Hope House

It was just after 9am when Rita and I headed out with John and Winnie for Hope House Babies Home.  We were unsure how many babies would be on site as they have had numerous problems with licensing due to the election upheaval and the tardiness of the governments restating of the board that is responsible for such licenses.

The license that they require lasts approximately 2 years. The one to which they were operating with in 2016, expired in June of that same year, and they were required to wait for a new board to be reinstated in order to be permitted to continue not only admitting new children, but also adopting out. It has unfortunately been a long drawn out battle, but thankfully, they were granted a letter of approval in December of 2017 which allows them to carry on as they had in the past, despite the government still not having a new board in place.

As we arrived, Rosalyn was gathering many of the toddlers to go for their weekly outing to a nearby park. She would unfortunately have a limited amount of time to spend with us, but the children so look forward to their weekly outing at the park.  Before she departed, she introduced us to a very nice young woman, visiting for 3 months from Australia, who is staying at their guest house and helping with the children. When Rosalyn left with the toddlers, we spent a few more moments with this young woman, who was caring for the 6 newborns before heading upstairs to discuss the business at hand with Jim, Managing Director.

Their numbers have fluctuated between between 20- 25 children for the past few months. IN 2017, they received 9 new babies, but adopted out 6. Children are normally only placed in Hope House Babies Home from birth to age 3, however due to unforeseen circumstances; there are occasionally children on site who are outside that range. Currently there is one just over 5, with special needs but he is awaiting a move that will take place shortly. It was imperative that they find him the perfect home that would be equipped to deal with his disability and place him with a healthy, happy, loving environment.

Our Kenyan Kids has focused our assistance solely in the adopt-a-cot program with this project for a number of years, though this does not in any way imply that this is their only need.

Upon speaking with Jim, he enlightened us to many areas to which they could use assistance, including but not limited to, assistance with salaries, diapers, baby bottles, blankets, curtains, cleaning supplies, and much more. He also spoke of a Street Kids Program, run by Hope House that he suggested could use a cow. We always encourage our projects to be completely transparent and feel that they can be open and honest with us about all of their hopes and their needs. Though we are not currently in a position to take on any new projects – or side projects, we are always interested in learning of the many areas to which they focus their attention.

For now, we encourage everyone who is able to “adopt-a-cot”. This program has been most beneficial for Hope House for some time. The more donors we have, the more care that can be provided to the children.

The home is currently run with 24 full-time staff and an additional 5 volunteers. Care must be provided for the children 24-hours a day, hence the need for so many staff.

When you adopt-a-cot with them, you are connected with a child for the entire time they are at Hope House. Hope House receives absolutely no financial support from the Kenyan Government and rely completely on the generosity of their donors.  There are three levels of sponsorship available.  The basic sponsorship can provide food for a child for one week. ($12.50/week or $150.00 Canadian per year). Adopt-a-cot plus is considered the intermediate level of support and will provide food for a child for two weeks and diapers for a week. ($30 Canadian per month /$360 Canadian per year). Adopt-a-cot premium is the highest level of sponsorship and provides food for a child for a month and diapers for three weeks as well as one caregiver’s salary for one week, costing $100 Canadian per month/$1200 Canadian for one year.

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St. John Ambulance & The Grandmother’s

We arrived in Embu quite late on Tuesday afternoon due to unforeseen circumstances, but none the less, alive and well and ready to visit St. John and the Grandmothers.  We checked into the infamous Panesic Hotel (Donna McMillan’s FAVOURITE hotel in Kenya) in Embu and tried to mentally prepare ourselves for a busy day ahead on Wednesday.

Up and out and at St. John Ambulance by 9am on Wednesday morning. Nelson greeted us with his unending smile, gave us a brief rundown on all that has happened since our last visit in April of 2017 and then proceeded with goals and suggestions for 2018.

Our Kenyan Kids began our partnership with St. John Ambulance in 2005. They have come to count on our support and thank us for the positive impact we have had on their community over the years.

Nelson would like to implement a new program, called the PMTC program – the Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission.  Currently 75% of the population in Kenya is made up of those under the age of 35 due to the HIV/AIDS crisis of the 1970’s.   Nelson and his team has worked diligently to ensure that all they come in contact with are educated on the HIV crisis, prevention methods, acceptance of one’s diagnosis and a way to not only deal with ones diagnosis and live, but to actually thrive.  The PMTC program would focus on education, training mothers who are carrying children on the medications they need to take in order to not transmit the disease to their unborn child. He is asking all who are able to provide him with support to implement this program, do so as soon as possible. Currently, there are over two million people living in Kenya with HIV.

