Friday, 21 February 2020

Different Sides of Nairobi

Our apologies for taking so long between blogs. As you will see, we are extremely busy and have had little time to sit down.

February 16
We experienced how people worship in Kenya by attending a Sunday service. Beautiful music and dance at a gathering of a community of faith. Wonderful!
We took the afternoon sorting through all the items and slotting which items were going to Mathare, to Mary Thamari and the Life in Abundance program and to Compass when we return both Wednesday the 19th and one last time on the February 26th.

February 17:  Mathare
Today we visited the Mathare slum. John, a resident, opened his home to us so that we could gain more understanding of life in the slums. Pictures can only give a two-dimensional image; they do not offer sounds, smells, nor anything physical like heat, humidity, etc. To walk in the area amongst the people and to sit in John’s tiny living space was eye-opening to say the least.

We were brought to the three schools we support including the Kariobangi orphanage. Rodgers, our contact with the MCO (Mathare Community Outreach), was happy to show us the three kitchens and some classrooms Tumaini Afrika has funded. A lot has changed since TA’s last visit in 2018 thanks to our many supporters and the steadfast work of Rodgers and his team! 

We also visited the dormitories at the orphanage that tragically caught on fire this past year, causing some major damage. Fortunately, no was hurt or killed. Besides the obvious damage to the structure, students’ personal items were destroyed as were the mattresses purchased after a campaign led by our Tumaini Afrika members Gabi and Carey. Rodgers and his wife Grace lived in a room within the dormitory so that they could act as parents for the orphans who lived there. Their home was also damaged and personal items lost. 
We were happy to see that they have managed to temporarily relocate everyone while repairs are made. They have replaced the roof already but a lot of work is still left to do before all can move back in. 

As is the tradition, we were treated to some wonderful student presentations. One that particularly comes to mind is the student residents’ presentation of a song called  "Never Give Up"  and a poem written by a form 2 (grade 10) student about all that Tumaini Afrika has done for them. As we listened, we came to realize that these students have become resilient citizens. The MCO, comprised of faithful mentors, has become a strong force within this community. They have been instrumental in giving hope to so many... always looking towards what they can do to change the lives of so many, one person, one family, one challenge at a time. It has validated the work the Tumaini Afrika group and other supporters have done to support their efforts up until now. They have been able to accept our hand up to make great things happen in their community!

February 18: Back to MCO schools
Today, the Tumaini Afrika team, now known as Team Faraj ;-), offered a mini-retreat to clergy by way of a discussion on grieving in today’s world, lead by our very own Bruce. Micheline met with staff members from PP1 (junior kindergarten) to form 4 (grade 12) to discuss special needs in their classes and possible strategies to help in student success. Holly gave her geography lesson comparing Canada to Kenya. Jeannine gave her lesson on the various roles we play and then followed with her music lesson on notes and rhythms, always a crowd pleaser! Judy and Linda offered their art lesson once again to a fresh group of eager learners!
After lunch, we all helped Linda and Judy present and distribute Days for Girls kits to 100 very happy young women! The girls were especially impressed by Bruce’s openness to being a part of it all. 
Once they all got their kits, the girls were all quick to strike a pose with their new gifts! Girl power at its best!!
It was a good day!

Saturday, 15 February 2020

A School Full of Valentines

As promised, here is our blog about February 14th. We have also included today’s activities so we will be all caught up!

February 14 - Valentine’s Day!

We returned to Compass school in the morning to complete our scheduled two and a half day visits. 

The classroom painting and some more repairs were completed thanks to Faraj’s coordinating the students, mixing the paint and drawing the lines for the "baseboards".  Holly and Micheline jumped in on the painting as well. A few students were even checking in on them and congratulated them on their work. Foremen in the making!!!

Bruce focused on repairs including door hinges and a few more of the many desks that require lots of work! The students will finally have something decent to write on!!! Having said that, there are still so many repairs left. 

Grade 3 students benefited from an art lesson with Judy, Linda and Jeannine. (They were a little disappointed they hadn’t had it yesterday like the younger ones.) Linda was very touched by a young girl who made her a special Valentine’s Day card... a testament to how much she loved the time spent with her.

