All posts by Richard

Catching up – Kenya 2017 (Part 2)

In our last post we caught up with Amina, Isaac, Riziki, Saidi, Steven, Edward, Emmanuel and Josephine who all live in Mtwapa. Over the years some of the children Milele supports have started to attend boarding schools (this is the norm for Kenyan Secondary schools) which means the past few days have been spent travelling across coast province tracking down sponsored children and finding out how they have been getting on.

The eldest sponsored child in boarding school is Charo who is coming towards the end of Form 3 (of 4) at Chasimba high school. Charo is doing well at school and has really thrown himself into school life being an active member of both the student council and the Christian Union. As head of the Christian Union he often leads prayers in school assembly and holds services with the other students showing his natural aptitude for being a great leader. He is also now a prefect, which apparently means he gets to wear a special blue shirt instead of the normal white uniform!

Charo
Charo

We got to experience Charo’s confidence and leadership when visiting Chasimba. Charo was excited to have use visit his school and was keen to show us his classroom. He strode confidently into the classroom which to our surprise was still full of students (the lesson having finished a few minutes ago). When Amy asked about the swahili words on the board Charo immediately instructed a class mate to give Amy a summary of what they had been learning and to our even greater surprise all his classmates happily went along with this!

Chasimba High School
Chasimba High School

As well as seeing Chasimba, we also visited Kilifi Township Secondary School, which is where Safari and Kaingu have been attending. We were so pleased when they got into the same school – these brothers have been in classes together since they were 7 and 8 years old and it is lovely to see them continuing to support and look after one another through high school too.

Kilifi Township Secondary School
Kilifi Township Secondary School

Kaingu and Safari were both very smart in their uniform, albeit with Safari’s shirt slightly more untucked and his tie slightly more lopsided than Kaingu’s! Both boys appear to be settling into Kilifi Township well. They are now coming to the end of their first year there in Form 1 and have had a big transition from primary to secondary school. The first thing for them to get used to is the very strict rules and regulations which secondary schools in Kenya typically have. I’m sure you can all imagine how this can be a bit of a shock to the system coming from a small, nurturing primary school – I have to say I can remember my first days as a new year 10 student in a vast college, feeling like a very small fish in a very big pond!

Safari and Kaingu
Safari and Kaingu

Despite this, both Kaingu and Safari have made lots of friends and are getting to grips with their new school – learning the rules of the dormitories or ‘pods’ and the new canteen. They are taking Biology, Chemistry and Physics separately now as well as some new subjects such as History and Geography. The sciences seem to be causing them some difficulty, but we are confident this is just the new experience of learning them separately. We are going to try to get hold of some subject specific resources which Rieder could use to help scaffold their learning over the long December break. Kaingu is particularly good at maths and we feel he is likely to have a natural aptitude for physics too when he gets used to the subject.

Kaingu
Kaingu
Safari
Safari

Thank-you to sponsors who sent gifts for all three of the boys (Charo has started carrying his torch around in his shirt top pocket already… he will be the king of the school when the power cuts out!)

Stay tuned for more updates including the next child to join the Milele family!

 

Catching Up – Kenya 2017 (Part 1)

Hi All,

Amy and I arrived in Kenya early on Saturday morning after a pretty speedy set of flights from London to Mombasa.

When we arrive in Mtwapa our first job is always to have a catch up with Rieder (Milele’s sponsorship coordinator). We obviously try our best to keep in touch when in England via WhatApp, email and phone calls but nothing is quite as good as a chat over a cup of tea for really understanding what is going on.

Our next (and very fun) job is to visit some of the children at home and distribute the packages and letters sponsors had sent. Throughout the course of the day we managed to see Amina, Issac, Riziki, Saidi, Steven, Edward, Emmanuel and Josephine. Phew!

Amina and her family are doing well, when we got to their home her family were busy preparing and cooking prices of fish to be sold that morning. Amina herself seemed to be very happy out playing with her younger siblings and cousins and she is (as always) doing very well in school.

Amina receiving a gift from her sponsor – Thank-you Chloe!