Nelson is currently working on a proposal which will outline not only his vision, but ways in which each of us can help. It is imperative we ensure that no child, from this day forward, is born, infected with HIV.

The centre itself is in need of equipment for training, such as a defibrillator, training materials, basic life support, new laptop, handbooks, AED trainer with pads, DVD training tapes, Infant , child and adult cpr manikins, an airway manikin, pocket masks, BVM, OPA’s / NPS’s – in different sizes, non-rebreather mask, face masks, nasal cannula, suction catheters, endotracheal tubes, LMA, a monitor capable defibrillator/ sync, pacing and electrodes.

We piled in the van and headed for market to pick up beans, grains and sorghum before making a quick stop at the local supermarket for bread and milk that we would deliver to each of the groups.

First up was Victory Kagamouri.  There are 15 members in this group, which includes 5 children who are all actively taking selenium. At the time of our visit today, 8 members were present and those absent were away at school or at their regular clinics and unable to get away. We discussed not only how things have been over the past 8 months since our last visit, but also how we can help them to improve on their basic quality of life going forward.

At present time, they make knitted sweaters and ponchos as well as doily type sets that they sell at market. They had previously tried to make and sell soap but found that they were unable to acquire the ingredients required. They have been investigating the possibility of learning beadwork that they could also sell at market, but would require a trainer.

After great discussion we concluded that their top three needs would be:

1- School fees! There are at this time, 9 students who are in need of sponsorship to attend high school. Without this sponsorship, their education will be impossible. School fees can vary. Well wishes could donate 18,000kes – 25, 000kes (- $217 – $301 Canadian Dollars) to send one child to school for a year (or 40,000kes – $482 Canadian Dollars, if you chose to send them to a boarding school.

2- Their second most important need would be for goats.  The goats could be purchased through a partnership with a veterinary office that would check the goats on a yearly basis to ensure their health. The goats themselves come at a cost of roughly $65 Canadian dollars, each. The veterinary program at a cost of 600kes/year ($7.23 Canadian a year) .Goats are easy for them to maintain, specifically because they ground feed.

3- The third item on their “wish list” was for a trainer, who would come in, and teach for a period of 6 days, how to successfully do a multitude of bead work. The cost of this trainer would be approximately 10,000kes ($120 Canadian dollars).

At this moment in time, Our Kenyan Kids unfortunately does not have the funds or personal donors, available to send these 9 children to school. The goats however, were a tad more manageable request. Though 15 are out of the question, we are pleased to report, that due to an anonymous donation just before we departed, we were able to arrange for 8 goats to be purchased. Perhaps not the amount requested, but certainly a grand start and one that we are hopeful, new donors will see and come forward to help as well.

The second group of grandmothers we visited today are known as the Rwika Group. This group consists of 13 members – 12 women and 1 man. Their passion is astonishing. When we arrived, only one member was absent, and this was due to a serious illness. Not long into our visit, low and behold, she arrived, under the care of her daughter, straight from hospital. She was weak and obviously in pain, but refused to stay away, without making an appearance at the meeting. Her thin and frail frame, unsteady and feeble did not deter from her determination which was unimaginable.

We are ecstatic to announce that there are no HIV positive children in this group. Nelson was thrilled!!   Each of the grandmothers actively takes their medication and takes great care to ensure that the children do not become infected.

To help sustain them, they do beadwork that they sell at market and they make soap and detergent that they sell to their neighbours. Their biggest challenges are food shortages and absolutely no water!  Perhaps you should read that sentence to yourselves again. They have food shortages and absolutely no water! Twenty-five hundred liter water tanks would cost approximately $332 Canadian dollars each. That figure includes the materials needed for set up and fills. The need is of course, not for just one, but for EACH of them to have their own water supply. It is unfathomable for me to be able to sleep at night, knowing that for such a reasonable amount of money, I (or anyone else in my circle) could prevent at least one of these individuals from continuing to live with such hardship. That said, those who know me, know there are many who could afford to fulfill this need for more than one.

