December Newsletter 2016

“Every picture paints a thousand words”

Did someone once say “every picture paints a thousand words”?

I do hope so! Paul tells me it was a line in a song. He has just returned again from Kenya. He worked extremely hard while he was there, seeing patients who were very sick and, in a couple of cases, dying.

On the farm, he gave permission for the well to be dug deeper to reach the water table, as water is in very short supply and other wells have dried up. Our boys working on the farm are giving out food and water to those who are without. Just north of our area, they are seeing the results of no rain since last December. Animals are dying through lack of grass, and crops are non- existent just now. We have sent out £2,000 to date to relieve some of the families, giving out maize flour and fresh water. We will continue to do what we can to relieve their suffering.

On a more positive note, our schoolchildren did extremely well in their `mock` exams. Our senior class of 9 children were among about 200 Kanamai children who took these exams at a local government primary school, and all our children were in the top 36, which is really good news. The National Examination they will sit next year is extremely important to them, as it will determine which secondary school, if any, they qualify to attend. We shall ensure they get electric lighting in their classroom and, if necessary, become boarders so they can study in the evenings during their final year at Little Angels.

So, I am attaching more photos this time, to give you a flavour of life in Kanamai!

All the Trustees would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your support and interest, and to wish you a peaceful and happy Christmas.
With our very best wishes

PS. A date for next year`s diary: Saturday 6th May 2017. We shall be holding a dinner/dance at the Aztec Hotel which is very close to the M5. If you can come – and perhaps stay overnight at the hotel? – you will be extremely welcome.

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July Newsletter 2016

The School is working well, and the children are now working hard for their end of year exams.

Paul went out to Kenya at the end of May and this proved to be a most testing time for him, as when he arrived at Nairobi on the Saturday, they confiscated his luggage, and he travelled on to Mombasa with only his hand luggage. It took an awful lot of time and patience to get it delivered, but they were finally united on the Monday, about midnight, so the next few days were rather hectic for him.

June 2016 visit 012However, he saw lots of patients, and met with the teachers and staff at the school, the boys working on the farm, and many other people.

Life is very hard for all these poor Kenyans, as the number of visitors is very low, and many hotels and restaurants are shutting, with the obvious shortage of jobs for them. The farm continues to provide food and income for the four families working there, and we are continually looking at new ways to help them achieve more.

June 2016 visit 007 (002)The School is working well, and the children are now working hard for their end of year exams. For the first time the older ones will be taking their ‘finals’ and what they do next is going to depend on their results. If they do well, then they will be eligible for a government grant for secondary education, though they will still need some help with uniforms, shoes, and books. We have had the school redecorated, erected a new fence and also new security lights.

While Paul was in Kenya, Pearl attended a ‘wine tasting’ evening laid on by friends in Devon, in aid of the Trust. This proved to be most successful, and enabled the completion of the final classroom for us, so we are most grateful to all those who contributed to that evening.

School visits are still very important and Pearl has spent some lovely time at both St Peter’s in Portishead, and Longwell Green. Both school have worked hard to raise money for the Trust, and the children at St Peter’s arranged a ‘singing for Kenya’ event, to enable the Trust to buy a television and possibly a DVD player for the School. They have also learned a lot about Kenya, and did a “do you know….” lot for their parents about life in Kenya. Longwell Green are holding their annual Charity Fair too before the end of term.

Paul is due to go out again in August, and we will provide an update on his return.

Meanwhile, many thanks for all the wonderful gifts we have received recently.

With our best wishes

Paul, Pearl, George, Debbie & Paul

March Newsletter 2016

So, after 10 years in the making, the Little Angels Academy is now virtually complete, accommodating 160 children aged 5 to 14.

Paul has just returned from Kenya this morning, so I thought I would write a newsletter straight away.

Panasonic February 2016 002 Photo 1Just before he went, we were told there was another outbreak of Jiggers, so I have included some pictures taken of the kids having their treatment. They first soak their feet in a special anti-Jiggers solution, and then the offending parasite (worm) is removed with a pin. Not nice!

We are paying for the classrooms to be re-painted, and have bought a new hose so that Pablo the caretaker can wash the classrooms every day and stop new infestations. Whilst we thought we had eradicated Jiggers in Taliban Village it has now broken out there again. So, while we cannot Panasonic February 2016 008 Photo 2control it in the villages, we can make sure the classrooms are clean and treat any cases at the school.

Also, two friends, Dave and Nicky, who visited the school this week, have given money to buy some shoes. This is the most effective way to prevent infection, and we do need to buy many more. Flip-flops don`t last, and break too easily, so the children need sturdy, plastic shoes. We have also paid for a large sink to be constructed, just for the use of the kitchen, to cope with the large amounts of washing up. During the hot weather the cook prefers to cook in the open air, as it is cooler for her, but during the rains she will go back inside the kitchen and use the fixed stove there.

