By Mal Butler
An Island charity has launched an emergency appeal to help save vulnerable children who attend a school it supports in Kenya. Uzima in Our Hands raises around £20,000 a year to keep open the Uzima Orphan and Day Care Centre in western Kenya where the children are sheltered, taught and fed.
However, because of the pandemic, Kenyan schools have been closed since March and Uzima’s children have been at home for six months. Joy Mowle, chairwoman of Uzima Trustees (pictured above – second left), said: “They are all in very difficult home situations in which they are often the unwanted extra mouth to feed.
“We have sent money for food to be circulated monthly to the families they live with, but this clearly hasn’t been enough to stave off real hunger and in many cases near starvation, as food prices increase. In the meantime, the children have continued to suffer not only from hunger but, as we have recently learned, also from brutality, crime, child labour to the extreme and sexual assault of both girls and boys.
“Many of the children are so desperate they will do anything for food. Some have moved around the area to escape and are too scared to report crimes committed against them. Evans, the Director, describes himself as being overwhelmed with the desperate cries for help as children come to his door daily.
“Meanwhile, staff have continued to visit and teach the children individually or in small groups at home, but this is not nearly as good as being at school. Uzima is more than just a school – it is the one place where these children can be sure of receiving something to eat, where they feel safe and able to be children, a place where there are adults they can trust.
“For schools to re-open, and this is due to begin within the next few weeks, the Kenyan Government have insisted we put massively strict and costly measures in place to ensure social distancing. So we will need to provide marquees to act as additional temporary classrooms, individual desks, more water and sanitation points, paint for the walls and floors, testing kits for all the staff, the list goes on.
“The cost for all these measures will be well in excess of £10,000, although the marquees should bring an income to Uzima when the pandemic is over by hiring them out.
“The reality is that without these funds some children will not be able to return to school, certainly for the time being.”
To donate, visit: www.uzimainourhands.org.