Happy 2013

We would like to wish everyone who has supported us a very happy and peaceful New Year.  Cara Projects has gone from strength to strength since our return last June.  The girls rescue is an amazing success story and is now home to 15 beautiful girls with more to come.  The training centre for local Masai girls, set up by Edwina, is also an outstanding success story.  We were very lucky to get the support of  Annek and Ina from an organisation called Humura  in this project.  They have purchased an oven, sewing machines and other equipment for the training school and have even taken on the payment of the teachers  salaries.  They have also agreed that it would be wonderful to have a second training session in the afternoons for another group of Masai girls and will also pay the salaries for this. Cara Projects would not have had the funds to do this and we really appreciate the wonderful support we are receiving from them.

Before Christmas we received some very generous donations from friends.  This allowed us to buy six months supply of the basic foodstuffs and to pay for a Christmas dinner and party for the Centre.  I was speaking to Edwina on the day of the party and it was a fantastic happy occasion.  It is unbelievable to see the kids so happy.  When I was there in October we collected one small, very scared little girl, Faith, from the children’s office to come and stay in the Centre because her granny could no longer care for her.  To see her so happy and smiling in the photographs is all we every hoped for.  Her smile makes all the difficult times, when we felt like giving up, were everything was going wrong, when it seemed we could never trust anyone in Kenya, when we seemed to be banging our heads off a wall, when we had no money and bills to pay…. all so worthwhile.  The big difference now it that we now have an ever expanding circle of people in Kenya who we know we can trust and who understand that all we care about is the kids we can help.  We also have brilliant support from many people throughout the world and so many caring and generous people here in Ireland.  You all know who you are and please know how much your support means.  As usual I must stress that every cent raised goes to the kids we support.  There are no wages to directors or administrators etc.  Everyone who works here for the better of Cara Projects does so voluntarily.

For our 2013 project we have decided to travel in February and a group of 17 are getting ready to go on 8th February.  We will complete the fish project which we started last year but did not have the money to finish, set up a chicken and possibly a rabbit project.  Now that the main construction work is done we hope to focus on the interior of the home and making it more home that institution.  We will focus on providing furniture and soft furnishings, mosquito nets for all the beds and volunteer rooms, equip a library, playroom, creche for the masai girls babies and so on.  We also hope to put a nice fence around the outside play area and would love, with permission from the local community, to provide a playground for the local children, simple swings would suffice.  It is difficult for the local children to look through a fence at our children playing but would be impossible to let everyone in.  We have many dreams for Cara Projects…… a borehole……ship over a container of goods… bring over a minibus purchased here as they are much cheaper to buy here…. lease sewing machines to the locals for a very small fee to allow them to set up their own small enterprise, ECDL courses for kids who never got the opportunity to go to secondary school….. etc etc etc….. A HOUSE IS BUILT OF BRICKS AND BEAMS, A HOME IS MADE OF LOVE AND DREAMS……. AND OUR DREAM GOES ON…..

Cara Girls Rescue Centre October 2012

On 28th October I was lucky enough to be able to travel to Kenya again to visit our Girls Rescue Centre and see how things were progressing since we left in June.  We have left with great hope and expectations but with no children in yet.  Words cannot describe now fantastic it was to go back, see that everything was not just as good as we had left it but better!  The garden full of  the vegetables that had been kindly donated by Johnstown Garden Centre, the rooms all bright,  clean and shiny, the office all set up to welcome visitors and new arrivals, a cow in calf and best of all ten children living there.  Ten smiling happy children who were delighted to see us – all with their own stories of sadness and pain that no child should even know about – but still happy smiling kids.  This is great testimony to Edwina who runs the centre and who has so obviously made these children feel welcome and cared for.

While we were there Paddy and I went to the Children’s Office to collect another little girl.  Heartbreaking.. a small girl with a shaven head in a pink hoodie with terror in her eyes standing in the corner whilst the adults around her told us her story and discussed her case.  Two white people no doubt added to her terror.  This little girl, who will always have a special place in my heart now, is Faith aged 8.  She was one of a family of seven children who had been taken to the Children’s Office by their grandmother.  She said she could no longer care for them and if they were not taken in she would put them on the streets.  Not only were these kids being abandoned they were also to be separated from each other.  No where could take in all seven of them … it was so difficult not to say .. yes please we will take all seven.. unfortunately we were not in a position to do this so we took Faith back with us.  The next day, and one white teddy later, she was like a different child.  Happy and smiling, glad to be fed and warm and get attention from adults.  These Kenyan kids could teach us all many lessons in resilience and acceptance of our lot.  They are amazing little people and make us so proud to be a part of their lives.

