Kenya Visit

I had a quick look in all of the children’s mouths

I had a quick look in all of the children’s mouths

On the recent trip to Kenya was Grace Jenkinson (niece of our social worker Al Coates) who really wanted to get involved with charity work but didn’t know where to start, until she found an organisation that was specific and non-global and knew that all efforts would go directly to the charity.

Here is Grace’s interpretation of what she saw in Kenya on the recent visit.

It comes 4 o’clock and children of all ages, wearing Sure 24’s custom made navy jumpers, pour out of their classrooms into the yards. Cheery smiles and laughter distinguish each individual face, solemnly camouflaging the trauma that has led them here. The majority of these faces have been orphaned or abandoned by their desperate families – and many have been abused.

“Mzungu”, meaning white man, is echoed as the children come running towards us with overwhelming welcome. After having our hands held, our faces touched, my hair stroked, and receiving questions about my mother; we were shown the children’s dormitories, the school, the kitchen, and the wildlife by the staff and children who beamed with pride. The dormitories are separated by gender and age and are filled with purpose built furniture – individual’s selves store neatly folded heaps of immaculate second-hand clothing and very few personal belongings. The orphanage houses 123 children, at present, with little ones as young as three.

Very hungry tummies patiently wait in line for their lunch

Very hungry tummies patiently wait in line for their lunch

The school educates 320 children of which there is only minimal funding for 230. The education of the remaining 90 is completely funded by sponsorships and donations. A minimal contribution of £24 is paid to the school, and that covers all education, uniforms, books, pencils, all other stationary, porridge at 11am, and ugali with cabbage at 1pm. For many of the children who return home after school, this is the only nourishment they will receive.

Al, Steve, Adrian and I have come to visit Sure 24 – Steve was our playground ‘Bob the builder extraordinaire’ and spent the majority of the week scoping out natural resources, which he managed to deploy into a new playground for the children.

Al delivered some extremely helpful training to all of the staff and workers of Sure 24 on the nature and types of abuse that children experience, its consequences on their wellbeing, and the impact of trauma, separation and loss. Heavy subject matters, but very useful in that the staff had not previously addressed these issues formally.

And I had the privilege of spending most of my time with the children; and had the honour of handing out toothbrushes and tooth paste to the local street children, and I educated them on basic oral hygiene by using an interactive game on my iPad, which they loved. I met some amazing children who I talked with about their lives before they came to Sure 24.

What we in the first world associate with the concept of poverty is lack of food, education, clothing, a home, and maybe a family – the very basics of life. But poverty is so much more than this; Sure 24 just recently started housing a few early teen girls who had never seen a ceiling, so they proceeded to explore. They climbed through the wooden ceiling, into the roof and fell through, landing on the concrete floor. One pre-teen boy at Sure 24, a lovely little boy, has been given the same birthday as Al on account that his date of birth is unknown. Hearing this really questions our understanding of the extent of poverty struggles, and the obstacles these children face every day.

They loved brushing teeth using the app on my iPad

They loved brushing teeth using the app on my iPad

Kenyan street children remain a predictable image of the urban landscape; but with the amazing philanthropic work of Sammy, Millie, his team at Sure 24, and the generous donations they receive, a better life is realised for some of these children.

Grace Jenkinson