It is not an option to run to the corner store to purchase – even if they had the funds…. There is NO corner store. Wells are far and few between. Water is a basic human need. Can you imagine, living without it? Or walking 15 – 20km to purchase it? And even then, in such minimal amounts? This was a heart-wrenching need and we felt compelled to find a way to fix this dilemma. By the end of our visit, we had decided that we would find a way, over the next 3 years, to ensure that each of these individuals WILL have a water tank. We are confident that new and existing donors will come forward. Having said that, and after a brief bit of brain storming in the van on our way to visit the third group, we decided to pool together the donations of three other anonymous donors and voila, our first water tank is ready to purchase.

This group was also in need of goats and chickens, but we felt the water tanks were the most important of items and a great place to start.

Our third and final visit of the day was to a group known as Itabua. This group consists of one man and thirteen women for a total of 14. However, if you include those who are considered “inactive” their total would be 21. The difference being that not all those with HIV will attend the regular weekly meetings due to the stigma attached to the disease. The shy away from help due to denial to an extent and require psycho-social managing. This group is headed up by Mother Margaret. Margaret was the first to receive selenium from Our Kenyan Kids many years ago and will attest to the spectacular changes in her health since that first dose.

They have seen great changes in the past 8 months. When we visited in April they were starving and this year they have a good harvest of maze, fruit and beans. Not to take away from their needs, which are many, but they are extremely happy and thankful for all that they have this year.  Though they do have a well, it produces very little and is not dependable. The well requires great strength, and the one man in the group, experiences great chest pain when he tries to retrieve the water. A new hand pump would most certainly alleviate some of this grief.

They are in need of a poultry shelter and would like 40 chickens. Other livestock they could benefit from would of course be goats. Goats are easy to keep and the few local goats that they currently have are poor milk producers.

During our visit, we discussed other needs that the group has. They requested sponsorship for three of their children so that they could receive education. One child would require fees for high school ($241 Canadian dollars for one year), another for college (3 years, for a total of $1205 Canadian dollars) and a third seeking a University education at roughly $500 Canadian dollars per year.

The needs at this group were many and all beyond our control. Perhaps you, or a group of friends might be able to join together to jointly help them achieve one or more of the needs that they currently have.

The difficulty in tonight’s blog being that we saw so many needs, so much poverty, and yet each group would gladly give us, or anyone else, the shirts right of their backs. Giving back, helping one another, supporting one another, today, tomorrow and always is the only thing that matters in life to them. None consider themselves poor, but yet feel that although they have needs, God will provide.

Each group presented us with gifts of fruit, bagfuls of fruit, to say thank you to us, for visiting, for listening and for promising to do what we could, no matter how much or how little that was.

Our visit brings them hope – new hope, that tomorrow will be a better day.

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Day 4 – Thika Rescue Centre and Machakos

Up and out by 8:45am this morning to a project we have supported for a few years and yet never visited. For many years we have supported two mentally challenged, young men. This year, we added two more, also mentally challenged to our list of commitments.

The four young men live at Thika Rescue Centre and attend school in Machakos, which is just over an hour north. Their school is run much like Kambui. The school year begins in January and runs through until December. Children attend school full time (in a boarding school environment) for three months and then return home for one month. That same cycle is repeated throughout the entire year.  Therefore, while at Thika Rescue Centre this morning, there were very few children on site as most were away at school. The only ones remaining are those who are lacking sponsorship.

During their month “off” school, the children, while living at Thika Rescue Centre spend their days learning day-to-day life skills such as gardening, weeding, kitchen work such as washing utensils, floors, clothes, dorm floors and also personal hygiene.  They also learn outdoor life skills such as caring for livestock, feeding and watering chickens and milking goats. The management is hoping to partner with Red Leather, to teach the children shoe-making, how to make key holders, belts and wallets and then in turn the staff will purchase these items and spend the monies made on special clothing for the boys.

While at school in Machakos, the boys are taught masonry skills such as theory and practical tasks, cutting and shaping stones to required shape and texture, mixing of building mortar, plumbing, alignment, and leveling of building units and finishes such as plastering and painting. Other life skills available for education include hair dressing beauty therapy.

The Kenyan Government is currently working on introducing an institution for assisted living but until this has been established, children will continue their programs at Machakos and when graduated they will return to Thika Rescue Centre.

All four of the boys currently sponsored by Our Kenyan Kids have been either orphaned or abandoned and range in age from 14-17 years of age.

Learning daily life skills will be a challenge for each of the three but we are  assured that there is hope and  reminded that there are 7 more orphaned and abandoned children residing at Thika Rescue Centre that are still in need of education. Without sponsors, (they have a place to live,) but will not receive an education.

