Girls and ladies across the world have at least one thing in common; we all have to face ‘periods’. Some of us have physical challenges, others emotional changes and some suffer regularly with both.
But, have you ever considered that for some girls and ladies around the globe, this monthly ‘visit’ is more than just physical and emotional discomfort?
For many in developing countries, where household budgets just stretch to food (and very little else), buying sanitary protection every month, for every female in the house is a stretch too far. This leaves many girls housebound for up to a week, every month or almost a whole term out of a year.
Girls are working hard to reach their dreams and many are achieving great things; just imagine what they can do, given that extra time to study and continue with life…
This is why ‘Days for Girls’ are working across the world sewing and putting together their amazing kits to give girls back their days! Recently we were sent 100 kits each comprising 2 pairs of panties, a face towel, a bar of soap, 2 zip lock plastic bags and 2 washable base sanitary pads with 8 changeable inserts, all brightly coloured with beautifully soft brushed cotton. The inserts are an inspired idea, they are square, they fold into a rectangular shape to insert into the pad and for heavier days you can easily add another 1 or 2, as needed. And, the great thing is you can dry them discreetly in the sun because they just look like a beautiful handkerchief! Amazing!
Fifteen girls in primary school were chosen to be the first to sample these wonderful kits and they received them with massive smiles! We told the girls to tell their friends how great they are; they’ll be receiving theirs in a few months time, as we are able to get the rest of the kits out to Tumaini.
Thank you so much ‘Days for Girls’ you are wonderful! What you are giving, no one can repay, but your investment in time and talent gives girls all over the world the time they need to reach for their dreams!
Check out Days for Girls website www.daysforgirls.org
At the end of last year we received a grant to help us purchase equipment for our children with special needs. Dennis and Molly had a lot of fun going out to buy some items here; some in Nairobi and others were brought from England.
We were very excited to be able to buy 2 iPads, a play tent, a toy kitchen with plastic fruit and other foods, a ball pool and a trampoline (and we’re still shopping)
Children were so excited as they got into the ball pool, Ambrose a young boy with cerebral palsy smiled as he experienced the sensation of the squidgy balls around his body and Harmony and Julius had a blast ;0) Julius has progressed through nursery and primary school with the same class mates and socially he is now a very different young boy. He has become independent, confident within familiar surroundings and able to converse a little in English too. He has now reached the final class of primary school and we are looking for ways to engage him around the school in the future, although we’re sure we’ll have a battle on our hands as his classmates move up to high school at the beginning of next year!
There are so many children with physical disabilities who are already starting to benefit from the unit here but we are looking forward to being of greater help to the community in the future. At the moment, wherever we have a space we’re setting up our equipment as we wait for our ‘Special Place’ to be released to us.
One of the young lads Helen works with has complex issues; it’s a challenge to establish the root cause of his difficulties in learning. One day Helen took him to the trampoline and having never seen one before he was a little reluctant, but followed Helen in climbing through the safety net. When I walked into the room I saw them jumping and the smile on his face was infectious as he bounced even trying seat drops. A light was lit and a hurdle jumped as Helen saw this young boy relax and after a few minutes, even show her things to try.
Whilst visiting Tumaini, Stuart and Melanie Knight gave us a game called Jogball. After explaining the game to Jane Fridah (our new SNE teacher) we taught Purity, Elvis and Ezekiel how to play. Anyone in the room had to be very careful with their head as the little wooden bats were waving everywhere!
We’re in very early stages of this work, but already we’re beginning to see the impact this equipment is going to have in awakening the senses that were lying dormant in some children who were floundering in the classroom.
Thank you #happykids
Parent’s Day is a great event! We enjoyed expressive poetry from Kasabi in Class 4, songs and dances from students and of course nursery graduation, which is always cute!
When we woke in the morning and saw the clouds, we wondered if it would be possible to hold the event outside but later it ‘seemed’ to clear, so we thought we were safe. We began by raising the flag and singing the national anthem, which led to a time of presentations from nursery students who sang wonderfully and recited poems so clearly in English.
Next came primary students with songs, class 4 sang with enthusiasm, assisted by their microphone bearers and class 7 gave us a real treat with an energetic dance routine. I wish I’d known it was coming, Chege did some amazing summersaults as part of the routine and Peter, some really cool dancing ;0) unfortunately I missed those moments on camera, but believe me, it was great!
