Children
 Kenya
Project #4104

Care for 15 orphaned and abandoned Kenyan babies

by Vision Africa
Vetted
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
Beautiful Angel and Natasha
Beautiful Angel and Natasha


Every visit to the St Andrews Baby Unit brings so much joy not only to our staff but also friends of Vision Africa and visitors who support our activities in Kenya. The smiles, laughter,cries and growth of these babies give us all more reasons to work hard so that the babies can continue to receive care ,love and protection and more so to ensure that all their needs are met as they grow up together as one big family. The baby unit is currently giving shelter to 16 babies and toddlers of whom two children are being prepared to move to the main children's home as they attain the age of four so as to create space for other babies who may be found in the same situation as they were.

In my last visit at Kandara children's home , I noticed a big change in children who had been brought and raised at the baby unit and have grown up to join the older children in the main home. Their health status and physical appearance have changed which is a clear indication that these children do not receive as much attention as they used to get while at the baby unit. All the babies and the toddlers at the baby unit are taken care of and receive the attention of the house mothers who have dedicated themselves to raise them as they would care for their own children. I spoke to Esther one of the longest serving house mother at the baby unit and this is what she had to say “I always feel sad when one of the children is moved to live in the main home with older children because their lives drastically change since they are not given much need attention like our babies here. Most of them still come back to us to get snacks and play with other babies”.
The local authorities and Children's Office within the County acknowledge the importance of St. Andrews Baby Unit as it has hosted around 45children since it was established. Some babies have a new lease of life with adoptive parents or in foster care while those who have grown and started school are integrated in the main Children's home and attend the nearby schools.
It is always great to share some good news with you about the progress of the babies at St. Andrews Baby Unit and we thought to share the story of baby Angel.

Angel was abandoned three days after birth and was found wrapped in her clothes and placed under a tree in a busy shopping centre. According to the local police, Angel was found by a group of men who heard a baby crying while they were holding a meeting within the area. They reported to the local police who contacted the County children officer who recommended the baby to be taken to St.Andrews Baby Unit which is the only recognized home within Murang'a County that provides shelter and care to babies found in such situations. Angel has been at the baby unit for one year and eight months going through different developmental stages as we had been reporting earlier. She has grown healthy and is walking and talking the baby's language
We are glad to inform you that the little Angel has finally found a new family. Sad as it is always to let go of these children they are part of a bigger family, we are happy because Angel is in the process of being taken for adoption. Her new parents will soon start visiting the baby unit to build a relationship with her as they wait for the court to grant them custody. We are happy for baby Angel as she will soon have new parents to relate with and a place to call home. We hope for the best as she prepares to go and settles in with her new family and wish her many year of happiness.

There are no new arrivals of children reported at the home and we hope that the year will end well with the current number of babies and toddlers at the baby unit. Other highlights about the baby unit is that
Baby Baraka who is the youngest baby unit resident is now sitting without support and has started weaning on solid food.We hope he too will be adopted in the coming year. Fidelis and John whose stories we shared with you in our last report are both standing and use plastic chairs to walk around the house. The health of all babies were maintained and they are growing pretty fast. Cecilia and older Fidelis have joined the pre-school that is supported by Vision Africa right at the children's home.
On behalf of all the babies at St Andrews baby unit, we wish you a Merry Christmas and Blessed 2016!

Thank you all for your ongoing support of our work!

PS. Tuesday 1st of December is Giving Tuesday. Please give your voice to the little ones of the St Andrews Baby Unit by telling a friend about this project.

Fidelis using a plastic chair to walk around
Fidelis using a plastic chair to walk around
Baby Baraka can sit and play with his toy
Baby Baraka can sit and play with his toy
 

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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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