DON AND BRENDA GIBSON VISIT TO KIJIJI CHA UPENDO CHILDREN’S PROJECT

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In July 2017, Don and Brenda Gibson who are members of Village of Love Canada, visited Kijiji cha Upendo Children’s project in Kibera to spend time with the beneficiaries and witness the impact of the work the organization is doing to complement efforts of families providing physical and emotional support to orphans and other vulnerable children both infected and affected by HIV/AIDS. Through this work, the organization envisions children developing to the best of their potential becoming healthy, productive and responsible citizens.
During their visit, Don and Brenda visited the beneficiaries of the project both at home and business sites, interacted with the children and teachers at schools, attended the regular women empowerment meetings and met the Kijiji Cha Upendo staff.

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During the home visits, Don and Brenda were impressed with the impact the organization had on beneficiaries well being. Shilia Abdi who is a beneficiary in cluster one appreciated the support that has enabled her provide three meals to her family unlike before when she could hardly afford a meal. She is also able to provide for the needs of children in school and appreciates the OVC care training that has improved her relationship with the children.

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Millicent Atieno also narrated her journey and appreciated the support towards business that has enabled her provide for her nine children. The income from the business enabled her to rent an extra room for the children and also provide for their basic needs. Training on OVC care, and the fortnightly meetings, where the talks revolve around taking care of children, has not only improved her relationship with her children, but other families too.

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Moreover, the children were excited to belong to a family where they receive nurturing care by loving adults; an indication that family based approach intervention is more effective in holistic development of the child as compared to other interventions such as Children’s Homes and Rescue Centres.
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A visit to the beneficiaries businesses revealed the efforts they were making to increase their capacity to generate income which in turn ensured household food security and other household needs were met. Shilia Abdi, Millicent Atieno and Esther Wasonga narrated how the training on basic business management skills and subsequent interest free micro loan borrowed from and repaid into a revolving micro loan fund enabled them expand their businesses, run them effectively and realize increased profit.
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Kijiji continues to conduct workshops for refresher trainings on business management skills.
The visit also allows the social workers to gauge the application of learnt skills, address beneficiaries’ specific challenges and determine the gaps and the level of progress of the business.
Brenda, being an educator was excited to visit children at school to spend time with them and talk to the teachers on their learning progress.
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Brenda and Don alongside KCU staff visited Elvis Eboya at Future Leaders’ Children centre where they got a chance to talk to the children and shared the stationery they brought. The head teacher, Mr. Duncan explained the important role schools play other than providing knowledge to the children. The children, he explained were safe in school where they also get meals while their caregivers are away at work.

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The team then visited Caroline Ndunge at Elite Visionary academy where they interacted with her classmates and the teachers and shared the stationery they brought. Finally the team visited Stara Rescue centre and met Joel Musa alongside her classmates and the teachers. At Stara, they were impressed to learn that despite being a school, Stara also acts as a rescue centre for the children who are victims of sexual and family violence.
Finally, Brenda and Gibson attended the Women Empowerment Meeting held every fortnight at the Kijiji office. They learnt and experienced the important role these meetings play in providing opportunity for women caring for orphans and vulnerable children to come together and share their experience of living with orphans and their knowledge of managing a small business.
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These sessions also provide opportunity for Kijiji to educate the beneficiaries on coping mechanisms thus enabling them to run business well and continue to live with the children in a loving manner. Towards the end of the meeting, women save part of their profit in a Table Banking formula and this acts as a pool from which they can borrow from as agreed by members and at the end of the year they share their savings. Members also come to the meeting with a packet of flour and sugar and share the package to two members at every meeting in a revolving way; a strategy that has further enhanced food security in the households.

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