggested to her husband that she go back to the village to find work in order to contribute to meeting their daily expenses, and to be able to support her parents. Instead, Rebecca's husband suggested she finds a course she is interested to train on so that she can have better chance to earn a living through employment or self-employment.  Rebecca had heard about Kangweni Seed of Hope which is not very far from her parents’ home and when she walked in to inquire about the skills training, she did not hesitate to register herself in fashion and fabric design course and was excited to get started!  

Being a young mother, Rebecca was initially shy to interact with the other students as she joined a class of very young girls who had just come out of primary school or high school.  But through empowerment programmes like Amuka, mentorship, guidance and counselling, Rebecca was imparted with knowledge and skills that changed her personality and more so brought out her natural leadership traits.  Her self-esteem and confidence blossomed and she became the star of the school hence being elected the school captain towards the end of her first year.  

Rebecca’s husband and parents have been very supportive since she joined the training and she has never missed classes which has helped her to concentrate and become one of the top students in her course of study.  What is more exciting is that Rebecca is now ready to sit for her grade test and then join her sister-in-law who runs a dressmaking business in Kitui town.  Her star continues to shine bright now that she has completed her final project before graduating in January 2020, and I believe she will be earning a good income that will enable her to alleviate poverty in her family.

As we end our interview, Rebecca had this to say and I quote “I finally found the missing piece which took so many years of desperation and unfulfilled dreams and shame to find.  I am now empowered with knowledge and skills thanks to Seed of Hope for this opportunity that has changed me to a better daughter, wife and mother.  I am ready to go out and compete in the market place and achieve my dreams.” What a way to end a conversation! We wish Rebecca all the best in her forthcoming exams and her future plans.

In other news, the Seed of Hope graduation will be happening in January instead of the usual December. This will give the students more time in December on the new syllabus course work, ensuring all topics are well covered in preparation for their exams and that they're ready for working in a competitive market.  I believe this was a good move as it has created an opportunity for new enrolment of students especially at the Nairobi Seed of Hope centre who will be joining the class of 2020.  There are at least 5 girls like Violet who already joined in October and more are coming to register themselves for the coming year. 

On behalf of Seed of Hope, I would like to say thank you for being our greatest supporters and cheerleaders in transforming the lives of needy and hopeless girls like Rebecca who had dreams of being able to change her future which she is now fulfilling. Your generous giving towards this programme has been instrumental in providing the teaching, lunch programme, learning materials and other essentials.  We look forward to another year of positive impact and transformation as we continue to equip and empower more girls with skills and knowledge that will open doors to brighter future.

On behalf of everyone at Raising Futures Kenya - thank you and best wishes for the holiday season.

Rebecca working on her graduation outfit
Rebecca working on her graduation outfit
Violet, showing off the first mat she has made
Violet, showing off the first mat she has made
Nov 8, 2019

Darren learns to communicate

Darren reading the newspaper with his friends
Darren reading the newspaper with his friends

My visit to the special education schools is always heartwarming as I get to interact with children and learn from the teachers about progress made during the term. Whenever I ask about individual children and what they have achieved, I am grateful and excited at the same time. Their progress shows that there is hope for these children to not only overcome the obstacles their disabilities present, but to thrive and succeed thus become self-reliant in future. 

I met Darren for the first time on this visit, he clung to me and would not let go until the teacher whisked him away! Darren was first diagnosed with autism at the age of 4 years. His parents took him to a special day unit close to home but sadly this changed at the age of 7 when his parents separated and Darren was left under the care of his father. Darren’s father was unable to juggle work and caring for an autistic child as a single father and became overwhelmed. He decided to contact the Educational Assessment and Resource Centre (EARC) in order to find the best placement for his son. He was referred to Percy Davies Special School which provides boarding facilities for children with disabilities and in mid 2017, Darren joined the school as a boarder. 

Percy Davies Special School has become a safe haven for Darren and other children as the school provides holistic care and the individualist education program from specially qualified teachers who not only teach the necessary skills but love, care and support the children in their different abilities. 

According to teacher Sarah, when Darren joined Percy Davies, he had not developed basic skills; he had no speech and was very aggressive and frustrated as he couldn’t communicate his needs, hence the teachers had to constantly keep an eye on him lest he injured himself or other children. He was also malnourished and was reliant on diapers. It took close to one year of patience, persistence and motivation to teach him soft skills, speech therapy and activities of daily living. The teacher’s work eventually paid off as she proudly shared the major milestones Darren has achieved since he joined Percy Davies.  

Darren has learnt signs to express himself and has found a way to get the teachers’ attention by  dancing! He points out what he wants or takes the teacher’s hand to show her what he needs. He can understand and follow simple instructions and is able to use the washrooms independently now. In the last few months particularly, his health has significantly improved as he eats well with the appetite of a very active boy! More excitingly is that Darren has become social amongst his peers, he loves reading the newspapers and the teachers are encouraging him by ensuring the daily paper is available for him to peruse during his free time. 

