2017 Visit to Uzima Day Care Centre
The visit this year found a team of 5 people from the Isle of Wight -
As we settled into the guest house and hung our mosquito nets up we began to hear of how the drought had affected Uzima by increasing the price of food drastically and stopping the care givers from sending contributions of food for the school that they had always done in the past. Their crops had failed and people were going hungry and even the water supplies had long queues. Many children at Uzima had no evening meal after school. As the borehole pump at Uzima had recently broken down, the school was having to buy water from a borehole by lake Victoria which is so far away they had to collect the water on motorbikes -
When there is a drought, it is the poorest who suffer the most. Later in the week we visited a young single mother who had a child at Uzima. She had 4 children altogether including a baby. As we left I asked her what she had planned for tea that evening….she replied that she had no food for an evening meal.
The huge drop in the exchange rate after Brexit has affected Uzima in Our Hands in the UK as we lose out when we send funds to Kenya, and to prevent the centre from suffering financially we have had to send considerably more. Now the drought means that they really need more again just to keep afloat.
While we were in Kisumu we paid for the borehole pump to be mended which cost over £1,000. We have just heard that it is up and running again.
The main story
The oldest children at Uzima are around 16 and 17 years old and will complete their final school exams in November 2017. After that any children who excel academically will need to find sponsorship through secondary education elsewhere. Most children however will want to gain some skills for the workplace with some vocational training.
If Uzima can't offer this for them then costs are again involved to go elsewhere and they will not continue in education. For the boys this means probable unemployment and hunger and for the girls it frequently results in prostitution to pay for food or teenage pregnancies.
For these reasons Evans would like to plan to have 2 classrooms and storage to deliver vocational training at Uzima. We made a small start this visit by purchasing 2 sewing machines funded by Uzima supporters to get the older children trained at school to use them -
This project is presently being planned and priced, so we will soon start a fundraising campaign to raise the money to pay for the new building, equipment and staff.
While on some home visits one afternoon we were reminded of just how important this project is. The first 2 homes were incredibly small mud huts squeezing in a single young mother and several children. The men had left some time before and had not returned and the children were in rags, often with jiggers and other health issues such as chest infections and malaria. The mothers were both in their early 20s now and had both had their first child in their early teens. The last home we went to was a girl of 13 who attends Uzima. She was the second to oldest child in a family of 4 children. The parents had been gone for 3 months and her older sister was believed to be working as a prostitute to get money for food. The older girls at Uzima have so much energy and enthusiasm for life and their futures, the stark comparison of these women in the community was clearly the direction their lives could/will take without further education.
During our trip we cleaned 100's of feet, treated scores of feet with jiggers, measured feet for new shoes, took 100's of photos, dressed wounds (Jane -
and most especially when their inhibitions went away as they got used to us strange masungu (white people).
We all tried types of food that we may not have chosen to and got expert at washing our whole bodies with a small bowl of water every morning. Norma was very brave getting on a piki piki (motorbike taxi) to take children to Buburi clinic and by the end of the week, looked completely at home jumping on. We visited the local clinic where the children are all treated for free under their Social Fund which we are very grateful on their behalf for. 'Friends of Buburi' a registered charity in the UK happens to have my sister (Jo Hanks)as a trustee! On one visit alone, children were treated for malaria, skin diseases and infected wounds.
The relatively new Special Needs class had a lovely teacher -
As a whole, the trip was a huge success, finding out just how Uzima is doing and we finished our visit with a half day safari to Nakuru National park taking Evans, the director of Uzima along with us. He had never seen the wild animals of East Africa that we saw on safari despite being a Kenyan, and enjoyed himself hugely with the new sights he encountered. Without Evans volunteering to take the lead, it would not exist and without our being able to leave the day to day running of it to him, we would be unable to support Uzima. The children love him and often report their gratefulness to him for helping them in their need.
In the next few weeks I will send out the new photos of all the sponsored children by email and thank you all once again for supporting Uzima.