At the Machakos School, we were greeted by Francis Peter, the Masonry instructor and quickly joined by Stanley, the Information Communication Technician, Fideaia, also an ICT instructor and Leah who is the instructor of Beauty and Hairdressing. They gave us a run-down of the school, what they do and how each of the boys are doing before giving us a tour of the facility and taking us to greet the boys.

Unfortunately as we were about to snap the picture of the four boys, we learned that there were in fact only three on site. That one boy, who had just recently became a part of the Okkids program, regrettably wandered away from the facility last Friday and remains missing.

Our hopes and prayers go out to him and all of those at the home and the school who care for him and are anxiously praying for his safe return.

It was one of our longer days, having left before 9am and not back until after 6pm, but well worth it to see one of the projects that we support but have as yet been unable to visit.

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Day 3 – A Sunday in Nairobi

Our plan today was to attend Winnies church and then visit both the David Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage and the Giraffe Orphange. However, as luck would have it, church would have prevented us from seeing the elephants and so we had to make a difficult choice.

With our schedule being as tight as it is, we decided to visit the two orphanages and attend church next Sunday.

The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust is currently the most successful orphan-elephant rehabilitation and rescue program in the world. Once a day, at 10:45am, the elephants parade down across the land and into a small ring where workers bottle feed the animals and inform those who are visiting of the plight of the orphaned elephants, why they are there, how they are rehabilitated as well as how you can help.

The Giraffe Centre, open daily, was founded in 1979 by the late Jock Leslie-Melville, a Kenyan Citizen of British descent and his American wife, Betty.  The giraffe are a subspecies of the giraffe found only in East Africa. They are the only sanctuary in the world that lies within a capital city and allows visitors to come into such close contact with these beautiful creatures. They are home to a herd of Rothschild Giraffe, some Warthogs and over a hundred and fifty species of birds.

We had decided that a day of rehab was in order after some very busy and somewhat emotional visits. A day of rest was needed and received as we spent the remainder of the day by the pool. In the many years that we have been traveling to Kenya, a day by the pool has never been a part of the plan. Today we are rethinking future itineraries as a day to recoup was very much appreciated before beginning again.

Some additional pictures from our first few days:

Just a wee traffic jam!  When the weather is too dry and there is no vegetation to speak of, the Massai bring their cattle to the city in search of food.

Rita handing out some of the dolls to the children at Gathaithi

Staff at the Kawangware Tailoring Shop sporting the Hakim Optical Hats that were generously donated by Hakim Optical of Brockville.

On the streets of Kawangware

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Day 2 – Gathaithi Home for Orphans & Vulnerable Children

Headed out this morning about 10am for Gathaithi Home for Orphans and Vulnerable Children and thankfully did not hit any traffic, allowing us to arrive by 11am.  The school was loud and alive with singing and dancing and drums and flutes as Simon had arranged for a multitude of talent to entertain us for the day.

Patricia greeted us and we headed inside to get the business of the day taken care of before anything else. However, Simon kidnapped me before I chance to even sit. He had a classroom full of students who had been anxiously awaiting our arrival and needed to be greeted immediately as they were heading out.

I returned a few minutes later and we spent at least an hour engaging with the Gathaithi Board of Directors, discussing the events of 2017 and their hopes and dreams for 2018.

Last time we visited, they were extremely excited about a new and almost completed well water project. Their hope was to be able to produce enough water, to bottle and sell and this would help to create income for them. However, when the project neared completion, the neighbor, who owned the actual property on which the well was situated, reneged on the deal and took the well for themselves, allowing Gathaithi only a small access to water, merely enough for washing.  Saddened by this unfortunate turn of events, most would be devastated. The staff and volunteers at Gathaithi however have looked past the negative and moved on, with bigger and better – and smarter ideas for the future, wasting no time on regrets or anger. Manager Patricia adds, “That’s part of life, we don’t complain.”

Our Kenyan Kids currently supports 91 children in total at this project. Ninety-one on site and four in colleges and transition.  There are forty-five in primary school, seventeen in boarding school and the remaining ones are on site.

What Gathaithi hopes to provide these children with is:

1. Food

2. Shelter

3. Clothing

4. Healthcare

5. Education

The biggest challenges being high school fees.

They are sponsored by local churches, have self help groups, and the government will chip in with small bursaries for high school fees. Primary school is free, but high school is not, and most cannot afford it. They do everything they can to help offset costs so that they are not solely dependent on donors, but working diligently toward self sufficiency.

