We recently traveled to the project that first sparked our initiative in Kenya, the Longonot Education Center. We were excited to hear than since the construction of the school in early 2012, attendance has increased from just 48 students to 75! We have since provided a salary for a third teacher who has been teaching the oldest group of students who are now preparing to enter a government public school. While visiting we dropped off a large box full of school supplies for all of the kids! The school is doing better than we ever imagined; the teachers and the entire community are still so grateful for their new building. They are even using the classroom as a public polling station and volunteer HIV testing and counseling center for the town.
Construction of the new classroom and four new toilets for the Living Positive Daycare Center is expected to begin by the end of this month. The construction is expected to take just under three months, so the children will have their new class by February 2014!
To send off our team member Portia with a proper farewell, we took the boys from Ahadi Education Center to dinner for roasted meat (nyama choma) at a local restaurant to appreciate their hard work over the last two and a half months.
As 2013 winds down we are still working hard to complete the Faraja Sponsorship Program by the beginning of the first term in January and will have more announcements on this project soon. We hope you will continue to follow the progress of all of our projects by following us on Facebook
, and Instagram
-The LEI Team
After working hand-in-hand with Living Positive Kenya over the last few months we have finally reached our fundraising goal needed to construct a new classroom, four toilets, and to bring piped water to the Daycare Center
! Thank you to all of the generous people who donated. Construction is expected to begin within the next few weeks and we will continue to post frequent updates on the progress.
Our LEI team has spent the better part of 2013 getting to know a group of boys living in the slum of Mathare, Ngong. Most of the boys have either run away from home or have been orphaned. Many of them have problems with drug addiction, namely glue, a drug that makes them sleep and feel less hungry during the day. We have been working with a man, a former street-child, Joseph Njoroge, to help these boys recover from their street life and return to their educations. We decided to help Joseph establish an education center and a daily feeding program.
Ahadi Education Center (Ahadi means "promise" in Kiswahili) provides informal lessons on life skills, health education and basic studies. Following the lessons the boys receive a late lunch, one that keeps them satiated until they fall asleep. This daily meal deters them from using glue in the evening. Our intention is that the center will serve as a halfway step between the streets and a formal education. Ultimately, our goal is to prepare the boys to attend school and reintegrate themselves into their community as productive members of society.
We spent the first week of class constructing tables and a blackboard for the classroom. We used this opportunity to teach the boys about carpentry; the tools and skills needed to build something with their own hands. In the following weeks we have had volunteer teachers providing lessons in guitar, geography, critical thinking, and other subjects.
We will continue to post updates and photos on the Ahadi Education Center project page
, we hope you will follow our progress and support our effort to help these boys!
The last few months have been very busy for all of us at LEI!
We are still fundraising for the new classroom of the Living Positive Kenya Daycare Center, and are hoping to begin construction in Mid-October. The last big fundraising effort will be a dinner sponsored by LPK, held on September 20th at the Bounty Hotel in Ngong, Kenya.
The new classroom, four toilets and urinal will alleviate the current problems of overcrowding and poor sanitation. To learn more about LPK and the Daycare Center and our effort to help check out the project page
We recently added a new member to our team! Sedona Keenan is on her second trip to Kenya and has been heavily involved in our effort to help the street boys living in the slum of Mathare; she will be returning to California in September and will spend her time back in the States fundraising for this project.
As of July 2nd, Faraja Children’s Home was named a registered CCI by the District Children’s Office. As a registered CCI Faraja will now belong to a network of other children’s homes recognized by the Kenyan Government. The registration will also help the home when applying for federal grants, corporate sponsorship, and private funding. This is an accomplishment the home has been working towards for years and we are so happy to have helped them achieve this goal.
Last week Living Positive Kenya donated 40 new mosquito nets to Faraja Children’s Home! The mosquito nets were made by the women enrolled in the WEEP (Women Economic Empowerment Program) class and the materials were donated by HEART (Health Education Africa Resources Team). We cannot thank LPK and HEART enough for helping us help all of the children at Faraja!
Recently, Santa Cruz Skateboards
donated a very large box of skateboards, t-shirts, stickers and other goods for the street boys of Mathare and for the local skaters of Kenya. Half of the donated skateboards will be used to take the street boys on field trips to Nairobi for skating lessons as a reward-based program and the other half will be donated as prizes at the grand opening of the first skatepark in Kenya. We would specifically like to thank the Santa Cruz Team Manager, Jordan Tabayoyon, and Bob Denike for their very generous donation. We will have an update on this program very soon!
