The Kibera Experience
Watching the Comic Relief programmes on TV recently I was particularly interested in those featuring Kibera, the large township on the outskirts of Nairobi. Those who saw the programmes would, no doubt, have been full of admiration for Lenny Henry and other celebrities who volunteered to spend 3 days living with a family there in the township. Although well primed Lenny Henry was visually affected by the experience and on a number of occasions stated that he would not be able to complete this 3 day assignment. From my experience nothing can fully prepare you for being confronted with the situation in Kibera. I remember my first visit to Kenya in 2004 with Ken Clark and felt real shock as I walked through the Kibera township accompanied by the local Salvation Army officer. I expected conditions to be bad but what I was experiencing no human being should be expected to endure. The experience sought to add to the growing conviction that one of the Kenya Trust’s first social project in 2004 should be to replace the two dilapidated, windowless and sparsely equipped classrooms at the Salvation Army’s school there.
Despite the level of poverty, extreme water shortage in places and rampant diseases such as HIV/AIDS and malaria I have always been amazed at the resilience of the children in Kenya.
One of my favourite photos is of the two disabled girls shown on this page. I was walking around the Joytown Junior School for the Disabled when they came towards me and I asked if they would mind me taking their photo. Their radiant smiles and excitement was a joy to behold but as they went on their way, giggling and dragging their paralysed lower limbs along with the help of crutches it did take me a few minutes to contain my emotions. The Trust has improved the toilet facilities at Joytown and through the Staines Primary Pennies scheme have provided many mosquito nets (life savers for the children of Kenya) and bedding for the centre. It is rewarding to know we can, if only in a small way, help these deprived children.
These are just two examples of the work the Trust has been able to do with your assistance and our thanks again go to all our supporters, Corps and individuals alike, who have helped and continue to help us achieve what we do. New this year to our fund raising efforts were Jarrow Corps who held an event raising over £1000 and Twickenham Toddlers – thank you. IT IS NOT WHAT THE TRUST ACHIEVES IT IS WHAT YOU ACHIEVE THROUGH THE TRUST and Trustees are extremely grateful for the support of everyone.
During the last financial year, (ending March 31st 2011), the Trust shipped well over 1500 kilos of freight to Kenya. Included in these shipments was school furniture, donated by Tickenham C of E School in Somerset, 40 brass instruments, keyboards, music stands, mouthpieces, mutes, tambourines, gym shoes, ‘T’ shirts, woollen toys, children’s clothes, toiletries and 32 computers including flat screens and monitors. The Trust is indebted to Rob Pierce, Tickenham School and Will Edwards Bursary for their contributions towards the school furniture freight costs. Recipients of this furniture were Nyawita School, Kisumu and Thika School for the Visually Impaired.
In 2009/10 TKT financed the renovation of a Special Needs Unit at Gategi Primary School in north east Kenya. Marshall Currie, The Salvation Army’s project manager in Kenya East says “the School and local Corps have done a great job with the renovations – I think they’ve achieved a ‘loaves and fishes’ miracle in making the funds stretch as far as they have. The renovated building contains a dining room, two separate sleeping areas (boys and girls) and washrooms in each sleeping area. These are precious kids, and their teacher has a real heart for mentally challenged kids. I hope you have the chance to meet them”.
This year we have put more money to the Gategi project enabling them to add a small kitchen, a pit latrine close to the dormitory (which the disabled students can safely access at night) and also provided some dining room furniture, mattresses for the dormitory and education supplies. We have also provided funds for repairs to the girls dormitory at Thika Primary School.
TKT’s current project is to refurbish the Nairobi Girls Training Centre (NGTC), a boarding school and vocational training centre for young girls in the inner city area of Nairobi. It meets an important need for training in vocational skills for girls unable to secure a place in secondary school either through low grades or lack of opportunity caused by poverty. Education for girls in Kenya is not as highly valued as for boys, so schools like the NGTC provide a valuable opportunity for girls, especially from poorer areas, to obtain an education after primary school. Established in 1964 the school facilities are old and many areas are in need of repair. In addition to this the centre is badly in need of equipment and teaching materials to maintain a teaching syllabus comprising catering, knitting, housekeeping, child care, hairdressing, first-aid and dressmaking.
Kenyans Visit the UK
To highlight the work of the Trust in developing Kenyan musicians, the West Midlands Division sponsored two young Nairobi bandsmen to be special guests at their Musicians Councils. Benson Kioko and Stanley Macau were indebted to Major Steve White for presenting them this opportunity which also enabled both to attend The Territorial Youth Band training week in Bournemouth. Visits to a number of Salvation Army centres, attendance at ISB and ISS practices and a 2 days work experience in the Music Ministries Department all contributed to provide a richly enjoyable experience for both lads.
Due mainly to financial constraints a Territory Music School was not held in 2010 which we know was a disappointment to many of the young people whose enthusiasm for music making is second to none. A Music Leaders Training Seminar however was held on the outskirts of Nairobi at the Salvation Army’s territorial headquarters. This again proved to be an inspiring and beneficial week adding much (along with the musical Instruments transported during the year) to the Trust’s aim of improving and developing music in the Kenya East territory.
Wes Maughan – Secretary