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Cara Projects Newsletter Issue 1
In the last while we have come to realise that we had some issues that needed to be addressed.
1. We had set up a training scheme for young Masai girls in our centre. The idea was that as we were based in Masai Land and felt that we should give something back to the community. We consulted with the local pastor and thought that, as many of the local girls would have left school early, we could train them in skills like tailoring, cooking, crafts etc thereby enabling them to be able to earn a living for themselves and their babies and families. This was well received and with the help of Anneka and Ina from a Dutch Charity, we set up a training room in the Centre with sewing machines, a knitting machine and other equipment. We had teachers for the various skills and 10 local girls enrolled. The scheme started very well but as time progressed we realised that the girls would not commit to the scheme. They would not turn up for classes and sometimes we would only have one present. It became impossible to keep paying teachers for girls that were not there and we had no option but to finish the scheme. We understand now that these girls are nomadic, have responsibilities at home and just could not commit to the programme. We completely respect these girls culture and do not in any way blame them for the way it worked out.
2. We had a number of girls from Tunzas Childrens Home, whom we had put through school, who were now finished school but with no plan for their futures. We have grown to know these girls very well over the years and love them dearly. They would have had to go back to any relations that they could find to take them with no future ahead of them and possibly end up having babies they could not afford to keep thus starting the whole cycle again. We were also very aware that while many of these girls are very street wise and have seen and experienced many thing we have not, that they would not cope well being left to fend for themselves. They had become almost institutionalised. They had for all their lives been told what to do and when to do it. They needed to learn now to be independent.
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So….. after much consideration we decided to set up a year long mentoring programme for any of the girls who wanted to avail of it. It was important that the choice was theirs. Six of the seven girls were delighted with the idea and very grateful for the opportunity. They realised themselves that they were not ready to make their own way in the difficult world they live in and were worried about their futures. The good news is that the mentoring programme has now been put in place. The girls will live in Cara Girls Rescue Centre to begin with and for the first three months will do a certified computer course three days a week and tailoring two days a week. The computer course will be off site as we do not have enough computers or internet connection to have it on site. Some of the girls expressed a great interest in our fish programme and this may be an area they can follow at a later date.
Of course this means that there is extra money to be found. The girls will live in so will have to be fed and clothed , there will be travelling costs to the computer course etc. Again we have been very lucky and our Dutch friends Anneka and Ina have come on board with us for this project. Tomorrow 6th January, 2014 will be the first day of this programme and we hope, from the bottom of our hearts, that it will work well. We believe it will, we know these girls and they are a great bunch of girls, all they need is a chance … we are giving them that now and the rest is up to them ……
1st June 2013 – A proud day for all of us in Cara Projects. Today our local TD Martin Heydon and his lovely wife Brianna called to our new girls rescue centre in Nairobi at the start of their honeymoon in Kenya. Thanks Martin and Brianna.
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I promised to keep updates on our little walking talking living doll Martha. In the previous post I told you of the condition she was in when she arrived in Cara Girls Rescue – not good to say the least. When our group of volunteers arrived three weeks later she had improved, her arm was healing and she was being fed regularly and getting lots of love and attention from Edwina and her staff and all the kids in the Centre. Edwinas youngest boy Bewott was the first to make her smile playing peep with her. Special formula was very expensive – €50 for a tin the size of a regular tin of baby formula – we had gotten a donation before we left and were able to buy a small amount for her.
The improvement in Martha in our two weeks there were amazing. It is difficult to believe that she could improve so much in such a short period of time. She was everyones darling and boy did she know it! To see her walking was crazy.. she is so small that it looks strange to see her walking. She just came up to above my knee when she was standing. On our holiday she really loved the beach and played in a little pool dug in the sand and filled from the sea. To hear her laugh was amazing too, she has a little cackle laugh that just makes you laugh too. Her hair was still grey when we were leaving but has since turned back to brown. I think we left Edwina with a very spoilt little girl on her hands but it was impossible not to lift her and love her to bits. Thanks to all our volunteers for the love they had for all our kids and to Edwina, Timothy and all the staff there who care for Martha and all our kids so well.
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Our team of volunteers travelled on the 9th February to our Girls Rescue Centre in Kibiko Kenya. We were joined there by Bev from Australia, Tony from Canada, Bill from England and Monica and Aisling from America. Our network is increasing! We had decided this year that we would travel in February as opposed to our usual time of June. The weather is much better in February and makes working much easier and everything much more accessible when the roads have not turned to mud in the rain. Unfortunately this meant that we lost some of our regular volunteers as there was less time to fundraise. We missed them and hope that they will be with us again in the future.
For this years project we had decided to:-
1. Set up a chicken project on site at the Centre. This should help them to become more self sufficient by allowing them to generate an income which can then be used to run the Centre. We are very aware that we cannot continue to keep asking the same people in Ireland for help and sponsorship and our aim is to continue to set up new projects that will eventually lead to the Centre being able to generate enough income to cover all its running costs. This will take time but we have the right people on board in Kenya who are very capable and who we know will work with us in making this happen. The building for the chickens was complete when we left and we hope to have approx 1000 chicken in the next few weeks.