We also visited Isaac and his family. He is growing by the day and has thoroughly enjoyed his first year at Mtwapa Elite. He will be graduating the kindergarten this year and we are all absolutely thrilled with him. His success is not least attributable to his incredible mother, who takes him to school every day, communicates really well with the teachers and supports him in learning in every way. She manages to shower both her children with love and unconditional support as well as working incredibly hard to make money from her three home-grown businesses! While visiting Isaac we gave out some little dinosaur toys and Isaac loved playing with them with his little brother Anthony. Our co-ordinator Rieder saw a moment to get an insight into their minds and started playing with them, asking Isaac to choose a character for each member of his family. He loved the game, choosing dinosaurs for himself and Anthony and then a figure of some palm trees to represent his mother. When Rieder asked him why the the palm trees, he was quick to reply “because they’re beautiful!”

Isaac (in blue) and little brother Anthony
Isaac (in blue) and little brother Anthony

The next family we visited was Riziki. When Riziki started in KG2 last year the teachers were unsure if she would be able to progress into KG3 as, given the fact that she had never before attended school, her grasp of written and spoken English was understandably poor. One of her teachers offered to provide some extra tuition and with this help she was not only able to progress into KG3 but she is now, quite literally, top of the class! We also gave Riziki a letter and gift from one of her new sponsors (Paula, Lucas and Imi). The parcel was filled with lovely, thoughtful things which Riziki loved, Amy spent some time showing Riziki what the new and exciting things were but being a clever little girl Riziki needed very little help working everything out!

Riziki looking very excited after receiving her parcel.

After seeing Riziki’s family, we took a short walk across to Saidi’s place. He is growing taller by the minute it seems and is doing really well at school. He has now settled into life in Standard 1 at Mtwapa Elite after graduating kindergarten last year. When giving him his letter and gifts from his sponsors, we were really impressed by how much his reading has come along – he read the letter aloud to us confidently (although he needed a bit of help with the word ‘Dorchester’!) Thanks to Janet, Tim and Jason for their lovely gift and letter.

Saidi with his gift from his sponsors
Saidi with his gift from his sponsors

Next on the list was Steven, who lives next door to Saidi. Still the best of friends, they graduated together into Standard 1 this year. Steven has also settled in well and his teacher is pleased with how he is doing in school. He loved his pen-torch and postcards from his sponsor Angela, it was a really nice way of showing Steven where she comes from – although Rieder did clarify that Angela didn’t live in the castle herself!

Steven with his gift from his sponsor
Steven with his gift from his sponsor

Next was Edward’s family. He is cheeky and lively as ever! Edward is wonderfully full of energy – everything is so exciting to him. This has been slightly challenging in the classroom environment in recent years. However, since moving up into the next class he appears to have managed to settle down a little and contain himself. His mum is very involved with his learning and education, always communicating with his teachers about his progress. She was proud to show us his school record file and tell us how well he is doing now he is a ‘big boy’ in Standard 4. Edward was keen to tell us about how he learned about money in maths – demonstrating his skill in calculating change! His twin baby siblings, Edith and Elliot, are due to start kindergarten themselves in January – regular readers will remember them coming along and be astonished to hear how big they are now!

Within 10 minutes of entering the house, Edward was modelling Amy's sunglasses!
Within 10 minutes of entering the house, Edward was modelling Amy’s sunglasses!

From Edward we went to see Emmanuel. Emmanuel was one of our first sponsored children and I think many of us still see him as that slightly nervous, giggly six-year old. No more. Now Emmanuel is a polite young man of sixteen and is preparing to sit his final primary examinations, the KCPEs, in just a few short weeks. We can’t overstate how proud we are of Emmanuel – he is so studious and dedicated to his work but still finds time to care for the younger children in the children’s home. Emmanuel has a high target for the KCPEs and judging by his recent performance it is not unlikely that he could make it. We wish him all the luck in the world. He is excited to finish his exams and have some well deserved time off in December when he can visit his family in Takaungu. We have no doubt he will be demonstrating his newly acquired football skills – thanks to his gift from sponsor David.

Emmanuel with his gift and letters from his sponsors
Emmanuel with his gift and letters from his sponsors

Last but by no means least was Josephine, who welcomed us to her beautiful new home which she shares with her two cousins. She is currently halfway through a course at Mombasa College in Secretarial Studies and is developing her skills in filing, computers and administration. Josephine’s home looks exactly as you would imagine for a chic young adult – modern patterned rug and reality TV on in the background! Josephine has always been a fashionista and enjoyed posing for her photo with her new necklace from sponsor Michelle. When we asked her what her expression was, she replied, ‘It’s Style’.