The graduation followed and then prizes for achievements from nursery all the way through to high school. When the time came to give announcements to parents the clouds darkened and people looked worried and then the heavens opened. The Head Teacher of primary and Principal of high school did really well to hold it together, we were all huddled together under umbrellas, trees and covered walkways around the parade ground – it was quite cosy and a good chance to chat to a few parents who we’d not seen for ages as we huddled under umbrellas together.
I would like to say a huge thank you to all staff, teachers you’ve worked very hard and support staff you’re doing a wonderful job, together we are raising some great children. Parents, thank you for the support you give to your children and to the school and to ALL sponsors, THANK YOU! Without your continued help and support so many families would struggle to educate their children. Our children are generally healthy because of the meals they eat here and their minds are open and eager to learn.
Do you recognise this nurse?
Many people who have visited Tumaini over the last 10 years will have met Emily Nyongesa. She was raised for several years by Charles and Mary (the house parents in the children’s home) and was sponsored through Tumaini Primary and High School.
You would always find Emily caring for and carrying young children around. She was interested, from quite a young age, in healthcare and childcare and it was obvious to many that Emily’s niche was to be in a caring profession.
Our shy, unassuming young girl has become a knowledgeable, confident young lady. Emily worked hard at school and passed her national exams well, but now she has even more dedication to study; she’s got her eye on her goals and you can see she absolutely loves what she’s doing. A great nurse in the making who will touch and change many people’s lives in the future!
Emily is training at the Presbyterian University of East Africa, she’s about to complete her second year and will qualify at the end of 2015/early 2016.
When she came home this week, Emily was able to identify a problem with one of her ‘brothers’ and being confident in her training, was able to ensure that he received the right treatment.
Thank you Charles and Mary for your dedication to the children in your care – their success is your success! And thank you to everyone who gave and is giving Emily the support she needs to reach for her dreams; you too are life-changers!
Well done Emily – we’re so proud of you! With your heart of compassion, your enthusiasm and determination to succeed you will change the lives of many people.
Do you remember back in June we planted carrots? Well to be more accurate Said planted them as part of his special needs education, well it’s time to harvest and the carrots are excellent – yes I had some in my supper, sooo tasty! To help Said and as part of hands on education he has been selling the carrots around school for 1/- each. He’s turning out to be quite the farmer and businessman. Great work team… Thanks Glyn
It’s back to school time again for our third and final term of this academic year, so what have we been up to for the last three weeks that school has been closed?
Well, there’s been a holiday club, special needs day, a wedding, home visits, a women’s conference, maintenance work and a visit to the hills. How do you do all that? I hear you ask – with a lot of help!
Holiday Club was run by Compassion International; it was great to see children from a little further afield being able to benefit from our amazing facilities. When we asked why they wanted to come to Tumaini, they said, “so our kids can play on the playground” – thanks Emmanuel Foundation.
Wedding – check out our facebook page for photos of Dennis and Molly. It was great to see one of our home grown young men live out his faith, wait and commit to a life long marriage – we’re proud of you Dennis. Molly thank you for giving your life and your love to missions.
I was honoured to be able to visit Jimmy in his new one roomed house that people in the church have helped him to rent as he makes a commitment to walk in faith and put his past behind him. Jimmy reminds me of why we’re here!
What a week this week! Twenty five ladies gathered together to receive teaching from three amazing ladies from Taita Hills. The days started with “Sweating in the Spirit” great music and stretching – I’m not sure if some ladies were trying to avoid the first session or were just on “African Time”. After sweating in the spirit the teaching started and wow! When these ladies start, they give it some welly. My office is 3 classrooms away and it’s like I was part of the class. What a great week of praise and teaching, thank you Agnellah, Fenny and Mercy.
Thanks to help from Footsteps International we have been able to do loads of much needed work around the school. We’ve had a new water tower built and walls plastered and painted. Thanks to many people around Sleaford and a church in Ilkley, we have been able to decorate and furnish the Special Needs Resource room, move our Primary Teachers around, renovate their staff room and build an amazing new table – the kids loved helping with that too.
