Desperately Needy Widows
In 2008, during a visit to Kisumu, a group of 20 “Desperately Needy Widows” was set up. These widows were identified to New Dawn Association by the local Kogony community because they are either too old or too sick to be able work or care for themselves properly.
In 2016, New Dawn is still supporting this group of needy people, though since 2008, several of these ladies have died and others have been elected by the local community, to replace them. During our stays in Kenya, we have repeatedly visited these widows in their homes in the bush. Many of them are elderly, sick grandmothers whose children have died of AIDS leaving them to care for as many as up to14 grandchildren. Most of them live in mud huts, with just the bare necessities. Many of the elderly ladies share their single mattress with two or three grand-children.
Visiting a blind grandmother and her grand children
They struggle to provide enough food for every one living under their roof, and many are burdened with the education costs of their grand-children, which are frequently far beyond their means.
These women’s stories are often tragic. Initially, monthly packs of food and basic items were provided for these needy women but in 2015, the widows were given a monthly cash envelope instead of packs, so that they could decide their own priorities. These payments are now allocated to each widow on a quarterly basis. From time to time, over the years, special initiatives have been organised to assist these impoverished ladies and their wider community. Free Medical Camps have been repetitively held within the community, enabling this group and others, to have their current medical needs addressed. Other special requests have also often been able to be met such solar lamps, blankets, mattresses, body oil, and mosquito nets.
Please click on ‘Janet’s Story’ to follow the miraculous transformation of one of these widows, Janet Ogwala, who we discovered lying on the floor of her home when we visited her in 2009. We have been supporting two of her children since 2008, and continue to do so today, in 2016.
Madelaine receives her solar lamp
The Kenyan government provides state education (Primary School), which is “free” (although there are considerable extra costs for items such as uniforms, shoes, school bag, stationery, extra tuition, exams, support staff, electricity, water). The classes are very large and the facilities often extremely dilapidated. Many children cannot attend school because they lack the basic necessities such as uniforms and school fees. If children arrive without the proper uniform they are systematically sent home.
“It has never ceased to amaze us how the children still manage to do their classroom studies under such difficult conditions.” The children who manage to work through classes 1-8 can then sit for the “Kenya Certificate of Primary Education” (KCPE). If they pass the KCPE the children can qualify to go on to the High School and work their way through Forms 1-4. However, this next stage of their education is not free and these fees are considerable, particularly if the children attend a Boarding School. In Form 4 they sit for the “Kenya Certificate in Secondary Education” (KCSE).
High School Class
Between 2007 until 2015 New Dawn has met the Primary School fees for, at times, up to 25 needy orphanage children. It has also been involved in supporting five students at various levels of High school. In addition, it supported a Community Nursery School which prepared children for entrance onto the first rung of the Primary School system. “Investing in children’s education is one of the most worthwhile and valuable things that New Dawn is currently involved in. Enabling an impoverished child to attend school, is a life changing event for the young person, and for the family involved.”
Currently, in 2016, New Dawn continues to support two boys, Bryan and James, through their final year at Boarding High School. Both these boys have come from impoverished families and are extremely grateful for the support they are receiving.
With one final year to complete before their KCSE, they have promised to continue to work diligently in order to successfully achieve their final exams. Not all children are suitably gifted to go on to an academic education when they have passed out from the Primary School stage, and if funding is available, there are a wide range of opportunities for these children to receive vocational training in a chosen trade.
Since 2006, when New Dawn first became involved with this work in Kisumu, we have been supporting Susan and, a few years later, also her brother Edwin, throughout their Primary School years. These children are two of widow Janet’s family. (see Janet’s story above.) Today, Janet’s health has been stabilized but New Dawn continues to assist these two children to ease her burden.
In 2016, Edwin is living at home with his mother, and is currently in Primary School class 8. Susan has just successfully completed Primary School Class 8, and is starting her 1st Year of High School in a selected boarding school. New Dawn makes every effort to follow up the progress of each child in its program and schools are visited and reports are collected on a regular basis. In 2015, the schools of all the children were visited by the directors of New Dawn Association, in order to secure firsthand information concerning the progress and fee structures of each child. New Dawn is also assisted by a social worker and a Children’s Right’s Officer, on the ground, concerning the ongoing work in Kisumu with the widows and the children. Edwin and Susan