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Newsletter - Maua Street and Destitute Children's Home

Our new vocational training centre is up and running

This year New Life Nyambene has taken great strides forward in realising our vision of giving street and destitute children in Kenya access to the life-changing education that will help them become employable and self-reliant individuals.

In January we welcomed the first children to our new vocational training centre and we are on target to enrol 40 students by the Spring. Courses are being run in the following five vocations, by trainers selected from the local community for their expertise in these areas: Carpentry and joinery, hairdressing, dressmaking and tailoring, leather work and metalwork.

All the young students have faced the sort of desperate poverty that is unimaginable for children in the West, and our goal is to equip them with the skills they need to make a living and earn their own way out of poverty. On her recent trip to Kenya accompanying our funders Artemis on a visit, Miriam Westendarp encountered a young man called Josphat Mwigiri who offered a sad reminder of the consequences of long term homelessness:

“Desperate and exhausted, too old for school, he followed us up from Maua town that day and then didn't have the energy even to sit up while he talked to the team who gathered round him. He was a long-term street child, a survivor into adulthood, who begged for food and purpose; filthy and tattered: the colour of the ground he lay on.”

Thanks to a donation from one of the Artemis visitors, our outreach team were able to get Josphat a sleeping bag for his cold nights on the streets. He was also offered a place at our training centre, but tragically it was perhaps too late for Josphat – the last the team heard of him he had moved on to Meru town. This sad tale brought home to us how vital our work is in ensuring that more children don’t slip through the net, don’t end up without the education they need to break the vicious cycle of poverty.

This photo is of some of the children enrolled at the centre wearing their new uniforms, plus a photo outside the centre of the new water tank giving life-saving access to clean water.

However, in the long-term we can only continue to offer this life changing education with more funding.

We currently only have enough money to keep the centre running for the next few months. All we need is £1,125 a month to cover the running costs, including providing a meal for the children (which in many cases will be their only food for that day), paying the wages of our vocational trainers and buying the resources we need for the courses such as wood, leather and cloth. That works out at £13,500 a year.

Our UK trustee team is working hard to reach this fundraising goal. We are targeting all the companies we can find who have business interests in Kenya and corporate social responsibility policies that we match. We have been in touch with the SHAIR trust, which supports hair academies for the underprivileged in Africa. And later this month we will be presenting to the Buckinghamshire Rotary Club to ask for their support.

Can you help us reach our fundraising goal?

We are so grateful to all of you for the support you have given us thus far – without you we could not continue our work enabling these vulnerable children to grow into self-supporting adults. It would be greatly appreciated if you were able to suggest a contact at a business or grant making body that we might write to for support. Might your own workplace be able to sponsor us, for example? If you could also spread the word among friends and colleagues asking if they can help, we would be so grateful (they might like to watch the short film on our website).

Donate online

We have recently set up a charity checkout account so that both one-off and monthly donations can be made online. As ever, every penny that we raise goes directly towards our work with the children in Kenya, as we have no paid staff in the UK, only volunteer fundraisers.

Becoming a self-sustaining social enterprise

Given the constant battle to obtain more funding in a highly competitive market, our long- term goal is that the vocational training centre will operate as a social enterprise, making income by offering services and goods to the local community and then reinvesting this money into our work of rescuing and educating more street children. Our team in Kenya is currently working on short, medium and long term targets for the centre to become self-sustaining, and we have made contact with the East Africa Social Enterprise Network to find out what support and training they can offer. We are also investigating whether there are other social enterprises in the local area that our colleagues could do a study visit to.

Dr Challoner’s Pupils to visit Kenya

Miriam Westendarp is busy making preparations to take a dozen girls from Dr Challoner’s Grammar School to visit our project in Maua next year. The students will finally meet the children they have raised money for over the last four years, and will spend a day in an African school, also visiting local shambas (smallholdings) and homesteads, before enjoying a Game Drive in Meru National Park, the historical home of Elsa the lioness, of Born Free fame. The youngsters at our Children’s Home and new centre eagerly await their visit – it is always a huge excitement for them to meet UK supporters.

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