I was lucky enough to visit the Safe House project in Kenya again last week. It was great to see all the boys in the house and they looked really well and happy. Several of the older boys were preparing for their end of year examinations and it’s really encouraging to see them studying so hard.
On this trip I spent some time visiting the schools that some of the boys attend. They are always so proud when you turn up at their school – I guess as Orphans that don’t often get the opportunity to show off their parents, so they tend to relish in it!
The first school we visited had a class of blind children. It was really humbling to meet them and despite their disability, they were all smiling and happy and sang for us with all their hearts. It was truly inspirational to meet them and observe their passion for life.
One of the areas I have been helping the charity with, is to develop a Future Fund. The idea is that if any boy in the Safe House has a dream, we can help make that dream come true. So the Future Fund is there to pay for further education, apprenticeships, and even micro loans to start small businesses. We visited a Technical College and rural Polytechnic College and discussed various courses that the boys might access in future. It is exciting to think that these boys, who were once living alone on the street, are now being given the potential to lead a fulfilling life and learn a trade.
One of the boys called Dennis, who left the house last year, has set up a business selling hot snack food in the town and he is doing really well. He started the business with a small allowance from the Future Fund and he is now looking to expand and buy new equipment. The Future Fund is providing a loan so that he can do this. We want to help all the boys in the house, provide them with guidance on their career choices, and make sure they have the opportunity to achieve their full potential.
Whilst on this trip, we discussed the next phase of the project which is to open a drop in centre in Kisii town centre. The drop in centre will initially be open 3 days a week from 6am to 6pm and we are aiming to feed up to 40 children and provide some clothing and basic education, as well as signposting them to other services. It’s a very exciting project and will act as a gateway between the street and the safe house. If we can give them at least one hot meal a day and some clean clothes, then we hope that at least some of them will be able to attend school, perhaps for the first time.
I am hoping to return to Kenya again in April 2013 and the drop in centre should be open for business by then. I am also hoping to visit Meru, where the next Safe House is currently being constructed and will be home to 50 street children once it is completed.
These children were born into a life of poverty and through no fault of their own they are abandoned and living alone on the streets. It’s not possible to help them all, but for me it is enough of a reward to know we are making a difference and improving the lives for some. What this project has taught me is that whilst you can’t change the world, you definitely can make a difference.