2. We had a large room where the kids could play but it was just a bare room. We decided that we would repaint and decorate this room for the smaller kids and also do up another smaller room for the teenagers, where they could do their homework in peace and read their books or listen to music. This was a wonderful success. The difference in the rooms was unbelievable. Our volunteers were very creative and talented and everyone chipped in from their own money to buy tables, chairs etc that made the rooms really colourful and child friendly. Lovely murals were painted on the walls and the place just looked fantastic. It was so good to be able to give these wonderful kids, who have been through so much in their short lives, a little more than just the basic bare rooms.
3. The Masai girls training programme which takes place in the Centre and is supported by Huruma Charity has been teaching young local Masai girls sewing, crafts, cooking and knitting for the last few months. This programme caters for young girls who did not have the opportunity to complete their education to gain new skills to help them to get work or set up their own small home industry. This year we were very lucky to have a chef with us who undertook to work with these girls and show them new skills and ways of baking that they never would have seen before. Louise brought her own equipment with her and baked scones, shortbread, chocolate biscuit cake with the girls. No mean feat when the oven is a wood burning one and is out in the garden with no way of controlling the temperature! God Bless your patience Louise. She also showed the girls how to make different icings etc.
4. This year we decided that an important part of our trip would be for the volunteers to spend quality time with the children. On previous projects we had such a busy agenda that we barely got to know the kids. This time our time with the kids was amazing. The volunteers played with them, sat with them and listened, made jigsaws, read to them, blew up balloons etc – things we take for granted but which meant so much to these kids. We took some of the older ones to have their hair done in a beauticians and to a market to buy themselves some small items of clothes. This was a huge treat for these kids and very enjoyable for the volunteers who went with them. I think the ladies in the beauticians knew they were on to a good thing when they saw all the white women appearing and made the most of it. Everyone came out with beautiful nails and hairdos!! This was time very well spent. These kids will never forget that trip to town. Thank you ladies – it was a great idea!
5. Before leaving Ireland we got a generous donation from someone who wanted it to be used to treat the children. We decided that we would take them away for three days to the beach. These children (and some of the adults) had never seen the sea or been to the beach before so it was a once in a lifetime opportunity for them. The excitement cannot be described in words and the crazy moment when they saw the sea and started running (downhill) towards it is something us volunteers will never forget. All the kids assumed they could just swim but this was sorted with armbands which had kindly been donated to us before we left. The only snag was that the journey to the sea was 10 hours by bus…. on crazy roads… full of crazy lorry drivers….in crazy heat…..but we had two wonderful safe bus drivers and 40 very well behaved kids so we made it. One bus had 16 teenagers with great lungs who sang for most of the journey…. Rhiannas song Diamonds will forever be associated with our trip to Mombasa in my mind and will always make me smile. This may be the only time these kids will ever get a holiday so though tough as times it was definitely worth it and the wonderful memories will never be forgotten.
6. We wanted to be able to leave enough food for the Centre for the next few month and we were able to shelve out a room to use as a store and fill it with food that will see them through the next few months. Again we received a very generous donation which allowed us to buy the food.
So while this years project was not all about building huge buildings it was just as worthwhile. We achieved what we had planned and I have no doubt in my mind that the time spent with the children is every bit as valuable in helping them. They know they are accepted and loved by Edwina and her staff but we as volunteers had more time to spend with them and do small things that mean so much to them.
I hope that the photos will help everyone understand what i have tried to convey. Once again I have to thank all our volunteers and everyone who helped them to fundraise, everyone who gave us donations, KFM and Clem Ryan who interviewed Paddy before our trip and who is always so helpful and genuinely interested when talking about Cara Projects and of course Paddy O’Connor who’s dream it was to change just a small part of the world…. he has certainly done that for hundreds of children over the past five years.
Just over a week ago we got a call from Edwina to say she had been referred another little girl to our Cara Girls Rescue Centre. This is always good news because that is what we are there for and if we can afford to keep the kids we are always happy to hear of a new arrival and to get the photos of them. This little girl however is different. Edwina explained that the little girl was in very poor condition. She is called Martha and is three years old, however she is not much bigger than a one year old. This little girl had been found tied to a table. She came to the centre with a broken arm and a nappy that was so bad that her skin started to come off as they tried to take it off her … and the poor little girls hair is grey. Edwina sent us photos, some of which I have put up here, the others are too upsetting. However we have to look at the positive side and know that at least she is in the right place. Now we can care for her as she deserves. She will get better and have the love and care that every little girl deserves. The condition of little Martha has upset me more than any other that I have come across and I will keep an update of her and how she is doing as time goes on. Our group is travelling to Kenya on 8th February and it will be so good to see all the kids again. There are now nineteen girls in our centre and that is thanks to everyone who has helped us along the way. We have been so lucky with the very kind and generous people who have donated to us and trusted us to do the best we can for the children we can help. As always I thank you and want you to know that without you we could do nothing for these kids.