One of our authors – David Baldwin – describes his writing for CTS on pilgrim destinations as, “the perfect pastime to counter my ‘day job’”, which is running the charity that he started, supporting an impoverished community in Kenya, where he was born and educated.
Here he tells us about the challenges they are facing in Africa, and what has been achieved so far.
A small, home-grown, grass-roots charity, started by myself and my daughter, enters its seventh year.
We started in 2009 by literally throwing a life-line to the small struggling primary school of St Peter’s, which schooled about 180 children, and we founded this charity to provide an education to orphans and impoverished children in a remote, harsh, semi-arid parish area in NE Kenya.
Now fast forward to 2016. That one school is now four schools, run by the parish of St Peter’s, schooling about 700 children. We are fully funding the primary education of 44 orphans and impoverished children, 16 at secondary school, 3 in tertiary education, and 3 in university. We have built many classrooms; 2 ablution blocks; 1 large dormitory; provided cows, goats, chickens, desks, shoes, clothes, books, educational materials – and lots of love, which we receive back tenfold!
Our well structured, educational campaign to eliminate Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), something that is so prevalent in this conservative tribal area, is proving very successful – over the 6 years we have empowered at least 1,500 young women to say NO to FGM.
The community are now beginning to understand it and they are able to see the benefits of their young women being freed from the mental trauma and ongoing medical problems brought about by FGM, let alone all the other benefits of a full education and a freely chosen marriage.
Our micro finance scheme has been running for 4 years. It has proved an outstanding success. To date we have given 1,201 loans to women (yes, women only!), and we are already seeing the benefits that we know would accrue from this scheme: families being lifted out of poverty.
We have been so impressed by how seriously these ladies take their small businesses. Our associated savings scheme has also offered access to something never previously available – money put away to meet emergencies, or to indulge once in a while!
Our latest scheme is to provide a ‘Mary’s Meals style’ hot lunch at 5 local government primary schools (our own kids are already well fed!), on the already proven premise that a hot lunch will bring children in to school who would not normally have the energy or motivation to walk the long distances every day. Attendance rates have risen, educational standards improving.
It costs about £12.70 to feed one child for the 205 school days – yes, that is all, but multiply that by 719, and you can judge the scale of our challenge. Next year, we want to increase numbers of children attending schools to 1,000.
We do not levy any costs to run or administer our charity – ALL donations go to our projects, and our regular visits assure us that the money is being spent as intended. We are a Christian charity, entirely dependent on God’s Providence, and with deep thanks to Him, we have seen the many miracles of that Provision.
We have many faithful supporters to whom we are also deeply grateful for. We love the ambition that this community shows at all levels. It is a privilege to serve, it is hugely rewarding, and we enjoy it immensely – particularly when we are staying with the lovely people of our beloved community!
One downside at the moment is after such a promising start, the rains have ceased, and the half- grown crops are being scorched. One of my abiding images on a visit, was seeing a farmer standing hopelessly in his fields gazing in utter defeat at his lifeless, half-grown harvest – literally, one that was not going to sustain life. Their next expectation of food from their fields – if the rains come in November/December, will not be until February/March next year.
But God always provides. Remember the passage
Look at the birds in the sky. They do not sow or reap or gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them.(Mt 6: 26)
To read more on the pilgrimage books by David Baldwin, head to CTS website.