Then came lunch!  The Tumaini Afrika crew distributed Canada and Ontario pins, peanuts, bananas, oranges and Valentine’s Day candy to all students and staff.  Luckily, the students had pockets to carry all their treats. It is important to know that they seldom get fresh fruits and treats. We cannot possibly explain who was happier, the children and staff or the TA team who witnessed the joy!

Before leaving after lunch, students wanted to dance and sing with us.  The children gathered around Jeannine and Micheline.  Jeannine started us off with « This Little Light Mine ».  WOW!! So many children dancing with happiness!  We followed with the Alleluia we had taught them yesterday. What a choir!!! 

We thought that that would be it and before we could start our goodbyes, two children started a new song that all students jumped in on. They certainly taught us a few moves of their own. No sooner did one song finish, another student started a new song with the actions and dance moves to go with it.  This kept going for at least another 15 minutes.  We all got our cardio in for the day! We finally worked our way to the van amongst children giving us hugs and saying their goodbyes. Thank goodness we will be going back and are already afraid  of how hard it will be for us to say goodbye to them before we leave for Sault Ste. Marie.  Nonetheless, this was by far the best day ever!!!!

February 15 

Just when we thought we had the best day ever...

As we shared breakfast, Holly read a message from Flora, our rock at Compass school. Here is a little excerpt:
"Compass staff spent the rest of yesterday repeating how they had seen God...You do great works, may you all live healthy long lives, we keep you  in our thoughts and prayers. Have a good day and weekend."
Compass School Staff

Thank you to all our supporters for helping us make these moments with these special friends!  We are truly blessed!

After such a great start to the day, we visited the giraffe sanctuary and had a blast feeding them. Many giraffe kisses for all. We then worked our way to Kazuri Beads to buy some handmade beads and pottery in support of a co-op of women that was created to fight poverty in the area. 

Unbeknownst to us, the best was yet to come. 

Faraj and his family invited us to have lunch at his home in the Kibera slum (1 1/2 square miles, with over 1 million people, in the center of Nairobi).  As soon as we arrived, we were greeted by his daughters, Ilham and Nusyba, his wife Fatima and his mother (We just called her Mama Faraj ).  We each got to hold their new born son, Mohammed and met Faraj’s younger sister and uncle. We shared stories about their home, their traditions and ours back in the Sault. We feasted on a traditional African meal and just enjoyed the feeling of being family. This is a moment we will never forget as it is forever etched in our hearts. A very touching experience!!
When we asked Faraj if we could post pictures of our time spent together he replied: “It is fine. You are my family.”

We are off to church tomorrow and the Mathare slum on Monday. More to come...

Friday, 14 February 2020

Our First Days in Kenya

We know you have been waiting to hear from us.  It’s been a very busy few days but are very glad to be able to share our adventures so far.

February 9 - 11

We started our travel with a major glitch causing us to arrive in Nairobi much later than planned. Due to a severe storm in Europe, we were forced to change our connecting flight to Nairobi via Dubai instead of Zurich causing a domino effect. Instead of arriving early Monday night, we landed in Nairobi just before 6 am on Tuesday morning. As you can imagine, we were all extremely tired after this extended travel with little to no sleep. But in the big picture... first world problem! 
Luckily Faraj was there to greet us, help us collect and load all our luggage and bring us over to Kijiji House to freshen up. 
You would think we would take a little time to rest but decided to hit the ground running to try and stay awake as long as possible. Off to the elephant sanctuary! Seeing those baby elephants running in to be fed and hearing each one’s story was truly a wonderful way to begin our stay!  
We headed back to Kijiji House to unpack, get our bearings and try to stay awake for as long as we could. The next day was going to be a big one! We were heading to Compass school to meet staff and students and begin our two and a half day stint to see how things were going there.

February 12:  Compass school Day 1

We arrived to some very happy children waving and yelling Holly and Jeannine’s names as they recognized them from Tumaini Afrika’s previous visits. Others giggled when they saw four new faces coming out of the van, one sporting a beard, others with hair like they had never seen. There were high fives for everyone before we were directed to a classroom to be treated to a wonderful production of songs and poems by some of the classes. 

Classroom Welcome


Holly Doing Her Thing
We were also introduced to the board members and staff members and welcomed as friends... no longer visitors. That was a very touching statement that speaks volumes to the work that Tumaini Afrika members and supporters have been doing for the past 6 years.

