Projects - Manassehs Children
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Projects

Overview

There are over 1,500 orphans in Korogocho, a desperately impoverished slum area outside Nairobi with over 50,000 inhabitants. Our first step is to visit each of the 11 villages in Korogocho and speak with the village elders, NGO’s and all others caring for orphans in the village. We then hold community meetings and announce our micro loan program for orphan caretakers/guardians. Once all parties have verified the orphans and guardians, participants form into groups of 30-40 according to village

Recruitment

Each group then goes through an extensive 10 week training program which explains micro loan basics, teaches business skills, and assists the guardians in developing business plans. All of them are also asked to contribute to their new personal account which helps them gain commitment and learn savings skills. For many of them it is the first time they have had a savings account and this is a valuable tool in gaining confidence and discipline. All the orphan caretakers in Korogocho, are encouraged to participate in Ujamaa. This is what makes us unique.

We do not discriminate against those that are aged, ailing or have no prior business experience. Because of the AIDS crisis, many people in the “middle generation” have died which means many of our orphans are being cared for by very old and sometimes very frail grandmothers.

Group Formation

All the orphan caretakers are then assessed based on 12 different factors including: age, health and prior business experience. Stronger guardians are paired with those that are less capable to form intimate groups of 10 that will advise and support each other throughout the 6 month loan repayment term.

The original loans are quite small, 5,000 KSh or $75 USD. A second loan for 10,000 KSh/$150 is given at the end of the 6 month repayment period, then a third which is double the second etc. But all 10 group members must repay the loan or no additional loans are given. Since we have groups which mix stronger with less capable guardians, the stronger are very motivated to assist the weaker members with mentoring, resource sharing and encouragement.

In the same way that new American Immigrant Communities, Italians, Poles, Jews etc. lived in proximity and participated economically in buying and selling goods and services to one another, these Ujamaa groups are rewarded for buying and selling from one another. Ujamaa also has a robust “bulk purchasing” program that members are allowed to participate in. Wholesale -cooperative buying of cloth, fish, flour and produce enables members to eliminate the “middle-man” and save up to 35% when they purchase food or materials for their businesses.

Monitoring

Ujamaa loan officers, field workers and health care workers offer continued regular assistance with the businesses and monitor the living situation and well being of the orphans throughout the training, lending and repayment process.

We want to be sure that both our guardians and our orphans remain healthy and strong so that they can live healthy and productive lives in spite of the many difficulties they face in Korogocho.

Empowered

We have now made loans to over 500 orphan guardians, which represents the care and education of over 1,500 orphans. Now instead of Ujamaa buying school uniforms or running a feeding program, these guardians are able to use the profits from their businesses to provide for the orphans in their care, as well as all the other children in their household.

These small businesses are the vehicle that carries this community of caregivers from dependency, to the confidence and well being that all of us feel when we are working to successfully provide for ourselves and our families. In the process, the entire community becomes connected, socially and economically. Which we call in Kiswahili: UJAMAA!

History

manassehs-children-daycare-1The Ujamaa Daycare Centers were opened to support the most vulnerable children in the slums of Nairobi. We choose participants based on the degree of neglect and danger the child was experiencing in the home, particularly during work day hours.

Many of our children were found to be virtual shut ins, either alone and hungry or in the care of another child under 5 for most of the day – some for days at a time.

Through Ujamaa-Africa and Manasseh’s Children the “Nyayo” and “K.B” day care centers were open to cater for 70 extremely vulnerable kids who were severely malnourished, often abandoned alone and come from extremely needy families.

Despite assisting the 70, many more children in the community were still at risk unable to be taken care of. Impressed by the milestones achieved through the “Nyayo” and “KB” daycares and moved by the predicament of the remaining suffering children, we opened 2 more daycare centres in the same informal settlement.

This noble gesture gave rise to “Ngomongo” and “Highridge” daycare centers. We are currently serving 150 of the most vulnerable children in each.

The Centers

manassehs-children-daycare-2Our centers were opened to strengthen working families. We care for pre-school age children so parents can get out and earn an income without worrying about safe, accessible childcare. There are 4 day-care centers set up by Ujamaa Africa & Manasseh children, currently serving the 9 villages of Korogocho slums.

These centers care for 155 vulnerable and extremely needy children left abandoned by parents who have no other option as they seek out work to help feed and care for their families. Our vision is to open more centers to cater for the many suffering children and not just in Korogocho but also across the 5 largest urban slums in Nairobi.

A typical day for the centers starts at 7am. The volunteer cooks start preparing porridge for the kids. Parents streaming in from 7.30 to about 9am dropping off kids who are received by the volunteers for roll call.

