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Build a school for 300 children in Mombasa slum

by Mustard Seed Project (Kenya)
Build a school for 300 children in Mombasa slum
Build a school for 300 children in Mombasa slum
Build a school for 300 children in Mombasa slum
Build a school for 300 children in Mombasa slum
Build a school for 300 children in Mombasa slum
Build a school for 300 children in Mombasa slum
Build a school for 300 children in Mombasa slum
Build a school for 300 children in Mombasa slum
Build a school for 300 children in Mombasa slum
Build a school for 300 children in Mombasa slum
Build a school for 300 children in Mombasa slum
Build a school for 300 children in Mombasa slum
Build a school for 300 children in Mombasa slum
Build a school for 300 children in Mombasa slum
Build a school for 300 children in Mombasa slum
Build a school for 300 children in Mombasa slum
Build a school for 300 children in Mombasa slum
Build a school for 300 children in Mombasa slum
Build a school for 300 children in Mombasa slum
Build a school for 300 children in Mombasa slum
Build a school for 300 children in Mombasa slum
Build a school for 300 children in Mombasa slum
Build a school for 300 children in Mombasa slum
Build a school for 300 children in Mombasa slum
Build a school for 300 children in Mombasa slum
Build a school for 300 children in Mombasa slum
Build a school for 300 children in Mombasa slum
one of the German volunteers
one of the German volunteers

Normally when I write a report I am bursting with ideas, but health issues, now resolved, prevented us from making our Feb/March visit to the project so I thought I had nothing to tell. A lie of course. Such a lot of exciting things have happened.

Firstly the brickwork for the entire downstairs is now complete. Half of it still  needs finishing of course, the toilets, kitchen, a classroom and the office but at least we can imagine what it will look like.  We had a Skype call last week from the contractors. Two really nice guys who are incredibly honest and patient with us. Equally important is the quality of their workmanship.We feel really lucky to have found them. Herman has young children of his own and is very keen for them to come to our school. When I told him that he was too rich he said that I was being unfair to his children by not allowing them to have the quality of education the poor children were getting!

I think I mentioned in the last report that I was worried about financing the feeding programme for the next year, but that worry has now gone. A second charitable trust has met the shortfall and we now have the £12,000 we need for yet another year. It is always a worry but at least our children will get a healthy diet for another year.

Then there are the volunteers. Our teachers love to have volunteers from Europe in the school especially when we were unable to go out there ourselves. In April two young women from Germany went over for two weeks. I'm not sure who had most fun the children or the volunteers judging by the photographs. They did lots of creative stuff like making crowns and decorating them. Our children are getting a great education but craft resources cost the same in Kenya as they do in the UK and our money is generally spent on more basic things like books, salaries, food and water. Craft equipment would cost a much greater percentage of our running costs than it would in England.

And as I write, Alice is spending four weeks in Kenya. She has just finished training as a children's nurse and is doing her elective in our clinic. This was arranged several months ago but it was touch and go whether the clinic would be finished in time. Fortunately it was and so she is working with two experienced nurses and our children. So far one report has been sent back and she is clearly enjoying herself. She had worked in Ghana before which meant that it was not the culture shock it might have been otherwise. Normally our volunteers stay with Joyce who lives fairly close to Mgongeni but Alice chose to stay with Flora who is one of our nurses and really lovely. She actually lives much closer to the community. It will be interesting to see how it works out.

Recently, I was talking to my nephew about the need to complete another classroom for January for a new intake of children. We don't need to raise a huge amount of money because of course the structure already exists but we do need to raise it urgently. 'No problem,' he said 'I'll get it for you.' So, he is cycling around the highlands of Scotland this week and asking people to sponsor him. So far he has raised half the £2,500 needed which is pretty good. Just keeping my fingers crossed for the rest of the week.

I'm really excited about our October visit to Kenya as my children and their families are coming out too. Ostensibly it is to celebrate my 70th birthday but they will also be visiting the school and the community. My grandchildren will spend a day in the school and they are really looking forward to the experience.

Thanks to everyone for their support

German volunteers
German volunteers
Ground floor brickwork
Ground floor brickwork
Three little girls hoping for a new classroom
Three little girls hoping for a new classroom

Links:

John with his hearing aid
John with his hearing aid

We have a beautiful clinic. It’s been a long time coming but what a difference it will make. Some years ago one of our parents died because she could not afford to visit a clinic for antibiotics. That will never happen again.