After all the formalities, we got to work visiting the different classrooms, speaking to staff, teaching a few classes and distributing some Days For Girls kits. 

Days For Girls Kits
Days For Girls Kits





Bruce headed to the hardware store with Faraj to gather supplies and tools for painting classrooms and repairing desks for the next day. Jeannine even got in a quick game of football (that would be soccer to us Canadians) so they could test out their new soccer balls before we left for the day. What a great day!!

February 13:  Compass school Day 2

Another busy day!  After being greeted by staff and students, we went back to work! Bruce and Faraj started painting and repairing with the help of many helpful little hands! Holly taught a geography class comparing Canada to Kenya. 

Students seemed quite happy to hear about the similarities and the differences and asked many questions. Younger students jumped right into an art class with Judy, Linda and Jeannine. Micheline met with teachers to ask about special needs in their class and help with teaching strategies. Let’s just say they have very little and need a lot!   

We spent the afternoon focussing on the Crèche, the current location for the 3-5 year olds and future site of Compass. We toured the buildings and studied the plans for new buildings to house the needed classrooms. It is certainly very promising for both students and staff. 

From there, we travelled to meet with David Wakogy, the founder of Compass along with the board members and invited guests Julia Clark, a Saultite who now lives in Kenya and Lois Shaw, our friend and trip organizer. You will all have to wait until our presentation in the Sault to find out what it was all about but we can tell you that we were extremely impressed and felt very positive about the happenings and future of our Crèche and Compass students and staff!!!

February 14 

We are tired! We will tell you about it tomorrow :-)

Saturday, 8 February 2020

And We Are Off!

Two 50 pound bags each, filled with all the goodies we're taking with us to Nairobi, plus our personal luggage.    Thanks to all of you for your support.  We wouldn't be able to do it without you!

