Wednesday, 23 June 2010

An Incredible talent

Azerbaijan is a small country to the east of Turkey, at the very south of the old Soviet Union. After the break up of the USSR, Azerbaijan was involved in a war with neighbouring Armenia, and this resulted in hardship and poverty for many as people were forced to flee their homes. Whole families seeking shelter and safety have found themselves living in one single room, cooking in hallways and sharing toilets with other families. World In Need has been working with these people, sponsoring children and helping where we can.

The Qahramanova family is one of many that World In Need has worked with. As with all our families, sponsorship enables the children to go to school and gives them a chance to achieve their fullest potential. And for one of the Qahramanova children, that potential is great indeed.

16 year old Nigar has an incredible musical talent. Her skills at the piano are world class, and next month she is coming to the UK to take part in the Tunbridge Wells International Young Concert Artists Competition.
While she is here, she has agreed to do two recitals in aid of World In Need’s work in her country. The first will take place at All Saints Church, Crowborough on Friday 23rd July, and the second at Christ Church in Tunbridge Wells, on Saturday 24th July.

Nigar’s is a rare talent which has blossomed and grown despite adversity and poverty. At World In Need we want to work to nurture and develop it, bringing it to full bloom.

Tickets for the recitals, as well as further details, can be obtained by contacting the World In Need office at, or by phoning 01892 669834.

Thursday, 17 June 2010

International art on display at Village Hall!

World In Need attempts to help people in some of the poorest places on earth by enabling those people to help themselves. Our work is geared towards this – sponsored children receive an education that enables them to achieve their fullest potential, and train for careers that would otherwise be denied to them. We also have feeding programmes in areas such as Sierra Leone, where malnutrition is a huge threat, as well as orphanages and shelters for street children, and many other projects.

One of the ways we help people to become self sustaining is by enabling them to create merchandise, which we then bring to wider attention.

You can see some of that merchandise this Saturday, 19th June, at Maresfield Village Hall, from 1.30pm to 5pm.

As well as handcrafted jewellery and pashminas from India, there are hand made carpets and rugs from Afghanistan, woven bookmarks from Turkey, cookery books giving traditional Kenyan recipes and oil paintings created by children in our day care centre in Kabul.

90% of all money raised by the sale of these items is sent back to the country of origin and used to support the building of self sufficient communities.

At the exhibition in Maresfield, as well as the merchandise and works of art on display, there will also be opportunity to see what we’ve been doing in our projects in places such as Kenya, Afghanistan and India.

So do come and join us, Saturday 19th June, 1.30pm to 5pm at Maresfield Village Hall and see the work of people we support. Entry is free and tea and cake is provided.

Maresfield is off the A26, between Uckfield and Crowborough.

Further details:

Monday, 7 June 2010

Caring for street children in Nigeria

Street children can be found in great numbers in many countries in Africa. They fend for themselves, living hand to mouth, finding shelter and food where they can. They beg, steal, turn to vice as a way to earn money, become involved in violent crimes. Society as a whole is contemptuous and impatient of them, often referring to them in derogatory terms, such as the Swahili word, “Chockera”, which means vermin.

In Nigeria, there are enormous numbers of children living on the street, not just in urban areas, but in rural provinces as well. Although Nigeria is Africa’s third largest economy, it is ranked only 141st wealthiest of 182 countries listed by the International Monetary Fund. Poverty is a big problem for many people here.

Many Nigerians are desperate to make money any way they can. Recently, this led to tragedy when people in Northern Nigeria tried to mine for gold illegally. They crushed the ore to extract the gold and discarded the lead filled waste products in places where it made people sick. 300 died of lead poisoning, including 111 children.

As well as poverty, other problems can mean children end up on the streets. These include the deaths of one or both parents to AIDS related illnesses and family breakdown, which rob children of their carers.

Of Nigeria’s 120 million people, 48% are under the age of 18. Of these, an average 30% are in education. It is widely accepted that those children who don’t receive an education are destined not to achieve their fullest potential, but to continue their lives of low income and unskilled work, leading to more poverty and the cycle is perpetuated.

In Yola, North Eastern Nigeria, World In Need is trying to break that cycle. Our representative, Cisse Kafinga, has bought five hectares of land and is building a centre for street children. The centre will include a home for the children, a school and a skills training centre, so they can learn trades and gain qualifications that will enable them to earn a decent living as adults.