Sonal Lakhani climbed Kilimanjaro to raise money towards the clinic, and to furnish and resource a classroom and a staffroom including a couple of laptops and a projector. Such an amazing girl! She was so loved by our children when she came to visit. I was so impressed by the questions the older children asked her about her climb. So lovely she was able to visit when we were there.

Then we had a large donation from a charitable trust and from Rotary to enable us to complete phase two of our building including the pillars, the first floor slab, the office, the staffroom the cess pit and soak-away. No pictures of the completed rooms yet so I can't wait to go out to see it in February.

One thing that we were disappointed about last year was when two of our excellent teachers went for jobs in a government school. We could not blame them as the government pays higher salaries than we could afford however we were so delighted when they contacted us. Leah said, 'I have 109 children in my class and by the end of the day my voice has completely gone. The children at the back of the class do not listen to anything I say. I have spent a huge amount on throat tablets. Please can I come back?' Mwanajuma's story was similar. We know our school is making a difference to the opportunities for these poor children but it is so great to have it confirmed. How can anyone learn in those circumstances?

We did such a lot on our last visit but one of the highlights was getting hearing aids for John thanks to donors in the UK. John is our third deaf child but he is far more profoundly deaf than the other two. There was no look of joy on his face when they were fitted so we were all a little deflated. Then, three days later an excited mum came to say ‘He can hear! When motor cyclists or cars come past he mimics the sound and copies the actions’. Tears came to my eyes. He may not learn to speak, although he tries really hard, but at least this is a start.

We are so privileged to be able to do this work. The rewards are great. Of course we have anxieties too like the annual worry we shall soon have that we shall be able to continue to fund the feeding programme upon which these children rely. And will the next part of the building be funded in time for the following year’s intake. Then a donation arrives and we are elated. I suppose I just want to say a big thank you to everyone who supports us with whatever you have given. No donation is too small to make a difference.

finished clinic
finished clinic
Mwanajuma
Mwanajuma
Porridge, part of the feeding programme
Porridge, part of the feeding programme
Some of our children
Some of our children
Hope and Samuel, two profoundly deaf students
Hope and Samuel, two profoundly deaf students

We are so happy, at last our school is registered. Now you might imagine that we would have been registered years ago but... Firstly it had to be approved in Mombasa, then it went to Nairobi, then it went back to Mombasa and finally, after four years and lots of inspections and form filling and payments it is complete and we have our certificate.

The other great thing is that we have been promised £3000 towards the cess pit and soak away for the new building and only have to find another £1000. I have been told that construction is well over-due. The first phase of the building was completed last December and our toilets have been draining into the small pit latrine dug by the contractor for his use whilst he was building. There are 75 children in that building and they have been there for two terms and... Well, I'll let you use your own imagination on that one. Top priority I think!

Our children are otherwise loving the new building. No hot bodies crushed against each other and space for more creative teaching. A much better learning environment. It will be wonderful when we can complete the whole building so that all the children can be in this ideal environment.

Did I mention before that we now have three profoundly deaf children? They are all doing really well. Our teachers have been taught to sign by a teacher of the deaf and we have a teaching assistant (who also happens to be Hope's mother) who is doing in-service training to teach these children. Two have hearing aids and the third will have them soon when we have the funding.

Now that we have some space though we can open the health clinic we have been planning. The clinic is for our children, their siblings and their parents. About 1000 people. Since our last visit all the patients have been registered and a health history taken. Two of our trustees are nurses and they undertook the work. This means that when we are in Kenya next month we shall be able to buy all the necessary equipment, register the clinic and interview a nurse. It will make such a difference to our children. Their health will be monitored regularly and we shall also dispense antibiotics, anti-malarials and analgesics as well as doing immunisations and blood and urine tests for disease and ante and post-natal care. Of course the clinic will be in the new building when it is finished but for the time being it will be in the rented building.

I had some great news today. It wasn't really about Mustard Seed but because of us. A young accountant worked with our coordinator a couple of years ago on a voluntary basis. He did a brilliant job. Today he told me that his experience with us really made him re-evaluate his life and as a result he has gone to work full-time for another charity. Most people are affected by volunteering with us but I felt quite emotional to hear that it had changed his life to that degree.

And finally, thank you all so much for your support. We are priviledged to be able to do this work and it is thanks to you that we are able to do this and make such a difference to a great group of people.

