Did you know that there are girl scouts organizations around the world in 146 countries, including Kenya?
The Kenyan Scouts Association was established in 1910 and, according to their site, “is the largest Youth Movement in Kenya, with over 1 million boy and girl Scouts and a support team of over 40,000 Scout Leaders.”
This year some of the girls at New Life’s Amani Cottage had the opportunity of enrolling in a local girl scouts troop! The girls were thrilled by the opportunity to be a part of this organization to go participate in new adventures and make new friends outside of the Home.
And while badges vary from country to country, many participating countries in the World Organization of Scouting Movement have a Disability Awareness Badge to open young minds to the possibilities of living with a physical or mental disability. In this case, the Amani girls are helping their fellow scouts just by participating.
Part of that participation requires transportation. Anyone with children knows that you can spend the whole day running errands just taking your kids to their extracurricular activities. In Kisumu, where some roads are still dirt and gravel, getting our kids to therapy sessions, medical treatments, and school can be a slow process. Not to mention their fun activities, like girls scouts!
That is why we are fundraising for this transportation vehicle - to help us care for these special children in the way they deserve and provide for them in the way any parent would want to give their child the best the world has to offer.
We know this cause is a niche for some people. Not everyone has personal experience with people or children with disabilities and they do not always understand the pressing needs that are involved. This month, can you help us spread the word about our project by inviting 5 people to make a small contribution alongside you? Because with your help, we can improve the quality of life for these beautiful children who are daily overcoming so many obstacles to be excellent students, girl scouts, and all around superstars.
Did you know that New Life Home Trust was one of the first children's homes in Kenya to take in infants infected or affected by HIV and AIDS?
When New Life Home Trust began over two decades ago, it was just a small group of concerned people wanting to make a difference in the lives of vulnerable infants and, in particular, in the HIV/AIDS epidemic. In the early 1990s, seroconversion was a fairly unheard of concept. Hospitals were overwhelmed by the number of infants impacted by the disease and had little hope for their survival. Many abandoned infants who initially tested HIV-positive wound up dying from malnourishment, much too early for seroconversion to take place. Many had parents who passed away from the complications of AIDS, leaving their children as orphans.
It was a season of despair that brought people together seeking solutions. New Life Home Trust created a modest solution - a sanctuary for abandoned infants infected or affected by the crisis. As New Life staff took infants into their care, they began to notice that many of the babies who came in HIV-positive ended up testing negative for the virus after just a few months. New Life infants experienced a conversion rate of at least 80%. This incidence baffled even the medical community at the time to the extent that the Kenya Institute of Medical Research (KEMRI) conducted a study to test the phenomenon and concluded that it was actually true.
Almost 25 years later, we have witnessed the fruit of our labour with nearly every child reunited with biological family members or adopted or fostered by loving parents, and a 90% seroconversion rate amongst infected infants. What an incredible opportunity we have had to be a place of hope amidst a time of despair. As Desmond Tutu once said: "Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness." Your continued support helps us save the lives of the most vulnerable and continue to be that light for abandoned infants.
"Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much." (Helen Keller)
Amani Cottage currently serves as home to 15 children with physical and/or mental disabilities. New Life Home Trust is committed to providing quality care for rescued infants until adoption. However, many of the infants we rescue with disabilities are less likely to be adopted, as they require more intensive and expensive care. As New Life began to encounter abandoned infants with special needs, we recognized the necessity of a long-term provision for these infants as they grew up. In early 2008, seven children with special needs, ages 2 to 3 years old, were transferred to our Kisumu home to grow and thrive outside the bustle of Nairobi, thus creating the Amani Cottage unit. The housing unit was appropriately named the Amani Cottage because 'amani' means peace.
Over time, as the children grew, so did the need for a larger facility. In early 2013, we had a groundbreaking ceremony in Kisumu for a facility to meet the varying needs of our Amani children, including specially adapted bathrooms, classrooms and bedrooms, a spacious kitchen, and a sensory therapy room. Through many generous donations, the building was completed in 2014. Our staff helped to build excitement for the children, giving them construction updates and countdowns, and allowing them to tour the rooms that would become their bedrooms. Slowly, cautious about all of the change, the children became excited about, and then accustomed to, their new bedrooms and common spaces (which they now love, of course).
In 2015, after committing 5 years to the general care and oversight not only of the children, but also to the construction process, funding needs, and standard of care at the Amani Cottage, a UK couple with expertise in special needs returned home. They were an incredible blessing to the Amani children and to New Life Home Trust during their time with us. In their absence, the Amani staff are daily rising to the challenge of learning and growing alongside the growth of these children. One of the greatest assets along the journey of New Life's Amani Cottage is the many specialized volunteers who have shared their time, knowledge, skills, and experience with our staff and have helped secure donations of need-specific equipment.
As the children age, the needs of our Amani children shift: outgrowing wheelchairs, reaching puberty, and just getting bigger. It is for this reason that we continue to seek funding for them and for this project to keep the as mobile as possible as they grow up. We continue to strive to offer these incredible kids the best care because they deserve it! Help us fund this bus project and enable transit to school, physical therapy, and other fun and beneficial activities by sharing why you care about our project and inviting your friends and family to lend their support!