After our final visit to Grandma Jenny's Training Centre on my recent trip to Kenya, our next item on the agenda was to stop by New Hope Children’s Centre Uplands.
We were accompanied on our trip by Michael Otieno, a young man who grew up in New Hope and we first met in 2010. Michael was one of the recipients of laptops sent over from the Emanuel School, which he used to support his university studies. Today he works as a registered nurse and is a key contact for Gennarosity Abroad on the ground in Kenya.
On our way to New Hope, Michael escorted us to a small local shop to purchase $500 worth of food and staples for the children. As Michael was raised at New Hope, he knew exactly what they needed. We bought maize flour, chapati flour, cooking oil, salt, soap and nappies to help replenish some supplies (pictured above).
When we arrived, we were greeted by the mum of New Hope, Anne Chege, along with her daughter, Cathy, employee Cecilia, and the children currently living in the Centre. Anne has four children, and they are slowly beginning to take over the responsibilities of running the home as she is getting older and needing more assistance with daily operations and management. The campus has had a lot of work done since I last visited. The area outside of the boys' dormitories has been cleared and is now an assembly point surrounded by classrooms. You can see how much time, effort and work goes into maintaining and constantly improving the home for the best quality of care they can provide to these children.
As a result of Covid, Gennarosity Abroad was one of many donors from around the world that was limited by how much we could financially support New Hope over the last few years. Being conscious of everything that was happening at home from Covid to bushfires and floods, we didn't feel it was appropriate for us to be fundraising to provide overseas support. However, we still sent funds across whenever we could, even if it wasn’t in the same amount or frequency. All donors for New Hope were in the same situation. Locally speaking, more children were abandoned as parents couldn’t afford to look after their babies. In total 57 new babies were taken in.
And while we haven't been able to be as involved as we would have liked to have been, this hasn't stopped the development of New Hope. In 2019, the centre opened up the first part of their new endeavours into providing education, by way of registering their own primary school (grades 1-8), called Oakridge Center of Excellence. So far, there are 127 children enrolled in those grades. And the plan isn't to stop there, New Hope are working towards also opening up a high school, so they can entirely support the development of children from giving them a loving home, to providing them with an education, and gifting them with a future. The benefits of the school within the home will allow more children to succeed at university or work, which will have flow on beneficial effects for the families and their community.
Before opening Oakridge, the children attended the public schools in the vicinity. In 2018, the carers at New Hope started giving strong consideration to the potential of providing an education to the children within their own premises. They had two motivations. First, the government threatened to close all children's homes, yet they were not offering an alternative to care for them. New Hope felt that to be allowed to care for the children; they would operate as a boarding school instead. Secondly, public schools are very congested since education is free. One small classroom has over 100 children. Following the introduction of free primary education, the performance of the centre’s children went down, and they could not be admitted to good secondary schools; this affected the colleges they attended after that as the lousy performance continued all through secondary school.
Then, during covid, one year after starting school, the number of abandoned children increased and looking back, New Hope cannot imagine the nightmare of transporting all the small children to their public schools, with them having to cross a highway.
Since the school started, their performance has improved dramatically from mean average scores of less than 230 out of 500 marks to average scores of over 350. Various classes are now top 5 in the region, out of over 70 schools, in every examination they do.
When we closed Grandma Jenny's Training Centre we sent our sewing machines, desks and chairs to New Hope. The desks and chairs are in the classrooms and the sewing machines have already been used to sew bed sheets together for the children and are used for the technical part of the curriculum for the older children. We will also be directing any money from selling Grandma Jenny's Training Centre to New Hope and will continue our vision to empower future generations through fostering education. Funds will go towards opening a science laboratory New Hope requires in order to meet criteria to register and open a high school for their children. Items will include benches, a fume cupboard, reagents and glassware.
An operational change New Hope is working towards is adhering to the Child’s Rights and UN 2030 Sustainable Development Goals whereby children who have living relatives need to take the children in rather than going to a children’s home. Therefore, New Hope is only taking in children who are completely orphaned with no living family members or those who are abandoned.
They continue to support the local community wherever they can. This outreach includes their grandmother's village where they help house grandparents looking after grandchildren whose parents have died from HIV/AIDS. The Baby Centre helps take in teen mothers who are pregnant or mothers who have recently given birth. These mothers are fed, housed and upskilled. New Hope has also shared what little they have had during COVID with those suffering in the wider community too. It is truly an incredible facility. Anne Chege and her family are unsung heroes of the world. The passing of her late husband, Tirus Chege, has had a huge impact on the children. For most of them it was like losing a second parent all over again. He too, was an unsung hero for dedicating his life to be the father figure to thousands of children over the past 20 years.
New Hope is going to become a central focus for us at Gennarosity Abroad, as our key driver is enabling programs for the betterment of future generations, and New Hope is the epitome of the kinds of programs we are trying to support - run by the community, for the community and their future generations, and in a way that is continuously seeking to improve and thrive independent of the support we can provide. These initiatives are always the most impactful and that's where we know we will be able to help make the biggest difference. We also uphold education as one of the greatest values that can exponentially change someone's life and are in full support of the future direction of New Hope.
New Hope has given us a list of areas that they need support in. This includes teachers' salaries, desktop computers, school uniforms, desks and chairs, dining tables, dining chairs, stationery and books, examination papers, playground equipment, school science laboratory, food supplies and annual medical expenses, coming to a total of about $50,000. We will be focusing on helping them meet their needs. And if you'd like to help as well, all donations are welcome and greatly appreciated, just follow the link here.
After New Hope, our next stop was to visit Rhonda Maternity Clinic, to catch up on how the ward had been handling the last few years, and boy were we surprised. Click here to keep reading.