Whole-wheat porridge for breakfast is served at 10 am followed by a play session. They then start reciting alphabets and other basic kindergarten rhymes. Lunch is usually served at 12.30pm after which kids take their afternoon nap.

They wake up to a cup of porridge before leaving for their houses at 4:30pm. The volunteers are left to clean and prepare for the next day.

Budget
manassehs-children-daycare-3Our plan These early years of life are crucial not only for physical health but cognitive and social-emotional development as well. Our plan is to open enough daycares to care for the most vulnerable children in all 9 villages of korogocho. the daycare are to be very effective and increase the security, health and upbringing of the children.

Expansion of the daycares into other wanting communities and regions of kenya will see to it that the importance of a balanced meal, positive environment and care of children brings an end to child neglect and abandonment.

All of our programs are low cost. Every center is staffed by local, loving community members who are experienced at making a small amount of money go along way. The cost per child per MONTH is $4.20 the price of one latte.

Our Plan

manassehs-children-daycare-4These early years of life are crucial not only for physical health but cognitive and social-emotional development as well.

Our plan is to open enough daycares to care for the most vulnerable children in all 9 villages of korogocho. the daycare are to be very effective and increase the security, health and upbringing of the children.

Expansion of the daycares into other wanting communities and regions of kenya will see to it that the importance of a balanced meal, positive environment and care of children brings an end to child neglect and abandonmen

Meet Our Children

manassehs-children-daycare-5These early years of life are crucial not only for physical health but cognitive and social-emotional development as well.

Our plan is to open enough daycares to care for the most vulnerable children in all 9 villages of korogocho. the daycare are to be very effective and increase the security, health and upbringing of the children.

Expansion of the daycares into other wanting communities and regions of Kenya will see to it that the importance of a balanced meal, positive environment and care of children brings an end to child neglect and abandonment

 

Ask a westerner to make a change for the good in the Developing World and the first thing they want to do is build a building or buy some medicine.

That’s how we problem solve best, with our credit card, or so we think,But the truth is solutions to some of the really challenging problems facing the third world, can’t be simply bought.

In fact infusing huge sums of cash often exacerbates the problem.Family planning is one of the most challenging issues on our planet. In the slum environments where we focus our efforts, it is absolutely crucial that we help women gain control over their reproductive lives.

We can give build as many schools, fund as many feeding programs and give as many microloans as we want, but we’ll never catch up the unending river of unwanted pregnancies that continue to burden women and their families with more children then they can possible care for with the meager resources they possess.

All the best NGO’s recognize this and devote significant resources to solving this problem. But like all good NGO’s, their solutions involve buying things: clinics, condoms ,birth control pills and depo-provera.

Their intention are good, but they fail to recognize that the first 7 reasons family planning fails are all solved without buying a thing.

  1. Cultural Stigma and Bias
  2. Religious Antagonism
  3. The man refuses
  4. Ignorance
  5. Rumors and Myths about Contraceptives— they make you sterile, give you cancer, etc.
  6. I’ll be seen as promiscuous if my neighbors see me go to the FP Clinic
  7. The Ugly Secret… the women herself. Her man comes home after a discouraging day of job seeking and has only herself to offer for comfort

All of these can only be overcome by a concerted effort to educate women, village elders, priests, grandmothers and girls in school. There’s not enough money in the world to recruit, train and deploy the army of Community Health Workers (CHW’s) required to wring the cultural bias out of our societies, overturn the myths and misconceptions and enable men and women to see the importance of practicing all the methods of family planning available in our communities.

Deploying Community Health Workers at low cost/no cost into the most afflicted communities so that they can hammer away at the cultural and religious prejudice/myths and misconceptions that are the real destroyers of family planning
programs versus investing in costly western birth control methods which currently often get mis-used or discarded.

The orphan crisis in Africa is entering a new stage of urgency. In addition to the fact that there are now nearly 16 million orphans, the age of these orphans is another critical factor.

The epidemic is entering it’s 20th year and many of these orphans are aging out of the support programs they were once in. They go out into a world with very few opportunities.Boys without job options may grow frustrated and turn to drugs or gangs. Girls with no options often turn to prostitution,and the vicious cycle repeats.

Ujamaa, along with St. John’s Pumwani, is pioneering a new approach to helping this vulnerable group of young Kenyans.

We start by Placing Older OVC’s in community apprenticeships which provide skills training andemployment in their own communities. We are finding that this model is much more effective then costly vocational training/starter kit model that very often don’t result in successful self employment.