Last year Riziki started at Mtwapa Elite in KG2, as an 8 year old she was already much older than her classmates but her inconsistent schooling meant that she was unable to manage the work for a higher class. At the time, her teacher even expressed some doubt that she would be able to progress into KG3 at the end of the year.
Prior to 2017 Isaac had been studying at Victory academy – a community school close to where he lives with his mother and brother. Once Isaac completed all of the classes Victory had to offer he took the entrance exam for Mtwapa Elite and was accepted into KG3 at the start of 2017.
We are now a year on from when Riziki joined the school and 9 months in to Isaac’s first year and I’m pleased to say both are doing so well.
Riziki’s confidence and ability has grown leaps and bounds and in her most recent exams she was top of the class – something which we absolutely did not expect and something which she should be very proud of. Mtwapa Elite is a huge school compared to Victory Academy and this seemed to overwhelm Isaac at first but he has now settled in and he is also right at the top of the class.
We would like to say a big thank you to their class teacher Madam Margaret who has provided all of the support they needed to make this fantastic progress. Riziki also received some extra tuition from Madam Emma at the end of 2016 which gave her the best start to her school life and helped her progress into KG3.
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.
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!”
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!
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.
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!
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!
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.
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’.
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!
Last year I started writing a series of articles about businesses which were being setup in Mtwapa with help from Milele business grants. Having arrived back in Kenya a couple of weeks ago we went around to find out how things had been going.
The biggest success story has to be Fauzia (Mother to Ummy) who has been running her cookery business for the entire year and is still going really strong. She continues to cook three times a day and has been able to support her family with the profit she has been making. Fauzia is the perfect example of how a business grant can work, providing a small amount of money upfront enabled her to purchase the basics she needed to get started and then her skills and passion made it work!
Khadija (Mother to Saidi) got off to a great start and had been running a profitable charcoal business via a local shop for over a year. Unfortunately she started to pay into a ill-fated saving scheme which collapsed just before her pay out was due, this put her into a really difficult situation which meant she was unable to continue operating. We have spent some time talking to her about what happened, whilst we are here we will be working with her to improve her financial planning and try to find an alternative business for her to run in the near future.
The final story I have to tell is about Isaac’s Mother; we originally helped her to setup a cafe business which was going well until her landlord decided to redevelop the plot which she was using. This was a big set back and we were really disappointed to see all her hard work go to waste, but we needn’t have worried. Mama Isaac regrouped and adapted, she took the profits from her cafe and bought the ingredients needed to make soap and bleach which she now sells around Mtwapa. Building on this success, she has started to make pillows with recycled materials and foraged cotton pods which she plans to start selling (for a tidy profit) in the near future. Not content with 2 business plans, she also collects any small glass bottles she finds on her travels which she cleans (with her bleach) and sells. I have honestly not met a more dedicated business woman in Mtwapa and it just goes to show that if you have the will to succeed and a positive attitude there can be opportunities everywhere!
In this episode of the Milele Business Grants series we are going to focus in on a few of the food businesses which have been setup or expanded with the help of a business grant.
The takeaway food industry in Mtwapa is really vibrant, if you walk down almost any street you will find someone selling some kind of food. Whether it’s sweet kiamati in the morning, chipati and beans at lunch time or fried pili-pili fish (straight from the fishing boats) in the evening; there’s always something interesting.
The popularity of takeaway food makes it a really good option for those who have received a business grant. With a small investment to buy equipment and ingredients, the family can use their existing skills to cook up some tasty treats and be making money by the end of the day. Best of all, if there’s any unsold stock the family can eat it for dinner so it’s rare that any food gets wasted.
Fauzia, the mother of Ummy, who is sponsored on the Milele programme, received a business grant to set up a food business and is making a huge success of it. I’d like to take you through a typical day so you can get an idea of just how hard she works!
Fauzia begins her day at around 5:00 am when she starts cooking so she can catch the early breakfast trade. She makes a few different dishes at breakfast time but by far the most popular is Mahamri; which is a triangular shaped savoury donut that I particularly like to dip in sweet tea! She cooks hundreds of these every morning and sells them directly to her customers as they walk by the stall.
At around 10:00 am she packs up her breakfast stall and makes her way to the local fish market where she buys several kilos of small fish. She cooks the fish in a large curved pan filled with bubbling oil, by the time the fish come out they are golden and crispy, the perfect addition to rice or ugali. After a few hours cooking fish, Fauzia cleans up and starts preparing for dinner.
In the evening, Fauzia mainly cooks a type of spiced potatoes which are usually accompanied by greens and perhaps some meat or fish. After a few more hours of cooking and selling Fauzia is done for the day, all that is left to do is pop to the market to buy the ingredients for tomorrow… and cook dinner for her family!
Fauzia is one of the hardest workers I have ever met, not only does she take every possible opportunity to make the money she needs to support her family, but she does it 7 days a week. Fauzia is making a good living for her self and her family and they are now able to achieve things which were not previously possible.
What’s amazing is that Fauzia is not alone in working this hard, many of the other business grant beneficiaries work just as hard and are becoming just as successful!
I’d like to introduce you all to our youngest sponsored child Isaac.
We met Isaac 2 years ago when Isaac’s family received a donated food parcel. Isaac is a happy, confident and active little boy, who is very friendly and loves going to school & playing with the neighbour children.
Isaac lives with his younger brother Anthony and incredibly hard working mother. They all stay in a small rented room which is quite close to Victory Academy where Isaac and Anthony both attend school.
Every time we have met Isaac’s mother she has been working hard; either selling nuts, washing clothes or other casual labour. These jobs are often pay very little so Rieder is working with Isaac’s mother to see if Milele can help her to start a more profitable business. I am sure that with her hard work she will make the business a huge success.
For thew time being, Isaac will continue to attend Victory Academy as it is very close to his home and he is receiving a good level of education. When he reaches Standard 1 he will move to Mtwapa Elite Academy to join the other primary aged children sponsored by Milele.