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Visit to Igoji – Part 2

Following our child’s eyes’ view of our supporters’ recent visit to the Eusebia Hope Centre in Igoji Meru, Kenya, here is another report, this time from the adults’ perspective.

This summer, the Dunn & Black families visited the Eusebia Hope Centre – this tells you a bit about what we got
up to. So much good work has been accomplished by the Charity. It’s amazing to think that just a few years ago
many of the children were in very poor health, unable to walk due to ‘jiggers’ (worms in the skin), with no
education and unsure where their next meal was coming from. We saw them enjoying two nutritious meals
each day, lessons from some very committed teachers, lots of enriching experiences through animal husbandry
and sports, and a sense of permanence, self-worth and belonging. The children there are a joy.

The six paid staff and 5 local volunteers at the Centre showed us warm hospitality. They were all very hard-
working and committed to the children. Below are teachers Caro & Canana, and Kawira (Cook) with an apprentice!

We visited three local suppliers of staple food for the Centre (Kwa Mary below). Buying at the right time of
year is vital to keep costs down, and local harvest knowledge was key to price negotiations! Children at the centre
are learning agricultural skills, with chickens, cows and rabbits. The last are sold for meat to generate income – an interesting lesson for our own children! Kale, spinach and carrot crops are being grown, and doing well so far.

Of course, we did not arrive empty-handed.  Woodlea primary school parents generously donated school uniforms, worn with great pride. Brand new underwear was kindly donated by Next and many local parents regularly donate hand-me-downs. Talking to Mama Glory (laundry) was eye-opening; tackling the clothing of around 50 children! We brought out small, lightweight rucksacks for each child, to store books and clothing, kept hanging on hooks to keep them dry. Schoolchildren from Caterham Prep School and Hazelwood School donated (new!) toothbrushes and toothpaste. The practical session on ‘how to brush your teeth thoroughly’ was very entertaining for all and the children are apparently committed to twice daily brushing!

Biff & Chip, Mr Men and Frog & Toad books were all donated and now await eager readers, along with exercise books. The school year started on the last day of our visit, and new textbooks were purchased.  Caterham Library kindly donated 8 posters, good supplements for the Centre’s hand-made ones. Hazelwood and Caterham Prep pupils donated over 20 recorders, music books and lots of percussion instruments. Teachers at the Centre are now learning the recorder before teaching the children. Many children clearly loved football with some excellent sprinting and ball skills. A newly donated rounders kit went down well. An end-of-school-holidays party showcased some amazing dancing and an inspiring poetry presentation. Lorimers (Caterham) kindly donated craft kits, which will prove very useful on (hoped for) rainy days.

 

 

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Visit to Igoji – Part 1

Some of our supporters have visited the Eusebia Hope Centre in August. Here is a report from one of our younger visitors:

This summer, I visited the Eusebia Hope Centre with my family. When we arrived, all the children came out to meet us and sang some beautiful songs. Their three teachers were there and Mr Mutugi organised lots of football games and running races – some of the children are really fast at running!

The children all sleep together in a boys’ room and a girls’ room. It looked like lots of fun, but I think after a while it may get difficult not to have your own bedroom. It made me think about what it might be like to not have parents to care for me. I’m glad the Centre is there to look after all the children.
 
We brought along some toothbrushes and toothpaste that friends from our school had given us to take, and gave them out and helped teach everyone how to brush their teeth. This was really funny as all the foam built up in our mouths and it was hard to talk to explain how to brush! Oscar really liked the minty toothpaste. 
Girls’ bedroom
I learned that just a few years ago some of the children I met there had been very ill and couldn’t walk. Many didn’t go to school and none of them knew when they’d next get a meal. My brother Alfred really enjoyed helping Kawira the Cook prepare lentils for dinner each night and all the food was always eaten up. It didn’t look easy cooking it all on a big pot over a fire, but it was really tasty. 
Cook, laundry lady and children
On our last day there we had a big party and danced for four hours all together.  Visiting the Centre was an amazing experience and I’d love to go back one day.
Charlotte Dunn (I’m crouching at the front between my brother and sister)
Thank you for your great report, Charlotte!

International Day of the African Child

Together with other Igoji schools, the children at the Eusebia Hope Centre celebrated the Day of the African Child on 16 June.

This yearly event is held on the anniversary of the Soweto uprising in 1976, which resulted in the death of 176 student protesters. This opportunity is used by schools, governments and NGOs to celebrate improvements in child welfare and education and to draw attention to the challenges still present.

Celebrations in Igoji took place in style: Christine kindly rented a tent for our children and they gave a speech to local dignitaries to great acclaim.

 

 

EHC’s Got Talent

The day that class turned into Eusebia Hope Centre Has Got Talent! Enjoy the videos.

Shoes arriving at EHC

Earlier this year we have written about how children at Woodlea School, Woldingham have left school barefoot at the end of the academic year and donated their footwear to the children at the Eusebia Hope Centre in Kenya. Overall we collected 212 pairs of shoes of all types.

