Here is what has been happening:
Christmas in Kibera:
Meghann: The holidays were amazing, thanks to everyone's donations and holidays gifts that helped us get through it all. In anticipation of the holidays, we gathered all of the items that have been donated such as books, toys, shoes, school supplies, and sports equipment, grouped them into age groups and brought them along with us on our home visits. On Christmas day and the few days after, we visted our HIV+ patients most in need and delivered donations from clothing to school supplies to full meals for their families.
As all the orphans and HIV+ families in our program are part of the Uweza family, it was great to see them and deliver all of your donations on Christmas, and it was great to see and hear all of the thanks and gratitude we received from everyone. We at Uweza cannot even begin to thank our supporters back at home for actually making it happen.
Dan: Meghann and I visited patients in their houses [home visits] to bring them some Christmas gifts which had been donated plus some money from the selling of their beadwork, they were very happy to receive it since most of them had nothing for Christmas. The money we gave will help them provide for themselves; they really appreciated the help they received. Though some of the patients looked sickly, they did manage a smile,which was nice.
Meghann: The boys have been practicing only occasionally due to the holidays but are now getting back to working hard and competing in local competitions. A volunteer has organized a drive for soccer equipment in the U.S. The equipment will be brought over in February and will be distributed to the teams and we're excited about that because many of them need new shoes and some of the balls have holes due to the rough condition of their playing fields.
Meghann: Shortly after the holiday season brought on the first day of the new school year, meaning over 25 children in our sponsorship program re-entering school, joining school for the first time, or interviewing for a spot in a new school. The first few weeks of January were very busy and stressful for these reasons as all the school fees were due, uniforms had to be bought, and interviews were scheduled. After everything was settled, 9 of our sponsored children started attending Olympic Primary School, one of the best public schools in Kenya, and over 15 others returned to school with new uniforms, supplies, and their school fees paid.
Also, for those who sponsor a child, your sponsorship updates for January are in the process of completion as we speak! Thank you all for the patience as we have really struggled to follow the deadlines. As the sponsorship program is fairly new with over 25 kids to care for and it has been difficult getting everything together in a timely manner.
Dan: The kids were very happy to get a chance of joining good schools. But due to the current country-wide teacher strikes at government schools, all the children have adjourned going to school because there is little or no attention taken by the teachers who are demanding for the salary increase. This strike has badly affected smooth learning but hope soon all will be ok and the teachers will resume.
Meghann: Jamii Children's Center has reopened school, and now includes 2 classes. Prior to the post-election violence there were 3 classes, but after most of the students moved and the school struggled to find teachers, the number of students lessened. They have started the new term with new teachers and some new students and we hope that the school will continue to improve to the state that it was in prior to the violence
Dan: All of the support group members are doing good and have resumed meeting though not all because most of them traveled to upcountry to celebrate the Christmas season with their family and aren't yet back but hope they will report back soon. We received bead money and distributed to these ladies whose stuff were sold and were thankful of it all. The money assisted them pay a bit of school fees for their kids and others bought food for their family. Thanks to you all who made it possible.
This year they will arrange themselves into small groups of like five then work for better results to make each one among them involved to doing stuff rather than on an individual basis; it was decided when they met for the first time this year, opening day, which is really encouraging.
As it was reported late last year, Tumaini is doing chicken rearing which is to assist in providing eggs to the patients during home visits and the kids in the orphanage. I found some chickens but they were not of good health so I decided to wait to buy good quality and healthy ones which is to be due soon. The coop is done and ready to accommodate 50 chickens. It was agreed after considering how big the demand for eggs is in the outreach program and even for the kids in the orphanage.
Meghann: At Tunza Children's Center all the kids are back in school doing well, and we are working together with a volunteer now on creating a better administration with a Board of Directors to make the decisions and better deal with the inflow of resources to the Center.
Meghann: For now, as we near the end of January, things at Uweza have calmed down to a more normal pace. Jen is back in the US and I will be out of Nairobi doing some HIV/AIDS research on the coast for the next few weeks, so expect us to just be maintaining our projects. We hope by the end of February, after a much needed break, to start building our projects once more. We are working out proposals for our internet training cafe and facilities, as well as continuing to plan for UWEZA Academy, a pre-primary school for needy children we hope to complete for enrollment in January 2010.