(In order to ensure the safety of the children, we do not post pictures of the children currently living at the facility.)
It was a quiet day at Nairobi Children’s Rescue Centre when we visited. Perhaps because they currently have only 23 children, or, more likely because when we arrived it was just past 1pm and a number of the younger children were sound asleep in their beds. Ahhhh… how peaceful (and deceiving) the sight of a sleeping child can be.
The down time allowed us to meet with the facility manager, Nancy, who gratefully welcomed us into her office where we shared a delicious lunch together. NCRC is currently home to only 23 children ranging in age from 7 months to 8 years old. As a rule, children who are taken to NCRC are to be there only for a period of 6 months. NCRC is a government run facility that provides temporary care for lost, orphaned and vulnerable children during an assessment time and will then move on, either to another home, or, in a perfect scenario, back with their parents.
While housed at this facility, the children often go on day trips. Most recently they enjoyed a trip to Wilson’s Airfield and another day to the David Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage. Some of the children are there because their parents are currently incarcerated. In such cases, Nancy makes sure that the children are taken, from time to time, to the prisons to visit with their parents and maintain a parent/child bond. They also take the children for home visits to help prepare them to eventually move back home, hence helping with the integration period for the child.
The home also employs two teachers who help to educate the children on a daily basis. Their most important job however, is to ensure the children receive the most basic human needs, i.e. Food, shelter, medication, skin and health care and of course a sense of belonging and feeling loved.
The home is open and welcoming; clean and nurturing.
Currently Our Kenyan Kids provides the home with an ample supply of detol to ensure they can keep the facility clean. We also supply the salaries for 8 volunteers, and have for many years. The volunteer duties are as such: gatekeeper, groundskeeper, kitchen help, bathroom cleaner, dining room help – washing and cleaning the windows and floors as well as a couple that care for the babies during the night, taking care of their needs and sleeping in the same room with them throughout the night.
Despite a huge drop in the number of children over the past couple of years, Nancy assured us that all of the volunteers are still very much needed at the home to ensure that the children receive the utmost care and attention. This has been a topic of discussion of late and it was evident that the volunteers feared for their jobs. When the home was caring for 100+ children, OKKids could justify the need for all the volunteers on top of the government paid workers. (At present there are 18 government paid workers at the facility.) However, with such a significant drop in the past few years, we have had to consider cutting back here. We have no doubt that each of these volunteers work diligently each and every day and that they care deeply for the children, and yet during financial crisis, such as we have experienced over the past couple years, we must sometimes re-evaluate where our pennies go. This is just one of the many reasons we often seek donations from not only our regular supporters, but are always seeking new donors as well.
When you are placed in a room, staring into the distraught faces of 8, extremely poor individuals, who work harder on a day to day basis than most of us do – ever – its heart wrenching at best to try to explain to them that you are doing the best you can, but cannot make promises regarding their job security or give them the raise you know they all deeply deserve. Especially when you know that terminating that position would cause total devastation to them and their families.
This is just one of the gut wrenching moments that we have to endure when we, as an organization are feeling a pinch from lack of donors. There is no doubt that the workers are deserving, not only of the job but of a significant raise as well, or that the children are deserving for the level of care they are receiving to continue. Yet as our economy continues to spiral downward, it is a dilemma we must work harder, and work together at, to reach our goals.
We ventured outside to spend time with the children and Nancy showed us some upgrades they have recently made to their clothes drying facility. New poles, wires, outside as well as a new covered structure with clothes lines on a fresh new cement pad, used to dry clothes when the weather is not optimal for drying.
The upkeep of the playground equipment is something they are diligent in maintaining for the children and would like to see a second cement pad go in alongside the playground for the children to play basketball and such on. The pad that is currently in place is deplorable to say the least and not one you or I would even consider tossing hoops on.
We left them with all brand new toothbrushes and toothpaste thanks to a local dentist, to which they were absolutely thrilled. We also provided them with colouring books, crayons, some “Brockville Railway Tunnel” t-shirts as well as a few red, “Canada 150” sun hats.
Going forward, they hope to begin raising rabbits. This will be therapeutic for the children, something for them to feed and feel responsibility for. They would also like to begin raising chickens and are well on their way with repairs to their current chicken house and fencing near completion. They hope to implement this as soon as possible, with help from donors, with approximately 40 chickens.
Another need, that is imperative it be repaired soon, is for lighting at the entrance gate. This needs to be repaired as soon as possible for safety reasons.