We are happy to report that the shoes have arrived in Igoji, Kenya safe and sound. Given the poor internet connection in the area, it has taken a frustratingly long time to receive the photos of the shoes with their new owners, but finally, they are here!

We would like to thank everyone who donated on behalf of the children in Kenya. We couldn’t do this without your support!

A day in my life at EHC by Mwenda

The rain has been falling relentlessly throughout the night and I am worried about the vegetables. I therefore decide to wake up early to have a look! So I check out Kirimi sleeping next to me! He is sound asleep and even snoring. I decide to go out and check on Cucu (grandma) too. Well, she is normally an early riser but today she seems to be in sleep mode too! The rain has done the magic, made everyone to take in extra time in bed.

The vegetables look defeated by the weight of the rain water! The thin stems stripped of their leaves! Well, they just might survive. Karimi the cook has arrived and is surprised to see me roaming the grounds all alone early in the morning! “Why are you up so early Mwenda,” she asks. I couldn’t sleep anymore I answer! We decide to light the fire together. The smoke is overwhelming. Some of the firewood is wet from the rain. But it will do and cook it will!

And cucu is up and it is time to milk the cow. I get some warm water from the kitchen and clean the cow’s udder. I try to milk but cucu sends me packing. She says I cannot do it properly yet and might hurt the cow. Well, I don’t argue with cucu and stand guard and watch and learn. The milk produced is not much but it will do for now. Cucu made sure that we get some porridge. Our flour is the best! It is a mixture of millet and maize. When it comes to looking after my health, cucu is the expert. Our compound is buzzing with life as all the children seem to be awake. It’s not a good idea to miss breakfast.

Before long I am in the classroom listening to mwalimu (teacher) Kanana. She is keen that I learn how to add and subtract numbers accurately and I am determined to learn. At break time, I am up and about chasing my friends around having a time of my life. It is so muddy that my new shoes weigh a tonne. But we play on whatever the weather. Mwalimu tells us off for getting our clothes very muddy. But alas, we cannot play at the area where we have recently planted the grass. The grass looks healthy and doing well! This mud play might be forgotten soon.

At lunch time, I sit down with my friends to enjoy lunch. It is very delicious. Rice, beans and greens, yum yum! And of course some fruits! Soon we are running around. We go past cucu at a speed and she nearly gets me with a stick! I am lucky there. She is known as the discipline master in our home. Please don’t tell her I said so!

At 4pm after school, we take life more seriously! We are making sure that the vegetables are watered and we have cleaned our class and compound. The grown-ups help us. The cow too has had a good day and it’s time to go back to the pen. Later after dinner, I get a thorough wash, scrubbing the mud from my legs and hands. I try to read a book but it’s too much for me. I soon fall asleep holding a picture book.

I have almost forgotten my previous life of poverty and suffering. I sometimes think of my family but I have another family now. I never dreamt that one day, I will have a story to tell about what happens in my day. But here I am, Mwenda, aged 8 telling you most of the things I do in any given day! I can think about tomorrow!

Leaving School Barefoot

Last Friday was the last day of school for many children in the UK. Woodlea School here in Woldingham asked its pupils to leave school barefoot and donate their shoes to EHF! They have already donated many school uniforms and PE kits to us and you can see these in most of the photos of the children.

The school said:
“A whole school leaving barefoot is a powerful message that we want to help those fellow school children who have no choice and leave school barefoot every day.”

The response was amazing and we collected 212 pairs of shoes on the day. Thank you Woodlea parents, pupils and staff! We will post an update once the shoes have arrived in Igoji.

The Stories of Wessy and Ian

We asked some of the children at the Eusebia Hope Centre to share their stories with you.

The Story of Wessy

 

“My name is Wessy Ntinyary. I am seven years old. I am in class one.  I don’t know the story of my parents. I stay with my grandmum. She could not send me to school or feed me. I could stay for two days without eating, taking water only. My hair turned brown and I suffered from anaemia, that is why I usually shave my hair. I was lucky I got sponsored. I am recovering since I can get food every day. I am very happy. May God bless you.”

Watch Wessy… …tell her story

 

The Story of Ian

“My name is Ian Muthumi. I am six years old. I am in nursery class. I was left by my father at the age of four years. My mother could not take care of me. I was attacked by jiggers and I walked barefoot. God heard my mum’s prayers and I was sponsored. I am very happy I can go to school, get food, clothes, books, medical care and a good place to sleep since we were given mattresses. Jiggers are now over and I can wear shoes. I am grateful. May God bless you.”

Jiggers are a kind of parasitic flea common in Kenya. They burrow deep into skin and lay eggs, causing painful wounds. Their presence is a sign of serious neglect. Most of the children at the Centre arrived with jiggers and all were successfully treated. After the parasites were removed by the nurse, the children were left with open wounds. They could only start wearing shoes once these have healed. That is why it is so special to see all the children wearing shoes!