Kangeta Day Care Centre

This project is now complete and Be Kids would like to take the opportunity to thank all those who supported us in the building of the Kangeta Day Care Centre.

Location and Description

The village of Kangeta is in central Kenya, a 5 hour drive north from the capital city of Nairobi. It is an area of extreme poverty and lacks basic amenities—water and electricity are only available through rain collection and generators. The town survives mainly on an illicit cash crop called “Mirrah,” a drug derived from chewing the bark of a tree that grows exclusively in this area. The drug is exported to Europe, consumed heavily by the locals, and is the root cause of the social dysfunction—addiction, alcoholism and abusive relationships are endemic. There is an extremely high prevalence of AIDS and a large number of orphans in this region.

History

On a property about a 25 minute walk from the village and next to a men’s prison, the three Good Shepherd Sisters first opened a Day Care Centre. They took in extremely poor orphans ages 5-18 who all had special-needs. Suffering from malnourishment, disabilities, physical abuse, and homelessness, the children’s poverty and physical handicaps prevented them from attending existing schools. The Sisters ran the Day Care between the hours of 8 and 12, ensuring that the orphans were fed at least one cup of porridge per day and taught to the extent of their abilities. Education was intended to enable the children to attend existing schools and learn how to protect themselves from abusers and predators.

The original Day Care Centre building was an inadequate structure built of tin sheets with a dirt floor, no light, desks or chairs. Everything had to be transported on a daily basis to prevent theft, including books, paper, cooking utensils and cups for the children.

Be Kids hand in hand with the Kangeta Community

In July 2006, the Kangeta Community and BE KIDS collaborated on the construction of a secure building in a safe location near the Sisters’ residence.

Our Assessment Focus highlighted the advantages for the children to have a safer environment with supervision, care and education. This would increase their potential and progression to the traditional primary education system.

The project was commenced in July 2006 and completed in September 2006 on time and on budget. The new Day Care Centre has three classrooms with desks and chairs and an administration room with space for a library.

There are approximately 120 children cared for in this new facility.

In July 2007, after the children were settled in their new surroundings, BE KIDS focussed on extending the care hours until 3pm. This offered numerous benefits including:

  • an additional meal for the children so they wouldn’t resort to loitering in the marketplace, stealing or getting into trouble to obtain food;
  • an enhanced school curriculum; and
  • improved over-all welfare for the children.

Be Kids established the feeding program for orphans and other children in the community who are unable to come to the Centre. They now receive porridge in the morning and a meal of maize and beans in the afternoon. For most of the children, this is their only source of food.

Be Kids has also provided funds for:

  • food and utensils;
  • a second cook and extended hours for the first cook;
  • two additional teachers and extended hours for the first teacher;
  • books recommended by the Education Department;
  • learning supplies; and
  • two new uniforms plus shoes for each child.

PROJECT REPORT (November 2007)

From Sr Lucy Kanjira, Project Co-Ordinator

“A little smile goes far away”. May I take this chance to express my sincere thanks to all Be Kids friends and fund organisers. Receive these thanks also from all the Good Shepherd sisters-Kangeta, the staff, the parents, grandparents, carers and the children who are the direct beneficiaries of your help.

Kangeta is a very poor area with so many children not attending primary school because of poverty. With the visit of Be Kids to Kangeta last year, the children in our Day Care have put smiles on their faces. We used to have classes in rented rooms with a very stony compound and an unconducive environment for children because of illicit brewers who surrounded the compound. ‘Be kids’ put a smile on the faces of the children with a beautiful building which neighbours did not believe it was for the children they knew.

Be Kids broadened the smile with uniform and Feeding Programme. The uniform changed the face of our Day Care completely. The children who looked like “street children” got very high esteem. Some had never put shoes before. So, the theme of this year world social forum was very applicable to them that “Another World is Possible.” The community witnessed this too. Other children respected them now. Despite the reality that they are late for school because of their back grounds.

The Feeding Programme is not helping only the Day Care children but also other former day care children who have been going to pick food or beg from the market after school because the families did not provide lunch. It is also helping few children below the age we admit for the Day Care. These are special cases form very poor families neglected or abandoned by alcoholic and sickly parents. We invite these special cases just for food. Three of those children are malnourished with very weak bones which need calcium. Others are sickly and affected by scabies due to lack of hygiene and proper diet.

An example of this is the case of Ken and Joy (not their real names). Ken is five years but looks as if he is 2 years only. He is only 10 kgs at that age. His sister Joy is seven years but one can think she is 3 years by look. Their mother is an alcoholic and a “night lady.” She is leaves the house in the evening and comes back at dawn. She neglected the two children at a very early age. The growth of the two children is stunted, because of negligence. After we invited them to our Day care Centre, they also have a reason to smile because they have at least a meal for the day. This is why we say a big thank you to our Be Kids friends.

