July 2006 - Vulnerable Children Program

Dear Brian,
Life continues very busy. We are having a run of visitors and meetings. Guests last night at supper included people from Singapore, Germany, Ireland, Malaysia, Argentina and, of course, Australia. Meetings usually include a mixture of people like this and it is very invigorating.

I feel website visitors may be interested to hear how the Vulnerable Children's Program is progressing. It is a two year pilot plan and we will soon be in our second year.

This Vulnerable Children's Program continues to evolve and hopefully in a manageable and compassionate way. The Program works in collaboration with the Diocesan Health Dept. and the Diocesan Social Ministry Dept.

Initially we employed a social worker Monica Kinyanjui to do an assessment in Napatet village and surrounds to determine the number of children most seriously in need of care and the level of care essential for the children's well being. We planned to start with about thirty children and their respective families.

We gave Monica a month to do this research and evaluation. Monica met with the local chief, local elders and Church leaders to explain the intent of the Program and obtain their blessing. She also met with other Non Government Organisations such as Merlin, World Vision and Red Cross, to ensure there was no duplication of services and to ensure there would be cooperation between the various organisations.

Monica identified over 200 children up to six years of age as being in serious need. The dilemma then was to choose the thirty who were the most seriously vulnerable. Not an easy task by any means.

In due course we arrived at decisions and thirty children were chosen. Of the children selected some were orphans, some were children whose parents had deserted them, some children of single mums with no means of support and several had incredibly poor parents. We called a gathering then of these Guardians, Grannies and single Mothers to explain the nature of the Program. As time goes by hopefully more children can be included.

You may be interested in how the Vulnerable Children's Program operates.

Each Monday and Thursday the children meet at the Nursery school at three o'clock and have various activities in the class room. Painting, play with plasticine, singing, story telling and sharing items of interest. Then each child receives a packet of milk before going out to play with balls, skipping ropes, marbles and a few other simple play things.

All these art and play items are gifts from Australia. Some from Lynn Creber's family and friends in Yamba NSW and some from Julian Moran and his school, Marian College in Sydney. Story books are from Louise Bernard and her friends.

We now have an additional social worker with Monica, Emmy Loyamae Apoo and another, Sylvia Langoli on a month's trial. Officially Monica is the co-ordinator and the others the home visitors. The three work well as a team. They visit the families whose children are too young to attend the games and we give them milk.

This team of three is expected to visit each family weekly and see the children are not in need of medical attention or in need of other requirements. There is an agreement with the Diocesan Clinics that when children from the Program need health checks or medical attention they present an authorisation slip and are treated. The Clinic then bills us for the services.

There is also an agreement with the Nursery Schools that the children on the Program will have their fees paid so they are able to attend school.

A food distribution Program will commence within the next couple of weeks since the appointed staff of the Program are now familiar with the families involved. The co-coordinator of the Social Ministry Dept will assist in this distribution. Each family will be given a portion of maize and beans each week. One child who is already HIV positive receives fruit and bread besides the milk. The child is really quite sick at present as the guardian is unsure about the necessity or the exact times for administering the medicine. The staff will ensure this situation is remedied.

When other children are sick additional food and attention will be provided to them.

One of the Irish volunteers brought a bag of second hand clothing which was distributed to the parents for the children. The Diocese has set up a small shoe making industry for a shoe maker who is an amputee. He makes sandals out of the old car tires. We had him make a pair for each of the children. They were delighted and don't have to worry so much about trying to avoid the many thorns or sharp stones which are commonplace in this region.

While the children were dressed in their 'new' clothes and 'new' sandals we had a photo taken of each. The photos came back today and are simply beautiful.

The staff also weighed and measured each child to see which ones actually fell among the recognized malnourished category. Though most were on the borderline about seven or eight did fall into the seriously mal nourished category. Please God this will soon change.

The Bishop provided the use of an office for the staff and also provided a small fourteen seater bus with funds from generous donors. This bus is for our Program's use and also the four other Children's Programs. The other Diocesan Children's Programs include: School for the Deaf, School for the Blind, School for the Handicapped and the Street Children's Home.

We have been blessed with extraordinarily generous donors. I pray that each in turn will be blessed abundantly.

Bethany House
Turkana Province




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