Children
 Kenya
Project #4104

Care for 15 orphaned and abandoned Kenyan babies

by Vision Africa
Pretty Natasha in school uniform
Pretty Natasha in school uniform

The St. Andrews baby unit has been a safe haven for babies and young children rescured from deprerate situations. Each year the baby unit received a child or siblings who were vulnerable and in dire need of protection, shelter and utmost care. There are a number of children who were brought in due to parental negligence like in the cases of John and his brother Ian, Lewis and her older sister Fidelis, Derrick and the little Fidelis as well as Raymond. All these children have parents or extended families but due to poverty and domestic violence within the family, the children bear the brunt hence suffer due to parental negligence, abuse and trauma. Currently the number of children at the baby unit is 8 since there are no new cases that was reported in the year 2016.

Vision Africa through the vulnerable child support program  is working closely with house mothers at St. Andrews Baby Unit  to trace parents and relatives of the children to ensure that they too are involved in the re-integration program and they are being empowered to take parental responsibilities in the near future. Am glad to report that through collaboration of a team from Vision Africa,  the Area Advisory Council and Children Officers have managed to trace some of the parents and immediate relatives of these children. The team is now making home vistis to carry out needs assessment to ensure that by the time these children are taken to be with their parents  or relatives, all issues that will make them vulnerable again have been resolved.

The first parent to be traced was Fidelis mother. Fidelis who is a sister to Derrick is one pretty and happy girl. She and her brother were rescured by their neighbours and taken to the police after their mother who had the tendancy of locking them in the house and go away for a day or two never came back. The neighbours who were kind enough to feed and look after them while their mother was away got fed up with her unmotherly actions and decided to report her to the local authority who in turn inform the children’s officer who broght them to St. Andrews baby unit . According to matron Lucy, their mother was traced in a village far away and when the team payed her a visit, she said that her husband left them after Fidelis was born and in the process she got depressed and frustrated hence went back to her maternal home. She could not live with her parents due to poverty hence opt to move out again and look for casual work. Raising two little children was not easy task with a minimum wage of $2 per day. This prompt her to live the children behind with neighbours to go find greener pastures. She worked as house help for a while before starting a small business as a vegetable vendor in the market. It was during that period that she had another baby thus making her a mother of three. In Novemberof 2016, Fidelis mother met her children for the first time in two years. Although Derrick recognized her, little Fidelis had no idea who she was. The social worker encouraged her to make several visits so as to build the bond and eventually was allowed to take them home to spend Christmas Holiday.Our vulnerable child support officer made home visits to ensure that the children are taken care of  and after the festive season ended, they were returned back to the children’s home so that the process of reintegration can begin.  At the time the mother took the children home, their father came to visit and he wanted to take Fidelis away living Derrick behind but our staff intervened since both parents had unresolved issues which would cause massive harm to the children. The vulnerable child support who is in charge of the reintregration program is working with community elders and other local counsellor to ensure that both parents have resolved their differences so that the children can find a happy and safe environment when the right time comes.

Other news is that the all the children are healthy and making good progress. Natasha who was taken by her maternal uncle to celebrate Christmas holiday with his family has been brought back and started school .She joined Blessing, Lewis & John who joined baby class last year. All these children are allowed to go for their break time snacks and lunch at the baby unit to maintain their health as they are used to enjoy nutritious meals prepared by the house mothers. Raymond’s mother has also been traced and a meeting with Natasha relatives is ongoing since her mother is mentally retarted. I believe that all the children deserve to live in good and safe environment where they will be raised with love, affection and best care so that they can grow well and become responsible citizens in future.

I would like to sincerely thank you for your continuous support towards the St. Andrews Baby Unit. It is through your generous giving that we are able to raise the children in a safe and homely environment where they received love, affection and protection besides the basic needs. The reintrgration program will take a while before it if fully implemented since Vision Africa would like to empower parents of these children and the community they live in so that the children’s rights are well protected.

Thank you and may you have a blessed year ahead!

