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Newsletter - Maua Street and Destitute Children's Home

Autumn 2012 Newsletter from New Life Nyambene – rescuing children on the streets in Kenya

Vocational Training Centre for Street Children - Builders have finished!

It’s been a busy summer for New Life Nyambene. In the UK, we have appointed 7 new trustees as part of our strategy to nurture our growth and fundraising ability. With diverse experience in business, marketing, web development, finance and charity work, these new colleagues will bring fresh insight and skills into all of our future activities. We have also been taken under the wing of The Worshipful Company of Marketors, the City of London Livery Company of senior marketing practitioners and marketing service experts. They will be lending us their expertise to help us develop a business strategy for the coming years.

Meanwhile in Kenya, the final bricks have been laid for our vocational training centre, heralding the start of an exciting new chapter in our mission to create a better future for street children. From early 2013 we will start offering training at our new centre in carpentry, hairdressing, shoe-making and other vocations, to young people who would be otherwise incapable of supporting themselves in their adult lives. Our goal will be to put these vulnerable young people on the right track towards earning their own way out of the desperate poverty they face.

The opening ceremony for the centre was held in August amid great rejoicing, with dance and song performed by the youngsters at our Children’s Home, as well as a play they had written about life on the streets. The children were thrilled to welcome some very special guests at the ceremony - representatives from Artemis who together with PKCF have generously funded the centre. Artemis staff had travelled all the way from the UK to see for themselves the difference our work makes and the horrendous conditions facing children still on the streets. During their stay, our visitors accompanied staff on street outreach and spent precious time with our children, hearing their stories, giving them the chance to practise their English (not to mention their hair braiding skills!) and showing them photos of life in the UK. For our children, who bear the scars of the terrible rejection and stigma they faced before they were rescued, it must be extraordinarily healing to have visitors who have come all the way from the UK to be with them – a powerful message that they matter, and that they are loved. We are so grateful to the Artemis team for making the long and challenging trip to Kenya see them.

The Artemis team were accompanied by our co-founder, Miriam Westendarp. In this moving extract from Miriam’s diary, she describes how the children were able to do something we take so forgranted in the West yet which street life prohibited for our youngsters – take part in play.

“We showered the children with presents. We bought so much! I took wooden, sturdy toys, like yoyos, jacks, dice, whizzers, skipping ropes, crochet hooks and knitting dollies. I also bought longer rope for team skipping and elastic for American skipping. I remember the anxiety when buying them that they would not be appreciated, appropriate or understood; but in the event that was never a possibility. It was all pounced on and LOVED. The Artemis team was just the same. Their office had also contributed and as well as a sack of stationery, they had brought badminton and tennis rackets, footballs, the sticky-sided bat and ball game; and Stephen had bought a flyer for each child. Kim brought games from her own home: Jenga, Frustration and Connect Four. So there was a whole afternoon of delight, rejoicing and PLAYING. Outside, the whole site was full of laughing children skipping, running, jumping, hitting and kicking balls. In quiet spots, some could be found yo-yoing earnestly, and to my surprised delight, the wooden spinners were an enormous success. I found a big lad - one of the oldest boys, whizzing away with the spinner which we would relegate to early childhood here. “This is the best!” he said happily, posing for his picture. There was no difference between the littlest children (like the curiously but sweetly named boy ‘Daddy Mutweri’) and the older teenagers such as Peter and Gerald: all skipped and whizzed and ran about together. The only genderised activities I observed were that only the girls did American skipping and crocheting – but instant crazes for both sprang up. I had to show a few how to crochet, but to my amazement, many were already skilful, and a crocheting corner appeared, populated by chattering girls, who produced instant and beautiful bags and a mat in no time at all (1-2 days) and two girls could be seen the next day with wonderful stripy hats, all complete and fitting perfectly. Indoors, the three games were fantastically successful, and quickly attracted devotees. Smaller children loved Frustration, whilst groups of older boys played Jenga and Connect Four. I played with all of them and had a fantastic time. Connect Four is good at identifying the quick, intelligent ones. Whilst we were busily playing, Patrick Munene joined us and asked how it worked. After one demonstration, he became an immediate champion, setting successful traps for others and beating virtually all newcomers. That game went on and on – as did Jenga which, interestingly, revealed one of the loveliest aspects of our Home – they refused to play it competitively, and got the most fun out of all building and steadying the tower together, all breathing with mounting excitement together and all exploding with laughter and release together when the wobbling edifice finally collapsed. The same gentle spirit was manifest during a game of Frustration when a bigger boy refused to make a move which would have led to the disadvantaging of a smaller boy. Similarly, two children gave away their sweets to little ones when there weren’t enough of a particular type to go around. The Artemis team were amazing – all happy and making friends and fans everywhere. Adored by the children, they seemed to be everywhere at once, doing everything and laughing and enjoying everything."

Date for your diary!
1st December - Fundraising concert in aid of the new vocational training centre for street and destitute children. A musical feast for the ears by Audeat Camerata - an exciting project that unites highly skilled string players from London's best music conservatoires.

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