The following is a brief update on the progress we have made at Hope Children’s Home.
1. Construction of the safe house
When we relocated the children from Nairobi we had constructed 4 rooms for them (2 rooms to house the girls, 1 for the boys and the remaining one as a store). Our initial plan and desire was to construct a facility with small rooms each housing a maximum of 5 children with their house parents.
However, when the department of children’s services visited our facility a directive was given to construct separate units for the boys and girls distant from each other. We didn’t have the funds to do the construction, but the little we had enabled us to add 3 more rooms for the girls, a kitchen, dining room and a room for the house parents’ room.
2. Getting schools for the children.
While in Nairobi, all the primary school-going children were schooling at Candlelight School and those in secondary schools were admitted in schools managed by our friends and partners. When we moved them to Kitale, the challenge was to look for schools for all of them. It wasn’t so challenging for the primary school going children as we managed take them to two different schools so they could walk as a group to and from school. The younger children (grades 1 to 3) were taken to a nearby private school and the rest were taken to a government school that is about a one hour walk from the institution.
We realized that the quality of education at the private school was poor and decided to move them to a government sponsored school. We moved 2 more children to the school and left only one who was very young to walk to and from the school. The biggest challenge was securing vacancies for those in high schools Thanks to God, we managed to get them places in different schools and they are now all settled.
One of our objectives is to sustainably meet the nutritional needs of our facility. In Nairobi we used to buy almost everything for the children. With God having blessed us with land, we have decided to invest in farming to meet the food demand and possibly sell the surplus to support us in meeting other challenges related to the children. This year’s yield wasn’t encouraging due unfavourable weather. However, we managed to harvest 20 bags of corn and vegetables to feed the children. The corn is projected to last us 7 months, meaning that we shall buy food for only 3 months before the next harvest.
East Africa growers, a food growing and export company in Nairobi and Usaid have recently started a partnership with farmers in this area for the farming of French beans we also decided to join the foray and see how much this will give us. We have dedicated two acres of land for this during the pilot phase. If the returns are good as projected, we intend to increase the acreage subsequently.
We are also rearing 2 cows to supply us with milk for the children. In addition there are 5 sheep which sometimes supplement the children’s diet on a need basis-especially during special functions. These have helped in cutting down the cost of procuring the items.
In addition, we have introduced aquaponic farming as part of our effort to use technology for food production. The aim is to have a variety not only for the targeted market but also the children that we look after.
4. “Giving back to the community” initiative
When we moved the children from Nairobi some of the villagers were disgruntled and very much against the idea. Their contention was that we had brought children from a different county and were not supporting those from their community. We took their concerns seriously and incorporated them in our community approaches. We are gradually becoming an instrument of change in this community and the community members have changed their initial perceptions about our institution. Among the initiatives the institution has taken are;
- Mentorship and coaching through holding inspirational talks in local schools
- Conducting seminars and establishing Bible clubs for the children in the community
- Giving a playground for the children in the area to play and have fun
When we went for grade 8 students’ prayer day in the same school our children are schooling, most of the speakers spoke well of our children. All have brought a positive impact in their classes and are very respectful.
5. Challenges and plans for 2014
We are proud of what we have achieved in this short period, though some of our plans still remained unaccomplished. Among these includes:-
- Electricity- One of the changes that our children encountered was lack of power in their facility. While in Nairobi they would do their assignments, watch TV and inspirational video tapes. Always when coming from school they are given home work and they need enough light for them to study well. Most are forced to do their home work before they take dinner because they prefer using natural light than the lamps. It’s their prayer and indeed ours, that electricity be connected to the facility so they can learn and perform well. We have been given a quotation of $15,000 for us to get electricity in the institution. The high costs are due to the fact that institution is the very far from the nearest transformer and we need to pay for a transformer.
- Up to now we don’t have the school fees for the students transitioning to high school in 2014. 6 of the children are expected to join high schools while one will be completing high school and has high expectations of joining college. It is our hope and prayer that partners will come on board and help these children realize their dreams.
- For us to tackle the challenges to food security and project sustainability, the use of appropriate technologies cannot be overemphasized. The use of drip irrigation as opposed to dependence on the natural weather for food production will play a big part in this endeavor. The aim is to maximize on the production per acreage and this will perhaps help in partly alleviating the other challenges we currently face. We intend to work with other partners including the Agriculture ministry, Usaid, East African Growers, etc in ensuring that this objective is achieved.
© Sahaya International, 2017