We hope you will continue to follow the progress of all of our projects by following us on Facebook
, and Instagram
-The LEI Team
Yesterday we visited the school in Longonot. We were headed out there to check up on the teachers and students alike, and we are happy to say things are better than we could have expected.
Last week each child at Longonot was granted a pair of TOMS from the Kenyan Red Cross. Many of the children had worn down or outgrown their shoes and some were even walking to school barefoot, so as you can imagine we are very grateful for this donation!
In case you are unfamiliar with TOMS here is a brief explanation, TOMS is an American based company that sells simple canvas shoes, however for each pair sold they have promised to donate a similar pair to a child in need. “One for One” is the TOMS slogan, but as popular as the shoes are many people have been skeptical of the company’s follow through initiative. However, no one would doubt them again after seeing all the children at Longonot proudly sporting their new shoes. In whole TOMS donated over one million pairs to the Kenyan Red Cross and it was up to specific beneficiaries to request the donation. Thankfully, our very own Teacher Jane heard of this opportunity and spent the time to fill out the application for each child in our school and was granted her request! Now all the little ones at the Longonot Education Center have at least one solid pair of shoes and no one could be happier.
In addition to the TOMS Teacher Mary had some great news to tell us; recently the children participated in a musical competition hosted by the Education Board of Kenya in a town up the road from Longonot. Our youngsters were stunning! They took 2nd place in Best Western Style Song and Dance, and one of our little girls took 2nd in Best English Solo. We are so proud!
As you can see the school is doing very well overall. The children’s marks are higher than many of the nearby private schools, and we are blessed with some really great teachers! We were blown away by all the good news and cannot wait to make a return trip soon to see what more progress is possible.
Our precious little soloist with her certificate.
Even Teach Jane got a pair of TOMS.
Children of the Living Positive Daycare
Is 2013 half gone already? We can hardly believe it. Thankfully the last six months have been highly productive for the LEI team. As you can see we have made some updates to our website and we hope that you will find them more aesthetically pleasing and easier to navigate. Since our last update we have continued improving our current projects and even added two new ones!
LEI has recently partnered with Living Positive Kenya to enhance the Day Care Center supporting more than 120 children living in Ngong’s largest slum. The facilities at the moment are subpar and not conducive to healthy play time nor learning. LEI’s goal is to help provide a new class room for the Day Care Center and help maintain a positive physical environment for the children to grow in. We are pleased to say we have also helped initiate a project to rehabilitate a group of about 20 Street Boys in the slum of Mathare. Through informal education, mentoring, sports and music therapy our hopes are to eventually reintegrate the boys back into the proper education system.
In the last two months LEI team member Portia has returned to Kenya to monitor and work with our current projects, and LEI Director Ben has returned home temporarily to fund raise for our newest projects and visit his family and friends before making a quick return back to Ngong before the end of August.
While our organization continues to grow we promise to maintain better attentiveness to our blog and our Facebook page alike. If you haven’t already liked our page please do so to receive frequent updates of our projects and photos of (not that we are biased) some of the sweetest kids in Kenya!
Gilbert, one of the boys of the Watoto Ni Baraka Rescue Home
Thanks to countless donors, past volunteers, friends, family, and the local community, Faraja was able to celebrate Christmas in a way they only once could have dreamed of. In addition to a huge feast, each child received a new pair of shoes, new clothes, a school backpack, and school supplies. The "big gift" was an industrial sized washing machine, meaning the children and staff will never again have to wash clothes by hand!Dozens of guests attended the event, offering food, gifts, and donations. Everyone had a great time and left with very full stomachs (two goats, nine chickens, and a LOT of fruits, cake, and candy will do that to a person).Thank you to everyone who donated this past year, and to everyone who donated to make Faraja
's Christmas so special! For more pictures of the event, check out the photo album here
The Dining Hall at Faraja is complete! The kids broke it in with a huge feast on the second Faraja Fun Day. Now, instead of eating their meals on the ground outside, they eat together at the table as a family. The children and Momma Moraa are ecstatic and very grateful.
The table also provides the children with a place to study and work comfortably. We added a blackboard which will assist with educational lessons while also giving the kids a place to write, draw, and play.
