Sunday, October 5, 2008

A bit of news...

So things have kind of slowed here at Uweza right now, and we've been struggling to catch up on summer overdue summer work; mainly, the sponsorship updates and welcome packets. For those of you sponsoring a child, we really apologize but the updates are running a little late. Please expect them in the mail in the next few weeks.

But as for the organization, we have been really trying to get things done because Jen leaves this week and I am in school much of the time during the week.

Our Soccer League teams in Kibera have been busy practicing for their upcoming tournaments. Recently, all three teams were involved in a few tournaments with other Kibera teams. The Under 17 Tunza FC team won a few games, but never made it to the finals of the tournaments unfortunately. Our younger boys all did really well also, but they lost their first games in the tournaments, causing them to lose their place to advance to the next stage. All the teams have been practicing really hard lately in preparation for the upcoming tournaments. We are excited to say that we are working on setting up our own Uweza Soccer League tournament as well and will be inviting other teams in Kibera to join-- more news on this soon! Also, we are going to start a girls' Tunza FC team because the girls from the orphanage all expressed strong desire in playing soccer, like the boys. We are happy to give the girls the productive and recreational activity as well!

In Jamii Children's Center news, we are happy to report that the kitchen has been completely finished and the door, walls, and floor reconstructed. The two stoves are now in full use everyday so the volunteer kitchen staff can cook for all the children of the school. It has been a great help for the kitchen staff because they are able to cook with more efficiency, and the new sink has added more sanitary measures to the cooking process. Also, the kitchen has become a healthy environment for the staff members, because they are no longer inhaling all the smoke from the cooking due to the new chimneys. Additionally, the new stoves use less firewood per use now so it is saving the school and our organization money in the long run. As for the kids at Jamii, as previously mentioned, they all are having fun learning with their new school supplies from the Backpack Project and the available classrooms after the refugees have moved out. Learning is now back to normal at the center, and has even improved in the last few months with the help of the school supplies. We hope to be taking the kids on some educational field trips in the next few weeks and will update everyone on that soon.

With our health project, we have been preparing to bring some of the support group crafts to America for sale there and gain support for the groups. With the support group crafts, the women and men do bead work and make handbags for sale in local markets and internationally. 50% of the profit goes towards the owner of the bag or goods and helps the HIV+ patient to afford for his/her family's daily living expenses. 20% goes towards buying new materials for the groups to make further crafts, and 30% goes towards the group fund (which helps to provide emergency medical care and gives loans for business startup to the group members). We hope to soon be able to sell these goods from the US, and we will update everyone on our progress in the future. With the rest of the health outreach, its business as usual; we have been maintaining our home visit program and have been working with the HIV+ support groups.

And with the most news comes Tunza Children's Center. We have been working with them a lot lately to try and improve the living situations of the kids and to register Tunza as an official organization with the government. We have partnered with Faces of Kibera in the hiring of professional counselors (one male and one female) to come twice a week and interact with the children. We have been meeting with them and Mama Tunza, the director of the Center, in the last few weeks to try and work out a curriculum and time frame for discussion with the kids at the Center. We are hoping this can provide an outlet for dialogue for the kids, as well as give them a mentor or role model to look up to and talk to on a normal basis. Furthermore, the counselors can help to make Uweza more aware of the problems that certain kids in the Center are facing, so that we can handle these issues as they arise. We hope to start the sessions with the kids this coming week.

Lately, the Center has struggled with a bit of a food crisis as well, and so we have been helping to provide for food for the kids at a time when they are struggling to find any at all.

On Friday, every school in Nairobi was closed so that children could attend the International Trade Fair at Jamhuri Showgrounds, just next to Kibera. We decided to use this as a field trip for the Tunza kids, and so on Friday, we walked over 50 of the kids to the show because they had been begging to go all morning. They had a lot of fun, and we wanted to thank all the donors for helping us to send them to the show. They saw a lot of different animals and learned about farming and agriculture; they also saw many performances from local groups in theatre, music and dance. It was a fun day at the fair and the kids really enjoyed it, they were even treated to some ice cream. Pictures soon!

