ORPHANS & VULNERABLE CHILDREN

URAFIKI’s orphans and vulnerable children scheme has been running since 2009 and now supports 260 children through primary education in the Yala district. Education is the main path to the future well-being of the community. By supporting primary and secondary education URAFIKI promotes knowledge, skills and self-confidence both in individual children and in the community as a whole.

Primary education is free in Kenya but does not include the cost of school uniform and school meals, examination registration fees, and payments for non-government teachers.

Many families in Yala cannot afford these costs. Children who have lost their parents, often to AIDS, are especially vulnerable, but poverty and need are sadly almost universal. Many children live with their grandparents, more usually their grandmothers. They are at constant threat of malnourishment and some are infected with HIV. Many come to school almost too hungry to learn, and their school meal can be the only food of the day.

The age range in primary schools normally runs from 5 to 14, but the later classes contain many older children, who started late or have missed years and may be 16 / 17 when they leave. Class sizes can be as high as 50 or 60, with five or six children crowded round a desk or onto a bench.

It costs just £8 per month – £96 per year – to support a child in primary education. By sponsoring a child you are not only giving the children of Yala hope for the future, but also supporting the schools themselves. Every sponsor receives a picture and story of the child they sponsor, and an annual photo with an update of their progress.

URAFIKI is also supporting a range of activities to add value to the orphans and vulnerable children scheme. Eve Muliango in the URAFIKI centre oversees the whole programme, which is based on close supportive relationships with local schools and their head teachers. She knows every child by face and name. She recently ran a sanitation week. Her drive and organization ensure that the schemes aims are achieved. This involves

• Supplementing the diet of children who are HIV positive, a vital addition to their medical treatment
• Providing school dinners in cases of urgent need
• Ensuring that every month each child gets a soap to wash themselves and their clothes.
• Providing blankets, clothing and shoes for the children from poorest households
• Making school uniforms and washable sanitary towels in the URAFIKI centre
• Providing counselling to avert teenage pregnancies
• Expanding the secondary school support programme so that high achievers can continue after primary school

Any extra donations raised through fund-raising activities can be put towards these supplementary schemes. The pay-off is not only for the children but for all the poorer households of Yala and the general health and morale of the community.

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