We also managed to squeeze in a trip to Taita Hills and buy a new cow, Daisie Lee. More to follow on her next week…
Thank you for your help and prayers.
Xx Glyn & Jane
Wednesday 20th August, the day arrived after much planning. Invitations had gone out to many parents in and around the village and Likoni inviting parents with children who had special needs to come to Tumaini for an afternoon of fun and information. We had no idea how many parents would come and as we prepared the room, parents gathered at the gates. There were so many mamas and children we had to let them all in early, two mamas were waiting from 9am for the 1pm start. A total of 30 children attended the afternoon.
Molly had invited Dr. Ang’ullo to speak, he is a local missionary doctor who lives in the area and has recently got involved in work within Tumaini. I was also invited to share with the parents some of my experiences of adopting and bringing up four children who all have Downs Syndrome.
The afternoon began with a play session for children and a ‘get to know each other’ time for the mamas. We set out some sensory toys, a table with a shaving foam activity and some sticks for mark making and exploring. There was an opportunity for mamas to try their children in special chairs that are available if they apply to Association of Physically Disabled in Kenya (APDK), unfortunately like everything the waiting list is long. There was also opportunity to watch and try the exercise balls which Molly uses in her one to one sessions with children, she also reminded the mamas that a blender, bought from fund raising in the UK, is available in school for them to use to blend fruit or vegetables to feed to their children.
After the play session I told my story of how and why I had adopted my children and some of the hardships and barriers we faced as parents. I hope the mamas were encouraged to know that they are not alone, that prejudice and stigma happens everywhere in the world but that their special children have a right and a need to explore the world around them and build relationships with other children and adults. I felt very privileged to share how we coped through the good and the tough times.
Dr. Ang’ullo then spoke to the mamas, he asked them where they felt they needed help and where their expectations were, they gave him a list including Stigma, Feeding Options and Accessing Hospitals, Education and Support. One parent had stated that no one had ever taught them how to look after their special child, but my hope is that they will support and learn from each other as I know some do already. Dr. Ang’ullo was very patient and listened and talked for nearly an hour, after which there was a question time, many many questions for the Dr. for myself and Molly. Molly told the mamas the times she is available for one to one sessions to show them how to do gentle exercise with their child, some massage, therapeutic play or just for help and support. Dr. Ang’ullo then went around talking and advising individual mamas and children.
Time for a break, tea and biscuits and homemade banana smoothies for the children.
What really touched my heart was the cost of nappies here. Children are not allowed to wear terry nappies in their schools, they have to use disposable ones and the cost for children of 6 to 10 years is huge, 800 Kenyan Shillings (£5.50) for 10 nappies, and for adult size 1,200 shillings (£8). That cost out of the average Kenyan wage is horrendous. In contrast, it breaks my heart that we are able to access so much in the UK for our special children. The mamas here have to pay for all their children’s education, medical needs, doctor’s consultations, x rays, prescriptions, dental, nappies, everything. Most are unemployed single parents, there are no benefits for families, no work and no money.
Despite the struggles these mamas have at home, seeing each other together, rather than as individuals began to develop a growing strength among them, not only through friendships building but having the confidence to stand up and speak on behalf of each other.
Wednesday 20th marked a new beginning, a new team of mamas that are being united as one. I am excited to see where this will lead.
Hands or Feet? Yes I suppose new shoes are supposed to be worn on your feet but our children were so happy to receive a brand new pair of shoes they just wanted to wave them in the air!
They excitedly opened the boxes to find a shinny new pair of black leather shoes, what an amazing day.
Thank you to our generous benefactor we were able to buy another 24 pairs of shoes to add to the 22 children that received shoes last term.
Also a huge thanks to Nelly, Brenda, Hassan and Kennedy for all the measuring, shopping and carrying – you’re great!
Asante Sana Xx Glyn & Jane
There is always something special about Tumaini fun day. It’s not just that we have a day away from normal classes or routine, it’s not just that there are sodas and sweets on sale, it’s something much more than that; it’s that the whole community of Tumaini comes together for one purpose: to have fun!
