Lack of proper sewage, waste disposal and clean water are challenges that residents of Kariobangi have faced for many years. A good number of health challenges we deal with at Hands of Love are gastrointestinal infections related to contaminated water.
But there is positive movement in the direction of making clean water more accessible to resident of Kariobangi and surrounding slum areas. Since November 2018, Nairobi Water and Sewerage Company has been installing Automated Water Vending Machines (locally called water ATMs). These ‘ATMs’ supply water securely via a smart card-based payment system. Users load up “WaterCards” with credit, then use them to buy water via the ATM’s touch screen. Residents can now spend just half a shilling to fill a 20 liter (5 gallon) container where before they would buy the same for 10 shillings from water cartels. More importantly, the water quality is good.
This is good news for the neighborhood and the school and an unexpectedly good move by Nairobi Water and Sewerage Company especially because we are not used to receiving good services from public utilities.
In October 2016 Astur’s parents filled an application form for her to join Hands of Love. After going through the selection process (home visits and interviews) she was among 52 children whose applications were successful and were schedule to start school in January 2017. But she would never start.
In November, she was taken to hospital for a routine vaccination. The visit turned out to be anything but routine. Two weeks after she developed an infection that by mid December had led to both sides profound hearing loss.
Although Astur couldn’t start school, we kept in touch with her and her family and have helped the family navigate through Kenyan public health system. Both her dad and mum have no education and being very religious were quick to attribute what had happened to the will of God. This attitude by the parents quickly frustrated our efforts to have the hospital take responsibility.
Hands of Love continues to support the family facilitating hospital visits and linking up the family with organisations that can help. But after two years they have resigned to themselves to their fate. It is easy to see that they (especially her mother) have never gotten over the initial emotions they had when Astur first lost her hearing. They worry their child will never regain her hearing and wonder what this means for her future.
Astur is a bright lovely child. Hearing loss is shaping her life in a way it does not have to. By donating just $1 a day, you can help us improve her situation. Doctors say that a cochlear implant can help regain her hearing but it is an option that is costly and her family cannot afford. Even if she doesn’t regain her hearing she needs to start schooling.
Tamara is a seven years old girl in grade 2. One of the twenty three second graders who have now left Hands of Love and will be other schools next January.
Two years ago, her mother walked through Hands of Love doors seeking admission for her into our school. She shared with us a touching story of resilience and perseverance which we would like to tell you today.
Tamara’s Mum, Judith married when she was only eighteen years old to a man twenty years her her senior. Shortly after they began their married life together she found out she was expecting a child. She and her husband reacted very differently to this news. While she was excited to be carrying the baby she had prayed for, her husband was not ready to be a dad and wanted the pregnancy aborted. That was, so to say, the beginning of the end.
Judith decided decided to hold on, determined, in her own words, “to accept the child as a gift from God.” When time came she delivered a bouncing baby girl. Unfortunately, less than one year after her daughter was born her marriage was broken beyond repair. Her husband left and in a short time disappeared from their lives completely.
That was the beginning of what she describes as the “darkest hour” in her life. Left to raise her daughter alone, with no qualifications to her name, she had a hard time finding and holding a job. “We got through that period by the grace of God” she recounts. The only work she could get was doing other people’s laundry and cleaning. She would also do shifts in Kariobangi’s small factories and operate a food stall in the streets. When she was working there was no one to be there for her daughter when she needed looking after. Judith struggles to keep her child fed, educated and healthy. Just managing to keep her head above the water, often depriving herself to make sure there is enough for her daughter. Her dedication shows, Tamara is one of the cleanest child in the school and she does well in her studies.
Judith’s story is a story of hope and is a story that is similar to tens of other HoL families. More than a third of our families are single parent families led by young mothers most of whom got their first child when they were teenagers. Majority are hardworking and do their best each day to ensure their kids get a better life. They fight every day for their children.
Hands of Love is proud to be fighting on their side. We realize that education presents the best opportunity for them to escape the trap of inter generational cycle of poverty. You can be part of this story by supporting Hands of Love.
For just $1 a day, you can help us continue providing severely disadvantaged children aged 3 – 7 with education, two nutritious meals per day and basic healthcare by donating $365 – or any other amount
Two weeks ago I received a call from Fernando’s mum saying that he was missing. Fernando, a grade three boy was a student at Hands of Love from January 2015 to December 2017. He had been missing for three days and the mother wanted my help in the search efforts. After searching for two days we located at Dandora dumpsite – Nairobi’s biggest dumpsite.
We learnt that he had been lured into joining a gang of teenage boys who scavenge the dumpsite for scrap metal and other things they call sell. Difficult situation at home could also have contributed to his running away. Youth crime and gang culture – outcomes of exclusion – are becoming widespread in Kariobangi. This gangs sometimes recruit young vulnerable boys aged 8-10.
After we found him Fernando didn’t want to go home with his mother. He wanted to come home with me. I had to stop and think. His condition was bad. Dirty. Stinky. I looked at him and at that moment he was almost unlovable, but I found love anyway and took him home with me. He was afraid to go home with his mother probably because she would have beaten him. But he is okay now. After staying at my house for a week I bought bus tickets for him and his brothers to visit their grandmother in Siaya – western Kenya.
Fernando’s story shows the dedication Hands of Love has to the children and the families we serve. Even after children have left our school we remain in touch with them and their families and continue to help where we can.
Meet Nacho Mirya, a grade 2 nine year old girl from Uganda who joined Hands of Love school in January 2015. Her mum Scovia fled to Kenya from Uganda to escape an abusive marriage in 2013.