Flora registering the patients
Flora registering the patients
Seb the volunteer accountant
Seb the volunteer accountant

Links:

Our happy well-fed children
Our happy well-fed children

It looks beautiful. Absolutely amazing! Photographs don't lie. The first phase of our new school was completed before we arrived in February, well, apart from the snagging that is. The delight and pride of our teachers, children and parents was tangible. It has made such a difference to the strategies that can be used for teaching now that people can actually move freely around the room. There is fantastic new furniture too paid for by a donor. Looking at the photographs I don't think you would be able to distinguish between our classrooms and a newly built UK classroom so a big thank you to everyone who contributed towards this fantastic achievement.

We've lots of other news though. Firstly, in February and March MSP had volunteers working on the project. Abi came for a couple of days from a charity called Performers without borders to work with our older children. They had such fun learning circus skills and next year a group of volunteers will return for a week, at the end of which the children will put on a show for the local community. There is a photograph below.

Other volunteers were Ali and Jon. Ali has just retired as a primary school teacher and spent a month working in the school with the children and the teachers. Both were very appreciative of the help she gave, as was I. Jon only stayed for a week but he took fantastic photographs which was absolutely brilliant. I always intend to take photographs but time runs away from me.The photographs below are his.

Our children are all doing so well and look so healthy mostly because of our feeding programme. Herrod Foundation have been supporting us since 2011 and thankfully agreed to continue. They were not able to fund the whole programme which now costs £10,000 a year but happily a UK donor has given us the shortfall. This has been a great relief.

What we need now, and soon, is a Cess Pit and soak away for the new building. Catriona Hargreaves Charitable Trust gave us money for a bore hole so that now we have our own water supply piped into the school. (We are also sharing the water with the surrounding community). Having water come out of a tap is great but of course it means that more water is used. More water to be got rid of. In our old building the pit is perfectly adequate to take away the water and human waste but we are pretty sure that the new pit will soon need emptying. A cess pit and soak away may not sound glamorous but it certainly is essential to save expense and provide a hygienic way to get rid of waste. If you feel you could help it would be very much appreciated.

Thank you to everyone for your continued support. You are making such a difference to the community of Mgongeni both now and for generations to come.

Ali doing reading ages
Ali doing reading ages
Abi teaching circus skills
Abi teaching circus skills
Our happy well-fed children
Our happy well-fed children
Children working together in the new building
Children working together in the new building
Sign being painted on new building
Sign being painted on new building

It was Christmas Day and I was happily surrounded by my children and excited grandchildren busily unwrapping the presents brought by Father Christmas during the night.  My husband disappeared for a few minutes and then rushed back in to tell me he'd received an email from the builder in Mombasa.

'I'm having a day off. I don't want to hear anything about the building', I replied, but he persisted. The contractor had taken photographs of our very nearly completed building. The first four classrooms of our own school with three toilets. Tears filled my eyes and I knew that this was the very best Christmas present I would ever receive. 

Building anywhere is fraught with problems and Kenya is no exception. On 5th January 2015 a new class of children joined our school and it was so important for this building to be completed as there really was no way we could accommodate them in our already impossibly full rented building, but time was running out. The contractor had promised that it would be completed and it was.

This also means that the furniture which was being made thanks to a UK donor had a home. It is so exciting and so wonderful. This is just the first phase of course but thanks to so many of you it really is happening.

Of course we now need to raise the money for the next phase of the building to ensure the projects sustainability. And of course there are text books to buy for the new class but at least they have a building.

When we went out to Kenya in November it had looked as though this would have a very different ending. A new government law meant that one and a half metres had been stolen from our ground slab for a road and two of the classrooms were going to be too small. Geoff, one of the founding trustees, spent many days sorting this out at the land's office but eventually they agreed that we could build up to our building line and restore the ground slab to its original dimensions.

Adding to the ground slab at a later stage was a huge expense that we could not have anticipated and as a result we have not been able to do a number of things we had planned. There is no glass in the windows and the floor which should have been terrazzo is just the concrete of the foundations. We need to raise funds for these urgently but at least the children could come in.

Next month we are going back to Kenya along with two volunteers and I can't wait. Thank you so much to all of you for your help and support. You are making such a difference to our school which now has 200 children.

Whole school in November 2015
Whole school in November 2015
Inside almost complete
Inside almost complete
Inside almost complete
Inside almost complete
Inside after painting
Inside after painting
 

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Organization Information

Mustard Seed Project (Kenya)

Location: Peterborough - United Kingdom
Website:
Project Leader:
Rita Fowler
Peterborough, Lincolnshire United Kingdom

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