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:
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!
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:
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!
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!!
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!
P.s. watch out for little Edward who is now sponsored by Milele
Back in 2015, Emmanuel Kai began attending the University of Nairobi to study Economics and Statistics. He has been working away hard for the past 2 years and is now just more than halfway through his degree programme. Whilst we were in Kenya in September we were able to catch up with him in person and find out a little more about his experience and how he is getting on.
Having grown up on a farm just outside Mtwapa, one of the biggest changes Emmanuel has had to get used to is living in Nairobi. Emmanuel rents a room with a friend in an area called Nagra which is quite near to the University of Nairobi campus. This means he is generally able to walk to university unless it is dark when he gets one of the many public buses as street crime is common. Nairobi is around 1,500 meters above sea level and this means that it is cold; when Emmanuel first got to Nairobi he was shocked at how cold it was and his first purchase was a big thick jumper that wouldn’t have been out of place at a ski lodge!
Emmanuel has always been very academic and we knew that he would thrive at university but when he first showed us his list of modules we started to worry how on earth he would have time to study so many different subjects. Each semester he takes 8 modules which range from core skills such as ‘Aspects of Language Skills’ to degree specific specialisms ‘Economic Statistics (1, 2 & 3)’. Over the course of his degree he will study more than 60 modules and he is expected to obtain at least a D in every module in order to pass. To date he has been very successful getting a good number of As and Bs in a wide range of areas.
Emmanuel is spending the vast majority of his time studying but he does have a little time off to spend with friends. On a Sunday he attends a local church and he has started to learn how to roller skate!
We are very proud of Emmanuel, he is a real inspiration to the other children on the Milele programme and shows that with enough hard work anything is possible!
Mtwapa is a town of contrasts; whilst the vast majority of the town is comprised of simple concrete and mud construction homes there are a small number of luxurious creekside mansions. This is also true of the food shops; luxury supermarkets and shopping malls sit alongside local shops, home made kiosks and traditional markets.
There are a couple of modern supermarket chains and shopping malls in Mtwapa which flank the main road. With their neatly stacked shelves and polished floors, these shops wouldn’t look out of place in a European city and like their international counterparts, they sell almost everything but at a high cost! The families we work with don’t use these shops, not only are the prices very high but the air-conditioning makes the whole shop very cold!
Thankfully, there are many other local shops and mini supermarkets to choose from. These shops generally offer a good range of products but shun the more expensive international brands in favour of Kenyan shopping trends. For example, bottles of cooking oil can be bought but it is cheaper if you bring your own bottle – most people use small water bottles but any container with a lid will do!
If you are looking for the most cost effective way to shop then markets are the way forwards! Each market area tends to specialise in a specific type of product e.g. fruit and veg, fish or clothing. The fruit markets are a sight to behold, each stall is a rainbow of colour filled with a wide range of seasonal exotic fruit and vegetables. Prices are also truly seasonal, towards the end of the year when the mango crop is being harvested a mango can cost as little as 10 shillings (about 8 pence), but in low season this can soar up to around 100 shillings! This means that families change what they eat depending on the time of year, this helps to minimise the cost of their food bill but it also means that they are always eating tasty fresh food direct from the field rather the bland imported variants we have to put up with in Europe.
Most of the families we work with a eat vegetable based diet which they occasionally supplement with fish or even more rarely, meat. Meat is available from butchers or supermarkets and in contrast to western cultures, meat on the bone is valued much more highly then filets. This is because the vast majority of Kenyan meat dishes require the meat to be stewed with the bone to make a rich broth.
Being close to the sea, Mtwapa has a wonderful array of fresh fish which can be bought from fish mongers (known as fish butchers) or at the large sea food market. In the more rural part of Mtwapa where electricity and fridges are uncommon, most families do generally not buy fresh fish and instead prefer to buy small pre-cooked potions from local vendors. This is one of the many things that Mama Umi cooks at her food business.
As you move further away from the main road, shops and large markets become less common. The are replaced with small convenience kiosks which pop up on street corners. The kiosks (known as Kibandas) sell small amounts of fruit, vegetables, dry ingredients and cooking essentials.
Finally, water. The lucky people who live near to the main road have the option of mains water, this needs to be treated before it can be drunk but this by far the most convenient water source. The majority, without plumbed water, have three options, the first is to dig a well (very expensive to dig the hole and after all that the water could turn out to be salty), second is to install a large water tank which can be filled by a water company or finally buying from the Maji (water) man.
Maji men push big carts with 8 heavy water containers all around Mtwapa. They all have pieces of loose metal attached to their wheels which make a distinctive clattering noise as the cart is pushed, letting the residents know they can run out and buy water. You can buy any type of water from the Maji Man – from washing water to fresh drinking water and it is very reasonably priced. You pay for the water then the Maji Man lugs the container into your house and fills your bucket, taking the empty container away again to be used tomorrow. Even the drinking water is affordable, largely thanks to the Dutch Water company and their foundation Stichting Waterpas which provides water to schools and orphanages around Mtwapa. Thanks to them, we rarely meet a family who cannot afford clean drinking water.
We hope this gives you a little bit of insight into the way people buy food and water in Mtwapa and helps you to understand a little more about the childrens’ lives.
Thanks to a generous donation from the Dorothy Holmes Charitable Trust we have been able to start sponsoring a wonderful little girl called Riziki.
Rikizi is 8 years old and lives in Mtomondoni with her Mother and 2 siblings. They share their home with Riziki’s grandmother and her 7 youngest children – which makes for a very busy home!
