It has been a busy time since I last communicated with you, so today I want to take some time to give you the highlights of what has been going on with the Mathari Children’s Fund.
The second term/semester came to an end at the end of July. For us this was a good term, and it’s clear that our students are settling down well since the violence last year. Two boys in high school were suspended for truancy, but frankly compared to the troubles of the previous year, this was a pretty normal problem to have. Also, one of our secondary school girls was involved in a hit-and run car accident on her way to school. She sustained cuts and bruises but she is recuperating well.
The general performance in school was good, and some of our students did exceptionally well. In particular, Vincent Owour has been in first position in his class for three years in a row, and as a reward was given free transport back to Nairobi for the holidays by the school.
Vincent’s background is worth mentioning to you. He is an AIDS orphan, and was taken in by his Aunt, whose name is Dolphine. She is a remarkable woman. In addition to her own eight children, she has taken in seventeen of her nieces and nephews, all of whom have been orphaned as a result of AIDS. She supports these children by selling vegetables, and we have seven of her children (three of her own, and four of her adoptees) enrolled in our programme. One of them has made it to university, and we believe that Vincent will do the same in time.
There were also a few children who were below par – in particular one child who has been intermittently ill throughout the year. Despite many medical tests we have yet to find out the cause of his illness. This is a real worry.
During the school August holidays, we had a camp with many of the children in Nairobi at Bethany college. We had a total of 64 children, although 42 went back to school for half day tutorials to improve on their grades. The camp is very important to staff, children and the parents as we are able not only to monitor the children, but also to have counseling sessions, parent and child meetings, hot lunches and other activities that see to the growth and development of the child and that of the guardian.
We are planning to hold the Participatory Theatre in Child Rehabilitation workshop (from playing, to learning to change) in December. Participation Theatre is meant to empower both children and their guardians to take charge of the change process, and to clearly focus on their specific needs as individuals and members of the Mathari community. The facilitation process provides the space and skills for individuals to interact with each other, the staff, guardians and other stakeholders in a creative and participatory manner. We have found that extra-curricular activities like these can really help children to develop themselves. Their confidence improves, and they become more open and articulate, and better able to face the challenges that their daily life delivers to them. The theatre project has been made possible due to your generous donations and for this we say thanks. We would like to hold a similar session for parents, but due to lack of funds we will not be able to do that this year.
In September, all our children reported back to school on time and are preparing for the end of the year exams. We have a number of primary school candidates who will be sitting for the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education after eight years of primary education. We also have secondary school students who will be sitting for Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education after four year of secondary education. This prepares them to join the university.
Robert Muiruri, who was working with a bank after finishing his secondary education with exceptional grades, has reported to the university for a Bachelor Degree in Commerce. He had to think it through on what to do between a well paying bank job and furthering his education. We wish him the best. Having graduated from our programme, he is a frequent participant in sessions with the younger children, and he serves as a great inspiration to them.
We would like to wish all our children sitting for the various final exams good luck. You are invited to send them best of wishes too. The secondary students start their exams in 2 weeks time while the primary school students have a month or so to sit for their exams.
We sincerely appreciate your continued support and assistance as we endeavor to facilitate the uplifting of children's lives. Please feel free to ask any questions or information regarding our project.
On the fund raising side, with the global crisis, many of our donors have been affected badly, and we are very worried about our ability to support all 120 of our children through the coming year. We have enough to get through the next few months, but that is all. As you probably know, Global Giving is running the Give More, Get More Challenge from now through December 1st. They will match up to 50% of your donations during that period. You can see the details of that programme on the global giving website, www.globalgiving.com. Two of our donors have offered to add their own challenge to this: they will match 100% of your donations to the Mathari Children's Fund, from now till December 1, up to a combined limit of $6,000 on their part. This is a great way to make your donation go further - so please give generously, and let us get these children safely through this crisis!
With many thanks for your support,
Titus Mwangi, Team Leader