Since we had been there in June, Edwina has started a training centre for local Masai girls in the large rooms in the front of the building.  These girls are often married at about age twelve, many of them have babies and they do not get the opportunity to go to secondary school.  There are ten girls taking part in the training for this first session of it.  They are being trained in cookery, sewing ( we brought three singer sewing machine over with us) and crafts and woodwork – all with a view to them being able to get a job or set up a small home industry on completion of their training.  Edwina, by some miracle, had succeeded in getting the teachers to start the project on a voluntary basis and much thanks is due to them.  The cookery teacher has indicated that she will be able to get employment for four of the girls so that is fantastic.  Of course we could not expect these people to volunteer their time forever to we needed to figure out how to pay them.  This project is so good, even in its infancy, that we could not consider giving up on it.  But once again we found the right people at the right time.  Paddy with his magic way of meeting people has been in contact with a great Dutch organisation who are prepared to take on the cost of running this training programme.  Watch this space – this training programme has the potential to be amazing.  The ten girls there at present are lovely girls who are delighted to be there and learn.  They go home each evening.

We spent the week with the children and Edwina and her family planning for the next projects in February 2013.  What we do depends on how many volunteers we have coming with us but at present we are planning to – finish the fish project, set up chicken and rabbit projects, we need more furniture, mosquito nets etc for the Centre so there is plenty to do.  We will also work in Kibiko Primary School as we did last year and will work with Nancy Stevens and her Kenya Help crew from Canada on a local Secondary School.

To have seen how well everything is running, eleven little people in residence and ten great teenagers in training makes me very proud to have played my small part with Cara Projects in all this and I can only salute Paddy who, no matter how tough it gets and it gets tough!-  never gives up on his dream for the kids from Kibera.


Update October 2012

Everything in Cara Girls Rescue Centre is now coming together really well.  The home looks fantastic, the crops are growing very well and best of all we are now having children referred to us by the children’s office in Kenya.  Only yesterday a young girl, Sarah, was referred to us.  Sarah was conned by a 21 year old who took her to his home and she became his wife.  The man was arrested and Sarah was referred to us for temporary custody pending a court hearing.  We will do all we can to make sure that she is happy with us for as long as she is with us.

Today we were referred 5 more children.  A family of four, three girls and a little boy.  They are aged 2, 3, 4 and 13.  Though Cara is a girls rescue centre we could not separate the little boy from his sisters.  These kids are orphans and we felt the little boy has enough trouble in his life without making it harder for him so he will stay with his sisters.  We also got another little girl aged 12 who too is an orphan.  This is absolutely fantastic for everyone involved in this project – our home is helping kids who are in genuine need of help.  They will be well cared for and loved by our Director Edwina and her staff for as long as is necessary.

There are also other plans in progress at the moment for a training centre on the premises.  It is hoped to set up a training centre for young girls who never got the opportunity to progress past secondary school.  We plan to be able to have different courses available where the girls will pay a nominal fee to attend.  The classes are yet to be decided but we are considering classes in sewing – all unwanted sewing machines gratefully accepted!! -, beadwork, farming, computers, cookery, hygiene and health etc.  We will keep you updated as this project progresses.

Our next volunteer trip to Kenya is on 9th February, 2013 for two weeks.  To date we have had good interest from people who are interested in coming with us.  If you think you would like to be a part of this team please get in contact as soon as possible.

Again I take this opportunity to thank everyone who has supported us along the way, everyone who has travelled with us, sponsored us and donated to us.  Without everyone of you none of our work would have been possible.  We are aware that things are not easy for many people, yet we are always well received and often overwhelmed by the generosity of people to us.


Day 4 to the end….

My blogging career in Kenya was short… I hadn’t factored in how tired I would be at the end of each evening when I started….