Style!
Style!

 

Josephine - I can't keep a straight face!
Josephine – I can’t keep a straight face!

Linet the Bell Ringer!

This month Linet takes on new responsibilities as the school bell ringer!

Only a few months ago we moved Linet to a new boarding school some distance from home in Malindi. She settled in really well and school has provided an excellent, stable home environment for her.

She has clearly made an impression already as she has been given a new responsibility as the school ‘bell-ringer’! This means it is her job to ring the large bell that signifies the beginning and end of each school period, the start and end of break-time and lunch-time too.

Never one to miss an opportunity, Linet (somewhat cheekily) suggested to Rieder that really, to make sure she is accurate with the timings, she should have a new watch!!

Linet, Peris and Tamira have all moved school this year and have settled into their new school remarkably well. Their discipline and attention to their school work has really improved this term especially so Rich, Rieder and I decided to treat them all to posh new watches (each one cost around £2.50).

They were pretty chuffed with their prize! Now there’s no excuse for being late to class either!

The girls with their new watches - Left to right - Tamira, Linet, Peris.
The girls with their new watches – Left to right – Tamira, Linet, Peris.

Josephine starts Secretarial Studies

Our second eldest sponsored child, Josephine, has recently finished her Kenya Certificate of Secondary Examinations (KCSE), successfully gaining a D- as her overall final grade. Well done Josephine! Read our earlier blog post on the KCPE and KCSE exams here.

Josephine has undertaken a short computer literacy course in Mtwapa and has now moved on to study for a Certificate in Secretarial Studies at a college in Mombasa, living in a rented apartment in Mtwapa which she will be sharing with her cousin.

She is an exceptionally hardworking and organised young lady and we are sure she will be very well suited to this environment and her chosen career path.

Josephine looking very studious!
Josephine looking very studious!

Every cloud… Mama Saidi makes the most of power cuts!

Recently Mtwapa has been hit by lots of power cuts regularly throughout the day and night… this sounds like bad news doesn’t it?

Not if you run the only Solar Powered mobile phone charging stop in Mtomondoni!

Mama Saidi is making the most of the power cuts by charging extra when there is no power elsewhere in the town!

Her fledgling business is growing steadily and Rieder is supporting her to continue managing the savings to provide for her family. He is also looking into other locations for the family to live at her request, so that she has more passing trade.

We hope that soon she will make enough to pay kindergarten school fees for Simon, Saidi’s younger brother. Stay tuned for more updates soon!

Mama Saidi with Simon and her solar panels
Mama Saidi with Simon and her solar panels

 

Taking the Plunge: Triathlete in Training!

Rich took the plunge today in his first ever open water swim! Some would say he left it rather late with a mere 2 weeks to the big event… gossip speculates that this was an avoidance tactic or perhaps that he was hoping he could back out at the last minute? No chance Rich. We have your number.

Open air swimming... looks inviting doesn't it?!
Open air swimming… looks inviting doesn’t it?!

The water temperature was a brisk 12.4 degrees but he didn’t let that put him off, warming up with 800 metres in his new wetsuit!

Triathlon training - 1 (1)

In fact, Rich is now a big fan of wetsuits, in a post-training interview he sung their praise saying “Yes. The wetsuit look is amazing. I’m about to start wearing it out and about – who doesn’t want clothing that smells of rubber, makes noises as you walk and feels like you’re wearing full body spanx? Get on board guys!”

That's enough for today!
That’s enough for today!

 

Triathlon training - 1 (3)

 

CLICK TO DONATE HERE to make Rich’s painful training this morning worthwhile and keep him motivated as we lead into the big event on Sunday 15th May 2017! 

WE NEED SPONSORS!

Hi Everyone!

If you are reading this – I know you already care about Milele. I know you are already one of our lovely and wonderful supporters – THANK-YOU for all your help and donations over the years!

We are currently looking for sponsors, so if you are already a sponsor with us please have a think – is there someone else you know who might also enjoy being one?

If you’re not currently sponsoring and you’ve always wanted to – NOW is the moment!!!

If you know of a way or have a good idea of how we can recruit new sponsors to our fabulous Milele Team – please get in touch we would love to hear from you.

We can give you leaflets to leave out at work, or pop through the doors of your neighbours, or generally hand around to anyone who might be interested!