And the last bit of news comes about one of the orphans at Tunza Children's Center. Recently, Cyrus Renji, a 16 year old boy who has been living at Tunza for the last 3 years, has fallen ill. Cyrus attends Ayany Primary School and is about to graduate Class 8 and move on to Secondary School. He enjoys soccer and is a member of our Under 17 Tunza FC Team and attends practice and games regularly. At the Center, he is always around helping to do construction work and repairing the Center, and he does very well in school. On Wednesday of this past week, Cyrus was suffering from a headache and stayed home from school to rest. On Thursday, he woke at 7am suffering from his headache still and blurred vision. At this time, we decided to take him to the clinic to get a checkup and so we helped him to St. Mary's clinic in Kibera to seek treatment. By the time he arrived at the clinic, he had completely lost all of his vision and was quickly becoming confused and disoriented. At St. Mary's they referred him to Kenyatta National Hospital or a larger, more equipped hospital to handle his diagnosis. Kenyatta National Hospital is a big and bustling national hospital that caters to all who cannot afford any other means and many more from all over Kenya. At Kenyatta, when you enter the emergency room, you can see lines of people laying out on stretchers waiting to be seen, and even many on the floor if their are no more stretchers. These people, no matter what their condition, wait hours and hours throughout the day to be seen by a doctor or any medical personnel. Some end up dying just in the waiting room because they have not yet been seen.

And so at the time, we saw Cyrus quickly deteriorating and we knew Kenyatta was not the best option and he would die waiting to see a doctor. So we took him for treatment to Nairobi Hospital, a private hospital. By the time we arrived, Cyrus was still unable to see at all and was confused and disoriented and almost unconscious. He was rushed in to receive treatment and was given a CT scan and lab tests. The lab results came back that he had suffered from a specific viral and bacteria infection that had spread throughout, causing his current symptoms. So he began the proper treatment immediately and was put on an IV and heart monitor. By nightfall he was unconscious and still not recovering quickly enough, so he had to be admitted; after he had now been treated and was being monitored, we chose to admit him to Kenyatta Hospital to afford the bill. He was rushed by ambulance to Kenyatta where he was admitted to the Acute Room as he awaited a bed at the Intensive Care Unit. We surprised to be informed that for Kenyatta Hospital, the main and national hospital for all of Kenya, the Intensive Care Unit had only 12 beds. But we were glad to see that he was being treated in the Acute Room. By Friday, he was able to be admitted to the ICU where he is now recovering. We are really happy to see the progress he has made, he is now completely off his breathing machine that he had been relying on, and is slightly more responsive and alert; however, his eyesight has still not returned.

We wanted to tell all of those who have supported and have been aware of our projects here at Uweza to ask for your assistance. Now, more than ever, we really need your help. Uweza chose to intervene in the situation of Cyrus because there was no one else; he is a complete orphan with no other options than the Center, and the Center does not have the funds to provide such intensive medical care. Without all of our supporters there would be no Uweza; and without Uweza, Cyrus would have died that day had he not received immediate and proper medical treatment. We are hoping that with Uweza, he can continue to recover and maybe receive his eyesight back. But he has a long way to go, and his care so far has put a very large burden on our organization. We are really hoping that our supporters can come to our rescue to help Cyrus recover by means of hospital care. So far, our organization has accepted the burden of the Nairobi Hospital bill of 25,000 Kenya shillings (around $400.00 US dollars) but this alone has wiped out a lot of our funds designated for hospital care, and his Kenyatta bill (which we assume will be even more than this due to the duration of his stay) has yet to be paid, and we cannot afford to provide for this alone.

Please please please, if you can help to fund his care in anyway donate online here or send a check or money order to:
Uweza Aid Foundation
P.O. Box 1042
Evanston, IL 60201
United States

We know our supporters will come through for this cause, and if you can do anything to provide please help us in this time of need. As for the rest, thank you again to all who have been supporting us and spreading our news-- we could not do this without all of you, and everything we do and write here in our blog is all that you have done. So thanks again and we will be informing you all more on our projects soon!

Meghann

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