Monday, 31 October 2011

A visit from Kenya, Part Two

As well as assisting her husband, Robert, with his job as World In Need’s East Africa Director, Alice Mulumbi has a busy life as mother to her four children, carer for the children of others who have become unable to look after their families themselves, director of the Nancy George Academy and manager of the Mulumbi family farm in the village of Likuyana, in Soy, North Western Kenya.

Managing the farm is, in itself, a full time job. At this time of year, Alice would normally be working on the harvest, starting at dawn each day and working till well after night has fallen, gathering the crops in before the heavy rains set in in November. She also looks after chickens, and gathers eggs which she sells to supplement the family income.

Farming is a precarious occupation. Last year, North Western Kenya was hit by heavier than usual rains which led to catastrophic flooding, which washed away buildings, including classrooms at the Nancy George Academy, and ruined crops. Without the crops, not only was there no food to store and sell, but there were no seeds to plant this year either, which in turn led to greater hardship which is ongoing.

Perversely, while North Western Kenya was being devastated by too much rain, North Eastern Kenya was part of a large area that has received little or no rain for years, leading to drought and famine. The situation has become dire in recent months, with desperate people crossing the border from Somalia in search of food, swelling the numbers at Daddaab camp, the largest refugee camp in the world. Built to hold ninety thousand people, it is currently home to four times that many people.

The situation for the starving of Somalia has become much worse in recent weeks. Al-Shabaab, a terrorist organisation with links to al-Qaeda, is trying to gain power in Somalia and had already made it difficult and dangerous for the starving to make their way to Kenya for help. In recent weeks, they launched attacks on the Kenyan island of Lamu, popular with tourists. They killed one man, kidnapping his wife and another western woman. Trying to prevent a repeat of this, the Kenyan authorities have tried to close the border, making security as tight as it can be. This may stop the terrorists crossing into the country, but it also prevents the needy people from reaching help.

The attacks on Lamu have had devastating effects on the Kenyan economy. As the main tourist season starts, many westerners cancelled their planned visits, depriving the country of their tourist dollars. Coupled with the droughts and the aftermath of last year’s floods, this is dreadful news indeed for the people of Kenya, and will increase the numbers living in poverty. The work of World In Need, and the care given by people like Alice and Robert are going to be more needed than ever.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

A visit from Kenya

This month, we’ve been honoured at Head Office to be visited by Alice Mulumbi. Alice lives in Soy, Kenya, with her husband Robert, who is World In Need’s East Africa Director. As well as helping him with his work for us, she also cares for their four children, manages the family’s small farm and is Director of the Nancy George Academy, the school set up by World In Need in Soy.

In recent months, Alice has also taken responsibility for a young girl whose family could not care for her, welcoming her into the family home, and for the children of a young woman who has AIDS, and who has now become too ill to look after them herself.

Alice has come to Britain for three weeks to help us raise awareness of the work World In need is doing in Kenya, and the difference it can make to the lives of people there. During her time here, she is visiting local schools, churches and women’s groups, showing them what has been achieved so far and telling them of the plans for the future.

Children in British schools are fascinated to learn how their African counterparts are taught. Children here, surrounded by computers, learning aids, books and high tech equipment are amazed to see how others learn in basic buildings, sitting three to a desk, sharing text books one to several children, and the only teacher’s aid being a blackboard painted onto the classroom wall. They are astounded to discover that the children in Soy have walked as many as 7 kilometres to school, many of them barefoot.

Often the children will have left home without breakfast, there being no food in the family house. The school recognises this and all pupils receive a nutritious breakfast and lunch as part of the school day. World In Need believes you cannot feed a child’s mind if their bodies are undernourished.

There are currently 168 children at the school. It is supposed to be a fee paying school, the fees covering the cost of teachers, equipment and meals. However, many families in the area cannot possibly afford the fees and their children would have to miss out on their education, which in turn would reduce their chances of a decent career in adulthood.

World In need overcomes this by providing sponsors, who pay for the children, working with them to build their futures. However, Alice and Robert believe so passionately that every child deserves the chance to learn, that even when they have no more sponsors available, they take children into the school, doing without themselves to ensure they are catered for. If we can find sponsors for more of the children, we can ease Alice’s burden tremendously.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Fancy Volunteering in Israel?

Alkhaimah, the Association for Education and Development, is a registered, non-profit organisation that aims to enable the children of Bedouins in Israel, especially girls, to receive an education and develop their skills. They are registered as a legitimate organisation by the Department of Home Affairs in the Israeli Government.

They also work to ensure that every citizen is granted gtheir legal right to access to Government services such as health, education and Social Security. It is the only organisation with accomplishments in community building and in youth education in the Bedouin community of Taibeh and other Arab villages in Israel.

Alkhaimah aims to strengthen the education of the children, giving them tools to lead their community to a better life, improving both decision making and social infrastructure for Bedouin women. At the same time, they try to ensure Bedouin tradition and culture, origins and history are not forgotten.

Alkhaimah is looking for volunteers for both short term and long term periods of service. Volunteers would take part in many activities, including teaching English in schools, being involved in sporting activities with the children and providing support in areas of self esteem and personal development.

Alkhaimah has four learning centres of its own, but also works with other organisations within the country to strengthen the learning of English.

If you think this might be for you, you can contact Saeed Azbarga of Alkhaimah at for more details, or to register your interest.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

News from Head Office...

 In 1991, after a lifetime of working for organisations such as Operation Mobilisation and People International, Ron and Nan George founded the charity, World In Need. The aim of the new organisation was to provide people in the developing world with the skills and tools to build self sustainable lives.

Twenty years on, World In need has a presence in twenty countries. We run schools, children’s homes, vocational training centres and a child sponsorship programme that over the years, enabled thousands of children to access education and a start in life they might otherwise have been denied. Whole communities have benefited because these children were given that chance.

For the last twenty years, the Child Sponsorship programme has been headed by Nan George. Despite severe health issues of her own, she has worked tirelessly to ensure the success of each and every child that came her way, and her name has become synonymous with the work. She even has a school named after her in Kenya, and hopes to visit this academy in the near future.

Now, however, Nan is moving on and last Friday, 30th September, saw her final day as World in Need Child Sponsorship Manager. Past and present Head Office staff joined her in a celebratory lunch in glorious sunshine at Barnsgate Manor, and we wished her well as she begins a new chapter in her life, working with Ron from home.

From Monday October 4th, our new Child Sponsorship Manager is Anne Symons, pictured below. She has worked alongside Nan for several months now, getting to know the work, our field representatives and some of the children.

We know you will join us in wishing both Nan and Anne the very best in their new roles.