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Supporting The Kivuli Project in Kenya

The Mobility Aids Centre Ltd were recently contacted by Oundle School to see if they could help supply some wheelchairs for the Kivuli Project in Kenya. Jason Watling Centre Manager was happy to help and the chairs were handed over to Marianne Smith from Oundle school at their showroom in Stanground Peterborough. Pictured Jason Watling – Centre Manager (left) Marianne Smith -Oundle School and Steve Perry -Marketing Manager. The chairs have now arrived safely in Kenya – see above pictures.

A brief history of the Kivuli Project:

2008 Kivuli Hostel

Kivuli Trust opened its first hostel in 2008 in the grounds of the Gilgil Township Primary School.  With the support of the local community and the provincial government, it has been running successfully ever since.  It provides overnight care during term time for 32 of the more severely disabled children (16 boys and 16 girls) who would otherwise not be able to attend the government funded Special Unit at the primary school for their education.

Many of these children have physical as well as mental disabilities making them especially vulnerable.  Before the first hostel was built, the Special Unit had only a dozen children and they struggled to make the journey there and back every day.  Sadly a number of the girls were raped on the way.  Most parents not only saw no point in helping them to get an education but regarded them as worthless and a mark of shame on the family.  As a result, these children were all too often neglected and abused, and had no hope for the future.  The building of the first hostel has utterly transformed this dismal situation.

Awareness of the hostel has spread to the wider community prompting more disabled children to come forward and attend the Special Unit for their schooling.  In 2006, a single classroom provided education for 20 children but now the Kenyan Government has built a further two classrooms enabling over 70 children to receive an education.

We are delighted that Kivuli Hostel has been recognised as a ‘Centre of Excellence’ by the Kenyan Government.   It regards the hostel as a flagship project, and an example of how disabled children – given the right support – can be given a worthwhile education.

2012/2013 A second Kivuli Hostel

We have now raised enough funds to start building a second hostel on the same site; construction began in July 2012 and completion is planned for May 2013.  Kivuli Trust has employed a local builder in Gilgil with a very good reputation and we are confident that he will deliver on time and on budget.  Oliver Pickford very kindly volunteered to be Project Manager at the beginning of the build and flew out to Kenya for three months on an entirely voluntary basis.  We have now employed a local professional to oversee the project.

Kivuli Trust is now fundraising for the internal furnishings of the hostel and we are keen to be able to offer another 32 children a place, replicating the success of the original building and doubling the number of children and families who will benefit.  Our aim is to encourage the Kenyan Government to view this as a sustainable model for the future.

The Wider Benefits

The hostel has made a profound difference to the attitude of the local community towards disability.  Parents have seen that their children really are capable of learning essential life skills, such as brushing their teeth, cleaning themselves, washing their clothes and performing simple tasks, and therefore now accept them far more readily as part of their family.  They also realise that many of the children are capable of much more than that – and indeed 11 of the children from the Special Unit have made such progress that they have now moved into the mainstream School.

Crucial to this success has been the involvement, from the outset, of all the key stakeholders in the community.  The local Management Committee includes the Head of the School (who is also the Head of the Special Unit), the Head of the Gilgil Township Committee, the Managing Director of the local supermarket (who provides the hostel with free food and may in the future be able to help find employment for some of the pupils), one of the parents, and the mother of one of the Trustees, who visits almost daily.

Equally important has been the emphasis, from the outset, on the hostel and the Special Unit being fully integrated into the main school.  The children all use the same entrance, attend the same Assembly, eat their meals together and take their breaks together.  This has helped to change the attitude of the pupils at the mainstream school towards the disabled children, encouraging a much greater acceptance of them and a willingness to help them.  This in turn has fed back into the wider community.

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