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Build a school for 300 children in Mombasa slum

by Mustard Seed Project (Kenya)
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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
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

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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
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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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Clearing the ground
Clearing the ground

It's finally happening! We've started building our school and we are so excited. In January 2015, the start of the new school year we would have had nowhere for our new class of children. We have now been promised by the contractor that the first phase will be complete by the end of November giving us time to raise the money and to set up the classrooms for the children to move into. Next month, October 2014, we shall be going out to Kenya ourselves and will be able to see it with our own eyes but we have at least had many photographs taken for you to look at. I hope they're not too boring!

As with all building work the ground had to be cleared and levelled. You might expect that the contractor would bring in diggers and he did, but they were in human form. 70 men managed to do all the digging in just two days. Amazing.

As you might expect there have been many visitors to the site. All the local dignitaries calling to inspect the work in progress. I'm not sure they had any greater idea than I with what they were looking at but apparently they sounded official. In true Kenyan fashion they all promised great support for the project and we live in hope.

This first phase consists of the foundations for the whole school and a four classroom block containing three toilets. This section will eventually be a self-contained unit for the younger children but in January we are expecting our older children to be the occupants. Until the funds have been raised for the rest of the ground floor which will include the kitchen the children will need to walk back to our rented building at lunchtime for their mid-day meal. It's only a five minute walk but probably too far for three year olds.

The space that has been released in the rented building will allow us to set up the computer suite again (a grand name for some very old PCs) and more importantly we shall be able to set up a clinic for our children, their siblings and their mothers. Such an exciting time. I can’t wait.

A big thank you to all of you. This school will make such a difference to the community of Mgongeni.

Local dignitaries
Local dignitaries
visualisation of completed phase one
visualisation of completed phase one
plan of phase one
plan of phase one
It's for them
It's for them
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Hope and Samuel signing to each other
Hope and Samuel signing to each other

Every year we spend March and October in Kenya. Until this year when one of the founding trustees needed urgent medical treatment and the March trip was cancelled. You could feel the panic pouring into the emails from Kenya. They were not coping. It was a difficult time. But then the panic abated, the emails became more confident and our head teacher started telling us the problems and how she resolved them.They have really grown and I feel so proud. It makes you realise that clouds really do have a silver lining.

You will remember Hope our deaf girl. I am told that she is now using sign language herself and is making great progress. Last year for a short time she had a companion, Samuel, who is also profoundly deaf. He was only with us for a couple of weeks and then, when his parents could not see any improvement, they took him away and sent him to a residential school for the deaf. Unfortunately, not only did he not progress there but he became timid and withdrawn. Well now he is back with us and is learning in the same class as Hope. He has a lot of catching up to do but he is making progress and his confidence has grown. We are hoping that this will be good for them both of them as they are the same age. At present though we desperately need to try and get hearing aids for him. The parents clearly cannot afford to buy them and neither can MSP. Samuel's parents would be delighted if anyone felt they could make a contribution towards the £500 needed.

And the building. Ah, I really had hoped to tell you just how far we had progressed. I should know from watching all those programmes on the television that construction is just so fraught with delays but... We really are hoping to start building in August. It's become so urgent as we really do not have anywhere for a new intake in January. But watch this space because the moment we start you will be the first to know.

Many thanks to all of you who have supported us in the past. You have made such a difference.

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Organization Information

Mustard Seed Project (Kenya)

Location: Peterborough - United Kingdom
Website:
Project Leader:
Rita Fowler
Peterborough, Lincolnshire United Kingdom
$27,939 raised of $90,000 goal
 
196 donations
$62,061 to go
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