We are still making a lot of improvements at Faraja Children’s Home! The newly painted walls, both inside and outside, make the home brighter, friendlier, and more child-friendly. The kids love the new look. Last week we completed the gutter system on the home and purchased two new five thousand liter tanks that have been placed on both sides of the home. After a week of rain the tanks should fill completely providing the home with free water! The dining area (mentioned in the previous post) is nearly finished, meaning the kids will soon have a table to eat at rather than sitting on the ground during mealtime. This week we are also reforming the bumpy rocky yard by leveling the front and back as well as planting new grass.
Thanks to all of your contributions and support, we are now able to provide the children with things they desperately need, but could not previously afford. One of the children, Nancy, has been suffering from severe hearing problems for many months, and was prescribed hearing aids in both ears. Ten months ago, Momma Moraa couldn’t possibly have imagined being able to afford such expensive equipment. However, as of this week Nancy has been equipped with hearing aids and they have been quite the success. Her excitement with the equipment has been a joy to watch and, with the ability to hear, she is making rapid improvements in school!
One of the things we are most proud of is how well the children are eating these days. With the new menu in place the children are receiving a proper diet which has helped to ensure the children are getting all their essential vitamins and nutrients. Previously the home lacked funds for a balanced diet causing the children to eat rice and beans nearly every day. Now, they enjoy three balanced meals a day; meat twice a week, fish once a week, as well as a variety of fruits and vegetables. Since we created this new menu, we have noticed a significant improvement in the children's health, attitudes, and performance in school.
The photo on the left is of the bathroom, and next to it, the new outdoor kitchen and dining area. You can also see one of the two 5,000 liter tanks attached to the newly repaired gutters. As it is now the rainy season, we are receiving plenty of free water!
As a special treat to the children, and in conjunction with our goal of making the home more child-friendly, we have recently constructed a swing set and slide. The children are thrilled about this new addition and we feel it is well deserved. We will post photos of these new additions very soon!
Since our last update, we have been doing a lot of work at Faraja Children’s Home and the Longonot Education Center. We have been working on many home improvements at Faraja to make the home more child-friendly, as well as restructuring the administration to make management of the home easier. Our hope is that donors will see how efficiently Faraja can spend money, and how necessary additional funding is to the home and the lives of the children.
In addition to painting the interior and exterior of the home, we have been working to improve the general landscape and appearance of the home. Instead of laundry hung randomly throughout the yard, we built an area specifically for clothes to be washed and hung to dry. We have painted the study room with child-friendly colors, numbers, shapes, and cartoons, all conducive to learning. Soon we will construct new bookshelves, to replace the existing two that are falling apart. The old library and storage room has been transformed into an office, where there is a computer, meeting table, and a place for all of the accounts, records and paperwork to be stored in an organized manner.
Unfortunately, a few months ago all of the chickens died from an unknown disease. Despite the loss, we have taken the opportunity to replace the chicken coop with a dining area for the children. Currently the children eat outside on the ground, as there is not enough table space for them eat at. With the new dining area, they will have a table long enough for all of the children to sit at and enjoy their meals together in a covered weather resistant environment. We are planning to start this project within the next two weeks.
One of the previous volunteers at Faraja, Portia Duke, who is in Kenya with Ben now, has joined our LEI team! She will be actively fundraising for Faraja when she returns home in October, and has currently been working on creating comprehensive profiles of all of the children. She is working with us to create a sponsorship program that we hope to start in the very near future.
The Longonot Education Center is completely finished! The children are now learning in a very safe and healthy environment. They continue to receive lunch every day, and have plenty of school supplies. Along with the help of the current teachers we are looking for two new teachers with up-to-date teaching styles and fresh ideas to implement in the school. Next week, Simon and Ben, along with Teacher Mary and Teacher Jane, will interview a few candidates for the position.
We will make it a point to update our blog on a much more frequent basis, as we want all of our donors and supporters to know exactly what is going on! Pictures coming soon!
As you can see, the new school was recently painted both inside and out. The teachers and students are thrilled with the new look! The school is now stocked with new tables, chairs, exercise books, pencils, art supplies, and soccer balls. The lunch program is still going strong, and the students are reportedly doing very well in class! We couldn't be happier with the progress the children have made so far.
We are currently working with Teacher Mary and Teacher Jane to find a new full-time, recently-graduated teacher to assist with new lesson plans and teaching the children in the older class. With just over 50 students currently enrolled at the school, both teachers are excited by the prospect of some extra help!
The construction of the school seems to have sparked a new kind of positive energy in the community of Longonot. Parents of students are becoming more involved with the school, and plans to build a new community center nearby are underway. We are very happy to see that our efforts have helped the community to this extent. We look forward to seeing more improvements and development projects in the near future!