In July 2003, John and Susan Adam packed up their house on the far north coast of NSW, Australia, and headed over to commence three years work in Nairobi, Kenya - Susan as an early childhood trainer and mentor, and John with a wealth of building knowledge. Through their varied involvements in Nairobi, they met a local Kenyan woman, Emily Agisa, who worked at a day-care centre for orphaned and needy children. This centre was initially set up by a group of families who live in Kawangware, one of the many slum communities in Nairobi. They recognised the urgency for the care and safety of the needy children in their community and, with no funding from any sources other than themselves, started a day-care centre staffed by volunteers. It has been an ongoing struggle on many levels!
In 2004, following John and Susan’s involvement, a timely visit from Byron Bay by Paul Kelly, & the subsequent financial support of a few Australian individuals & groups (including the Byron Based NGO, African LEAF) the day-care centre moved to a more suitable building - the initial tin shed (see photo above) was replaced by several rooms of a solid brick construction.
Many improvements were made to the new space to provide a quality educational environment for the children, both inside and out – these included the addition of books and toys, carpets, tables and chairs, plus a climbing frame and fenced playground.
2006 - The birth of ‘SAINTS OF HOPE’
Emily, supported in her work by attending the 3-year / 10 modules East African Steiner Teacher Training Program (her training was funded by the Freunde der Erziehungskunst) has since taken over the running of the Centre. With enthusiasm and a positive outlook, she has re-named the Centre ‘SAINTS OF HOPE’. Her aim is to provide young children with a good early childhood education, a safe and healthy environment, and the opportunity to grow through their young years surrounded by love and care.
2008 – the big move!
Last year (2008), with the help from many sponsors, S.O.H. moved to a bigger, better and safer venue on the edge of the slums. Their new home has two classrooms, a waiting room, an office kitchen, four toilets and a big grassy playing ground (see photos at top of blogg site).
Emily Agisa is the founder and long-term Director of SOH and Martha Akinyi is her assistant. Sylvia Njagi (an experienced kindergarten teacher in Nairobi) has offered her services as ‘mentor’ and visits SOH on Tuesdays. Silviah also helps with the email communication that has proven to be an invaluable link between Kenya to Australia.
Emily reports that since moving to this better venue, they have had a wonderful time with the children over the last four terms. In Term One, 2009 28 children have been attending 5 days a week - 12 boys and 16 girls, ranging in ages from 2 1/2 to 5 1/2 years.
On their grassy plot, they have played with balls, skipped ropes and had many ring games. The teachers have also been telling many stories and doing craft work.
In the Kindergarten there are three groups of children … those with two parents who apparently pay a low fee; those with poor and single parents who cannot pay in time (or at all) and those who are needy and orphaned and cannot afford to pay a single cent. Four of these children (whose parents have died or are dying of AIDS) have been shifted to the Mbagathi Steiner School over the past three years, and we are in the process of finding full time sponsors for some more very needy ones.
In the past few years several donors have helped by taking toys and art/craft materials directly to SOH during their visit Kenya – many thanks to Paul Kelly and Eva Shaeffer (and their wedding guests) and to our West Australian supporters, Jo and Patrick Blundell and Paddy Frere.
Please know that all contributions (no matter how small) are extremely important to the continuation of this little kindergarten, an oasis for 28 little Kenyan children.
We hope in 2009 you will continue with your support.
(Note: John and Susan have since returned to live in Australia, but continue to co-ordinate fundraising and mentoring support for this worthy project).