Another amazing visit with so much packed into such a short time. 7 Uzima supporters flew out to Nairobi then Kisumu on February 9th and put their hearts into helping Uzima on their visit.
Everyone worked so hard and made a huge difference. We were a very diverse bunch ranging from age 12 to retirement, from hairdresser to Youth worker and some of us hadn't met each other before the trip. Despite this, our united goal of helping Uzima joined us together as a strong team with each of us finding our role and everyone finding that they could really help Uzima with the skills and talents that they had.
Somehow we got 14 x 23Kg cases through to Kisumu without paying any overweight charges, packed with uniform from Carisbrooke Primary School. We spent a couple of days in the busy town of Kisumu getting supplies for the Centre and food for ourselves and finally we hired a minibus out to Uzima, which despite being completely overloaded only broke down once during the 3 hour drive.
The new guest house close to the Orphan Centre was a welcome sight and we were particularly pleased to find the beds comfortable, the roof almost completely free of bats and joy of joys -
We saw the borehole in action which has made such a difference to the school. The children now wash their hands before eating and have plentiful water to drink during the day. No more long trips to buy water from other boreholes and even a small amount of electricity supplied from the solar pump to charge our mobiles and laptops. Some of the children who arrive at school really dirty get a stand up wash with some special soap that helps to clear lice and keep them a bit more hygienic. A new fence surrounds the school and a night watchman guards the site every night. We did a lot of foot washing and jigger treatments which should reduce with the new school floors and shoes that we bought for everyone. 5 children's feet were treated at the nearby clinic because they were so bad. Sore feet mean no school and therefore no food and clean water, so treatment is really important.
We visited numerous children in their own homes, had a party that involved biscuits, fruit juice and a football match (well done Joseph and Emily) and tried to teach the children about putting litter in the bin! Rumour apparently went round the children however that we had collected up the fruit juice boxes because we were going to refill them -
During our visit we watched as a wood saving stove was built in the grounds by a builder called Bernard from Uganda. Bernard and his antics is yet another story but his expertise at making a school size stove finally produced a huge stove that should be far more fuel efficient and kinder to the environment (and the cook) than cooking for 240 kids on an open fire. We were also introduced to a water free, composting toilet that was installed at the guest house and given some expert advice on starting to plant an orchard on donated land by the Centre.
The new school building was well under way and during our visit there was a noticeable increase in the height of the walls. The builder was keen to get the roof on before the long rains that start in March. The borehole's tank was being used to the full by the builders and it's difficult to imagine the extra cost and work that would have gone into building the school without easy access to water. The advantage of adding another storage tank in the future, with needing irrigation and selling the water to the community, was obvious and when the building is complete this may be something to fund raise for.
13 children who all suffer from long term conditions were taken to a local hospital by Sue and Evans to be seen by a paediatrician. Their problems ranged from years of pain in the abdomen, sickle cell anaemia, epilepsy, bone problems to urinary incontinence and pain etc. With no NHS many of these children had never seen a doctor and many suffer continuously with no pain relief or treatment. A way forward to helping these kids is on the agenda but treatment can be costly and as ever more funds would help to alleviate their suffering.
Evan's (founder and director of the Centre) said to me 'the prayer of an orphan is very strong'. The visitors this year had a sense that somehow they had been a part of the answer to these children's desperate prayers.
On the last assembly the children sang us some songs that we had become familiar with over the visit. Now we had caught on to the words of the English songs our enthusiastic singing with actions clearly amused and delighted the children.
'He turns my life around -