It is a beautiful thing to see people of all ages, staff from all departments, students from nursery, primary and high school, ex-students and visitors all coming together on the school field just to celebrate being a community. Tumaini is full of very different people, all with their own, often painful, stories, all from different backgrounds and all with different and valuable roles to play within this amazing community.
We had a wonderful day full of music, silly races, dancing, volleyball, laughter, table tennis, competitions and lots of fun and not forgetting staff v students’ basketball! Everyone enjoys watching the boys from high school take on their teachers and other staff members in the game of the term! The edges of the basketball court are always lined with children and adults all cheering on their team. Unfortunately this time, the students didn’t hold on to their title and the staff won with 71 points to 47!
It really was a great day and enjoyed by all! My personal favourite part had to be the crazy race in which the contestants started off from one end of the field with a sprint to the playground, a lap of the playground, down the big red slide and across to the football goal posts, where marshmallows were dangling down on strings. Without using their hands, they had to jump and try to grab the marshmallow in their mouths! It was a lot of fun to watch!
But, if I was allowed to choose 2 favourite parts, I would have to also choose the high school boys sack race in which a couple of lads attempted to cheat by running rather than jumping, they looked like 6 foot penguins and literally fell over the finish line – hilarious!
If I were allowed endless ‘favourites’ I’m sure I could go on all day about the many great things like the roaming karaoke mic, the incredibly cute, and slightly oblivious nursery children, the gorgeous little boy who just couldn’t stop dancing all morning and so much more! But perhaps doing that would undermine the word ‘favourite’.
It was a great day and I’m sure we are already all looking forward to the next one!
Experienced & written by Helen Sherrington
Since the beginning of the school year here in Kenya, back in January, both myself and Molly have been working with some beautiful children from Tumaini primary school.
Each of the children we work with have been identified as really struggling in class and so we take them out for individual or small group sessions focusing on helping them in the area that they most struggle with.
We are not professionals but it is very obvious to us that although some of our children are affected by a learning difficulty, a good number have been severely affected by trauma of some sort.
A lot of children here have lost one or both of their parents, some have been exposed to abuse and neglect and others, one in particular, has suffered from an accident which has left her traumatised.
The little girl that I am referring to is 8 years old and started nursery in January. Her peers are 3 and 4 years old and yet she is miles behind them. Her twin sister started nursery at the same time as her but is doing so well that she is being fast tracked through nursery to try and narrow the age gap between her and her peers. Zubeda however has been left behind. When she was 2 and a half Zubeda suffered a severe burn to the back of her head and arm. It has left scarring so deep that her hair doesn’t grow on the back of her head whatsoever.
Even up to a few weeks ago, if you had sat with her you would be shocked. She would barely acknowledge your presence, she would let flies crawl into her mouth and eyes, she would just stare into space, sometimes silently crying and the only noise she would make was ‘urgh’.
At first we thought that maybe the burn had caused her some level of brain damage, and perhaps it did. But we have observed her a lot over the last few months and every now and then we have seen glimpses of amazing progress. Every now and then Zubeda will speak, or she will show complete alertness and then she would regress back to her ‘zombie’ state.
The more we watched, the more we realised that these times had been when she was made to feel very secure, safe and loved. What this little girl needs is one to one time each day in a safe environment where she can get to a point of feeling loved and secure enough to begin to learn.
The problem was, we didn’t have such a room to use. However, after a lot of dreaming, thinking, searching, bubble writing, cutting, sticking and decorating, we do!
Welcome to our ‘Kuota Mbali’ room.
Kuota Mbali is the Kiswahili phrase for ‘dream far’ and that is exactly what we want to do with our children! We want to dream far with them. We want to believe with them that they can achieve, that they do have an amazing future ahead of them. And we want to use this room as a space for those dreams to become a reality.
Each of the children we work with are very behind in their classes but the truth is, they still have amazing potential. They are gorgeous and wonderful and their future is bright and hopefully we can help them on their way to that future.
So Molly has dedicated an hour each afternoon to spending time with Zubeda in our ‘Kuota Mbali’ room and we are both taking individual sessions with other kids in there. So far, so good and Zubeda is already showing huge signs of improvement even outside of her sessions! We have big dreams and hopes for this beautiful little girl!
Thanks for for catching up with us
Xx Helen & Molly