Natasha and classmates
Natasha and classmates
Fidelis with Bedan at the background
Fidelis with Bedan at the background
Its Time for Lunch at the Baby Unit
Its Time for Lunch at the Baby Unit
Raymond
Raymond

It has been a little while since I visited St. Andrews baby unit and spend time with the children although I must say it gives me nostalgia whenever I plan for a visit.  This is because every time I see the children my heart is filled with happiness as there is progress made in each and every child. I must commend the work done by the matron and the house mothers who play a big role in taking good care of these children until they get to that age of learning to be independent and start school. Whenever I get an opportunity to meet the house mothers, I do not forget to thank them for serving these children as I often remind them that their work is beyond a normal occupation as they are called “mothers” with a purpose of raising a generation of children who are to become great and responsible people in future despite their background circumstances.

Raymond was brought to the St. Andrews Baby Unit when he was 7 months old. His parents separated due to domestic violence. The mother ran away and left Raymond and his two siblings with their father who is a heavy drinker. The man would leave the children on their own to look for casual work before getting drunk and spend the money he had worked for without considering the welfare of the children. This made the neighbours angry and they reported the matter to the authorities. After learning this, the father took the children to their maternal grandmother who was too old to take care of an infant. The police investigated the case and they were able to trace the mother who was apprehended for child negligence and put on probation. The children’s officer placed Raymond at the baby unit and ensured that the mother would visit him once in a while during the probation period to create the bond so that she can able to take him back at the end of probation period. The matron and social worker from the main children’s home recently visited Raymond grandmother’s and to their shock they were informed that the mother was released after probation but she took away the other two children who were living with their grandmother and went to rent a house in another town far away from her matrimonial home. We are hoping that the whereabouts of Raymond’s mother will be known and she accepts to take back her child and raise them all with a happy ending.

Other news is that all the children are making good progress and as Fidelis, John and Raymond are taught simple life skills like self-feeding and potty training. Natasha and Blessing are big girls who are able to dress themselves and use in house toilets on their own.

 As Vision Africa is looking in to ways whereby children in institutional care can be reunited with their families or placed with adoptive or foster families, St. Andrews Baby Unit will remain a safe haven to the vulnerable children who are rescued from parental negligence, orphaned or abandoned. The process will take months or even years to complete, hence Vision Africa is not taking chances with its child integration programme since its mission is to “Enable every child to realise their potential, be valued by family and community and ensure they  have dignity, opportunity and hope now and in the future through the 3Ps Protection, Provision and preparation”. Therefore we are engaging all stakeholders involved with in children’s welfare in government and County level as well other partner organizations that have successfully re-integrated children back to their families across East Africa.

St. Andrews Baby Unit also started the process of tracing parents and relatives of the children to ensure that they too are involved in the re-integration programme since some of them are not living far from the main children’s home. Although there are challenges being faced with regards to tracking down the whereabouts of families, there is hope for some children to be re-united with their families. Home visits and assessment are being carried out to ensure that before a child is reintegrated back to his or her family, all the issues that led to their vulnerability are resolved and the family is ready and willing to take them back in to their life just like in the case of Raymond.All children who have been abandoned and their families untraced have already been placed with adoptive or foster families.

We at Vision Africa appreciate your continuous support in making St Andrews Baby Unit a pleasant home for these children. We hope you find this partnership worthwhile because we believe the future of these children are in our hands as they grow up in a protected safe and loving environment where all their needs are well taken care of.

Please note that on Giving Tuesday (29th November) The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will match up to $1 million in donations on GlobalGiving with 50%. Matching begins at 00:00:01 EST and ends at 23:59:59 EST on November 29th, 2016 or when matching funds run

Raymond,John and Natash having porridge
Raymond,John and Natash having porridge
John can now play with a ball
John can now play with a ball
Cecilia and Emmanuel
Cecilia and Emmanuel

Vision Africa believes that children have the same value as adults. They have a right to live in a safe and child sensitive community and it is our responsibility as adults to ensure that they access holistic development and attain their full potential. For this reasons St. Andrews Baby Unit will continue to shelter and protect these children before they are taken up for either adoption or foster care. Vision Africa through its vulnerable child support program is also looking in to ways where by children placed under institutional care are able to reunite with families or placed in an alternative care through deinstitutionalization process.  Since 2007 when St. Andrews Baby Unit was establishment only 7 children have been taken up for adoption and 2 others are in foster care because their families could not be traced. But for those who were rescued from parental negligence or being orphaned, their families have been traced and they are being encouraged to visit the baby unit to ensure that they get the opportunity bond with the children like in the case of Blessing.

