Lewa Children's Home: Fall/Winter Update 2008
This is a subject much more dear to my heart: The Lewa Children's Home in Kenya.
I thought someone out there might enjoy reading the latest newsletter from my family friends, who run and founded the Lewa Children's Home.
I will be thinking about how I, in the green building industry, can help them... they are an amazing organization. In short, Phyliss has taken in abandoned children my entire life (er, actually... longer!), regardless of tribe, and has created an oasis for the desperate.
Dear friends of Lewa Children’s Home,
We hope each and every one of you all is well! Kindly find our September Newsletter for 2008; this will be our last one for this year. Otherwise, all our news worthy updates will be posted on our facebook page of our group —Friends of Lewa Children’s Home. You can become a member and/or support our cause—Lewa Children’s Home, Eldoret, Kenya .
Since May, the Home has admitted a total of 13 children in total; 4 babies-all whom were abandoned and taken to the Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital (MTRH), 3 from Eldoret Street Rehabilitation Program and the remaining 6 from the Internally Displaced families as a result of the 2007 post-election violence.
The (6) six children were abandoned by their mother at the Eldoret Show ground-IDP camp. The father, a shoe-shiner and the sole breadwinner could, not afford to meet all the family’s needs, as he too was living at the camp. As a result, the father would spend most of his time trying to look for ways to feed his children, which meant leaving the children alone for long periods of time. The eldest girl (age 12) would take care of her 5 siblings in the harsh environments of the IDP camp. The situation at the camp exposed the children to inadequate food & shelter, cold & rainy nights, desperation and to a point of abuse by the elder men at the camp. The 6 children were brought to the Home on 27th May 2008 and were eventually reunited with their relatives on September 2nd 2008.
All our children in school are doing their best in school. We managed to attend academic meetings, personal school visits and reviewed all progress report forms of all our children for the second term.
During the August holidays, 14 of our children were baptized by our local Catholic parish priest. The event was a success as all the children participated actively in all the church proceedings; singing, Bible readings and prayer requests. The children also participated in various weekend activities such as a sports day, which was arranged by one of our volunteers from France.
In general the children had a good holiday, assisting with work duties both at the Home and the Farm. The holidays also saw the older boys moving into the old round house which had been renovated due to lack of enough space in the main house. They were all happy as they also got a fun patron who lives with and assists them at the same time. Furthermore, a general meeting was held with all of our children concerning issues as their general behavior, discipline, and conduct with fellow children and workers. Responsibility was the main issue in addition to, their personal feelings about life at the home and at their respective schools as well. A few days after the meeting, we had great changes from everyone on all the issues raised at the meeting.
On health matters at the Home, the children have been falling sick more often than usual; most concerns being malaria, and chickenpox-which circulated from Kipkeino School to the Home. All our children of different ages were affected. Benard Kamar, one of our toddlers, managed to attend his eye check-up at Kenyatta National Hospital , Nairobi , thanks to his donors.
Compiled by Social Worker Lillian Nyongesa
Since the beginning of August, the Farm was busy preparing for the 2008 harvest season; this meant that the forage harvester needed to be in working order, all 4 tractors have to work and the trailers need to be adjusted to be able to take bigger loads. It is a bit like a circus really! As it only happens once a year and if all- no mechanical failures, good weather conditions and dry farm roads- goes well we usually finish within 3-4 weeks. If the situation is ideal we only stop the forage harvester in the evening as it gets dark and we fill and cover the silage pit after 3-5 days of harvesting.
Unfortunately, this has not been the case this year. The last week of August saw us starting off very well. The silage harvest was going on well and on a speedy note but when September rolled around, things went down hill. The first two weeks of the month it rained nearly on a daily basis- a total of 136 mm up till the 14th of September. Off-loading the trailers with the chopped maize is done manually, so when it rains we have to stop. Furthermore, the amount of rainfall in such a short period causes the roads to become impassable and some of the maize fields were water-logged. In such situations, we are required to wait for 1-2 days for dry weather in order to continue, which delays the whole process.
The third week of September, FarmChem-Seedlinks a Kenyan based company selling farm inputs like maize and vegetable seeds etc, used our small holder unit (zero grazing unit) to demonstrate some of their maize and vegetable varieties to farmers from within the district. Having seen the small-holder unit (a small farm of about 1 ha. that caters for 2 cows) they then visited the large scale farming system on Baraka Farm. The farmers were very interested in the dairy cows; as we explained to them how the cows are kept, fed and taken care of from the day they are born until the day they have their first baby calf.