Home yesterday after two weeks and miss it already.  Yet again a fantastic amount of work was done in just two weeks.  We had our 23 Irish volunteers and approx 30 Kenyan tradesmen on site.  It was great to be able to employ locals who were very happy to get work and who love working for “Mister Paddy” and amazing to see how hard they work and how skilled they are.  In Kibiko Primary School we got electricity into the assembly hall and painted 23 classrooms which had never been painted, the difference that painting the walls made to the classrooms was unbelievable, dark classrooms looked bright and fresh when painted and the kids and teachers were really happy.  We also were able to provide 30 new benches and beautiful coloured chairs and desks for the nursery class who previously had no desks at all.  The Headmistress, Josephine and her staff really appreciated what we did for them, as did the parents.  We look forward to keeping in touch with this school and working on small projects with them in the future.  We were able to present the school with two football kits and played a game against them, it was great fun for everyone.  We also had a laptop to present to school which they were delighted to receive.

The Girls Refuge centre was really exciting to  work on and the building which had been left very dirty was completely transformed.  This centre will be home to girls ages from 4 to 12 who have been removed from their families and who need temporary accommodation.  The reasons for removing them from their families will vary – some will have been abused or raped, others will be victims of female genital mutilation- all will be kids who really need help and a safe place to go to and will be referred by the childrens office.

The entrance gates, which were provided by Nancy from kenyahelp, were moved and painted.  The two huge dormitories and dining hall were divided up into smaller rooms.  The building now has a house for the Director who will run the centre,  two bedrooms with beautiful new white bunk beds fitted with new mattresses, duvets and lovely coloured covers on them with toilets and electric showers off them , a kitchen, dining room, TV room, Office, and three other rooms which can be used for meetings/workshops/ counselling.  There are also three rooms for overseas volunteers, these volunteers pay a small amount to stay in the rooms and then help out in the centre for the duration of their stay.  Many people from all over the world do this as it is a great way to help children while at the same time getting to see Kenya on a small budget. The entire building was painted inside and out and looked beautiful when in was finished.  A playground, flowers and a roundabout planted with lovely plants finished off the front of the building which we hope will bring happiness to the girls who will live there.

It is vitally important that the centre becomes self sufficient as quickly as possible so before we went over we had decided to provide a greenhouse tunnel to enable the home to provide their own fruit and vegetables and also to be able to sell some to market.  However when we got advice from the Ministry of Agriculture- thank you Jimmy- we realised that a fish pond and chickens and rabbits and eventually pigs was the better way to go..

Water shortage is always an issue in Kenya- the rainy season where everywhere is flooded followed by serious drought.  This has been an issue which Paddy has always been keen to address so this year with his usual enthusiasm and drive decided to build a reservoir – this was dug out and lined with suitable plastic sheeting (sorry Paddy for the lack of the correct technical terms). During the rainy seasons the water from the roof is collected in huge plastic tanks, however these can fill within an hour and all the rest of the rain water is wasted, now when the tanks are full the water will flow into new overflow pipes and be piped into the reservoir, this water can be used for drinking for a period of time after which it can be used for watering the vegetables in the garden or on to the fish pond which is being dug out this week… exciting times ahead .. when the fish pond is complete and stocked we hope to be able to afford to start on our chicken project – buying day old chicks and rearing them until they are ready for sale… then eventually onto to pigs when finances allow… We will keep you posted …

There are so many people without whom our 2012 project could not have been so successful – you all know who you are and we thank you for your encouragement and help, without you all there would be no project.  Finally thank you to Paddy… without you there would be no Cara Projects and children and volunteers would have missed out on so much .. keep that enthusiasm going..  I will thank our Kenyan workers, Kamau our foreman, John the carpenter, Dave the painter, James the electrician and all the guys who worked with them, your skills and capacity for hard work are amazing!

Local boy with his tyre toy

Days 2 and 3

All going really well and work all going according to plan.  Painting of Kibiko Primary School should be finished in next day and a half or so and wiring of the school hall which also combines as a community hall should be finished tomorrow. The difference that

painted walls together a clear panel in the corraguted roof makes is unbelievable.  The girls refuge centre has now been painted with two coats of undercoat and the improvement already looks great.  Should look really well when it is finished.  We presented the school with two sets of football gear and two footballs today and there was great excitement., the school has never had any football gear and could not compete in interschoools competitions.  An Ireland V Kenya match took place at 3pm.  It was brilliant. Our volunteers played the school kids watched by over 1000 kids!  I am told Kenya won!!  Lots more painting, electricaal work, plumbing, gardening etc to be done but it should all be great and we are all looking forward to seenin the great improvements.  Of course the kids are the reason we are here and what make it all so great.