Cara Projects 2011 – Another Successful Trip to Kenya
CARA Projects is the brainchild of Athgarvan man Paddy O’Connor. Over the last five years Paddy has worked on a number of projects in Africa, ranging from the building of orphanages and schools to the provision of a mini-bus for a remote orphanage outside Nairobi.
Through his extensive experience in Kenya, Paddy came to realize the impact that building projects could have on a community. He feels that the greatest benefit can be given to a community by providing them with good facilities for their children. With this in mind he decided to create his own building project where a group of volunteers would travel to Kenya to work on a building project that mattered. It would start small but each year it would grow and develop some more. And so it has – this year a group departed for Kenya on 16th June and the trip was a very successful one. Twenty two volunteers travelled to Kenya and in two weeks, spent at Mama Tunzas Children’s Home, built two classrooms for pre-school children, two staff houses, two small staff accommodation quarters, changed an existing staff home into a beautiful nursery for the babies to sleep in, painted the two existing dormitories, dining room and office and many other smaller jobs. After the 2010 we set up a child education sponsorship scheme to allow our kids to attend school. Up to that they could only go when the Mama had funds to pay their fees and so they could only attend on a very irregular basis. On this trip we got the opportunity to visit the local primary school which our children attend. While the facilities there are basic and overcrowded compared to our schools, it is fantastic that so many of our children, thanks to our educational scheme, now have the opportunity to attend school on a regular basis. The scheme means that they are not now sent home because they can’t pay the fees, they have the uniforms and books and can happily go to school like any other child in the area. The children and teachers were very thankful for our support and put on a beautiful show of dance and singing for us. The child sponsorship programme is going from strength to strength and we now have nearly 50 sponsors. A great achievement in a time when we have our own recession to contend with! Hopefully, as time goes on we will get more sponsors. We really believe that education for the children in the homes is the only way of breaking the cycle of poverty for them. One of the boys in Mama Tunzas home is waiting to see if he has been accepted into university to study medicine. He will know in September and if he is successful what a proud moment that will be for Mama Tunza and for all our sponsors. The Future For Cara Projects While the home still faces many challenges, most especially the daily provision of food and water, which we do not always have funds for, we will continue with our efforts to make life for these kids better and while we have made enormous headway there is always more to be done! Our website www.caraprojects.com has a video clip that shows the conditions the children were living before we built the home and though we still have a lot to do this clip shows that we have come a long way. Some of our plans for the future are as follows: More sponsors for education – it is the only way forward for our children. We have to break the cycle of poverty to allow them the future they deserve. We have to make the homes more self sufficient, enabling them to generate some income for themselves. Some of the ways of doing this are:
a) Increase the herds of cows and goats and expand the chicken programme. At present Mama Tunza’s has one cow and four goats and a small number of chickens. Increasing these numbers will provide the home with food on a regular basis and allow them to sell any surplus.
b) Provide mosquito nets for the children. This will cut down the incidence of malaria in the homes. While these nets are relatively cheap, about €9 each, however as we would need about 100 of them we do not have funds at present to purchase them.
c) Provide a borehole. This is a necessity in the long term. It is imperative that the homes have a constant clean water supply. At present they are linked to the Community water scheme in the area. This is a service which is on a meter and is unreliable. At times there is no money to pay the water bill and the supply is cut off. At other times there is not enough water and the home simply has no water at all. It is heartbreaking to see the children with nothing to drink and the excitement when water is secured, by whatever means is so sad to witness.
d) Build an on site fish farm: This is a method of generating income which is becoming more popular in Kenya, one which once again would provide both food and revenue. We are looking into the cost of providing this facility and training someone to run it
e) Training after secondary school.
At the moment we do not have any children who have completed their secondary school education but we have to look to the future in this regard. The possibility of providing a training centre to teach the children necessary skills which would enable them to find employment i.e. Carpentry, mechanical skills, computer skills, dressmaking, etc. is one which we hope to follow up over the coming year. On site medical care is also one of the many dreams we have for the future. With the large number of children involved there is always someone who needs some sort of medical attention and it would be ideal to have a nurse/doctor on site that would be able to cater for all the medical needs. In the short term we need to have a medical kit on site which would ensure that there was a constant supply of basic medical supplies that are always necessary when there are children around. While there is always work to be done Cara Projects is already planning for next year and would welcome applications from anyone who thinks they would like to be involved with the 2012 trip.