As well as the centre, Cisse’s team is also building industrial units on the land. Businesses such as car mechanics will rent these units and the income will help fund the centre, so that eventually it can become self sustaining.

Recently, our International Director, Ron George, visited Yola and laid the inaugural bricks to begin construction of the centre. Our picture shows that moment, a time of hope for the future for the street children in Yola province.

Thursday, 3 June 2010

Education, finance and the future in Kenya

In Kenya, Government-run schools are free to the children who attend, in that the children do not pay a fee to join the class. However, there are still costs for them to meet, and some of these costs can be crippling.

The cost of a school uniform – compulsory in Kenyan schools – can be equivalent to three weeks wages for the poorest families. Schools also charge exam fees, which must be paid before the child can start the class, and which can again be crippling to poor families. Families may also be required to provide books and stationery.

Many children go barefoot because their families cannot afford shoes for them. Their clothes are several sizes too big so new clothes will not be necessary quite so quickly. A family unable to buy shoes and clothes is unlikely to have money for books, paper and exam fees.

The cost of education in Kenya was, in part, paid for by aid from the US and UK governments. However, both governments became alarmed by the corruption within the Department of Education, and when the Kenyan government failed to tackle this to their satisfaction, both governments withdrew their financial support. This led to the closure of many government-run schools. Children are left to wander the streets, to work, beg and worse, rather than gaining the education that can be their passport to a brighter future where their potential is fully realised.

World In Need runs a school in Soy, North Western Kenya. The school opened in January 2009 and has already built a reputation for academic excellence as well as for care of the children.

It is a fee paying school but costs are kept as low as possible, so as many families as possible can access the education provided. Some of the children are sponsored by World In Need supporters, who pay £20 a month per child. This pays the school fees and educational costs, including two meals daily – an important consideration in a country where many families do not eat every day. Sponsored children are also able to afford other things that children in the west take for granted, such as uniforms and shoes.

In government schools, class sizes are huge. It is not unknown for one teacher to take a class of ninety children. At our school, we ensure enough teachers are employed to keep class sizes at a reasonable level, in order that each child can get the best education possible.

By May 2010, there were 125 children enrolled at the school. Of these, 21 are sponsored presently. Many others are struggling to pay fees and costs. None are turned away, and our centre directors, Robert and Alice Mulumbi often pay for these children, even though it means they do without themselves. WIN is working to increase the number of sponsors for children at the school, so that more children can be lifted out of poverty, and the school can continue to go from strength to strength.

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Sierra Leone - hope at last?

For many years, Sierra Leone was a country in the grip of a vicious civil war. Fighters on both sides used cruel tactics to subdue people and reduce support for their enemies. A favoured tactic was the amputating of limbs, not just of adults, but of small children, so they could not grow up to fight.

The war raged through the country, destroying its infrastructure and economy, and as is so often the case, those who bore the brunt of the suffering were the most vulnerable members of society – women, children, families and communities who took no active part in the hostilities.

The war itself has ended now, but the aftermath continues. The country is in poverty; in 2009, in a list of 181 countries ranked by wealth by the International Monetary Fund, Sierra Leone was 174th. People are, literally, starving.

World In Need’s Sierra Leone representative, Tamba M’Bayo works among people who often do not know where their next meal is coming from. He oversees our child and family sponsorship programme. Sponsors give £20 ($29) a month and this gives a small income to a family, which means children are able to go to school, and the family are able to eat.

Tamba also oversees our feeding programme within schools. £5 ($7) a month enables a child to receive a meal every day. For some children, it is the only food they will eat. In fact, some children are so conscious that the rest of their family are starving, they will only eat half the meal they are given, then wrap the remainder up carefully to take home and share.

It is Tamba’s ambition to reach a thousand children through either sponsorship or the feeding programme. At present, he works with primary school children. He hopes to add High School aged children to the programme.

He also has plans for an agricultural project which will, eventually, make his work self sustaining.

In a country which has seen more than its fair share of suffering and hardship in recent years, projects such as these are providing hope of a better future. World In Need will continue to work with Tamba to bring more sponsors, more supporters of the feeding programme, and more hope to a people who once had none.