“My first encounter with Marie was shocking. Her situation was critical, her mother was so poor that she couldn’t provide for her basic needs. With tears in her eyes she confessed to me that if her conditions weren’t going to improve soon, she would be forced to abandon her. Marie was seriously undernourished and she certainly wouldn’t have reached five years of age, a sad reality that touches more than 122.000 children every year.
We were able to provide Marie with food and with the medical care she needed, and we enrolled her mother in a program aimed at strengthening women’s micro-entrepreneurial skills.
I recently met Marie; now she is doing well, and has started to attend school.”
Annarita, WeWorld operator in Kenya.
The situation in Kenya
According to the UNDP, Kenya is a developing Country; in 2014 it ranked 147th out of 187 Countries in the human development index. In the last decade nevertheless, the Kenyan government has invested in the growth of the country and Kenya has become the economic center of Eastern Africa.
Unfortunately, the incidents related to the 2007 and 2013 elections have left a tainted scar in the history of the country and the fierce fighting between the various tribes has threatened to bring socio-economic growth to a halt.
The Nyanza province, where we focus our intervention, is densely populated, with 665 inhabitants per square kilometre. This means that the population exerts a great pressure on land resources, which are being partitioned in increasingly small and unprofitable agricultural plots. Demographic pressure is also putting a huge strain on basic social services, such as healthcare and education.
An unemployment rate close to 50%, together with high illiteracy, lack of infrastructures, gender inequality and non-sustainable land usage are all contributing to the degradation of natural resources and to general impoverishment. A large part of the population lives on less than a dollar a day and estimates suggest that 46,6% of the country’s population lives in conditions of extreme poverty. Moreover, Nyanza is the province with the highest AIDS rate after Nairobi and with the highest number of children who are orphaned or vulnerable because of the virus. Malaria is endemic, and a lack of hygiene and difficult access to safe water sources causes infections that are often lethal to the youngest. Moreover, despite the provision of free schooling,33% of the population is still illiterate.
How we operate
In Kenya we concentrate our efforts in the areas of education, health and family support. Our intervention in schools has the end-goal of improving the quality of education, to encourage as many children as possible to attend school and hope in a better future. In order to raise parents’ awareness of the importance of education and health, we organize school events where children explain to their parents what they have learned on diseases, prevention and hygiene.
We also directly involve parents in our activities: we offer vocational training, basic literacy courses for adults and access to microcredit to offer them new opportunities for the future. In addition to this, we ensure children affected by HIV have access to healthcare services, providing them with medical and psychological support, while at the same time offering orphans a new home.
Together with the European Union and our partners – Dala Kiye Children Welfare Home and Kenya Red Cross Society – we have officially launched the new project to improve mother and child nutrition in Migori County in Kenya. SEE THE PROJECT.