German Ambassador visits MCC!
In December, 2004, His Excellency Mr. Bert Bard, the German Ambassador to Kenya, visited MCC as part of a tour of development activities in the area. Mr. Bard meet with MCC guardians, children and staff, and in his brief speech acknowledged the growing need to support orphans and vulnerable children in the face of the growing AIDS pandemic.
German relief programs include the UNIMIX supplementary program, from which MCC benefits. In December, German Agro Action / ACTNOW-Makindu donated another consignment of 570 kilograms of UNIMIX. This support is making significant contribution to the nutritional needs of children within MCC. Support is also being accessed to families who are on the waiting list or towards cases of emergency or with life threatening situations.
During his visit at the Children’s Centre, Ambassador Bard encouraged the MCC children to take their educations seriously, and urged them not to neglect their spiritual lives as well.
In the month of December, Anti-Retroviral drugs became available at the local Makindu hospital. Guardians with known chronic cases have started attending the AIDS clinic and 5 are already on ARVs. MCC staff in Kenya anticipate that this figure will increase in the coming months, and staff are working with Guardians and other local women who are part of a new HIV/AIDS support group in Makindu. The anti-retrovirals are expected to improve quality of life and longevity for guardians suffering from HIV/AIDS.
Sila Mwolo recovering from traffic accident
One of Makindu’s kids, 18-year-old Sila Mwololo, was injured in an traffic accident in November. In the weeks since, Sila was transported to Nairobi for a CT scan. In the following weeks he has been released from the hospital and improved considerably, although a follow-up CT scan and chest x-ray have been recommended to identify the cause of continued chest pains and blurred vision. Sila has been put on medication and MCC has been assured that the concerns are transitory and will disappear in about a month’s time.
In other medical news, 18 children and 7 guardians received medical support from MCC during December. Children were mostly treated for malaria, which remains the number killer in Kenya, but which is treatable when diagnosis and treatment is not delayed. Effective over-the-counter drugs are available to treat malaria, but at a cost.
Growth monitoring & nutritional training continued
MCC continued monthly growth monitoring by weighing 103 children (53 males and 55 females). 14 children did not show significant weight gain. Home visit follow up has been undertaken where children show irregular attendance. 9 chronic cases (HIV or other serious medical conditions) increased their weights this month as compared to weights reported last month when 5 children dropped their weights. 3 chronic cases maintained their weights. Monthly weighing and other growth monitoring activities will continue to be the basis for increased food support, medical referral or other interventions on a case by case basis.
Nutrition training was provided to 24 guardians this month. The objective of this training is to ensure that the guardians understand and recognize the value of a daily balanced diet in helping warding off malnutrition and disease. Training focused on local foods, causal factors of malnutrition, and disease alleviation, and will help our guardians provide their families with balanced daily diets using available local foods, as well as increase the production of their gardens. In coming months, guardians will also be encouraged to seek alternatives for protein generation through small business initiatives, like rearing chicken rearing.
Guardian households receive supplementary food & seeds
All guardian households were supported with supplementary food during the month of December. In November, MCC had provided planting support during the on-going rain season. All guardian families received both maize and bean seeds to supplement their own resources, and are committed to return an equivalent amount of seed when they harvest in January-February.
HIV/AIDS education continues
26 children in primary schools (standard 4-8) or between 10 and 15 years attended a seminar on HIV/ AIDS focusing on education, prevention and community care. The training content was structured to reflect the needs of young people. MCC will continue to focus on increasing the childrens’ awareness on sexually transmitted infections, reinforcing the need for empowerment to counter a strong patriarchal society that inhibits girls and women and by extension their voices in matters that affect relationships, negotiation on girls and women’s sexual health and well being. More specific skills transfer sessions with various target groups (children) within MCC are planned.
Vocational training update
Two children undergoing vocational skill trades were supported during the month under review to undergo apprenticeships. This is part of their training and will enable them to secure skills while on the job. The exposure also provides space for attitudes formation that allows the students to improve on their relationships with clients, which will be crucial if they have to maintain a viable client base in the future. MCC is reviewing the delivery of the vocational component in view of the expected funds from the rotary club. It is expected that we will be able to make the component more viable so that children supported can access trades or skills that are marketable for employment in both the formal or informal sectors. Counseling and guidance is integrated in discussion with children seeking support for vocational trades.
The Shamba (MCC’s garden)
The short rainy season continued during the month of December. This was enough to germinate maize, beans, cowpeas, tomatoes, eggplants and kale. We replanted plantains, and the various fruit trees planted in November are coping well. MCC staff, guardians, the Wendo weavers group, and children alike turned out to help weed the shamba; their efforts voluntary and are a show of goodwill from all participants. Their effort has been hugely acknowledged and appreciated.