Sponsorship costs £90 per year and includes education, food and healthcare for a child in Kenya.

We have between 4 and 5 sponsors per child, so it truly is an opportunity to develop a very close and special relationship if you would like to write, send and receive photos or even visit your sponsored child.

All our sponsored children would have been unable to access a good level of education without the help of people like you who are kind enough to care about someone on the other side of the world.

Thanks so much for reading and once again for all your help – it makes such a difference.

Amy x

Isaac’s first term at Mtwapa Elite

This has been a big year for our youngest sponsored child, Isaac, as he has started at BIG SCHOOL!

Isaac was previously attending Victory Academy, a small local kindergarten run by a wonderful woman named Madam Susan. Madam Susan runs the kindergarten (for around 80 children from 18months to 5yrs) out of her home and cares for all the children as her own. Isaac has now graduated from Victory Academy and is ready to start big school for the first time!

To read more about Isaac or Victory Academy check out our other blog posts:

Blog Post – Isaac

Blog Post – Local Schools

Victory Academy Classroom - I love the hand stitched posters!
Victory Academy Classroom – I love the hand stitched posters!

Isaac was very excited when he moved this January into the Kindergarten class at Mtwapa Elite! He has his posh new school uniform and is feeling pretty smart!

Check out my smart new uniform!
Check out my smart new uniform!

Isaac is joining Kindergarten 2 at Mtwapa Elite, which is an excellent primary school, currently leading the way in the examination results for the whole of Kilifi County. He will be among family, since 8 of our milele sponsored children already attend this school.

To find out more about Mtwapa Elite, check out our previous blog post:

Blog Post – Mtwapa Elite

Isaac is settling in really well and we are starting some extra tuition for him with his kindergarten teacher to help him catch up with his reading skills. He has already made lots of friends and is in the same class as Riziki, another of our Milele sponsored children. Riziki and Isaac are neighbours and are already firm friends!

We look forward to hearing more about how he is getting on at big boys school – stay tuned!

Mtwapa Elite Academy - Isaac's new school
Mtwapa Elite Academy – Isaac’s new school

 

Kindergarten corridor at Mtwapa Elite - I especially like all the brightly coloured blocks! Very friendly!
Kindergarten corridor at Mtwapa Elite – I especially like all the brightly coloured blocks. Very friendly!
Kindergarten classroom at Mtwapa Elite
Kindergarten classroom at Mtwapa Elite

 

Our Kindergarten Graduates!

Congratulations to Steven and Saidi, who both graduated from Kindergarten in December! This week they will start in their new primary classes. They won’t be changing schools as Mtwapa Elite goes right through, but they do get a posh different coloured PE uniform!! Very grown up!

They are very excited – lets wish them luck in their new classes and all have a little nostalgic moment remembering how much they have grown!!

Saidi January 2013 when he had been sponsored only a few months
Saidi January 2013 when he had been sponsored only a few months
Steven in January 2013 receiving a teddy from Milele, before he was sponsored
Steven in January 2013 receiving a teddy from Milele, before he was sponsored
So big now! Saidi (centre) and Steven (right) outside their house in October 2016. The other cutie is Simon, Saidi's baby brother!
So big now! Saidi (centre) and Steven (right) outside their house in October 2016. The other cutie is Simon, Saidi’s baby brother!
The first Milele children to wear graduation caps - watch out Emmanuel Kai, you're not the only graduate-to-be on the block now!!!
The first Milele children to wear graduation caps – watch out Emmanuel Kai, you’re not the only graduate-to-be on the block now!!!
Very proud! Saidi and Steven with their graduation certificates!
Very proud! Saidi and Steven with their graduation certificates!

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CONGRATULATIONS TO THEM!

 

Teddy Bear Donations

Hi All,

A few years ago Amy went along to a meeting of the Rotary Club of Lutterworth to talk about Milele. Whilst there she met Elaine Turner who had recently started a group who were knitting teddies to send to children all over the world. Since that chance meeting Milele has happily helped to distribute several hundred teddy bears to vulnerable children in Kenya.

Whilst I have included some photos in blog posts over the years I thought it would be nice to include a small collection of photos all in one place and say a big thank you to Elaine and her band of happy knitters!

Richard

P.s. watch out for little Edward who is now sponsored by Milele