Blessing was brought in at St. Andrews Baby Unit at 14 months. She and her older brother Dickson who is at the main home were rescued by a children’s officer from the neighbouring village. The children were neglected by their mother who is an orphan and at the same time underage.  Their mother was a very bright student but due to lack of support for school fees, she was in and out of school as she had to involve in casual work so as to make end meets. It was at this vulnerable situation that Blessing’s mother was exploited by men who took advantage of her situation with promise of supporting her quest for education hence she became pregnant twice. According to the children officer who brought the children to Kandara Children’s Home, the mother was only sixteen when she had Blessing but she had no source of income to support herself and her children hence many are the times that she would leave her children on their own to go out and look for odd jobs to be able to feed them. This became a concern to a social worker who reported to the children’s officer. After listening to her story, the children’s officer took the children to the Kandara Children’s Home. The mother got sponsorship to continue with her education and she remains with one year to complete her high school education. During the school holidays Blessing mother comes to visit her children so as to maintain the bond as she desires to take her children back once she completes her schooling and secure a stable job.

Other news is that the number of children at the baby unit has dropped from 14 to 8. This is after six of them came of age where by they are moved to the main home. It is hard to believe that most of these children who were brought in at the baby unit while few months old have grown so much in the last few years and are now attending pre-school.  Emmanuel, Derrick, Fidelis, Cecilia, Bedan and Pricilla are now living with their siblings in the main home.  Blessing, Lewis and John have turned three and they too have joined the 6 children in pre-school whereby they attend baby class in the morning and go back to Baby Unit for break time snacks and lunch.

All the children are making good progress with Fidelis making baby conversation with house mothers while Baraka is now making baby steps on his own. We at Vision Africa appreciate your continuous support in making St Andrews Baby Unit a safe haven. We hope you find this partnership valuable and worthwhile because these children who were once in vulnerable circumstances have a home where they get the love, care and attention they desperately needed in order to grow and achieve their development milestone. We also give credit to our dedicated house mothers whom the children refer to as ‘maito’ in the local language which is a honourable name for a mother.

John and Lewis in School Uniform
John and Lewis in School Uniform
Baby Blessing
Baby Blessing
Baby Baraka
Baby Baraka

Vision Africa believes that every child has a right to be raised in a family regardless of the circumstances the family is facing. This is because family plays important role in the development stages in a child’s life from the time they are born. The relationship formed, bonding and identity is created when a child lives with his/her family.t. Andrews Baby Unit has been a home for more than forty children since it was founded in 2008. The main reason for setting up this unit was to accommodate babies and toddler by providing them with shelter, protection, love, care and other basic needs so that they can grow up in a holistic environment far from the harsh situations they were found. These children wererought to St Andrews Baby Unit due to ariety of circumstances. Some have been orphaned; others abandoned, rescued from situations of neglect or their mothers are unable to provide care for them.

Currently there are 14 children of whom 4 are now attending the nearby Early Childhood Education & Development Centre (ECED). Blessing and John joined Cecilia and Bedan in attending nursery school in the morning and go back to Baby Unit for break time snacks and lunch. All the children are making good progress with Fidelis walking on her own while Baraka who is the youngest of them all is using the support of plastic chair to walk around the house.

I was overwhelmed with joy in my recent visit when all the babies ran up to me for hugs calling me aunty! How I wished at that time I had more than two hands to carry them all. Any visitor who visits the Baby Unit always comes out happy since the children are healthy and developing well under the care of the house mothers who have really given their all in ensuring that these children receive the best care they deserve. What amazed me during my visit is the love that was demonstrated between the children and the house mothers as well as some of their pre-school teachers who had paid them a visit. I believe the children were super excited that day. Bedan who has always been quiet and not sociable especially to people he doesn’t know was jumping with excitement calling out to his teachers and playing with some of the other children. He even came to me for a hug and asked to have his photo taken which has never been the case. I asked Florence one of the house mothers how this transformation came to be and this is what she said “Since Bedan joined pre-school, his social interaction has greatly improved because he has become playful, cheerful and even support the little ones who are learning to walk.”

