Nov 07 2017

Joyce

 

Joyce and her brothers were some of the first kids at Matunda. Her mother died and her father is not able to take care of them. Her younger brother Michael, one of the youngest and longest at Matunda, actually laid the first stone of the new building, together with the founder, Fredrick Mukolwe. Their names are on the plaque on the outside wall of the building.

Joyce did well in grade school, and is the natural leader of the group of teenage girls at our center. With a sponsor, she was able to attend her first year of high school this year, but seemed to be gradually doing less well. She even had been skipping school, which is not a good sign. Read the rest of this entry »

Nov 05 2017

Elijah

 

He was a cute little guy, just turned one in September. Always busy trying out new toys – pieces of wood or plastic, hammers – anything he could find around the building site of Matunda. Always smiling, following everything, wanting to follow you, get picked up. A really likeable little guy.

About two weeks ago, he got sick. He seemed to have a cold; a slight fever, wanting to sit more than usual. Then he would get up and go play again. Slowly he got worse, his mother took him to the doctor. As is the custom here, he got what seemed to be a lot of medicines. Read the rest of this entry »

Nov 04 2017

Mitchell

 

One of our newest additions to Matunda is Mitchell. A shy little girl of eight, she started with us the beginning of this year, as her single mother can’t take care of her. She’s quite sociable, well-liked by the other kids, and easy to get along with.

As we had a sponsor for her, she was able to start school quite quickly in the preschool class and did quite well. As she was a late starter, she had some catching up to do, and did exactly that.

She just had her “graduation” and will be starting primary school in January. At the ceremony diplomas were passed out, and it turned out that she was first in the class.

To say the least, we are really proud of her!

Nov 03 2017

A borehole

Just outside the gate

 

Some time ago, the World Bank financed water and sewer systems in our area. There already was access to electricity (for those who could pay for it), but water and sewer are an important part of good hygiene and disease prevention.

So that’s good news, right? Sure for the sewer system; that is going well. However, during the last year, we have had water three times. We have a water meter and pay monthly fees, but as I said at the water office, “I can’t wash my hands with the meter”. Of course it’s crazy to be paying for something that is not doing what it is made for – delivering and measuring water flow.

Read the rest of this entry »

Nov 01 2017

Cleaning up the neighborhood

 

We started this program last year and restarted again this year – cleaning up the streets of the neighborhood. (Check out the story from last year.)

Inspired by a group led by several Australians, who started a large project (usually around 25 young local people working), they have been cleaning for a few years now. Moving from one street to the next, they not only try to clean, but to inspire by word and example, that others will follow and understand what it means to clean up and keep it that way. It’s surprising how many people and store-owners now keep the area in front of their house or shop clean. Read the rest of this entry »

Oct 30 2017

Tour of the building

Outside the front gate

Things are finishing up here as far as the building goes. And as far as the money goes. The plumbing, roof (it’s not leaking anymore!), electrical work, and plastering are all done. The painter can now finish up his work. The outside wall is done, and it’s just some ceilings to be finished that were waiting for the roof to not leak, and the “skirts” – the bottom three feet or so of the walls of the building and the outside walls that are a darker color. This is to keep it looking better even after being rain-splashed on and with continual touching by the kids.

Laura, a Belgian girl that is staying at the same house I am at (one of several volunteers with Alice, who runs a school in another area), has been painting figures in one of the rooms. A real improvement and it livens it up a lot. We’re grateful that she has been doing this. The other young people at Alice’s have also chipped in and have been preparing the walls and paint, and painting. I never realized how hard it is to mix paints to get the colors you want!

Read the rest of this entry »

Oct 29 2017

What’s in it for me?

 

Why do I do this? Why do I regularly go (often with Marianne/Jo) to a country that is poor, although better than many African countries? If the government or the rich Kenyans would take of these people, I wouldn’t be needed. (This is actually true of richer countries, as well!) And there are so many poor that this is a drop in the bucket.

Does it feed my ego that these people are so grateful or that everyone wants to talk to me; that the children greet me so often? Do I feel important that I’m the boss and I can tell people how to build and what to do? Is it guilt that I was born in a rich country and have had all the chances these people haven’t? Of course I had to make good on those advantages, but still. Read the rest of this entry »

Oct 24 2017

Escape from the slum

 

When you grow up in the slums (61% of people in Nairobi do), life is hard.  No job, no schooling, no future. Unemployment is high (youth around 70 %!), as is crime, alcoholism, and child prostitution. Skills and simple, I call it common sense, isn’t developed. They learn at best basic skills for a ‘profession’ – on the job training; a plumber, a carpenter, a painter. No theory, no other subjects, only a very small window of learning to paint a wall. No newspapers, often no electricity, no water, no sewer, no Internet.

The mentality of poverty it’s called. Your family and those around you are unemployed. Dad has probably left by now, your family and friends try to cope, but sit around a lot. A lot! You’re often hungry; the diet is often corn meal ugali (similar to grits, if I remember correctly) and a kind of spinach, only less nutritious. It’s cheap, but very one-sided. Meat (often chicken left-overs, chew off the bone) is a luxury.

Read the rest of this entry »

Oct 21 2017

Lucy

 

 

 

Lucy started at Matunda in 2011 together with her brothers. She went to school, was a good student and had a future in her last year of grade school (Kenyans have eight grades of primary school). We had just finished a course in sex education, among other relevant items for young people, and then she got pregnant at 16.

Her life changed dramatically. She didn’t go to school, as she probably was ashamed, although she didn’t say so. We got her a new uniform that would cover her growing size, but she didn’t use it. Now she’s a statistic, one of the almost 20% of teenage girls in Kenya that get pregnant.

Young girls have a higher risk of death, as do their babies. They usually quit school and don’t go back. So far, Lucy is one of them.

She has final exams in November. She’s missed almost a year, so her grades would suffer should she choose to do so. She doesn’t have a job; her boy-friend does odd jobs that do not allow them to even feed themselves decently.

Read the rest of this entry »

Oct 13 2017

Anxiety in Kenya

 

Three people were killed again today and many injured in protests against the election board here and existing president Uhuru Kenyata. Many have been killed that since the presidential election in August.

The election was orderly and correctly done according to international observers, but it seemed they didn’t look any farther than the voting centers. What happened behind closed doors was apparently very different as the Supreme Court declared the elections void, due to gross irregularities, read fraud. Read the rest of this entry »

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