Thursday, 19 September 2019

Update from Tumaini Afrika July 2019

In 2016 during Tumaini Afrika’s trip to Kenya we toured the Mathare slum, the second largest slum in Nairobi (about 750,000 people) which was an eye opening view into the life of people who are extremely poor.  In one area of this Mathare slum, a  husband and wife team had started the Mathare Community Outreach where youth in the area attend school and get fed each day.  Parents send their children to school because they are fed daily and as a by- product of being fed, these youth are receiving an education . Because T.A. members were so dramatically affected by what they viewed in the Mathare slum we started funding projects to assist this school. In 2016 and 2017, three kitchens have been rebuilt by funds from T.A.  at which over one thousand youth are fed each day. In the spring of 2019 we built two new classrooms in Mathare with the generous partnership of JJ Hilsinger, which has allowed more children to attend school. 
In 2018, during the T.A. member’s trip to Kenya, they visited the Kariobangi area approximately 1 km from the Mathare slum. Here they found the Kariobangi orphanage which was operated by the social worker from the M.C.O. and his wife, and consisted of a boy’s and a girl’s dormitory and a school for these orphans. Once again the T.A. members were so impacted by what they saw that they bought new mattresses for the children in the orphanage along with bedding and blankets as the children complained of being cold at night. The broken windows were repaired and curtains bought to make the children feel valued and cared for. In the boy’s dormitory the bathroom was repaired and the response from Rodgers, the operator of the orphanage, was the children feel safe and cared for now”. 
Earlier this month T.A. received an email from Rodgers explaining that the girl’s dormitory had burned down due to faulty wiring, and although all the girls were physically uninjured, they were traumatized by the loss of everything including their beds, bedding, school uniforms, school books, soap, toothbrushes etc. T.A. was asked for support. The request included funding for 12 bunk beds, and writing books for school. The orphanage requires a complete rebuild so that the children can be moved back to their home from their temporary lodging in a nearby church. The T.A. members met to discuss how we could assist this orphanage with our limited funds and it was agreed that we would send $2500, which would either pay for the purchase of the 12 bunk beds and school supplies or the funds could be used towards the rebuild of the girl’s dormitory, which would allow the children to relocate back to their home despite having no beds or personal supplies.   
Meanwhile the original project of T.A. in 2014 had been to support Compass School, a school for mostly orphans and refugees, on the outskirts of Nairobi. It costs to go to school in Kenya and these vulnerable students do not have the funds to pay for uniforms and school books and supplies. Compass was formed by an NGO to accommodate these children and get them off of the streets. Compass has had its ups and downs over the years and T.A. has been helping with what they can.  Currently we continue to fund a lunch program and teacher Flora’s salary. Flora was hired by T.A. to teach sewing to the students as a life skill. Flora has become a respected leader and social worker at Compass School. Because of the current lack of a strong Board and the uncertainty of this school, T.A. has not funded any large projects at this school of 120 students. The government is planning to take back the land that Compass School is on and continue to build a health centre there.  They have not offered Compass any other land.   
This past month, T.A. member, Heather Douglas, was visiting her sister in Nairobi and went to check on how things were going at Compass. Heather and a British doctor friend organized a medical clinic for checkups for these children and took care of many health concerns.  T.A. funded this worthwhile endeavor. 
While Heather was out visiting with Flora, they ran into a man named David Wakogy, who Flora knew. David, it turns out, was the originator of Compass! After meeting with Flora and Heather and hearing about the plight of the school, he has once again become interested in restoring Compass to its former function.   David advises that he has the deed to land nearby which is owned by Compass School and is recommending that with T.A. support we could build classrooms on this site and relocate the Compass students to this permanent location.  With this relocation, the future of this school would then be secured and funds could be provided to ensure these youth continue to be educated. These Compass students are the poorest of the poor with in many cases no parents to provide for their needs. David will take care of getting a new Board set up. T.A. members, Diane, Holly and Heather have had two meetings on the phone with David and are hopeful for the future of Compass. 
So the dilemma for Tumaini Afrika presently is two fold, as we try to provide for the crisis situation at the Kariobangi orphanage to return these children to some semblance of normalcy, and then there is the need to build a structure(s) so that Compass school children can be permanently relocated to a secure school.  Tumaini Afrika is also aware that timing of this relocation is critical while David is interested and available for support.  The estimated cost for the building of this Compass school could be as high as $6,000. We have not been given a cost for the rebuild of the Kariobangi orphanage.  
T.A. will be hosting a second indoor garage sale on Oct 5, 2019 at St. Andrew’s Church auditorium as well as a Taste of Kenya dinner in January at the Water Tower Inn, as our large fundraisers. We also have our booth at The Ole Warehouse and will be setting up a table in November at the Station Mall Pre-Christmas Sale and at the Mill Market in December. The next T.A. trip to Kenya is in Feb. 2020 where we revisit the projects that we have sponsored.  We want people to know that our contacts for our projects have been reliable and honest. Receipts are submitted to T.A. upon the completion of funded projects as well as photos of the completed projects. We feel confident that every dollar is reaching the people in need in Kenya. We thank you for your support in the past and look forward to continued interest and support for our well thought out projects in the future.
Respectfully submitted Diane Hilderley treasurer T.A.

Monday, 10 June 2019

Update from Heather Douglas

This is the update I received from Heather Douglas who worked alongside Doctor Lucy at the Medical Clinic that was held at Compass School.  What great work they have done!