To our children here in Kangeta, shoes were a big surprise. Some of them had never worn a new shoes the day Be Kids bought them new shoes they were full of joy and excitement. The shoes are now helping to control jiggers which had affected many children so much. We want to tell our friends that we love them and they are always in our prayers. May you be rewarded for your generosity with good health and all that you desire for better life.

PROJECT REPORT (August 2008)

Be Kids visited the Kangeta Day Care Centre in Kenya on 16 July, 17 July and 21 July 2008. We discussed the status of the project with Sr Lucy Kanjira. We met with our children and some of their guardians.

The Project

Be Kids is pleased to have completed all of Phase One of the Project on time and on budget in October 2006.

Phase Two is underway and progressing well. When we commenced the programme we had 100 to 110 children. (Attendances varied over time as some children dropped out and new ones were taken in).

This year, we are very pleased that 27 children have been sponsored by Christian Childcare International (an NGO from Vancouver) to attend formal school. These children were selected for two primary reasons - readiness for school (thanks to our good program at the Day Care!) and age (young enough to complete their secondary school education before 18) This has left us with 75 children in our day care.

The current status of Phase Two of the Project is as follows:

Personal and Hygiene Upgrade

In July 2007, children were provided with uniform clothing including a sweater and shoes for each of them.

Through the kind donation of the Rotary Club of Claremont-Cottesloe, we provided new shoes for all the children in July 2008. Each child was asked to present with two clean pairs of socks before taking possession of the new shoes. This was intended to ensure a level of community contribution towards our commitment.

Keeping uniforms clean has proven to be a challenge in spite of the Day Care Centre providing washing soap. For many of the children, these are the only clothes they own.

Personnel Upgrade

As part of Phase 2, the Day Care was intended to operate between 8am and 4pm. This required the existing teaching staff of two to be upgraded to full time positions and an additional teacher and teacher’s aide would be engaged. The existing cook would be paid more and an additional cook would be engaged.

The existing two teachers and the existing cook who were working half day were being paid by a third party donor. Unfortunately, the donor has not been able to continue its commitment. Fortunately, this has not proven to be a major setback. With the reduction of school attendees, only two teachers are required full time and Be Kids funding pays for them. Only one teacher needed to be let go and BE KIDS now fully pays for the two cooks. No reduction in their number was required because our feeding program (see below) still caters to approximately 300 children per day.

Curriculum Upgrade

With the extension of school hours, the children have been taught additional subjects such as hygiene, health, science and the environment and social studies. They have been provided with text books and now have books of their own. The school has progressed from the rote-learning system to a much more practical appreciation and enjoyment of reading and learning.

This improved educational standard enabled 27 of our children to be selected to attend formal school by Christian Childcare International.? These children were selected because of their readiness for school and their ability to complete their secondary school education before age 18.

Schooling is now provided free of charge in Government run institutions. This is a very progressive step for Kenya. However, children are still required to pay for the mandatory uniforms, shoes and books. This is impossible for our children who are all orphans, street kids or from extremely poor families. A donation from the Rotary Club of Claremont-Cottesloe has allowed Be Kids to purchase uniforms and shoes for 75 children so they can attend formal school in 2009.

In 2009, an anticipated new intake of 75 - 80 students will occur. The involvement of Christian Childcare International will allow a lot of children in the area to access their program. They are admitting 75 students of the prerequisite age per quarter.

This means that Be Kids Day Care centre is still crucial for children who do not meet the Christian Childcare International requirements. Our older 17 and 18 year old students who have never been to school can still learn to read and write. And we will continue to assist children unable to access the school program due to lack of basic educational and social skills. Moving forward, we expect to have about 70 - 80 children (or two instead of three classes) for two years. The children will then progress to government run schools if we can continue to help them make that transition.

Scholarships

As each Day Care Centre intake is generally two years, we had planned in 2009 to pay for two children to attend a nearby boarding school. However, with the commencement of the Christian Children International Program, this is no longer necessary.

Feeding Program

Be Kids continues to provide the Centre’s children with morning porridge and lunch of maize and beans. Lunch is also provided for 200 - 230 other children who attend normal schools. This feeding program continues because many of the former Day Care Centre students still have no other source of food. The alternatives are kind neighbours, if they have food to share, or stealing from the marketplace.

Be Kids Member Volunteers

Between April and August 2007, Paula Day, a qualified primary school teacher taught at the Day Care Centre. The experience provided mutual enrichment for both the children and Paula. In June 2008, Becci Biltoft and Nickey Lawton, a geologist and a heavy truck driver in Leonora, stayed a month with the children. They brought a great deal of happiness to the children by building swings, climbing frames and other play equipment. We are very proud of the contributions that our members make to our projects.

Funds

We have been paying 35,000 ksh per year to maintain the school and the feeding programme. These funds pay for two teachers, two cooks, one teacher’s aide, replacement of educational amenities and food supplies.

Now that the day care intake may be reduced, we will be reviewing the Budget in December 2008. Although we anticipate that the attendee numbers will be reduced we do not think that our contribution will be lessened because any savings will be taken up by higher cost of food and the growing number of children accessing our feeding program.

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