The biggest obstacle to improved milk production in this area of Kenya is the little/poor fodder that is available for the animals. Improved genetics are more and more accessible to farmers and the infrastructure in the milk industry has also improved tremendously in the past 6 years, as dairy meals (concentrates) are made available. The quality of the dairy meals may not always be good and the price often high compared to the milk prices farmers receive. As a result, we still see fodder production as lagging behind to what it should be considering the location we are in which is relatively fertile and with a pleasant climate. Improved fodder production on farms could create employment and improved living standards for families through higher milk production.
Our horticulture department, especially our vegetable production needs a lot of attention. We are trying to focus on improving the soils fertility through the addition of organic matter (i.e.: farm yard manure, compost & green manure), the use of non-acidic, cheaper and regionally produced fertilizers (i.e.: rock phosphate, lime) and the need of a regular water supply to the growing plants. In the dry season that sounds logical but in the rainy season bouts of dry spells of 2-3 weeks or longer can also occur, especially when the water supply to the plant is far from ideal. Therefore, an irrigation system (i.e.: watering-can, overhead sprinklers or drip irrigation) is then essential, especially to harvest a good crop of vegetables after 3-4 months.
Compiled by Baraka Farm Manager, Jos Creemers
The last few weeks of the second term of the year were exciting ones for Kipkeino School . The 10th Annual Sports Day was held on June 21st and was probably the best ever. Kenya Power and Lighting donated numerous quick growing eucalyptus trees and as parents arrived they each had to plant a tree with their child. The trees are thriving and will supply the school with firewood within 6 years. The planting of trees for fuel is an on-going process on the school compound and at Baraka Farm.
Sergoit House made a clean sweep of the Junior and Senior Trophies and emerged the overall winners, followed by Elgon, Ndalat and Cherangany. The Guest of Honour was the famous Kenyan athlete, Ezekiel Kemboi. The parents’ team once again proved too strong for the staff team and won the tug-of-war.
July saw the long awaited return of the Administrator, Mr. Paul Scott and his wife Liz. During his stay in UK he had been hospitalized and had a total hip replacement. The arrival day was graced by the Bishop of Eldoret, Cornelius Korir who said Mass in school and blessed the whole community.
The first 2 weeks of the school ‘holiday’ were still very busy with activities which included the following:
· The Senior Girls’ Choir traveled to Kisumu, on the shores of Lake Victoria , for the Annual Music Festival. They managed to score 85% in their class and were placed 4th in the Republic of Kenya .
· Bongo Patrol of the Kipkeino Boy Scouts’ Troop headed off to Nairobi for the annual camp competition. Due to miscommunication, they arrived a day late and lost some initial marks, but they fought back bravely and managed to obtain 7th place out of the 18 finalists present.
· Three patrols of Girl Guides entered the District competition at a school on the outskirts of Eldoret. Drakensburg Patrol came 1st followed by Atlas Patrol in 2nd position and Everest in 4th position. The first 2 patrols now have to succeed in a Provincial Camp to decide who will go to Nairobi in December for the National Finals.
In the following months the school will embark upon the next phase of development. We are in urgent need of a sick bay where those boarding children who fall sick can be treated by a qualified nurse and, if necessary, spend a peaceful night away from the hustle and bustle of the dormitory.
We also need a well equipped laundry so that children’s clothes can be washed, dried and ironed. At present, the older children do most of their own washing as this is training them for entry into secondary school where they will be in full control of their own personal belongings. The clothes of the younger children are washed in a bath and ironed on a table.
One other requirement is a water purification plant which will make double sure that the water in the school maintains the necessary standards of purity.
Bread and Water for Africa has already supplied the funding for the completion of most of these projects and work will start in early October and continue into the new-year. We are grateful to our donors for the assistance in getting the infrastructure of the school completed.
In other news, Kipkeino School is one of an elite group of schools worldwide which are classified as “Olympic Schools”. The teacher designated to be the coordinator in the school, Mr. Roger Ogola, has already attended Youth Fora in The Czech Republic and Austria and will attend the 6th World Forum on Sport, Education and Culture to be held in Busan , South Korea during the month of September. This is all sponsored by the International Olympic Committee with the aim of teaching the Olympic principles to the Kipkeino children who will then spread them to schools in the area.
We also look forward to the end of this year when we intend to hold our Thanksgiving Day when we recognize the work and achievements of 2007. This would normally be held in January but that was not possible or appropriate this year. Those involved will be the entire school community whose members work tirelessly for the children entrusted to our care.
We look forward to continued peace so that we can continue with our work of educating young Kenyans to be upstanding citizens of the world.
Compiled by KKS Administrator, Paul Scott
Lewa Community Health Centre
We are still in the process of drafting our proposals for a community health centre on the farm. Fundraising efforts are under way.
We thank you for all your support and always assisting us with our work.