Riziki’s mother works in a large factory near to Mtwapa where she is able to make a regular wage but as she is the sole earner in a household of 11 people it just doesn’t stretch far enough. This means that as well as working 12 hour shifts, 6 days a week she spends her solitary ‘day off’ doing odd jobs to make a little extra money. In fact, Rieder first met Riziki’s mother whilst she was doing washing for one of his neighbours.
Riziki has been attending school on and off since she was little but as money became more tight she was able to attended less and less which means she has fallen behind her peers. When we took her for her interview at Mtwapa Elite she was placed into KG2 which is usually for children around 5 years in age, but after just a week of school she is getting back into the swing of things and already starting to show her aptitude for mathematics. Her class teacher is giving her extra tuition whilst the younger children sleep and also after standard classes finish; this one on one tuition is really helping her to regain confidence and improve her performance.
Riziki is a very sweet little girl who is really enjoying the chance to go to school. In fact, she has taken to dropping in on Rieder on the way home from school just so she can show him what she has learnt during the day.
We are really excited to be sponsoring Riziki and can’t wait to see what the future will hold for her!
In a previous post we mentioned that Mama Steven was keen to start her own business selling charcoal. As promised, we wanted to tell you a bit more about it.
We have known Steven and his mother for quite some time; so we were aware that they are a very vulnerable family with little in the way of support. We wanted to give Mama Steven the chance she needed to provide for herself and Steven independently in the long term.
The business involves buying a large sack of charcoal at wholesale prices from the forest, transporting it to Mtwapa and then dividing the charcoal into small bags which she sells in the community. Charcoal is widely used for cooking in Mtwapa and there is a lot of money to be made selling small convenient bags.
This is very similar to the business Mama Saidi successfully ran last year and she has been very keen to share her knowledge and experience with Mama Steven, so she has a mentor right next door!
Rieder (Milele sponsorship co-ordinator) has also been helping her, visiting each evening to see whether she has been able to make any sales, helping to record her takings and to calculate how much from each sale she needs to put aside to buy the next bag of charcoal.
So far she has begun to establish her reputation and has made some early sales, she is hoping to build a link with one of the local shops who will buy the small bags of charcoal from her as a regular customer. Hopefully with time, she will be able to make enough money to support herself and Steven, paying the rent and putting food on the table.
Exams are a very important part of the Kenyan education system and are taken very seriously indeed. This week is the week of the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) exams for Safari, Kaingu and Pendo and the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) exams for Josephine. We thought you might like a little bit more information on them.
The Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) exams are ran by the Kenyan National Exam Council and take place at the end of primary school. They cover a wide range of subjects including English, Kiswahili, Maths, Science and Social Studies and are used to decide which school the child is able to attend.
Government run secondary schools are ranked and put into three categories:
A good result (usually more than 75% average grade) will secure a place at one of the prestigious national schools which have the best facilities and usually get the best grades. For those who are not lucky enough to gain entry into a national school they may be offered either a provincial or district school depending on their grade.
Unlike with primary education, the government runs some the best secondary schools in Kenya. Private schools exist but they are usually either of a lower quality or specialise in progressing poorer students. Mtwapa Elite Academy (where many of the Milele sponsored students do their primary education) runs a secondary school and has had great success helping students to increase their grades between primary and secondary.
The Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) exams take place at the end of secondary school and are used to access college or university. If a student scores above a certain mean grade (usually B) they are automatically offered a place at university with some government funding. It is also common for students to take a college course which offer nationally recognised qualifications that can be ‘topped up’ to become a degree at a later date. This option is often preferable as it generally allows the student to work along side their education which is near to impossible at university.
All four children sitting exams this week have been working incredibly hard. We really hope they will be able to achieve their full potential and go on to be very successful.
We have some exciting news to share with you. Thanks to a very generous donation from the Forest of Arden Golf Club we have been able to start sponsoring another child – Steven.
We first met Steven and his mother back in 2013, when they were one of the 86 families who received christmas food parcels and mosquito nets. Since then, we have been keeping a close eye on Steven, hoping we would be able to take him onto the Milele programme.
Steven’s mother is a single parent, extremely hardworking and loving. Steven is everything to her, and she regularly sacrifices herself to make sure that he has food to eat and is able to attend some school. Without a regular income, however, it was very hard for her to keep him in education regularly.
Thanks to the donation from the golf club, we were finally able to sponsor Steven in March 2016. Steven is a happy, energetic little boy. Every time we have been to visit Steven, he has always been out playing with his friends, whether its running and jumping playing tag, or chasing crickets outside his house. He is very friendly, with an adorable cheeky grin. Since starting in Kindergarten at Mtwapa Elite he has really started to grow in confidence, making firm friends with Saidi (another child sponsored by Milele).
Steven and his mum have gone through some very difficult times in terms of housing and food. But we are happy to say that they are now in a secure, dry and comfortable room in the same block that Saidi and his mother live in. The two mothers have quickly become very close friends and have been supporting each other, sharing food and cooking utensils as well as keeping each other company in the day while the children are at school.
Mama Steven is really keen to run her own business, so as part of the Milele Business Grants scheme we have helped her to do this- keep your eyes peeled for a post with more detail about this soon.
With Steven doing great at his new school, the future for this family has transformed dramatically, thanks to all the hard work and kindness of the Forest of Arden golfers and their families, in helping to raise the much needed money to welcome Steven onto the Milele programme. Thank-you so much.
We are looking for sponsors for Steven! If you are interested, sponsorship costs £90 per year, you can find out more here.
Please do contact us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or comment on this post to get more information. Thank-you