In other news, both Percy Davies and Kirunguru have also been preparing their school farms in order to plant fruit seedlings during the short rains. This week mango and orange tree seedlings were planted at Percy Davies.  The fruit will be used for the meals and any excess can be sold to generate income for supplies. This is one of the new projects that Raising Futures Kenya is implementing in special schools to secure the sustainability and future growth of the special schools.

The schools have just closed for the holidays and the parents came for the end of term ceremony before taking their children home. The third term is the shortest in the school academic calendar as the learners spend 8 weeks in school before they break for the Christmas holidays. The ministry of education want to ensure that learners sitting the National Examinations, at both primary and secondary levels, are given ample time to prepare for their final exams. This year children with disabilities also joined the first cohort of the Competence Based Curriculum in mainstream schools. This was a nationwide exercise that selected learners from both Kirunguru and Percy Davies special schools participated in. Children are assessed in three areas namely; Activities of Daily Living, Communication and Integrated Learning Areas. 

On behalf of the children and staff of Percy Davies and Kirunguru special schools, we would like to thank you for your generous giving towards this programme as it is through your kind, on-going support, learners like Darren get not only special care and therapy but also learn differently. It is our desire that all the children are given equal opportunity to reach their full potential through tailored education and training.

Thank you for being a special part of our community.

Girls from Kirunguru on their last day of term
Girls from Kirunguru on their last day of term
Orange and mango tree seedlings ready for planting
Orange and mango tree seedlings ready for planting
Aug 30, 2019

Esther is thriving living with her aunt

Esther
Esther

A visit to families of reintegrated children was quite a new experience for me and our volunteers from the UK who had come to Climb Mount Kenya in support of Raising Futures Kenya this month.  This is because I have seen these children growing up since they were toddlers while living in the institutional care at Karanda Children’s Home and it warms my heart when I saw them again happy and contented living with their families.  

The two families we visited are living not far from each other in one of Nairobi’s slums called Korogocho.  Maggy is a single parent of two children called Emmanuel and Peter.  Maggy was also raised in a children’s home after her mother passed away.  Emmanuel, who is the older child, is now 8 years old though he lived the better part of his childhood at the children’s home because Maggy was just a teenager when she gave birth to him.  Maggy got a second chance to go back to school but unfortunately dropped out again before completing her secondary education when she became pregnant the second time with Peter.  During our visit, we learned that Maggy does casual jobs like washing clothes and selling coffee and cakes in order to cater for the basic needs of her children.  When Emmanuel was reintegrated back to his family from the children’s home, Raising Futures Kenya decided to support Maggy to meet the educational costs for her children by paying school fees, buying uniforms and other related costs for the two children to enable her cater for other necessities.  

We also met with Aunty Esther, as we call her, as she is the guardian to a young girl called Esther.  Aunty Esther lives in a single room with her four boys and she took Esther in, she became their little sister.  Esther was the lastborn in a family of four siblings.  Unfortunately her mother passed away when she had just turned one, she was then left in the care of her elderly grandparents.  Esther became malnourished and sickly as her grandparents could not afford to provide balanced meals for her and her siblings.  It was then that Esther was taken to Kandara Children’s Home and placed at the baby unit to be cared for.  She lived in the institution for 11 years, separated from her siblings at a tender age thus she did not know any of her family members while growing up.  It was during family tracing that one of her paternal aunties learned that Esther has been living at the children’s home and she willingly agreed to take her in.  Although she is now raising all the children as a single parent Aunty Esther does not regret her decision and this is what she told me during our conversation; “I am happy to have Esther as my daughter because I was blessed with only boys and she is a ray of sunshine in my house.  I will continue to work hard to provide for all my children despite the challenges of life.” Esther is in class seven and has significantly improved in her school performance.

The good news is that Raising Futures Kenya is in the process of implementing the economic empowerment programme that will benefit all vulnerable children who have been reintegrated with their families.  The organization is committed to ensuring these families have access to sustainable and dignified livelihoods by enabling them to start their own small businesses so they can become financially independent enabling them to pay for the educational costs for the children.  Maggy and Aunty Esther are among the first group of families that will benefit from the programme.  It is exciting to know that they will soon be able to earn a sustainable income and be able to provide all the necessities for the children in the families and most importantly raise their standards of living.  Raising Futures Kenya’s core belief is that by growing up with the love, care and safety of a family, children who once lived under institutional care will be able to achieve their full potential, to lead healthy, fulfilled, socially and economically engaged lives.

We wish to thank you so much for your generous donations to 'Help 60 Vulnerable Children Stay in Their Families'.  We feel privileged that you selected our project to support out of so many wonderful causes.  We are thrilled that you've become a part of our loyal community of supporters and we look forward to continue sharing exciting news about our project. 

Thank you!

Sherry Waweru
Senior Programmes Officer

Aunty Esther at home with the children
Aunty Esther at home with the children
Maggy and her children Emmanuel and Peter
Maggy and her children Emmanuel and Peter
 
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