"I really believe that the medical camp was a smashing success in the way that it gave each child a chance to speak and voice concerns, in the way that it reminded the teachers and children of Tumaini Afrika and it's vested interest in their well-being and in the way that it truly caught some serious health issues.
The first day we weren't sure how things were going to go and added to the stress of logistics, Lucy had an immense report that she was in the middle of revising for a recent medical relief trip to Somalia. Her bosses are big wigs from organizations including UNICEF and WHO but she handled it spectacularly and jumped into Compass wholeheartedly.
She's too humble to say all of this but she was an absolute warrior when it came to getting help for the kids and honoring them by doing due process on each and every complaint; from sore tummies to bean's stuck in ears (the bean, it turned out, had been removed by another doctor earlier and the student just wanted Lucy to take a look).
We took over the office from the head teacher, Mr. Kamae - I'm not sure if you got to meet or interact with him on your last trip but he is a wonderful man, aged 73 and has given up on retirement and teaches the Grade 7 class.
In his office we put stacks of pink and blue cards for keeping the records on on the main desk along with an otoscope, flashlight, box of tongue depressors and hand sanitzer. We had a scale on the floor and taped to the wall a measuring tape to assess their weight and height.
The office has a small couch and on this we spread out a yoga mat and covered it with a sheet. The desk to the side of the larger one was dedicated to bright stickers, a bag of sweets and a jug of clean drinking water.
We started the camp with perhaps the most challenging class: nursery and pre-school. The kids were squirmy and shy and required a lot of work from teacher Rachel to help translate and draw them out.
Teacher Rachel was another hero of the camp spending hours asking kids Dr. Lucy's questions in Swahili and deciphering their sometimes cryptic responses. She also had information on how they performed in class, their family background and who and where their parents were. When a medication was needed; she would call and visit the pharmacy and bring back what was needed.
At the end of the first day; I was drained. It seemed like the kids at Compass had endured more health issues in their first 5 or 6 years than I had in my entire life. Their tummies were mostly all distended, there were many complaints due most likely to dehydration and it was clear that some students probably had needed glasses for a while. What to think; the check-ups were just the beginning.
The second and third day were less difficult; we had a groove and as the students got older, their English improved and we were able to move much faster: I would invite a student in, ask them to remove their jumper and shoes, weigh them and measure their height and record the measurements. In the meantime Lucy would be checking over a different student, starting off by asking them if they had any pains or issues, then by looking at their eyes, nose and mouth. She would listen carefully to their heart and lungs with here stethoscope then she would have them lay down on the couch and she would feel their abdomen. A quick check over the skin for rashes or parasites and then she would write careful notes. Once the check up was complete I would get their shoes back on and give them a sticker and sweet and then repeat the process again.
By the third day we felt like we knew Rachel and teacher Thelda, the Grade 6 teacher, like family; and the children were no longer apprehensive of us; any fear that Lucy was there to give injections had vanished, and on breaks they would come streaming in to grab our hands, give hugs, hand drawn pictures and notes. We were deeply touched.
I still feel that this is just the beginning for many of these children but I also feel that there has been priceless love given through this camp and that you and the rest of Tumaini Afrika, by having enabled Dr. Lucy to do this work, have left a deep and lasting memory. They are seen, they are loved and their lives and health matter; the actions speak to this.
This is a novel but I wanted to paint a picture of the three days so that we could share in the good feels!
I know that Lucy has been in touch and I will leave the medical speak to her as it is over my head! She certainly has given much of herself and I hope very much that you and Tumaini will get to meet her on your trip in Feb.
All the best,

May Activities

Jambo all!
What a busy and exciting month May has been! We have been preparing for our As Big As An Elephant Garage Sale on June 8, and so many of you have been dropping items off! Thank you! If you still have items to donate, St. Andrew’s Church is open to receiving goods on June 6 and 7 from 9-5. The Garage Sale goes from 8:30 to 1:00 this coming Saturday. Hope to see you there!

Our newly designed booth at The Ole Warehouse is open on Saturdays from 10-4 at 69 Church St. The co-op has a number of new vendors, so come and check us all out!

As was mentioned in the last email, Heather Douglas is in Kenya and is contributing so much to assist Tumaini Afrika and the children at Compass School! Heather’s friend, Dr. Lucy Pamment, is a British national who has been doing work in Africa for over 20 years. Heather told her about Compass School children and wondered if she might spend a few days examining these kids and getting them the help they may need. After checking with Flora and our Tumaini group and getting anticipated costs for this venture, we agreed that this was so important and a great opportunity to help.  Other Tumaini supporters have offered funds as well.  So far the costs have been just over $1100 Canadian. Heather worked alongside Dr. Lucy as they examined and treated over 100 children! Lucy continues to follow up with some of the more serious issues. ( Gloria had a very high heart rate and laboured breathing) They got her to the hospital and she was diagnosed with Pneumonia and treated.
She also treated distended stomachs, dehydration issues, worms and other parasites. She has suggested that the cooks boil water each morning so that the students have clean water for lunch.  The kids and staff loved Lucy and she loved going there as well! For more information check out Heather’s update letter on our website’s blog. That will begin next week! A special heartfelt thank you to Dr. Lucy Pamment and Heather Douglas! We are so grateful to be able to assist in getting the Compass kids the medical assistance they needed. Now, hopefully, feeling better will increase their ability to learn at school and give them a better quality of life.  Lucy continues to monitor at the school.  She is so dedicated!

So, hope to see you at the Garage Sale and come visit our booth on Saturdays at the Ole Warehouse, too!

Again, we could not do the work we do to help children in Kenya without your support!
Asante Sana!
Holly for Tumaini Afrika