As I had my time with the children, I noticed a boy who was sitting on his own at the corner just looking at the commotion in the playing room. I wanted to know why he does not want to join the rest of the children while playing and this is the story from the house mother. The baby’s name is John. He was brought in while at 10 months together with his brother Ian who was by then 4 years. The two children were abandoned by their mother and were in the care of their elderly grandmother who was unwell and had no capacity to look after them. The children were infested by jiggers and had become malnourished hence the neighbours became concerned and reported to the area Chief who contacted the Children Officer and they were placed under the care of the St. Andrews Baby Unit.

John is now two years old but has delayed in achieving his development milestonessince he lacked proper care after birth and also suffered from jiggers. His legs are weak which cannot support the rest of his body to stand properly or walk. According to the house mother, when the two siblings came, the first thing was to seek medical treatment for both to treat jigger, get vitamin supplements and doctor’s advice how to maintain their health. Apart from hospital treatment, John had to be taken outside every morning to bask in the sun and also have his legs massaged since there were signs of getting rickets. He is now able to make little steps using the plastic chair as a walker and other children are encouraging him to walk by holding his hands whenever he gets up on his own. The house mothers believe that he will soon walk and join other playmates in their games.

Other news is that the mother to Lewis and Fidelis who had been jailed for some time came to visit her children after she was released from prison. The two children together with their older siblings were brought in to Kandara Children’s home after it emerged that they had been neglected and abused by their father. The mother has to go through a rehabilitation program so as to be re-integrated back into the society and establish herself before she is allowed to take the children back. The baby unit has allowed the mother to visit the children once a month so that they can bond.

We would like to thank you for supporting all the children under the care of St Andrews Baby Unit.  We acknowledge that your contribution towards the Baby Unit has brought hope and assurance to these innocent little ones and the smiles in their faces is a clear indication of their hope for a better life.

 

Fidelis saying goodbye
Fidelis saying goodbye
John
John
Beautiful Girls
Beautiful Girls
Emmanuel
Emmanuel

Season's Greetings from the St Andrews Baby Unit. We hope you have had a very Merry Christmas.

There was no Angel in the Baby Unit this Christmas. As we mentioned in our last report, little Angel found an adoptive family and we were delighted that she joined them in time for Christmas. After spending time with her at the unit, her new parents and older sisters took her home and we wish them a lifetime of happiness together.

For Emmanuel there were very happy times on Christmas Eve as he celebrated his fifth birthday. Emmanuel was brought in at about two weeks old. Born to a young girl who was an orphan herself with no family to support her, he was a tiny little baby. He suffered badly from reflux and struggled to gain any weight. One day, a supporter from the UK visited the unit and made the suggestion that his formula should be doubled by adding extra feeds so that he retained some of the calories and nutrients. She then offered to fund the additional formula. Emmanuel went from strength to strength and once he was eventually weaned he started to get on track with his health and weight gain. For his birthday, the lady who had supported him sent funds so that he could have a cake and fruits to celebrate and share with all the other children. He was overwhelmed and loved his little party!

Another group of supporters gave cause for celebration when they provided new toys in time for Christmas. There were tricycles, a rocking snail and shape sorters...all of which were immediately put to use as the children were excited to have them.

So all in all, it has been a great Christmas at the St Andrews Baby Unit. We give thanks to all our supporters through Global Giving for ensuring that the unit has stayed open another year and has helped so many young children.

We wish all our supporters a proseperous New Year.

Happy Face
Happy Face
 

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Organization Information

Vision Africa

Location: Nairobi - Kenya
Website: http:/​/​www.vision-africa.org/​
Project Leader:
Kirsty Gichimu
Project Leader
Nairobi, Kenya

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