Thursday, January 31, 2008

Children and youth forfeit a meal in solidarity with the displaced families

Following the post election crisis that has gripped Kenya for the last four weeks, children and youth in the organization from the four villages in Kenya (Nairobi, Mombasa, Meru and Eldoret) forfeited one meal a day for a week to make their contribution towards humanitarian assistance for the displaced persons.

SOS Children’s Village Kenya through the Eldoret village, today made their contributions towards the assistance of the displaced persons affected by the post election crisis. Up to 500,000 people, mainly children and women-currently require humanitarian assistance.

Coming from a mission to the displaced camps, we established that food and blankets were in plenty and that such items as sanitary towels, soap, clothes and petroleum jelly were in urgent need.

The donations which consisted of sanitary towels, clothes and washing soap were presented to the Kenya Red Cross Society volunteers at the Red Cross warehouse by the Village Director; Mr. Peter Mungai. Also present at the brief ceremony were the Mothers, Youth Leaders and Mr. Elijah Omobe, HGS School Principal. The National Director, Mr. Keith Castelino coordinated the process.

Violence has rocked many parts of the country since the 2007 general elections were concluded. This has resulted in thousands of people, mainly women and children being displaced. The Rift valley province has been the worst affected with over 300,000 families fleeing their homes for fear of attacks. Flash points in the Eldoret slum areas of Huruma, Jerusalem, Langas and Munyaka remain insecure.

While mediation efforts appear to be slowly gaining ground, insecurity as well as lack of sanitation, hygiene and protection are causing intense suffering among thousands of people.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Dusty and Muddy Roads that are our daily nightmare

The main roads to our village are usually a red river of mud or a hail of dust which translates to mud during the rainy season when just about every bend on the track has some sort of bus, car or truck in difficulty in the mud. You just slide, you're not even driving. You have no control. Sometimes vehicles have to be pulled out with a tractor.

These roads are a convincing simulation of purgatory even in the dry season. Each vehicle that passes raises a billowing cloud of fine dust that lingers long in the still, hot air. I choke through my handkerchief while the dust settles as walking proves to be an obstacle course. Winds gusting to 30 to 35 miles per hour during the dry season make the place dusty all the time.
The Village Director, Mr. Peter Mungai who is a life-long resident of Eldoret, says the roads have been a real nightmare for a long time particularly when it rains. "I've heard the talk for a long time that the municipal council was going to blacktop these bunch of roads," Mr. Mungai says. But that has never happened.

Instead time and again the old dirt roads are topped with red clay. "The dirt's been on there far too long," one resident from the neighborhood says. "There's supposed to be tarmac on top of it".
Driving to the village is treacherous in wet conditions and Stephen Ndalu, our village driver has gotten used to this kind of weather. There is no way he can avoid using these roads. On the one occasion that our driver attempted to pass a stricken vehicle on a bend, with us on board, our van slid into an impossible position close to a ditch. We had to abandon the vehicle and walk.

Dozens of our neighbors have also been stuck on the road whenever it rains. They have to be pulled by a tractor.. Our main worry here is what would happen if someone living around here would have an emergency. There's no way an ambulance or any type of rescue vehicle could come in here without getting stuck. Even some taxi operators refuse to pick up here. In some instances, our school is forced to close early as school buses struggle to get students home.

The state of the roads leading to the village can be aptly described by an encounter I had while traveling to town sometime back. I was sitting in our pick up when I suddenly was projected up into the air and I landed hard. I attempted with all my might to hold back the tears but the pain was intense; they spilled out profusely. Driving in the more comfortable van, the middle seat still requires great effort to stay balanced. But soon we hope to have a 4 wheel drive to overcome this.

It's supposed to rain again pretty shortly, so we need to put down a load of rocks or other hard core to help us get in and out.

By Fredrick Ochieng - youth leader co-ordinator

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Welcome to our village

SOS Children’s Village is situated 4km from Eldoret in Uasin Gishu District of the Great Rift Valley Province. The project is built on a 12-acre piece of land, in an urban setting at approximately 700ft above sea level.

The economic activity around this region is predominantly farming (wheat and maize) both on large scale as well as subsistence. It is probably one of the reasons why the town, which is the District headquarters, is fast developing into a business hub. The climate here is neither hot nor cold with the concentration of rainfall high between the months of June and August.

The project opened its doors in 1990 upon the completion of the construction of 12 family houses, a Kindergarten, a Craft Centre, and a Primary school. At its inception, 6, family houses were opened. Mama Ngudi, Mama Namale, Mama Wambui, Mama Muritu and Mama Okatch were the pioneer mothers who started the village under Mr. Joseph Chilumo, the first Village Director. Mama Stephen later transferred from Mombasa village with her 10 children in January 1991, to start house 1. The youngest of the family houses is house 12, which was opened years later.

The present Village Director is Mr. Peter Mungai Muiruri who came in 1993. Mr. Mungai was previously serving in Nairobi Village before his transfer.

Ours is a “Model Village”

The village is reputed for outstanding performance in the promotion of good work ethics. It has produced
staff that have been recommended and promoted to various senior positions within the organization. Besides, the CV is a usually a training ground for many staff joining the organization from across the region who visit the village on orientation. The Village Director has also been involved in the mentoring of the other Village Directors from the region