Their most successful efforts have come through three particular fundraisers each year. In April of each year, they have a 25km walk. Neighbours, friends, family and anyone they can reach, will make a donation – much the same as we would hold a walk-a-thon fundraiser. Last year, they raised 300,000 Kenyan Shillings ($3610.85 Canadian) from this event.

In July, they hold an event that they call “Friends Day”. On this day they invite all of their friends and family to big, old fashioned, family fun day. In 2017, they had over 200 in attendance and raised 250,000 Kenyan Shillings ($3009.04 Canadian)

A third fundraiser earned them 500,000 kes more.

Their dedication and positivity gives us great joy.  Set  backs are not something they focus on, but rather, they live to see the positives; to be good people,  to be good to one another and to live and to learn.

Currently they are running a dairy program. They have one cow, and three heifers. The one dairy cow produces enough milk to supply the school with all of their needs PLUS allowing them to sell up to 25kg of milk per day which in turn helps them to feed the children and supply enough grains to feed the cattle. Milk is currently sold to 5 neighbouring schools as well as members of the community. They are hoping to have three milk producing cows by year’s end.

Their next Endeavour is to begin a tailoring business through the school. Students will produce uniforms for children at the neighbouring schools, and hopefully down the road, even more. In order to be able to accomplish this task, they will need supplies to get it up and running and are looking for donations of sewing machines, (5 different types of machines – two of those being sweater knitting machines, and sewing machines). This not only helps to teach their own students advanced sewing techniques, but also allows them to create an income.

They have recently been nominated as the Best Children’s Home in the country and because of such elite title; the government recently rescued 6 children just last month and brought them to Gathaithi.

They are still actively running the only jiggers program around and have just this month treated two new cases successfully.

After our update, we were given a short tour and then entertained by the children, and by visiting children who were all ecstatic to see us.

The greenhouse, which was donated by “Maitland Garden of Hope” is suffering a wee bit due to lack of water, however as you will see from the photos, it is in the process of re-growth thanks to a recent replanting. They are currently brainstorming ways to increase water supply so that the greenhouse may flourish all year round.

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End of Day 1

The team’s first day began in Kawangware, but ended in Kambui.  We arrived just shortly after lunchtime, and although we could hear the commotion of students around us, there were none to be found. Lunchtime afterall is lunchtime to children in any language.

We began our visit by being sent to the office! Margaret, who is considered second in command, greeted us and spoke of some of the accomplishments and challenges the students have faced in 2017. She was most proud of their recent accomplishments – having received (very large) trophies for Best Primary School in the District, another for academic achievements and a third for best signing.

The Kambui School for the Hearing Impaired is one of only three in all of Kenya. They currently boast an enrollment of 250 children (30 of which are orphans), ranging in age from 6 to 16 with 24 teachers, and 24 support staff including house parents and kitchen staff.

Principal of the school, Connie Mutiso was away when we arrived at a government evaluation of the school but was able to sneak away to greet us for a short time to discuss some of the schools recent achievements as well as hopes and goals for 2018.

We saw a multitude of improvements as we walked the grounds and visited the dormitories. We were thrilled to discover that all of the asbestos has been removed and the dormitories are all sporting bright blue sheet metal roofing and a fresh coat of paint inside as well as new security doors. The new mattresses, supplied by the Retired Teachers Association made a world of difference in the appearance (as well as the comfort level we are certain) of the bunk beds. Dormitories were neat and tidy, beds made, shoes neatly lining the walls, side by side – the girls of course a wee bit tidier than the boys.

We examined the cubbies in the entrance ways, which for years have been used only to store the children’s shoes, and house their trunks. However, Connie and Margaret explained that they would like to have the old and dilapidated cubbies replaced with new, sturdier wood, doors on the cubbies and locks on each. Therefore they could do away with older metal trunks which are awkward and sharp, causing a daily safety hazard.

They also have a dire need for improvements to the bathroom including a handicapped washroom. They would like to be able to accompany that with new tiles to replace their current broken flooring. The new mattresses, recently received are proving to be better than they had ever hoped and now would love to see a donation of more of the same so that each child may have one.

They are currently working on opening a “Hair and Beauty” training classroom. This will help the students to learn a trade, other than the sewing, knitting and carpentry that they already offer – allowing the students just one more option to become self sufficient, wage earning adults. To do this however, they will need supplies such as furniture (table’s chairs, wash basins) as well as teaching tools such as mannequin heads, trade tools and teaching supplies.