Nacho was initially left with her dad in Uganda. Scovia initially settled in Busia – a town on Kenya -Uganda border – were she had found work as a live-in domestic servant. In 2014 she moved to Nairobi with the family she was working for. The same year her ex-husband kicked Nacho out of their former home in Uganda when he remarried. This meant that Scovia had to leave her job so that she could live with her daughter.
Scovia narrates that it was very difficult living with her daughter in a foreign city. They moved from one slum to another so that she could go to where odd jobs were available. In August 2015 they settled in Kariobangi. Shortly after arriving in Kariobangi Scovia was encouraged to enroll Nacho at Hands of Love by a neighbor whose child was schooling with us. She had gotten a job at a carpenter’s shop – helping sand-down and paint furniture – and didn’t have a place to leave her daughter as she went to work.
She has been working at the same job for four years now making $2 a day. Last year (2017) she remarried and the family now has a two weeks old baby. The money that she and and the husband makes is not enough for housing and food. This means that Nacho sleeps without eating many nights and depends on the food she gets at school. Without Hands of Love this girl would probably be out of school and hungry.
365 is a campaign to raise funds for Hands of Love, a school in the slums of Kariobangi in Nairobi that provides education, two nutritious meals per day and basic healthcare to children aged 3-7
What can you do with $1?
In Nairobi one can do quite a few things. You can buy 2 -3 cups of coffee / tea, you can buy two matatu (public transport) tickets for a 6 -10 miles trip, you can buy 2 pounds of sugar, or four pounds of corn flour to make ugali – the staple food in Kenya.
There is something else you can do. For just $1 a day, you can send a child to Hands of Love school for a full year. With the money Hands of Love will educate, feed and provide basic healthcare for a severely disadvantaged child from the slums of Kariobangi in Nairobi.
We currently serve 157 children and provide support to their families in order to encourage their social, emotional, and cognitive development. Without our Hands of Love most of this children will be out of school. Please consider donating $365 – or any other amount so that we can continue keeping these children in school.
Beginning today we are going to be sharing stories that show how your support can make a big difference in the lives of HoL children.
As a school, we sometimes focus so much on what we want/need that we do not yet have that it is easy to forget how lucky we are to have what we have. This point was driven home by a tour of slum schools in Korogocho and Ngomongo I recently had with friend.
The situation in this schools is very depressing. It is hard to imagine how learning goes on in such deprived circumstances. Inadequate and untrained teachers, very dark classrooms, leaking roofs, inadequate desks, and basics such as chalkboards, pencils, and notebooks lacking.
We could be like any of these schools but for the generous support we receive from friends in Italy and the US. So I wanted to take a moment to tell them how grateful we are.
Difficult to accept, yet very true. Very difficult to understand, yet very real. To lose someone so special is really hard to bear. It hardly seems believable that Jared is no longer there.
One week he was with us, learning, running around, asking questions, full of life. The next, he was sick, bedridden, and in a few days he would be gone. Gone. Never to come back. Ooh Jared you left us far too early, before your time it seems. And now you’ll never have the chance to fulfill your dreams.
It is hard to lose a child, at Hands Love our hope is that every child under our care grows to their full potential. This children are the promise of a better future in a neighborhood where a lot of things do not work. In ten years of our operation we’ve never had to deal with a loss like this. So, it is hard but however hard, we take comfort in the thought of all the memories we have.
We hold the memories very firm to us. They come to mind time and again, reminding us of the happiness he brought to us. The good times we have shared since he joined Hands of Love on January 22, 2014 when he was only three and a half years old. As days go by, in our hearts his memory is kept. He will be forever be in our hearts.
At this difficult time our thoughts and prayers are with his family. His mum Rose Ingesia, father Charles Kwendo, Sisters Peris, Josephine and Mercy, and niece Laura.
This week marked the end of the second semester. Teachers prepared report cards and sat down with parents to discuss academic progress made by their children. Preparations for Jared’s burial continued.
The school closed for a three week break on August 1
The school continues to receive contributions from parents and friends of the school. We are grateful to the support we are receiving. This funds will help pay the mortuary fees, hospital bill and other costs associated with the funeral the date for which has now be set for August 14.
Second visit by Mr. Tom’s Family
Mr. Tom and his family visited the school on Thursday of this week. The main purpose of the visit was interact with parents and teachers and learn how the school works and its challenges and successes. They had very good meetings with parents and teachers. The interactions with Kathy and Katie who are both teachers back in the US were very enriching to the teachers.
Tom, Kathy and Katie held discussions with 6 HoL parents who were available on thursday, the director and Anthony also participated in the discussions. The parents spoke about their lives in Kariobangi, what they do to earn a living their experience with HoL their challenges and hope for the future. They expressed their wish for the visitors to help with acquisition of uniforms and support the extension of the school up to grade 8. Overall the meeting was very productive and helped the visitors gain a deeper understanding of life in kariobangi and connect with the parents.
After the meeting with parents another meeting was held with teachers. Again the purpose of this meeting was for the visitors to understand how the school works. Teachers introduced themselves and explained their work with children and the most urgent needs in their classes. The visitors pledged to look into ways they could support some of the teachers needs.
Kathy and Katie also engaged the teacher in teaching methodologies and shared insights on maintaining discipline in the classroom. Katie shared with teachers login details of a site where teachers can download worksheets and other teaching resources
Overall Tom, Kathy and Katie’s visit was very uplifting for HoL family and we hope they will be able to visit us again soon
End of Semester Tests
The students did their end of semester assessment tests this week.