NLN newsletter spring 2014
Miriam's trip to Kenya bears fruit: future leading lights of the training centre shine brightly, new friends at tearfund, and hopes of continued business mentoring for our team in Maua
Recently back from her trip to Kenya, our Co-Founder Miriam Westendarp brings news both exciting and challenging on the Vocational Training Centre. The team in Kenya are now calling this the New Life Training Centre (NLTC) - an apt name for a project that promises new hope and a future to young people in this desperately poor part of the world. Miriam reports that the courses in tailoring and hairdressing are going well, with small classes of enthusiastic pupils learning hair braiding, styling and cutting, while others mock up clothing using paper rather than cloth as it’s cheaper. Touchingly, Kenyan well-wishers from the local community continue to support the centre, offering small donations towards it’s upkeep despite their own financial hardship.
So the seeds of our vision for the centre have been planted, but there is a lot more to do to enable it to grow. More students must be recruited - both those who are living on the streets and with poor families and also those who are able to pay fees to contribute to the costs of running the centre. There is potential to run more courses so we can make full use of the space and tools we have - for example, our hairdressing trainer is also qualified in Nail Therapy and Beauty, which she is keen to teach as well. Site improvements must also be made - the keyhole gardens need to be properly developed so they can supplement the children's diets with more fresh vegetables, and the rocky potholed road leading to the centre is in desperate need of improvement (promisingly however, the water supply and sanitation have already been inspected and passed as ‘above average’ by the Public Health Inspector). Above all, new leaders need to be trained and empowered to take forward the business plan that the East Africa Social Enterprise Network have helped our Kenyan team put together.
Bright young stars - Our future is in helping Kenyans to help themselves
The most exciting part of the plans for the centre is its future leaders - Steve, Winifred and Peter. These are young people who we rescued from the streets over a decade ago, and who are now inspired to give something back to their community in gratitude for the years of care and education they have had thanks to the generosity of their UK sponsors.
Steve and Winfred will finish their secondary education this November, and theirs and our great hope is to raise money to enable them to do a business degree so that they have the skills to help us run our centre. Their business degree would be half funded by the government, but we desperately need your help to be able to make up the other half of the college fees. Similarly with another bright young star Peter, who is finishing his Electrical Training this November and who we hope might either be trained in-house at the centre, or also go for a Business Certificate.
There are also two staff at the Children's Home who are keen to help in running the centre: Patrick - our youth support worker, and Purity - the office secretary. Patrick has shown incredible dedication over the years to supporting our street children, and with a thirst to learn has put himself through night school in order to finish his secondary education. And Purity has an Accounting Diploma which she is keen to put to good use at the centre.
More training needed for our future leaders
Of course these young people and staff will need a lot of training and guidance to take forward the ambitious plans for the centre to operate as a social enterprise, which is why we are currently focusing our efforts on raising money to enable us to appoint someone who can build capacity and mentor our team day by day over the next year. If we can secure adequate funding, our hope is to be able to advertise in Kenya for a business degree level candidate with a thorough understanding of the local cultures and business sector, who is able to educate and empower our young leaders and come up with creative ideas to grow the centre as a successful social enterprise that will provide young people with nationally recognisable certificates they can use to escape the desperate poverty they face.
“Kenyan society is undergoing a radical transformation at the moment”, Miriam explains. “Whilst the majority of people in these rural places like Maua are largely uneducated, there is a real desire in their own society to transform that, particularly among the people in their cities who have had more consistent and higher education.
“As I see it, this can only be done by a new kind of charity work in which the developed nations do not go in stamping, and impress their own methods on communities which might not understand them. They seek out, find and facilitate African advanced thinkers to enable their own people to rise and learn.”
Given this goal of helping Kenyans help themselves, our plan is for the centre’s work to be overseen by an Advisory Board which as well as including representatives from our UK trustee team, will also see three Kenyans with great vision and intelligence driving the work forward: Ambrose Gichunge the manager of the Children's Home, and the two business mentors we know through the East Africa Social Enterprise Network: Mary Kamore - a self-employed Mentoring Consultant with an extraordinary list of business qualifications under her belt, and David Kairo – who works with 4 Afrika - Microsoft’s economic growth initiative for Africa.
And finally... a new friendship with Tearfund
Miriam certainly crammed it in during her trip to Kenya - as well as visiting another local training centre to learn what works well, she also met with Tearfund's representative in Nairobi. Tearfund is a leading development charity which works in partnership with Christian agencies and churches worldwide to tackle poverty. Unfortunately they are too short of money themselves to offer any financial support to our children at this time, but on hearing our story they have immediately identified our manager Ambrose as exactly the sort of person who fits their 'Inspired Individuals' program. Inspired Individuals are people who Tearfund recognise as having made enormous differences to their communities. Often such people are lonely in their pioneering work, and lack encouragement and advice. This Tear Fund Scheme to which Ambrose has been encouraged to apply supports Inspired Individuals by giving them a befriender whose experience and knowledge will support and give significant help to their projects. The befriender gives encouragement, knowledge, advice, prayer and friendship – walks alongside the Inspired Individual – for a period of three years.
How you can help – dance your socks off!
Dance your socks off at our Zumbathon to raise money for the children in Kenya! For only £10, you can enjoy 3 hours of non-stop Zumba dancing on 18 May 2014 at the Polish Hall (Raans Road) Amersham HP6 6LX 11am-2pm. A huge thank you to our supporter Claudia Stevens for organising this event, it promises to be a really fun day! More info at http://www.cheshamzumba.co.uk/
If you have a bright idea for your own fundraising event, we would love to hear from you! As ever, we remain immensely grateful for all regular or one off donations too – in particular if you can give towards helping pay for the costs of training and empowering our former street child young leaders so they can help their communities.