Panasonic February 2016 010 Photo 3We now have a full complement of teachers, 13 in all, and I have included a picture of them. So, after 10 years in the making, the Little Angels Academy is now virtually complete, accommodating 160 children aged 5 to 14. The staff to pupil ratios are excellent, and the children are performing well. We have thought long and hard about what we should do once the children have sat their Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) exams, in Class 8. Whilst we have explored the possibility of building a High School in Kanamai, and indeed have been pledged land for this purpose, we currently have neither the funds nor the support to embark on what would be a huge new venture.

Samsung February 2016 077 Photo 4Just completing and fully funding the Little Angels School has stretched our resources to the limit. However, if our children achieve a mark of 350 or more (out of 500) in their KCPE exam they will receive a bursary from the Government to attend a local, Provincial or even National High School, depending on what mark they achieve. The bursary will cover both their school and boarding fees. Our children are doing very well in comparison with other local private or government primary schools and so, when the 17 children soon to be in Class 8 sit their KCPE exam, they will hopefully achieve high marks. The brightest children would be given an opportunity to attend one of the Provincial or National High Schools. Our dream of enabling some of the poorest children in Kenya go on to secondary education and ultimately, to University and into a profession, is soon to be put – literally – to the test.

A local 16 year old girl named Esther wanted to train as a nurse when she finishes High School, and since it was half term for her, she asked if she could sit in with Paul at the clinic. She enjoyed it so much (and indeed was so useful to Paul) that she now wants to be a doctor instead! She has asked Paul if it would be possible for her to help again during his next visit, and he would be delighted. She is already receiving some financial support from Dave and Nicky, and will need considerable financial help if she does win a place at Pwani University, Kilifi, where Paul is an honorary professor. Paul thinks this young woman has probably `got what it takes`, and we shall be watching her progress with great interest.

One of Paul`s young patients with congenital heart disease, named Salma Juma, has been listed for open heart surgery in Israel, through the kind services of M.E.A.K. In order to travel abroad, something our poor people virtually never do in their lifetime, Salma and her mother require passports, which themselves require birth certificates. Our 4 `Boys` took a few days out from farming to obtain these documents. Salma needs surgery urgently; whereas obtaining a passport can take up to a year. However, having paid the officials a `supplement`, we expect to have the passports within days.

Paul saw 77 patients over 3 days, with a wide variety of conditions. In order to re-supply prescriptions for his growing number of patients he now has to visit Kenya every 12 weeks. So his next week there will be in late May.

Meanwhile, while Paul has been away, Pearl has visited 2 schools. At Longwell Green Primary School the children had organised a Summer Fayre, by themselves, and raised more than £500 for the Trust. This will pay for mosquito nets, for those children who do not have them. The children at St Peter`s School in Portishead had also organised a cake and toy sale last summer, and had raised a similar amount. This paid for the children at Little Angels to have a Christmas Day celebration, complete with food and gifts.

For these visits, Pearl prepared a power point presentation focussing on the differences between children`s lives here and the lives of their counterparts in Kanamai. Starting with animals (e.g. `domestic` versus `big` cats), Pearl went on to compare their houses, sanitation (toilets), water supply (taps), wells and bore holes (only used in Kenya!); what they eat; and how their schools compare. She took some mosquito nets along to show how they protect children at night from being bitten and catching malaria. The children showed tremendous interest, and asked many questions.

The links with these schools are particularly precious to Pearl, since they provide her with the opportunity to remind the children not only how privileged we are in the rich West, but to show them that they really can make a difference to the lives of children of their own age in Kenya. She also paid a visit to a local Probus Group.

Samsung February 2016 074 Photo 5Back at the Little Angels, we have now begun work on the final classroom, and we shall complete this when we have the £1,500 we still need. Until then, one class is being taught in the playground, beneath a mango tree, which provides shelter from the sun, but not from the rains which will be arriving soon.

So, dear friends, we do need more money to fund our School, and also to build more toilets in the Kanamai villages. Although we have now built four blocks of toilets (pit latrines) in the villages, 80% of our people still use `the bush` as their toilet. So, we still have a very long way to go in stopping the spread of water-borne diseases which, in the poorest of the villages, are still killing as many as 1 in 4 of the children before they reach the age of 5 years. More and more villages are asking if we can build toilets, or upgrade wells for them. We are so very keen to do these projects, but can only authorize them when we have the funds.

It looks very likely that we will hold a Dinner/dance in September, and we will keep you posted about that.

So, thank you for your support, and interest. Without your aid we could not have achieved what we have thus far. Do look at the photos taken just this past week, and see how happy and well the children look, thanks to you!

With our very best wishes, and thanks

Paul, Pearl, George, Debbie & Paul.