We visited the new library – which was non-existent at our last visit – is now an entire classroom filled with tables, chairs, books, games, learning tools, skipping ropes, and so much more. The children were ecstatic to receive and are getting unbelievable use of this new facility, also donated by the RTO.

The school currently raises enough cattle that they supply their own students with ample milk supply and the rest is sold to the community, providing them with enough funds to buy future feed for the cattle and the remainder of the funds going back to help the children. Every quarter, the children are offsite for one month. It is during this time that they are able to sell 100% of the milk they produce, which greatly helps with keeping with other livestock and future needs of the children.

For the children, their happiest moments are spent on their brand new playground. Principal Mutiso hopes to one day be able to raise enough money to enclose the playground with fencing noting that the playground is the first place the children race to when they wake and the first place they rush to at the end of the  day and she would like to see it enclosed to help with safety issues.

Before departing we were able to distribute a wide range of toys and learning supplies that we were able to gather and bring with us, including Rita’s dolls which were given to four (of the 7) students that Our Kenyan Kids supports through tuition there. The other three are now housed in other facilities since passing their most recent exams but are still supported by OKKids.

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Day 1 – A visit to Kawangware

Waking up to 25 degrees has definitely got its advantages, but recognizing that those temperatures also mean the land is dry, the soil is in dire need of watering and the crops are suffering may have you rethinking your momentary sigh of relief.

Our first morning came quickly since we had arrived so late the previous night. None the less, the team was anxious to get started and so up and out we were, at 9am. Steve Lombo, the Chair of our Advisory Board in Kenya came to greet us at our hotel first thing in the morning, before our day began, and of course Winnie, our Project Administrator was also there, bright and early, eager to begin the project visits.

Kawangware Community Tailoring Shop, was our first stop on the day’s agenda. The school was almost full when we arrived, a very rare thing to see since the upheaval caused by the elections last fall. Monica was outside, anxious to greet us and so our visit began.

After our own introductions, each of the students stood to introduce themselves and give us a brief synopsis of why they were there; what drew them to enroll in Monica’s tailoring school and what they see for their future.

One student, 25-year old Jennifer, stood out for me.

Young, (as most of the students are), married and not living at home with her parents as many of the others were, Jennifer spoke of the empowerment of women, women’s rights, that now is the time for all women to step up and out of the shadows of men. She longs for the day when all women can stand tall, walk proud and no longer fear the demoralization that so often happens – on a daily basis here. For one day, the sex-trade, to be a distant memory.

Jennifer lives right in Kawangware, which is beyond the scope of most of our Canadian friend’s imagination. The streets are not paved, the homes and shops are huts, at best, many of which have little or no electricity. Since the upheaval of the fall elections, many of these buildings have been badly vandalized if not burned completely to the ground. It is what she has always known, which is perhaps part of the reason that she is not a bitter and angry individual, but rather, sports one of the biggest smiles and jocular laugh we have heard all day.

Jennifer has been enrolled at the school for only six months. She is a strong supporter of women’s rights, women in business and in society and in the support of one’s self. It is her wish for, “Every woman out there, to step out and believe in their passion.”

One of the greater needs today at the Kawangware Community Tailoring Shop is for constant and reliable electricity. The back of the shop is nearly always in a state of near darkness. Their ancient Singer treadmill Sewing machines have most definitely been through the ringer and with the recent vandalization in the village, the entire contents of the shop had to be packed up and moved – practically overnight to prevent theft  – and virtually, the end to the shop. However, in doing so in such a hasty manner, many of the machines were damaged – not beyond repair, but damaged none the less. Most are missing the post on the tops where the thread is poised. Others are in need of that little spike-type wheel that lays beneath where the needle is placed, that feeds the material through properly. There is a need for new tables for the machines, and new stools – as many were also damaged in the move.

The level of quality that these young men and women produce is far beyond the quality of clothing you would purchase in our own daily shops, and still available at a fraction of the price that they are worth.

After a visit to the school, we traveled further into the village to visit in Monica’s shops where we chose material for her employees to create for us, medium sized travel bags. The visit was a not marred by any uneasiness, though we were certainly the centre of attention. Karen distributed Canada pins to  the employees and to the students that were donated by MP Gord Brown’s office and hats to the employees in Monica’s Tailoring shop that were donated by Hakim Optical. Everyone was overjoyed by these small tokens of our appreciation for allowing us to visit and learn of way that we might be able to help them.

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